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The Edifices of Edinburgh
By Ted Heck 

It had been 62 years since I first visited Edinburgh. The Scottish capital had gotten younger, with more spiked hair, face jewelry and tight jeans on the streets than we would see at a Britney Spears concert—if we were silly enough to attend one.
Perhaps older folks among the city’s nearly five hundred thousand people were hiking in the Highlands. But Sir Walter Scott still sat here in his monument, where I could show off to Connie with quotes from “Ivanhoe.” Reminders of Robert Burns, and Robert the Bruce and Braveheart were everywhere.

We walked the Royal Mile from Edinburgh’s fortress castle, majestic on its promontory, all the way down to Holyroodhouse palace that sits below the grass and rocky hills known as The Crags. Along the way we tried to sponge up 20 centuries of Scottish history and culture.

A sightseeing bus took us later to other parts of the town that
noted guidebook author Rick Steves calls “Scotland’s showpiece and one of Europe’s most entertaining cities.” With a special pass we were able to hop off at points of special interest identified by the guide or recommended by Steves.

Connie, a painter and sculptress, was delighted with the collection of old masters in the National Gallery and the special exhibition in the Queens’ Gallery that adjoins Holyroodhouse. Great works “From Breughel to Rubens” had been assembled from major castles and palaces in the United Kingdom.

On one hop on/hop off adventure, we stopped at Ocean Terminal mall on the Firth of Forth bay. The decommissioned royal yacht Britannia at dockside is a major tourist attraction and colorful demonstration of the privileges of rank. Connie went shopping in the huge mall, while I bounded up and down the ship’s decks.

When it still sailed to South Africa or Australia or Hong Kong, it carried a separate launch aboard and a Rolls Royce sedan, just in case locals couldn’t provide suitable transportation. The separate bedrooms of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were spacious and a far cry from cramped quarters of the 250-man crew the ship used to have. Each deck contained descriptions of special events and photographs of the royal family and their various guests.

We did not get to the Highlands to look for those other old folks. The best we could do was admire exquisite landscapes in the Scottish section of the National Gallery. Three energetic days in Edinburgh (pronounced Ed’nburra) made us happy to be back each night at the Dunedin B&B, instead of lifting pints in the pub with younger generations.

More by Ted Heck



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