January 18 - 20, 2001

Photos & Text 2001 by
Len Schwer
Revised 13 February 2001

A rd-Na-Said Guest House
  The train ride from York to Edinburgh takes about 2.5 hours and is very pleasant, especially in the first class. I think the extra $130 each was worth the added expense as the cars were nearly empty and we had a table to spread out at. No point in spending time and money on a great trip and then skimping on the transportation. Plus the added cost was spread over our 4 days of train travel with two trips of nearly 6 hour duration.
  Arriving in Edinburgh we took a taxi from the train station to our second B&B - Ard-Na-Said Guest House. This time walking was not a practical option as it is a 20-30 minute walk from the station to Ard-Na-Said, again the £4.50 fare to B&B was money well spent.
  The room at the Ard-Na-Said was the nicest of all the B&B's we stayed in during our trip. The room was very large and well appointed. Everything looked very new and fresh. The guest house is huge with spacious
hallways and very tastefully decorated throughout. I complemented our lovely hostess, Olive Lyons, several times on the beauty of her home and her graciousness as a hostess. If you go to Edinburgh and don't stay at Ard-Na-Said you'll miss a real treat.
  The breakfast served by Olive was the traditional full Scottish (English?) breakfast that we had by now grown accustomed to with tomatoes & mushrooms. At Ard-Na-Said you can order whatever you like from the menu. At our first breakfast Augie was adventurous and ordered the Black Pudding - a Scottish blood sausage. The next morning we made a pact to order the Haggis - a very traditional Scottish meat made from bits of lamb that I won't describe in detail. Olive served it like a pork sausage patty and it was very tasty. So next 25 January - Burns Day - order yourself some haggis, off the net (they have a vegetarian version too), MacSween the Haggis Specialists and celebrate the birth date of the great Scottish poet.
Train to Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle
Link to web site with street maps of Edinburgh
  Edinburgh Castle is the city's most popular tourist attraction, both for its many historic and interesting points of interest, and the great views of Edinburgh and its surroundings.
  We took the bus to the city and walked a few uphill blocks along the Royal Mile to the castle. There weren't many tourists as the empty parking lot illustrates. The castle entrance is guarded by statues of Wallace & Bruce, but the Wallace statue looks nothing like Mel Gibson in Brave Heart.
  The £7.50 entry fee includes a self guided tour via a CD player and head sets. A nice idea as you simply enter the track number posted along side the point of interest, and the CD has the capacity to offer you further information on a host of related topics. St Margaret's Chapel, built in 1130, is the oldest building in Edinburgh. It is now a popular place to be married.
  The Scottish National War Memorial commemorates the over 200,000 Scottish soldiers who have died serving Scotland since the Great War. The interior displays the colors and symbols of the many Scottish Regiments and is quite a moving tribute to so many who perished.
  The Royal Palace where the Scottish Royalty used to reside, mostly in times of trouble, as they preferred the more comfortable
Holyrood Palace at the opposite end of the Royal Mile. The Royal Palace is where Scotland's Crown Jewels and Honors of Scotland are housed. The Scottish Crown Jewels are older than those of England, since Cromwell destroyed the English jewels. The Honors of Scotland are the Crown, Sceptre and Sword of State of Scotland used in the coronation.
  The views from the castle are very nice; too bad we didn't have a clear day. Most views to the east include the spire of St Giles Cathedral, Scotland's most important church. Far to the east of Edinburgh is a volcanic mound know as Arthur's Seat. Edinburgh Castle is also built on a volcanic mound that made it difficult to tunnel down for a water source to be used during a siege.
  The Firth of Forth is a inlet of the North Sea that provides the northern boundary to Edinburgh. Also visible from the Castle is the National Gallery with displays of many great European masters, and of course a large collection of Scottish painters. Augie & I visited the Galley on our first day in Edinburgh, in part to get in out of the wet snow that greeted our arrival. I am always impressed in Augie's interest in museums in general, and especially art. Maybe I should have taken a history of art class instead of integral equations?
Castle and Parking
Castle Exterior
Wallace & Bruce
St. Margarete's Chapel
Scottish National War Memorial
Royal Palace
St Giles thru Cannon Position
St Giles
Arthurs Seat (southeast view)
Royal Mile (east view)
Firth of Forth (Sea) View (north view)
City View
National Gallery

Royal Museum of Scotland & Museum of Scotland
  Two museums in one is what the Royal Museum of Scotland & Museum of Scotland offer. The new Museum of Scotland, opened in 1999, focuses on the history of Scotland and this is where Augie & I spent most of our museum visit; after the castle tour. The older adjoining Royal Museum of Scotland is the largest UK museum outside of London. It is much photographed because of its beautiful 270 foot high glass roofed entry hall. The collections of fossils and scientific instruments are the museums noteworthy exhibits. We toured briefly the scientific instruments exhibit and I was amazed at the collection. As an example, take microscopes. They don't have a few microscopes, but rather a few exhibit cases of microscopes displaying every variant of the technology. The £3 admission for both museums is a bargain, but you should probably plan parts of two days for a good visit, else you'll suffer museum burnout as we did.
  In retrospect, I wish I had planned another day in Edinburgh as it is a very large city and there is much to see and do. But those things will have to wait until I return, as Ms Becky says I must with her!
Royal Museumof Scotland
Break between Museums
Royal Museum Roof
Second Level Gallery
Royal Museum Roof

Return to Britain 2001 hub page

Photos & Text 2001 by Len Schwer