This morning, aided by a promising weather forecast, I collected my guests from their hotel and drove to our first stop at Calton Hill. This high elevation affored us spectacular views of the Firth of Forth, Edinburgh Old and New Towns and the Port of Leith. Addionally,we were able to inspect the monuments which comprise the famous ‘Athens of the North’ skyline. Next we drove to Holyrood at foot of the Royal Mile to commence our walking tour proper.Our first visit was the Palace of Holyrood House which developed from a guest house adjacent to the now defunct (but romantic ruin) Abbey which was established in the 12th century. The Palace could be described at the ‘Buckingham Palace’ of Scotland as it is an official residence of the British Royal Family when in Scotland. The Palace today mainly dates from the 17th century and boast connections with Mary, Queen of Scots, Charles I and Bonnie Prince Charlie. The Palace offers a good quality tour experience. My guests also visited the close by Queen’s Art Gallery.Next we went across the road to visit the somewhat controversial Scottish Parliament building, the interior of which has an ‘Ikea’ flavour to it (see image below). The external design has attracted many detractors.After the Parliament we strolled up the Royal Mile negotiating the multiplicity of tacky tourist shops en-route. This famous stretch of real estate is fast drifting into an embarrassment.We went past the World End pub and John Knox’s house up to St. Giles Cathedral, which is in fact not a cathedral at all but the High Kirk of St Giles with the present building dating from the 14th century. The interior is very impressive, especially the chapel of the Knights of the Thistle Chapel.Next we visited Parliament Square but could not get access to the former. Scottish Parliament due to a function of some sort being in process.Around 1.00pm we arrived at the famous Castle, availed of some lunch and joined in an official guided tour which provided a good insight into the Castle’s history and function. The high elevation provides a good vantage point for photos of Edinburgh and environs.Next we walked back down the Royal Mile and turned left to the Mound and then down to the National Gallery (designed by William Playfair 1845) where we viewed the wide range of art on display including works by Botticelli, Titian and many others.Next we visted the Scott Monument in Princes Street which dates from 1844. The monument is dedicated to Sir Walter Scott, famous romantic author who, arguably, acted as a catalyst to Scottish tourism via his writings. On next to the New Town and a visit to the stunning Dome for afternoon refreshment. This dates from 1844 and was originally a bank head office. The Graeco-Roman interior is flattered by arched ceilings and a coffered central dome through which daylight is chanelled.After the Dome we walked back to re-connect with the Royal Mile and Canongate Kirkyard wherein is situated the burial place of the early economist Adam Smith (1725-1790) who wrote the Wealth of Nations.Our tour concluded we walked back to the car at Holyrood and returned to our lodgings for the night.Tomorrow we head up to Speyside in the Highands for the ‘Whisky’ leg of the tour. Weather prognosis is positive.
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