On May 13, after an overnight flight with just a couple hours of sleep, I arrived in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. The central portion of the city is divided into two parts, Old Town and New Town, with the train and bus center located between the two. Our hotel was located in Old Town, and with my roommate Mark, I toured the old city. We started on the Royal Mile, the old spine street that runs from the Edinburgh Castle Fortress down to the Holyroodhouse Royal Palace. We started by touring the High Kirk of St. Giles Cathedral, with its lovely stain glass. After stopping for a very nice cappuccino, we walked up to the Castle high on a hill overlooking the city. From the castle, we walked steeply down into old neighborhoods to Greyfriars Kirk, a smaller church with an historic graveyard and monuments to Greyfriars Bobby, a small dog who watched over his masters grave for fourteen years and until the dog died in 1872.
The age of buildings range over hundreds of years with the oldest building being from the 11th century. I was impressed by the detail of the urban scenes with a natural layering created by the hilly terrain and with towers extending above everything. We returned to the Royal Mile and began walking down to the Holyroode Palace. We stopped in the People's Museum where there were displays on the difficult lives of the common people. There were displays on the lives of servants, on labor unions, and on the rise of the socialist movement. There were manikins in costume, a jail cell and other displays. We continued on to the Palace, where the Queen stays, which was closed to the public due to a visiting dignitary. On the way, we passed the interesting, post-modern Scottish Parliament building. We heard a group of the Royal Guards practicing on bagpipes and drums and were impressed with the quality of the playing. I next climbed Calton Hill for views over the city. Back at the Palace, there was a large contingent of Guards in dress uniform and a military band playing.
After touring Old Town, I did a quick walk to New Town which was a portion of the City which was built in the 18th century to provide an alternative to the congested and unsanitary Old Town. It is now the major shopping and office district in the city.