I got off to a slow start today, largely due to my late night last night and a recurrence of my mild stomach problems as well. I didn't get to sleep until about 3 AM this morning, and although I woke up sometime between 7 and 8 AM I thought "Nope", hung the "Do not disturb" sign on the hall side of my room's door and went back to bed and back to sleep until about 10 AM. After I woke up I had some mild stomach problems, as I just mentioned, until around 1 PM which is when I felt well enough to leave for the day. It was sunny and felt warm in the sun when the wind wasn't blowing so I didn't wear my sweatshirt, but later I sometimes wished I had.
I did indeed start out up at the Castle, taking the steep walkway up to the short flight of stairs at the base of the Castlethe same way I had wanted to go home last night but all the stairs from the Castle were blocked off. I wanted to use the Royal Edinburgh pass I had bought earlier this week, but I had neglected to check and see if there was any date restriction on it and it was only good for 48 hours after purchase. That was OK, since the senior price was reasonable.
The Castle was packed today, especially since the weather was decent. While I was waiting in the ticket line, I could hear some of the people working the ticket booths chatting with their customers and heard one of them say that during the peak period of August they can get 10,000 people a day visiting. I went on the next guided tour, which lasted about half an hour. Our guide, John, didn't take us into any of the buildings but told us about them when we were in the courtyards outside them. He was a very nice older guy, with a good sense of humor, and very informative.
After the tour I wandered around taking pictures. I really like the Castle, with its very interesting architecture with buildings from several different centuries of the Castle's occupation. I didn't go into any of the regimental museums on the Castle grounds, but this time I did go in to see the Honours of Scotland, otherwise known as the Scottish Crown Jewels, which are a crown, a scepter, and a ceremonial sword, and are in the same display case as the famous Stone of Scone (pronounced scoon, not like the pastry) or Stone of Destiny which was returned to Scotland in 1996 after seven hundred almost unbroken years of being kept in Westminster Abbey. I say almost unbroken because it went missing for three months in 1950/1951 when three Scottish students removed it and attempted to return it to Scotland. This is one of the two places in the Castle where taking pictures is not allowed.
The Crown Jewels also have an interesting history, since they too had gone missing from 1707 until they were rediscovered in 1818, largely through the efforts of Sir Walter Scott who was helping prepare for the forthcoming visit of King George IV in 1822.
I enjoyed visiting the wonderful Great Hall again, with its lovely decorations including many surprisingly attractive displays of arms and armor.
The second place where taking pictures is not allowed is in the Scottish National War Memorial which is beautifully done and is quite lovely.
When I went to the Castle when I was here five years ago, there were actual guards stationed at the entrance to the Castle and at the entrance to the War Memorial but there were none today.
I somehow missed the War Museum. Instead I had a delicious full afternoon tea in the delightful Queen Anne tearoom for lunch. I hadn't even gone in to take a look when I was here last.
I also really enjoyed revisiting the very small but lovely St Margaret's Chapel and as always was rather amused at seeing some of the taller visitors while I was there next to and passing through the rather small doorway.
After I left the Castle I went to the delightful and amusing Camera Obscura which is full of wonderful illusions and other bits of optical trickery. I climbed all the way to the rooftop for the next show in the camera obscura itself, which is always enjoyable when the weather's at least partly sunny as it was today. I then went downstairs, floor by floor, wandering around and looking at the displays and exhibits on each floor. I didn't take many pictures this time, since there has been very little change since I took pictures when I was there last. As usual I had a bit of trouble getting through the Mirror Maze and the Vortex did its usual tricks to my sense of perception and balance. The younger guy who was working in the area had a lot of fun showing some other visitors how to trick their senses even more by leaning back and looking up and other things that would have had me on the floor waiting for someone to come get me out of there.
There was one feature I can't remember if it was there five years ago. In addition to the original Victorian camera obscura up on the roof level they also have four very high resolution viewcams which people can manipulate and zoom in and out with.
By now it was almost 5 PM. For some reason I was a bit dizzy, more so than usual. I walked down the Royal Mile but decided not to go into the other museums along the way, if they were even open, or to wander around the lovely graveyard at Canongate church. There was an event taking place in the church at the time, so I skipped going in that as well.
I just really wanted to get back here to my room. I kept trying to flag down a cab but all of them that passed were occupied. I finally went into the Starbucks down towards the lower end of the Royal Mile and asked them to call a cab for me after I'd had an iced coffee.
I got back here around 6 or 6:30 PM, and just hung out, adding the information about the last couple of weeks of podcasts to my various lists. About 7:30 or almost 8:00 PM I went to dinner at the nice Italian place on the corner I'd been to earlier this week, and had a very good meal and dessert.
It's now 11 PM. I need to get up about 7 AM tomorrow to make sure I have plenty of time to shower and pack early enough to catch a cab not much later than 8 AM to be out at the airport early for my 10:40 AM Ryanair flight to London. I'll probably get to my hotel too early to check in, but at least I'll be able to leave my luggage while I either use the treadmill downstairs or take a walk for my daily exercise, and go to the Sainsbury's up the street and the Boots across the street to pick up some things for the next couple of days.
More later tomorrow night from London.