Friday, May 31
I woke up even earlier than the day before, shortly after 3 AM, and again the sky was already lightening.
At a more reasonable hour, we had a little breakfast at Black Medicine Coffee – excellent fruit scones and espresso and, interestingly, a Native American motif. We then tooled around town for a bit. Along the Royal Mile, we found barricades and police patrolling. We posted up in front of the City Chambers,
To watch the homecoming parade of the Scots Guard. These colorful gentleman led the parade,
Followed by these squared away soldiers.
They were shouted to a halt by a couple of fearsome sergeant-majors. Then shouted into alignment and parade rest for the speeches. Then shouted back into marching formation. And then shouted off down the cobblestoned road (where hopefully they would get the opportunity to rest their feet).
You can watch a short video here. It’s all very solemn and formal but I laugh a little every time I watch the part where they have to dress themselves into straight lines. The little scuttling movements are especially comical with their big stompy boots. It’s interesting to note that this technique seems to be used the world over. It looks kind of silly but it appears to be the best method that anyone anywhere can devise. I also felt a little déjà vu. At OCS, I remember being in formation for quarters, three squads facing inwards, and doing everything we could not to make eye contact. We were all wound pretty tight and if we met each other’s eyes, we’d then be having to stifle nervous laughter.
After the parade, we walked to Waverley Bridge to take a hop-on-hop-off Majestic bus tour to Leith, the port of Edinburgh. This area had turned rough after World War II but has been the focus of urban renewal efforts in recent years. Cruise ships now dock here and the former pleasure craft of the Royal Family, the Royal Yacht Britannia (nearly as large as a cruise ship) is permanently moored here.
We also saw the Royal Botanic Garden, home to 70% of all known species of plants.
We ate lunch and wandered around town a bit more and decided to take another tour on board one of Mac Tours great old open top buses.
We got a glimpse of the Scottish Parliament building.
These structures on the side of the building are window seats like this.
From an elevated vantage point, such as the nearby (dormant) volcano called Arthur’s Seat, the buildings are supposed to look like the branch of a tree.
I guess I can see the suggestion of a leaf motif here. There’s an interesting article detailing the contentious process of designing and constructing the buildings here. Hopefully after the referendum in September, the focus will be on the future of an independent Scotland.
We had an early supper at Pancho Villas, which offered decent Mexican food with good vegetarian options. The owner was born in Mexico and it would have been interesting to hear how she ended up in Scotland.
On the way back to the hotel, we happened to pass Armstrong’s Vintage which I’d forgotten was on my list. It’s probably for the best since, if I’d had more time and energy, I’d have had to buy another suitcase. I settled for a nice blue plaid (of course) scarf of, I think, gabardine wool. We hit a couple other stores and bought a few souvenirs and last minute purchases – another Proclaimers CD for me and a lambswool scarf for each of us and then headed back to the hotel to pack.