Thursday, August 18–Edinburgh, Lothian

Hiking over to the Queen's Gallery; Holyrood Palace; the Dynamic Earth; getting slightly lost on the way to the Dungeon; another dinner at Wagamama's; around the corner to St Mark's Unitarian Church for a concert by the Edinburgh Renaissance Band; late night cider at the Grosvenor

Citryroomz Edinburgh



It's almost midnight and I'm just getting around to typing my notes up from today although my evening event finished about an hour and a half ago, and I've been home for at least 45 minutes after stopping in for a pint of cider at the Grosvenor, the great old bar across the street from my hotel, after the concert. I did spend part of the time since I got back here calling GeoBlue, the travel health insurance provider I bought a policy from for this trip. They would cover prescriptions and a doctor's visit here or in London or in Paris, but there is no way I could get a US prescription filled away from home. Oh well–I just won't worry about those two medications until I get back home in almost six week's time.

I had a very good day today, in spite of a couple of minor errors in planning and logistics on my part. I was having a bit of trouble with the Google Maps app on my Irish Android smart phone, which always tries to connect with instead of here in the UK. I thought I remembered the route to get from here to the Queen's Gallery I'd looked up on Google Maps last night, which I thought involved walking all the way down Princes Street to Rabbie's café, where I had gone for my day trip to Stirling Castle and Loch Lomond earlier this week, but apparently I was a bit wrong. It was getting close to 9:30 AM which is when I'd bought a ticket for, and I was still perhaps a quarter to half a mile away, so I flagged down a cab for the short trip there.

When I got to the Queen's Gallery, I couldn't find the email confirming I'd bought the ticket on my Irish Android smart phone, and had to buy another one which really wasn't a problem since the cost for seniors (60 and over here) was 6.5 GBP.

The Queen's Gallery here in Edinburgh is really rather small. I'm not sure how it compares in size to the one in London, which I haven't been to yet. I didn't get there last summer, but plan on doing so this time. The building itself is rather lovely, and they seem to use it for special displays of certain items in the Royal collection here in Edinburgh that fit a specific theme, which was gardens this time–specifically, "Painting Paradise–the art of the garden" . Although the exhibition wasn't huge, it had a lot of lovely things in it.

Since the exhibition wasn't very large and didn't take a lot of time to see, and my visit to the Dungeon wasn't until 2:30 PM, and the Gallery is on the grounds of Holyrood Palace, and the Royal Edinburgh ticket I bought Sunday when I took the bus tour includes the Palace I went in. I don't usually do the audio tour, especially if I can take a live guided tour, but it seems that's the only way to learn about what you see while visiting the Palace so I'm glad I did. It was very well done, and very informative as well.

Pictures can't be taken within the Palace itself, only outside on the grounds, which is too bad since there were many lovely pieces of furniture, art, and architectural details worth taking pictures of inside. The audio tour ends in the ruins of the old Holyrood Abbey so that was another benefit.

I still had plenty of time left, and it's not far from Holyrood Palace and the Queen's Gallery, so I went over to the Dynamic Earth which like most science museums I've ever been to, from the one in Chicago which is probably the first one I can remember going to and the ones in London and Glasgow, are primarily meant for families and kids but I still enjoy them, especially when they're as well done as the Dynamic Earth is, with lots of multi-media exhibits including a short National Geographic movie about asteroids showing in their planetarium-like 360 degree Showdome.

By now it was close to 1:30 PM and I needed to make tracks over to the Dungeon, which I thought was over on the Royal Mile itself. Dynamic Earth is around the corner and down a few blocks from the Queen's Gallery/Holyrood Palace, which is at the lower end of the Royal Mile. I walked most of the way up and didn't see the Dungeon so I thought I'd better check. I was still having problems with Google Maps on my Irish Android smart phone (it wasn't until a little while ago that I noticed that the phone was somehow switched to airplane mode, which might have had something to do with the connection problem, and I have no idea how that got turned on since you have to go through at least two different screens to do so) so I turned on roaming on my home iPhone just long enough to get directions. I was only off by a couple of blocks, since it turned out to actually be just off Princes Street instead of the Royal Mile. I needed to go down St Giles Street, past the Museum on the Mound, downhill on the News Steps, then up Market Street for a couple of blocks. I didn't have a lot of time for lunch so I bought a Slimfast at the Boots just off the Royal Mile I went past on the way to the Dungeon.

OK, the Edinburgh Dungeon and apparently its siblings (including London and San Francisco among others) are hokey and over the top but are a lot of fun. It was amusing to hear shrieks whenever some of the other people in my group were scared or very startled, and that wasn't just the kids either. There's just something enjoyable about hearing grandmotherly women even older than I am shrieking like much younger kids.

It was about 4:00 in the afternoon when I got out of the Dungeon. I had thought the performance I had a ticket for tonight was at 6:30 at the Queen's Hall, which is about a half an hour's walk from here, and wanted to spend some of the time before I had to leave for it back here in my room so I flagged down a cab for the fairly short and inexpensive (5 GBP) ride back here.

After I got home I checked the ticket and saw that instead of being at the Queen's Hall tonight's concert was actually at St Mark's Unitarian Church which is less than a ten minute walk from here. I decided to wait and find somewhere for dinner after the concert, and headed on over a bit after 6:00 PM and it was indeed the shortest trip I've had to get anywhere since I've been here. When I got to St Mark's, however, I realized that somehow I had erred in subtracting 12 from 20:30 and my show was at 8:30 PM instead of 6:30 PM. That was OK, because that gave me time before the performance to have another good dinner at the Wagamama on the corner between St Mark's and here, and then to come back here for about half an hour to use my own bathroom and get my sweatshirt which I would probably need after the concert.

Somehow I'd never been to St Mark's before, although it's just around the corner from St John's and St Cuthbert's which are two of my favorite churches here in Edinburgh. Since it's a sUnitarian church it's not as lavishly and symbolically decorated as most other churches I've been to and is very similar to churches in New England I've seen pictures of, but I rather liked it. And I really liked the performance by the Edinburgh Renaissance Band who were sometimes accompanied by a woman and two men doing dances from the Renaissance. Almost all of the twelve musicians played more than one instrument, and two women had lovely voices and sang and so did the director and MC who had as good baritone voice.

Even before the performance began I thought to myself "I'm home", for several reasons. Even though my siblings and I were raised Roman Catholic until my family got to Portland OR in 1972, and I spent time as a Presbyterian in high school and a Methodist in college since that's what my friends then were, I've basically considered myself a post-Christian since college. Although I no longer believe in Christianity it did shape a lot of what I grew up with. I realized a long time ago that if I ever went back to church for the social connections I'd probably be a Unitarian, a Universalist, a Unitarian Universalist, or a Buddhist. And I've been a fan of Renaissance music at least since I first attended a play at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival down in Ashland, back when they did performances of music and dance from Shakespeare's time. For all the time I lived in Portland, Tacoma, Portland and then Seattle I was a fan of the Portland musicians Phil & Gayle Neuman whom I first came across as their early music duo De Organographia and stayed a fan of their other groups including the Oregon Renaissance Band, and basically never missed any concert of theirs in whatever group was performing until I moved to Florida.

After the performance I stopped at the Grosvenor, the bar across the street, for a pint of cider before coming back here to my room.

It's now just after 1 AM. In the morning I need to take my two bags of stuff and the cane I want to ship back home up to the Mailboxes Etc which opens at 9 AM. After that I actually have the concert at the Queen's Hall by the Emerson String Quartet at 11 AM. The Queen's Hall is about half an hour's walk from here.

Yesterday one of the people handing out fliers on the Royal Mile for their programs was in a taiko group which is performing tomorrow at 5:10 PM. I am a big fan of taiko groups, and have been since I heard my first one either at Folklife or at a performance by a local group in Portland or Seattle as well as trying to not miss performances by my local taiko group at home in Florida, so I of course ordered a ticket online last night. I need to stop by the Fringe box office tomorrow before the show to pick it up, either on the way to Queen's Hall for the Emerson String Quartet concert or after it.

Between the ESQ concert at 11 AM and the taiko performance at 5:10 PM I might go to some of the churches and museums along the Royal Mile I've been hoping to get to, or maybe I'll come back here for part of the afternoon. We'll see. Time to get to bed.

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