Edinburgh: Day 1

As we did in Berlin, my family and I started our visit in Edinburgh with a walking tour of the city with a tour guide called Sabela. We began the tour at the market cross outside of the old Parliment building which is where really important news (Not my birthday though, not sure why (Ha ha ha… Ha…)) is announced but 3 days after it takes place, in honour of how it used to be back in the day of horse back news sharing. We then carried on to the St Giles church where Jenny Geddes threw a stool that is said to have started the Civil War which is commerated with the only statue of a stool in a church anywhere in the world. Near the church is the Heart of Midlothian or the Spitting heart. It marks the spot where people had to take tax money, the site of a prison and a place where people were executed so it was generally associated with suffering. Because of this, people spit onto the heart in remembrance. You can tell the locals and tourists apart as the locals tend to avoid the hearts whilst tourists walk straight through the spit covered heart. We then took a look at a statue of David Hume, a Scottish Philospher who is bit of a big deal for his ideas about morality, which is odd for 3 reasons: he has a shiny toe which you rub to give good luck, he is dressed in a toga and he is rather slim. His shiny toe is odd because, obviously, he didn’t have a shiny toe but also, the idea that it is linked to good luck contradicts Hume’s strong beliefs against superstition. The toga is odd because, obviously, it isn’t the sort of thing that Scottish people wore and it is seen here as Edinburgh had self-proclaimed itself as the Athens of the North because of all the brilliant ideas that had come from the city (Which, to be fair, was a quite a few). The slim body that Hume displays was not very accurate. He was a rather round man but, with the toga included, he would have looked a bit like Buddha so they decided to save on bronze and slim him down.

We moved on to a little courtyard where we told about the story of Deacon William Brodie, a respected cabinet maker who lived a double life as a thief. Brodie is said to have inspired Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde as well as, on a more personal note, the Incredible Hulk with this idea of a split personality. We then took a sort-of step back in time by getting back into the main street through an alley similar to those seen in the early days of Edinburgh. We had a look at the castle but I’ll save that for tomorrow. We had made our final pre-break stop on the Grassmarket. The Grassmarket was where many people were executed by hanging. One particular woman, Maggie Dickson, was hanged for adultery and concealed pregnancy (The latter being a rather absurd reason to hang someone in my opinion). However, when they went to bury Maggie’s body they heard a lot of noise from her coffin and discovered that she wasn’t actually dead. The went to hang her again (The people got a bit excited: “Two hangings in one day! What a treat!” (Not an actual quote, just to add, just wanted to help you visualise it)) but they decided that it was the will of God that Maggie had been given a second chance so she walked away with a clean slate, free from marriage (Til death do us part) where she remarried and opened a pub in Grassmarket.

After a quick break (Involving some much needed Hot chocolate and some great cake), we moved on to Greyfriar graveyard which was dead fun. It was expanded in yester years to house all the bodies from other graveyards that had closed which gained it the name the “Human Lasagna”. I’m going to let you work out why… Let’s just say I’m not having Lasagna for a while. Perhaps the coolest bit about the graveyard was the inspiration it provided for the Harry Potter Series. Numerous names came from the gravestones in the graveyard and none other than Tom Riddle is buried in the graveyard. The Cafe, the Elephant house, where JK Rowling wrote the books overlooked the graveyard as well as much of the old part of Edinburgh. Edinburgh has a long history of inspiring authors. Before leaving the graveyard we heard about Greyfriar Bobby, a dog famous for staying with his dead masters graves for the rest of his life and being made an honourary citizen of Edinburgh (Which technically entitled him to greater voting rights than women, very worrying indeed). The tour was concluded with a story about the Stone of Destiny. The stone was used at the coronations of all the Kings of Scotland and later the Kings and Queens of The UK. It was stolen from the Scottish following the war of independence. In 1950, a group of students decided to steal it back and successfully broke into Westminister Abbey. They did accidentally break the stone but they reminded people about the significance of the stone.  The weird thing was that the only English student amongst them was found out to be the direct descendent of King Edward I who had taken the stone in the first place. That concluded a brilliant tour.

We had lunch at a pub called the Last Drop on Grassmarket. It was originally where criminals went to have their last whiskey before they were hanged. After lunch we went to the National Socttish museum that houses a real eclectic mix of items from around the world and Scotland itself. We focused more in the Scottish side of the museum which had a wonderful science section, with the robotic arm and rocket really stealing the show for me personally. We then made the hilly trek back to where our family friends’ house was which concluded day 1.

If you have any thoughts or questions please leave them in the comments. Thank you.

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