Atlantis Alumni

Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Day in Edinburgh

We returned to the capital of Scotland Saturday, after many years, perhaps 25. It seemed still the most beautiful, vibrant city in the country, and we saw many enjoyable sights. After a tender took us from our ship to Queensferry, we took a shuttle bus to the city. There our first sight was St. Giles, the high Kirk (or church) of the Presbyterian faith, the largest in Scotland. The cathedral itself is older than the religion, and parts date back to Medieval times. After that we walked up the hills to Edinburgh Castle which has huge grounds and many buildings. We saw the Scottish crown jewels, some apartments of the royal family, the War Memorial and enjoyed the views from the ramparts. Then we walked down from the Castle heights to the National Gallery of Scotland. There we enjoyed seeing many great masterpieces in the collection including works by Hugo van der Goes, Rubens, Rembrandt, Titian, Raeburn (the most famous Scottish artist) and the magnificent Gauguin "Vision After the Sermon," which was Jim's favorite. It's a painting that I've been showing to my classes for over 40 years. After touring the collection we had lunch at the Scottish Cafe in the National Gallery. Their menu included many Scots specialties. Jim had a Portabello haggis tart, which of course is not the real thing, since that famed dish is stuffed with meats. But Jim is a vegetarian, so he was happy with the ersatz haggis. My dish was the Cullen Skink (sounds like a river animal, eh?) which turned out to be seafood, potatoes and spring onions in a heavy cream sauce. It was filling and tasty. Jim also had a creamy, parfait like concoction for dessert, called a 'Cranachan.' My dessert was a plate of delicious petite fours, a French treat done with some local ingredients in this case, such as shortbread. On our last visit to Edinburgh Jim had wanted to buy a kilt. So this time we searched for an extra long kilt, and by asking, went to a kilt maker. At the Nicholson shop Jim found his ideal kilt and bought several of the accoutrements to go with it: the garter ribbons, sporran and long black socks. Stay tuned for a photo of a handsome Irishman wearing traditional Scots garb! After the shopping expedition, we walked to the end of the Royal Mile to visit Holyrood Palace. Perhaps the most elegant rooms in the palace date from the 17th and 18th century, but those the most cloaked in history are where Mary Queen of Scots lived in the 16th century, and where her lover Rizzi was murdered when she was pregnant. She was a lady who lived a turbulent life indeed. Even older parts adjoining the palace were the old abbey ruins which are still beautiful and in the high Gothic style of architecture. From Holyrood we took a taxi back to Charlotte Square to board the bus back to Queensferry. Jim wore his new kilt for the first time at dinner Saturday evening.-Dan

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