Godot Now Works For FedEx

So, on Monday, May 23rd, I arrive in Edinburgh.  On Tuesday, I go walkabout (and rideabout) and see stuff.  Then we get to Wednesday…

Wednesday, May 25th (and Thursday, May 26th)

To explain this, I need to back up a little.  My primary credit card, the one that gives me my frequent flyer miles on American Airlines (and associated fliers), was due to expire in May.  I’ve been paying attention to this for about a year, and figured that, when they sent the new card, I’d have to ask Sarah to express mail it to me at wherever I was at the time.  It probably arrives just before the beginning of May, maybe a week in the mailing system… no problem.

Oh wait!  Problem! Sarah no longer lives near our P.O.Box, and doesn’t get there all the time, particularly not just after the end of tax season (a busy time of year for an accountant).  So, she’s having the mail sent to her new place in batches.  So, between one thing and another, it’s not until May 18th that it arrives at her place.  *Maybe* it could be sent to Zagreb before I leave, but that seems like a tight schedule — and it’s nearly twice as expensive as sending to Edinburgh, $90-$120 instead of $55-$85.  She could send it to my Irish address… but the card expires on the 31st, and it would be good to have a few days leeway to change online services’ info, to have some padding in general, etc.  So I ask her to send it to my Edinburgh address, and it gets scheduled for a Wednesday delivery.  No problem, I think. I won’t mind having a day to veg, out of my 7 non-travel days there.

So, Wednesday morning, I check the tracking info: it’s in Edinburgh, out for delivery.  I know from long experience that, in LA at least, that could mean it will show up at 6pm, so I settle down to play Fallout.  A new block of content had been released a few days before I left Zagreb, and I had downloaded it and started playing it there, but I was kind of eager to make more progress, so that I could avoid spoilers on Twitter and YouTube.  I made sure not to put headphones on, so I could hear the buzzer.  And I waited.

To summarize most of a long story, here’s the status update I sent to Sarah on Thursday:

Just FYI, in case you were wondering why I haven’t sent an e-mail saying “Got it!”, it’s because I haven’t.

  • Waited around all day yesterday, got nothing. Checked the tracking site, and it said “Delivery Exception” with no details.
  • Called them after the 6pm “Deliver by” time, routed to “Scott”, who said he’d look into it and call me back at 9am the next morning.
  • At 10:20am I called Scott back, and he said he’d look into the exact time of delivery today and get back to me. And, in response to my question, he said he didn’t know why it had failed but he’d look into that too.
  • At 3:30, I called him, got his voicemail, and left message saying (a) still not here, and (b) “You were going to get back to me?”  He called back shortly, said he’d pursue it, but he promised it would be here today.
  • At 6:09, I checked the site again, and there’d been another Delivery Exception at 4:49, again with no explanation of why.
  • Called Scott back, left message saying “I think we need to have this held someplace tomorrow where I can come get it, because it’s not being delivered, and you guys don’t seem to know why not, and I actually need this.”  He called back, said he was *so* sorry (actually sounded kind of sincere, this time!), and said they would hire an outside courier to deliver it to me tomorrow, since nobody knew what the actual problem was, and he’d call me back first thing in the morning with the delivery time.
  • We shall see.

So, there we are.  On the plus side, having two days at home meant that I did get a chance to finish the main questline of the new Fallout 4 DLC, so now I don’t have to worry about major online spoilers.  So, yay that!  ¯\ _(ツ)_/¯

Scott didn’t call me back on Friday morning, as he’d promised — again — and I was going to call him a little after 10, again, to see what was up.  But at 9:55, the local courier they’d hired rang the doorbell, I ran downstairs and signed for it, and it was, indeed, a Citibank credit card.  Yaaay!  I sent Sarah a confirmation e-mail, hung around a bit longer to snack on something, and then headed out to sightsee.

Later, I played a bit of phone tag with Scott, who called while my phone was out of reach to be sure I’d gotten the package.  Which, I guess, is cool.  But it does seem as if he would have gotten the delivery confirmation — so, really, the only time he called back in a timely fashion is when he knew I wouldn’t be berating him?  Anyway, I called back, got his voicemail, and said, basically, “Thanks, I’ve got it, appreciate your help.”  Cheerfully.  Because it’s not like getting mad would get me my 2-1/4 days back, and anyway I don’t really do “mad”. Futilely peeved is about as close as I get, and I’d rather take the high road than the ineffectual one.

And anyway, Wednesday and Thursday were rainy.  I’d have enjoyed being out in it, but there are advantages to not, also.  And it was a nice view to wait by.

Taken at 9:54pm. Still pretty light, considering the cloud cover.

Taken on a rainy Thursday night, 9:54pm. Still pretty light, considering the cloud cover.

Friday, May 27th

So, at around 11, I head back out into the city.  Before I set out, let me re-add the city map, for easy reference.

A map of the main part of Edinburgh; see below for details....

A map of the main part of Edinburgh; see below for details….

(Ignore the comment; as usual, it repeats when you reuse an uploaded image.)

So, my objectives today were to go get lunch, and go to a museum.

This was not either. But it's been a while since I included a Starbucks from my travels. I've noticed that Starbucks has a hard time taking hold in places that have a strong, native, coffee culture already. (Not just Starbucks, any other chain coffee place.) It's done well in the U.S. because we only knew diner coffee, and chain coffees are a massive step up from that. But in places like Italy and Croatia? It's a step down. Of course, they don't serve coffee in Big Gulp sizes, so I have to say I lean more towards Starbucks. What can I say, I'm a philistine.

This was not either. But it’s been a while since I included a Starbucks from my travels. I’ve noticed that Starbucks has a hard time taking hold in places that have a strong, native, coffee culture already. (Not just Starbucks, any other chain coffee place.) It’s done well in the U.S. because we only knew diner coffee, and chain coffees are a massive step up from that. But in places like Italy and Croatia? It’s a step down. Of course, they don’t serve coffee in Big Gulp sizes, so I have to say I lean more towards Starbucks. What can I say, I’m a philistine.

This was not either, either. Just a reminder that we're in Scotland.

This was not either, either. Just a reminder that we’re in Scotland.

I was actually heading for the World’s End Cafe, which we’d passed on the tour bus.

For some reason, I don't have an exterior photo, so here's one from their website

For some reason, I don’t have an exterior photo, so here’s one from their website

The World’s End is so named because because it used to be just inside the city wall, so it was as far as the citizen’s world went.  The story and a bunch pretty good pictures are here, and that website is extra amusing because the writer went for the same reason I did: the movie of the same name, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, the last of their Cornetto trilogy that I mentioned way back in one of my first Chiang Mai posts.  And the writer discovered the same thing that I had simply assumed, that this bar had nothing to do with the movie.  It’s just a great name.  Better than the food, IMO, from my single sample size.  I don’t even remember what I ate now, I think it was a haggis and leeks sort of thing, vaguely adequate, with a dessert called cranachan that I think was not terribly well made — too tart, and the flavors didn’t blend at all, just stared balefully at each other across the dessert cup and blended in my mouth and stomach only unwillingly — like some weird metaphor for the English and Scots in the city around me.  (I had it someplace else, later, and it was quite nice, so I think that World’s End just had more poorly integrated ingredients, and being bused to my table had not reduced their mutual intolerance.)

I did see this, on the way out:

Amusing enough -- although not *so* amusing that they didn't think it would be improved upon by writing a laugh track on it.

Amusing enough — although not *so* amusing that they didn’t think it would be improved upon by writing a laugh track on it.

So, lunch having been accomplished, I wandered down to the Princes Street Garden — that little green bit between the New and Old City sections in the map above — to visit the Scottish National Gallery, Scotland’s main art museum.

Scenic enough for you?

Scenic enough for you?

I ended up visiting 3 different museums, in my few days here, and one of them twice, because the museums here are free to enter.  Talk about a progressive city!  It actually supports its citizens enriching their lives!  The wonder of it!  One of them, the National Museum of Scotland, did have a special exhibition that had a fee — but I get ahead of myself.  Anyways, the National Gallery wasn’t super huge, but it had some good stuff.  The usual selection of religious art, that no European museum would be complete without, but often with weird aspects that leave you scratching your head a bit.

Of course, the obligatory bored Madonna And Child. "Give me the toy, peon, lest I smite thee."

Of course, the obligatory bored Madonna And Child. “Give me the toy, peon, lest I smite thee.”

This one's actually quite nice, and manages to capture that parental look of letting the child go just enough to feel independent, while being ready to grab them if they get into trouble. Nicely done. But check out the plaque....

This one’s actually quite nice, and manages to capture that parental look of letting the child go just enough to feel independent, while being ready to grab them if they get into trouble. Nicely done. But check out the plaque….

"The Madonna of the Yarnwinder"? Staring "at a cross-shaped yarnwinder as if already aware of his future crucifixion." With yarn? Should we have bee praying to "Christ on the Scarf" this whole time, parishioners going up to the priest to receive the Holy Cats Cradle?It just sounds a little weird, is all I'm sayin.

First, “unusually large”? Maybe they mean, by the usual standards of Madonna and Child paintings, where the adults have horse faces and the child looks like a wizened gnome. Because, in real life, that’s a pretty normal sized kid.
Second, “The Madonna of the Yarnwinder”? Staring “at a cross-shaped yarnwinder as if already aware of his future crucifixion.” Crucified by yarn? Should we have been praying to “Christ on the Scarf” this whole time, parishioners going up to the priest to receive the Holy Cats Cradle?
It just sounds a little weird, is all I’m sayin.

This was a depiction of a city of hermits (with St Ephraim in the Theban Desert in Egypt). Wrap your head around that concept, eh?

This was a depiction of a city of hermits (with St Ephraim in the Theban Desert in Egypt). Wrap your head around that concept, eh?

Ok, a guy holding a dinner plate to his ear getting stabbed in the back, over a dismembered body. Seems pretty normal....

Ok, a guy holding a dinner plate to his ear getting stabbed in the back, over a dismembered body. Seems pretty normal….

Let me see if I'm clear about what happened. The only thing that could kill the saint of God A was the priest of God B? And, this is an advertisement for the power of which of these two gods, exactly?

Let me see if I’m clear about what happened. The only thing that could kill the saint of God A was the priest of God B? And, this is an advertisement for the power of which of these two gods, exactly?

"How about you give my friend here that plump baby you're carrying, in exchange for this sheep? Would that work for you?"

“How about you give my friend here that plump baby you’re carrying, in exchange for this sheep? Would that work for you?”

Gods damn, dude. I know feet are hard to draw and all, but seriously with those toes! There are chimpanzees going, "I feel so inadequate now". (Art museum chimps. All the best galleries have them.)

Gods damn, dude. I know feet are hard to draw and all, but seriously with those toes! There are chimpanzees going, “I feel so inadequate now”. (Art museum chimps. All the best galleries have them.)

When you only come to Book Group for the alcohol.

When you only come to Book Group for the alcohol.

Wheneeeever you're done with your "solo", our sheet music is right here.

Wheneeeever you’re done with your “solo”, our sheet music is right here.

 

We now pause for a moment of legitimate respect.

Rembrandt -- both the artist and the subject.

Rembrandt — both the artist and the subject.

 

And, back to our regular program, already in progress.

It wasn't easy keeping Sir Reginald from chewing at his stitches, but the family worked something out.

It wasn’t easy keeping Sir Reginald from chewing at his stitches, but the family worked something out.

Hey, I know that skyline, I've been here! Cool!

Hey, I know that skyline, I’ve been here! Cool!

You don't often see a portrait subject with so much evident character. I'd really like to have known this person. The plaque said she was "Mary Degg, Lady Robert Manners (1737-1829)" and that, "The daughter of William Degg, a British army officer, Mary was orphaned in very early childhood. But she went on to marry Lord Robert Manners, son of the 2nd Duke of Rutland, in 1756."

You don’t often see a portrait subject with so much evident character. I’d really like to have known this person. The plaque said she was “Mary Degg, Lady Robert Manners (1737-1829)” and that, “The daughter of William Degg, a British army officer, Mary was orphaned in very early childhood. But she went on to marry Lord Robert Manners, son of the 2nd Duke of Rutland, in 1756.”

I got a little curious about this bit of history.  Lord Robert Manners was one of 17 children of the 2nd Duke of Rutland, from a set of 8 he had with his 2nd wife.  He was born around 1721, and had a long and distinguished military career, and several children with Mary.  So, he’d have been about 36, and she 19, when they married — which, depending on his good health (and temperament) might not have been too disagreeable.

Curiously, I found a Wikipedia entry that said Lady Robert Manners inherited a manor house in 1788, which would be 6 years after Robert died. Perhaps she inherited it from him, and the dates are slightly off, or perhaps she was the heir of someone else, friend or relative. (Orphaned just means that her parents died, and not that all her living relatives were gone and she grew up in an orphanage.)  And she seems to have been well known in society, because the entry for Mary Bruce, Countess of Elgin, describes her entering London society through her grandmother, Lady Robert Manners.

So it all sounds very Jane Austen.  She seems to have had a long and well-respected life, and I find myself pleased, for no especially relevant reason.

After this, I walked home, stopping at the local market for something dinnery. Which was not this:

Mexican flavours: "Wheat flour, Milk & Eggs". How exotic! I confess, my diet of grass and water has grown a bit stale, perhaps a little adventure is just what I need!

Mexican flavours: “Wheat flour, Milk & Eggs”. How exotic! I confess, my diet of grass and water has grown a bit stale, perhaps a little adventure is just what I need!

 

Saturday, May 28th

One of the things you often do as a tourist in a strange city is go to the theater — or so I’ve heard, never having done it much myself.  But Edinburgh is famous as a center for the arts, and it seemed a shame to waste the opportunity.  So, on Saturday, I managed to get out to see this in the late morning:

I love the theater

I’d been a bit worried I’d miss this, but figured it probably had enough legs to last until I could make it to Edinburgh.  And indeed it did.  The local cineplex was in a largish complex with eateries and some sort of live performance, stage-based show in the building next door — I don’t remember noticing what that was, as I didn’t note any significant keywords on the marquee (“Thor”, “dragon”, “lasers”, “magic ring”, etc.).  I bought some coffee ice cream at the theater to tide me over until lunch, and splurged for the super-special theater seats.  Unfortunately, the seats were nice, but were way far back from the screen.  So I went back and traded them in for regular, closer seats.  If I want comfy seats and a small screen, I’ll just wait till the movie streams.  And the movie was great!  Great actors in well-established, fairly well written roles, relatively few flaws, and very punchy-splodey.  And *so* much better than the comic book “Civil War” event that it was theoretically based on, which had a deeply flawed premise that I won’t burden you with the description of.  (Ask me separately, I’m always happy to (a) explain fictional storylines, and (b) vent about why they’re stupid.)  This was not deeply flawed, only mildly flawed, and plausible outside of that. So, yay!

After the movie, watching people leave the theater, it suddenly struck me as weird to think that they all spoke my language.  Like, natively even!  You know you’ve been traveling for a while, when that’s a standout sensation.

So, it was about 1:45pm and I walked back to the city center:

After the rain of the past couple of days, the weather turned warm and sunny for the weekend. This is a piece of the long avenue running from my place to the city center, just northeast of the red map pin, and I include it (a) to give you another view of what the city looks like and (b) to show you sunshine. Very happy making.

After the rain of the past couple of days, the weather turned warm and sunny for the weekend. This is a piece of the long avenue running from my place to the city center, just northeast of the red map pin, and I include it (a) to give you another view of what the city looks like and (b) to show you sunshine. Very happy making.

(I should mention that walking about Edinburgh had a slight irritation about it, as my back had gone a touch wonky just before I left Zagreb, and has remained so ever since, and that sometimes bugged my knees as I walked.  They were a bit stressed at the end of my Holyrood hike on Tuesday, and I was a little worried about walking around with my luggage on my back.  But I made it to Edinburgh Ok and — spoilers! — made it to Ireland just fine after.)

People think bagpipes are a Celtic thing; few know that they were invented by the aboriginal American tribes. It's nice to see someone paying homage to that. (Taken on Princes Street, opposite the Balmoral Hotel. Look, don't ask me, I'm just a reporter.)

People think bagpipes are a Celtic thing; few know that they were invented by the aboriginal American tribes. It’s nice to see someone paying homage to that. (Taken on Princes Street, looking northish from the Balmoral Hotel. Hey, don’t ask me, I’m just a reporter.)

Turning left just before the Balmoral Hotel, you cross over the Waverly Station rail lines, on your way from the New Town to the Old Town. Looking east from that bridge, you see Calton Hill on the left, and Holyrood Park and Arthur's Seat to the right, over the station rooftop. I quite like this view, for some reason. I think it's the juxtapositioning of earth and old architecture with modern, utilitarian structures and construction, that does it for me.

Turning left just before the Balmoral Hotel, you cross over the Waverly Station rail lines, on your way from the New Town to the Old Town. Looking east from that bridge, you see Calton Hill on the left, and Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat to the right, over the station rooftop. I quite like this view, for some reason. I think it’s the juxtapositioning of earth and old architecture with modern, utilitarian structures and construction, that does it for me.

Lunch at The Cellar Door. I had intended to eat at the Frankenstein Bier Keller that I saw from the tour bus, but I got there and the interior looked stuffy and uninteresting. But, across the street, was The Cellar Door, which advertised stereotypically Scottish food. So, I went down into the cellar and had some. I think it was a Haggis and Neeps dish, and a vastly improved cranachan for dessert, with a Stewart's Brewing Embra ale that was entirely good. So, that was successful!

Lunch at The Cellar Door, in Old Town near the National Museum of Scotland. I had intended to eat at the Frankenstein Bier Keller that I saw from the tour bus, but I got there and the interior looked stuffy and uninteresting. But, across the street, was The Cellar Door, which advertised stereotypically Scottish food. So, I went down into the cellar and had some. I think it was a Haggis and Neeps dish, and a vastly improved cranachan for dessert, with a Stewart’s Brewing Embra ale that was entirely good. So, that was successful!

While I can’t say I had time for a lot of reading in Scotland, this was a nice place, and I did read here, and I can even make out what I was reading.  So, it does seem like I’d be rather letting down the side if I didn’t discuss it.  The book was Amok: An Anthology of Asia-Pacific Speculative Fiction, by Dominica Malcolm.  Amok

It was a very broad collection of variations of scifi/fantasy type stories written by asian-pacific authors, things like: Australian post-apocalyptic stories, Korean urban fantasies, retellings of Chinese myths, and the like.  Some stories were more my thing than others, but all of them were well written, and some of them I’d have liked to see more of.  And, being short stories, it was easy to read one or a few, here or there, as I had time during these couple of weeks of travel.  So, well worth it, and I’d buy a sequel anthology, if they made one.

After lunch, I went around the corner to the National Museum of Scotland, which was as free as the National Gallery.  (Scotland is quite the nation, no denying it.)

Three floors of galleries in this section alone, and you'll rarely have the pleasure of being in a building that feels more Edwardian than this one does.

Three floors of galleries in this section alone, and you’ll rarely have the pleasure of being in a building that feels more Edwardian than this one does. You can easily imagine gentlemen in high-necked black coat and tails and women in bustle skirts strolling about and looking at the exhibits, under the buttressed glass ceiling. (Fun fact: Hillary Clinton is specifically barred from this gallery, for fear of shattering that ceiling. It’s a safety measure, and who can blame them?)

Another gallery, filled with natural history exhibits, and interactive displays, and habitat dioramas, and evolution diagrams, and more dead things than you could shake a stick at. Which, thankfully, you wouldn't need to, what with them already being dead and all.

Another gallery, filled with natural history exhibits, and interactive displays, and habitat dioramas, and evolution diagrams, and more dead things than you could shake a stick at. Which, thankfully, you wouldn’t need to, what with them already being dead and all.

Speaking of dead things, it's clear that the Scots care fuck all about scaring the bejesus out of their kids. There was some *creepy* stuff in here. Like this creature, that crawls into your bed and plucks the dreams out of your brain while you sleep.

Speaking of dead things, it’s clear that the Scots care fuck all about scaring the bejesus out of their kids. There was some *creepy* stuff in here. Like this creature, that crawls into your bed and plucks the dreams out of your brain while you sleep.

It will ask you a riddle, and if you cannot answer you must forfeit your eyes, which it finds particularly tasty.

It will ask you a riddle, and if you cannot answer you must forfeit your eyes, which it finds particularly tasty.

There was a sign saying this was a Thestral, but I heard some patrons asking why the stand was empty. Which was daft, because it was clearly standing right there!

There was a sign saying this was a Thestral, but I heard some patrons asking why the stand was empty. Which was daft, because it was clearly standing right there!

There were several sections to this museum, but I ended up not staying long.  It was already close to 5pm, and the museum closed at 6, and it was free, so I figured maybe I’d come back before I left and see the rest.  They had a special exhibit on The Celts, that charged admission, and I really wanted to see it but I didn’t want to spend the cash on something I only had an hour to enjoy.

There were nice nice views on the walk home:

Walking downhill towards the Princes Street Gardens, I looked back uphill. Nice. :-)

Walking downhill towards the Princes Street Gardens, I looked back uphill. Nice. 🙂

The Princes Street Gardens and the railroad run in parallel. Here, I'm looking from an overpass, east towards that bridge I was shooting from earlier.

The Princes Street Gardens and the railroad run in parallel. Here, I’m looking from an overpass, east towards that bridge I was shooting from earlier.

I confess that the other reason that I left the museum when I did was that I was cranky.  It grew on me during the day, but hit harder while I was in the museum running out of time, and only got stronger on the walk home.  The reason was this: I had Sunday and Monday still in Edinburgh, and then Tuesday I traveled to Ireland — and my plan was that in August I’d go off to Amsterdam, and then to Berlin, before going home.

But I liked Edinburgh.  I’d liked it when I’d been there before, and I really liked it now.  It has the kind of good vibe you get from places like SF, without feeling like an overwhelmingly large city.  It’s got art and science and green and lovely temperatures and good food, and I’d planned to be here for 7 solid, non-travel, days of sightseeing and I’d lost 2-1/4 to sitting at home, so now I was down to 4 and a bit..  I was keenly aware of all the places I wouldn’t be able to go, in the two days I had left, and more and more I didn’t want to leave.  Well, I mean, I was clearly going to Ireland on Tuesday.  But I was really starting to want to blow off Amsterdam and Berlin for the fall, and just come back here.  Suddenly, the idea of going back to countries where English wasn’t the native language was horribly unappealing.  It just seemed like so much *work*!

I kept trying to tell myself that I should stick with the plan, that I was planning to be in Edinburgh in 2017 anyway and I could just do it then.  But I just couldn’t shake free of not wanting to leave, and was getting super crossed and tense and sad about it.

So, on the walk home, I decided: screw the rest of Europe, it could wait a year.  After Ireland, I’d come back to Edinburgh, and just enjoy the rest of the 2.5 months here, before returning to the U.S. for the holidays.  And, poof!  All the stress vanished.  After that, I’d think, “Well, I mean, I could stick to Amsterdam and Berlin, what’s the harm?”  But it didn’t have any traction.  This was where I was coming back to, end of story.

Since then, I’ve booked my post-Ireland plans, and you’ll see them on the Itinerary page.  I’ll leave southern Ireland, travel through Dublin, out to Glasgow for a month, and Edinburgh for the remaining 6 weeks.  Then back through Dublin, which has cheap air fares to JFK, and home to LA.  Next year: Spain or Portugal to start, then Berlin, then Amsterdam, then maybe Scandinavia, Edinburgh for a month in August for the Fringe Festival, and who knows after that?

Sunday, May 29th

At long last, promised in a blog entry so long ago it seems very nearly unto a week, IT is here!

Edinburgh Castle, a fortress built on a volcanic plug, where human settlement is known dating back at least to the 2nd century AD and likely farther.

Edinburgh Castle, a fortress built on a volcanic plug, where human settlement is known dating back at least to the 2nd century AD and likely farther.

I would have a hard time attempting to describe much at all about Edinburgh Castle, because there is simply too much.  It has always been the central fixture of the battles between the English and the Scots, because it’s such an obvious strategic target and defensible fortification.  And yet it managed to change hands with remarkable regularity.  At one point the English had control, and a Scotsman delivering meat to the soldiers dumped his wagon in the middle of the opened gates so that the Scottish guerilla fighters could rush through and retake the castle by surprise.  At another time of English occupation, the Scots scaled the cliffs under cover of storm and retook it.  Once, they half destroyed it to render it unusable to future English invaders (who did retake it and rebuild it).  It’s seen the birth of English monarchs (notably, Mary Queen of Scots bearing James the VI here), and the murder of young princes, and it gets 1.4 million tourists a year now, so their sacrifice was clearly not in vain.

I’ll leave the real description to the wiki page (with its massive bibliography), the Historic Environment Scotland (which has a TL;DNR version of the castle’s history), a nice historical archive of pictures here, including this view from above that gives you a pretty good idea of the layout:

You come in through the main gate at the bottom of the picture (the northeast corner), follow the road up and to the right, curve around past the outbuildings and prison, back into an inner courtyard with ancient chapel and battlements, and then reach the square of the household buildings on the left.

You come in through the main gate at the bottom of the picture (the northeast corner, where the ticket office now is), follow the road up and to the right, curve around past the outbuildings and prison, back into an inner courtyard with ancient chapel and battlements, and then reach the square of the household buildings on the left.

Wikipedia kindly lays out what every building is, in detail:

I reproduce it here for your convenience, courtesy of Wikipedia's Creative Commons licensing. The photo above, taken as I approached the castle, is when I'm in Area A, to the east.

I reproduce it here for your convenience, courtesy of Wikipedia’s Creative Commons licensing. That first photo above, taken as I approached the castle, is when I’m in Area A, to the east, looking towards the Gatehouse (B) where you enter, with the curve of the Half Moon Battery (U) above it and the Royal Palace (W) above that.

And of course, there’s always Google Images.

I picked up an audio guide, and got lots of details as I walked through, and there were elaborate signs with even more details. The pictures in those links above should be giving you a pretty good idea of what it all looks like, but here are a few I took that I liked:

The path running from the Gatehouse to the Portcullis, as you enter.

The path running from the Gatehouse (B) to the Portcullis (D), as you enter.

Looking north to the Firth of Forth, across the city fair. My Airbnb on the right must be, though I could not tell you where.

Looking north to the Firth of Forth, across the city fair.
My Airbnb on the right must be, though I could not tell you where.

(I can tell you, though, that I was standing at E on the map.)

Not currently in use, except as a tourist attraction.

Canons not currently in use, except as a tourist attraction. (Still at E.)

I have a picture of one that *is* currently in use, The One O’Clock Gun, at point F, but someone made a video so let’s use that instead:

The castle has a bunch of buildings, including former royal quarters and weapons halls, current regimental museums, and such.  Some are in active use, some really just serve tourist functions.

They used to keep naval prisoners of war here, for a time, and other prisoners later. These are some of the nicer facilities; it seems to have been fairly civilized. (At least, that's what they're telling us.)

(Underneath the Queen Anne building at Y, which you reach by walking down the aisle between N and O.) They used to keep naval prisoners of war here, for a time, and other prisoners later. These are some of the nicer facilities; it seems to have been fairly civilized. (At least, that’s what they’re telling us.)

Prisoners actually ate pretty well (in a culture that never saw a leafy green that it wouldn't dump out for the cattle to eat).

Prisoners actually ate pretty well (in a culture that never saw a leafy green that it wouldn’t dump out for the cattle to eat).

Standing amongst the outbuildings, looking north over the canons towards the city and the Firth.

Standing just west of point P, amongst the outbuildings, looking north over the canons towards the city and the Firth.

OMG, I just remembered what’s been itching at my mind about the Firth of Forth. Th-Fronting!  This is that thing where some British people — mostly male, originally Cockney but now also commonly in the north of England too — pronounce “f” as “th”.  Like “wif” for “with” and “ovvah” for “other”.  Here’s a short example:

I’ve been watching a lot of Fallout videos the last 9 months, and for whatever reason, a lot of my regular YouTubers are younger English guys who talk like this all through their videos, like this guy, Davey:

Anyway, imagine living near here with that, and always talking about “the Firf ov Forf”?  That was stuck in my head the whole time I was there, “Firf ov Forf”, “Firf ov Forf”.  And now, 2+ months later, I’ve been writing up Edinburgh and going, “Wait, there was something, what was it?” and obsessing about the rhythm of the sound.  Th-fronting.  Ov course!

(Side-note, or maybe side-side-note: I can never remember that it’s called th-fronting, and I keep thinking of it as “t-thwacking”.  ‘Cause I’m adorable like that.)

Anyway, where was I? Oh, right. Edinburgh Castle.

Anyway, I stopped for lunch in the commissary at 12:30 (building G, formerly the “cartsheds”), which you can just make out in my last picture, on the left past the trees.

Super yummy, with an Eden Mill Seggie Porter (nice, though a little thinner than I like in a porter).

Super yummy, with an Eden Mill Seggie Porter (nice, though a little thinner than I like in a porter).

Fortified, I continued onwards:

From the same position as my last picture, but now looking east towards the inner gate.

From the same position as my last picture, but now looking east towards Foog’s Gate at P.

Another panorama, in almost the orientation as the last one, but on the higher level and including more of the West. From here you can see commissary patio on the left, the One O'Clock Canon to its right, the lower battlements below us (from which I took the last picture), and on the far right, an actual dog cemetery just below us where beloved castle dogs have been buried.

Another panorama, in almost the orientation as the last one, but on the higher level at point R and including more of the Western view. From here you can see commissary patio on the left, the One O’Clock Canon to its right, the lower battlements below us (from which I took the last picture), and on the far right, an actual dog cemetery just below us where beloved castle dogs have been buried.
Also, look how sunny it’s gotten in just 3 hours!

The Royal Palace, in that inner square courtyard. In the clock tower, you can see the small room where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to James VI, and from there walk past the Crown Jewels of Scotland. (At a fairly brisk pace, there's no lollygagging where the jewels are concerned.) Armory to the right, former-barracks-now-war-memorial on the left, officer-quarters-now-admin-building to the left behind me.

The Crown Square (V), in that inner square courtyard. In the Royal Palace with the clock tower (W), you can see the small room where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to James VI, and from there walk past the Honours of Scotland (crown, sword, and scepter). (At a fairly brisk pace, there’s no lollygagging where the jewels are concerned.) Armory to the right (X), former-barracks-now-war-memorial on the distant left (Z), officer-quarters-now-admin-building to the left next to me (Y).

The armory. The arms are a bit out of date, but times are tough.

The armory. The arms are a bit out of date, but times are tough.

In the war memorial, where a plaque honoring veterinarians seems to depict them loading animals into the guns to fire at the enemy. I guess, if you're out of other ammo, but it seems a bit haphazard. (Everything and the kitchen skink.)

In the war memorial, where a plaque honoring veterinarians seems to depict them loading animals into the guns to fire at the enemy. I guess, if you’re out of other ammo, but it seems a bit haphazard. (Everything and the kitchen skink.)

"Bible - Official Copy". Um....

“Bible – Official Copy”. Um… I didn’t think Heaven let those get out. Seems like the sort of thing you’d want better protected.

WOW

WOW did they make a big deal about this. I have reproduced the entirety of that epic quest, in the paragraphs that follow:

I can’t tell you how often I tripped across things lauding the “discovery” of the “lost” Honours of Scotland by the heroic Sir Walter Scott. Here’s what happened, the entire epic tale, distilled to the best of my ability into the crucial points you need in order to fully understand the heroism of all those involved:

  1. The Honours were hidden in the castle during a fight with the English, to keep them safe.
  2. Some years later, in 1818, after they were 1 big happy kingdom, someone thought it was Ok to get them out again.
  3. Sir Walter Scott went to the room where they were supposed to be.
  4. He opened the chest they were supposed to be in.
  5. They were there.

My gods, what a story!  I laughed, I cried, it’s a part of me now.

[So help me gods, that’s exactly what happened. And WOW did they make a big deal about this, despite adding not even 1 piece of information beyond what I laid out above that would make it sound more dramatic.  My FedEx delivery had more drama.]

So, with that bit of legend told, I shall exit the castle, stopping by famous Throne of Scone on the way out.

The famous Throne of Scone was less impressive than I expected, but still very popular with the tourists. (The name, of course, derives from the high fiber scone one traditionally has with one's tea in morning.)

The Throne of Scone was less impressive than I expected, but still very popular with the tourists. (The name derives, of course, from the high fiber scone one traditionally has with one’s tea in morning.)

And, from here, I began my walk home.

Once a cathedral, now something called "Cafe Hub", what surely must be the world's fanciest coffee house.

Once a cathedral, now something called “Cafe Hub”, what surely must be the world’s fanciest coffee house.

One of the things I've always loved about the idea of living in big cities like New York and SF, is the idea of living above the places you go to regularly. This is basically a small castle over a backpacking shop. Might as well have my name on it. (Like, I don't know, "Castle Berry".)

One of the things I’ve always loved about the idea of living in big cities like New York and SF, is the idea of living above the places you go to regularly. This is basically a small castle over a backpacking shop. Might as well have my name on it. (Like, I don’t know, “Castle Berry”.)

Oh, come on with that! Now you're just toying with me.

Oh, come on with that! Now you’re just toying with me.

When you're wandering, not 100% certain of your location, and randomly find a Lord of the Rings quote in neon. 'Cause that happened.

When you’re wandering, not 100% certain of your location, and randomly find an appropriate Lord of the Rings quote in neon. ‘Cause that happened.

No big deal, just another random, incredibly scenic street.

No big deal, just another random, incredibly scenic street.

Done, for now.

I really thought I was going to finish my Edinburgh time in this entry, but I’m up to 5500 words and I’ve got one more day of museums to go and then my departure.  So, maybe I save that for the next one, and let that be a short one.  It’ll be in the next few days.  I’m determined to wrap up Ireland before I leave my current place, in under 2 weeks, so wish me luck.  🙂

 

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