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  • Jun22

    Edinburgh

    June 22 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    I have arrived safely in Edinburgh via Glasgow. I had a three and a half hour lay over in Iceland. Iceland Air is pretty good for short layovers. The majority of the people left on outward bound flights after an hour. The airport went from being supper busy to ghost like. I nodded off for a few minutes. After two hours it became frantic again. I took the 500 bus in from the airport and I was befriended by an elderly couple who turned out to be a retired Presbyterian minister and his wife from the outer Hebrides. They insisted on helping me find the 900 bus to Edinburgh. God was looking out for me I guess. My Air BnB was only a short walk from the bus station located in New town. The Air BNB is wonderful. It is on a quiet side street . It is a one bedroom apartment with a fully stocked kitchen and a very comfortable bed. I fell asleep at 9 and woke up at 8. I did a self guided walking tour through New town last night also known as the Zombie walk as I was quite tired from the trip.

    Today I did a bicycle tour of part of Edinburgh led by a restaurant owner. I met him at his restaurant the Smoke Shack and we peddled for about 12 miles including making it down to Lith on the North Sea. It was a little light on the history but lots of interesting information about running a small business in Edinburgh. I was the only one on the tour. I had contacted him in advance to see if he would run a tour on Sunday and he had generously agreed to. I think he was bored of running the restaurant. He had run various bars and nightclubs so he had lots of stories to tell. He also ran two air BNB properties in Edinburgh and one in Austria. His restaurant was 1 block from where I was staying so it couldn't be more convenient. After the ride I had a cup of tea with him before he had to dash off to his next business venture.

    In the afternoon I headed off to the national gallery beside Waverly station. It was a small gallery but hit pretty high with some notable pieces. When I visit galleries I try to concentrate on their notable works first and if I have the time and energy I will go back and look at the other paintings. They had a number of renaissance paintings by Botticelli and Raphael. There was a self portrait by Rembrandt. I guess he painted about 150 so what's a gallery without a Rembrandt. Of their impressionist paintings, the most famous was probably Sargent's Lady Agnew of Lochnaw. A very striking portrait. The very knowledgeable and engaging docent explained that the reason it is so striking is that her head is painted with total realism but the rest of the painting is smudged or indistinct.

    I had thought that the gallery would have taken a little longer but it didn't so I headed off to the queen's palace in Edinburgh known as Holyrood palace. It is at the far end of Royal Palace opposite to Edinburgh castle. I was fortunate to have headed off today as the queen herself is showing up tomorrow for the Royal week including the Royal garden party. The queen and members of the Royal family meet important Scottish people at the garden party. The palace was built on the site of a Abbey where Scottish royalty had been living in off and on from the 11 century. The present castle had been built in the 16 and 17 century. There was an excellent audio tour. Notable occupants of the castle included Mary Queen of Scots and for a short period Bonnie Prince Charles. After the tour you were allowed to walk on one path through the garden but you had to stay off the grass. I wondered whether I could see the current Prince Charles off in the garden weeding. Prince Charles prides himself on being a master gardener but has come under criticism as supposedly he doesn't like to get his hands dirty or actually do any of the work . His expertise lies in organising the gardeners. I wanted to ask him how he kept the weeds and grass out of his Thyme walkway. Alas as I wasn't allowed to walk on the grass to go and ask him I will never know.
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