The Journal of a Journey,
UK and Ireland 1999
Day 4Sunday, October 3
After a good full English breakfast at our B&B, we had several hours to kill before catching the train back to Edinburgh and so went sightseeing around Perth, on foot. I'd seen a sign by the road pointing to a waterwheel, so we set out to find it, but never did. Perth lacked the charm of most of the places we'd visited thus far, being mostly modern, or at least not ancient, in look and feel. The cloud cover was too low to see any of the outlying countryside which, we were given to believe, may be spectacular.
At the appointed time we were quite ready to return to Edinburgh, where Tom preferred that we spend this night rather than proceed to Glasgow as scheduled. Edinburgh is by far the more interesting city for tourism, he said, and that proved to be right. The bits of it I had seen on Saturday prepared me for this change of plans.
This time, the Tourist Bureau was able to get us an en suite room (meaning toilet and shower are within the room) about five miles and five pounds in taxi fare from the center. Before checking in, however, we spent the afternoon touring this magnificently scenic and historic capitol. We boarded the Guide Friday tour again and got a highly informative drive around the town. We disembarked at Edinburgh Castle, which offers stunning views of the entire city, the Firth of Forth (Edinburgh's uniquely named harbor) and the outlying area.
The castle itself, which costs about £7 to tour, embodies the history of Scotland and its struggle for independence from imperial England. It houses the Stone of Scone on which the Scottish/English/Welsh monarchs are inaugurated. Also on display are the crown and sword worn in the inaugural.
The views from the castle are among the best I've ever seen, ranking with the top of the Johnstown inclined plane and the Santa Barbara Courthouse tower.
It was indeed an unusual event to be in a capitol of a Protestant country, and our tour included Reformation-era churches where John Knox set fire to the Scottish spirit through his preaching (some would assert that the Church of England is Protestant, though most Anglicans today seem to consider "anglo-catholic" a third option). One of the more bizarre leftovers from the Renaissance we saw was a cemetery where freshly buried bodies were once stolen from their graves and sold to the university for medical research, and wealthy families paid guards to watch over their plots through the night. Those who scoff, "who knew the Scots had scientists" when Dolly the sheep was cloned will find much evidence of Scottish science in Edinburgh, including the fact that it was a Scot who was the primary developer of penicillin.
We walked around the midtown section to find a restaurant, first choosing a bar with food service, but upon not getting served there, made our way to a hotel with a second-floor dining room. It was quite acceptable.
Our B&B was on Marchhall, a cul de sac in a newer section of the city. I believe it cost us £22 each. We were both well satisfied with the room and the breakfast on Monday morning.
Next station: Glasgow to Chester
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