Friday, March 15, 2013

Edinburgh - the brown city

One of the things I love about travel is encountering the unexpected.  Tonight we went to see a show at the Royal Lyceum Theatre.  It's a fancy place...ornate ceiling, red velvet seats, a large fresco over the stage...everything you would expect from a 130 year old European theatre.  Here's where the unexpected comes in...during the act break, the ushers come down the aisles selling ice cream.  Yep, little tubs of ice cream with wooden spoons and Calippo push-ups.  You can sit right in your velvet seat and eat during the second act.  Most theatres in the US won't let you take a drink with lid into their house.  A very nice surprise and I enjoyed my unexpected orange Calippo snack.

Here's another surprise I encountered today; the typical Scottish breakfast consists of eggs, bacon, sausage, toast...and haggis and baked beans.  Tanya and I had it all...and I really liked the haggis!  I'd have it again...maybe even tomorrow morning.

This afternoon we took the Lothian bus out to Rosslyn Chapel.  The Lothian is the regular bus that runs all over Edinburgh as the predominant means of transportation, but it also runs way out into the "suburbs" of Roslin (the town is spelled slightly differently from the chapel).  It never ceases to amaze me how efficient public transportation is in Europe.  The chapel is stunningly beautiful.  It's about 600 years old.  It isn't very large, and it has good natural light, so it's much easier to see the detail than in a larger gothic cathedral like Notre Dame.  And Rosslyn is filled with mystery and intrigue as it is believed by some to be the hiding place of such biblical antiquities as the holy grail and the arc of the covenant.  There is no evidence of any of this, of course, but Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code has forever sealed its fate as being a tourist attraction for believers of the fiction.  Whether its Knights Templar connections are true or not, it is a stunning example of gothic architecture. 

As the title of this blog post suggests, Edinburgh is very brown.  All of the buildings here are made of sandstone mined at local quarries.  Sandstone is light colored when new, but ages to a deep brown.  And this city is old so its buildings, at least in the old town, are all dark.  They are also all pretty much exactly the same design...about 4 stories high and densely packed.  It is both quaint and austere looking at the same time.  Very different from the bright buildings of Dublin.

All the cabs are this cute design, although not all of them are tartan.

A typical Edinburgh street.

Rosslyn Chapel from the side.  Notice the scaffolding at the front...a tour guide told me it had been under renovations for "years and years."  No photography allowed inside...sorry.

Edinburgh Castle from the side.  You had to really want it to penetrate this fortress.
                                                    The side entrance to Rosslyn Chapel.

A view of the Edinburgh roofline from up on a hill.

The ceiling at the Royal Lyceum Theatre.  We weren't allowed to make pictures of the stage.

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