My first major stop of the day was the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence of Queen Elizabeth when she is in Scotland and where the Royal Family carries out official engagements. It was also the home of Mary, Queen of Scots.
A great audio guide provided information about the history of the palace and how it is used now. A video showed clips from official events at the palace, and it was fun to imagine the empty rooms filled with all the pagentry. Attached to the palace are the ruins of a 12th-century Abbey which was abandoned in 1768 when the roof collapsed.
A walk through the beautiful Royal Gardens concluded the tour.
In the afternoon I experienced Edinburgh in a different time and place when I went to Mary King’s Close. Edinburgh is built on lava. The Royal Mile, the main thoroughfare of the oldest part of Edinburgh, is like a spine sloping downward from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. In the 17th century, closes or narrow lanes sloped sharply downward off each side of the Royal Mile. Houses and businesses were built along these closes. In time, Edinburgh cut off the tops of the buildings to provide a larger area of level land for building, and the closes were covered up. But Mary King’s Close was preserved, and now it is possible see how people in Edinburgh lived in the 17th century.
Life was tough. I am going to have a hard time getting the images of sanitation practices and plague treatments out of my mind. Our tour guide explained how the church started the ghost culture in Edinburgh. After the plague, many people were afraid to leave their homes and church attendance was down. The church created and spread ghost stories so people would be motivated to come to church. And it worked.
On my walk home I saw at least five cricket games in progress. Players in each game stake out a big circle with yellow discs. That must be the boundaries for the game. I don’t know anything about cricket; I had to ask someone if that was what I was watching.
I also walked through a pitch-and-putt golf course. Golfers share the course with walkers, dogs and anyone else who wants to be there. Although they are not hitting the ball long or hard, it still amazes me that no one gets hit.
I ended my day with a lovely dinner at a little Thai restaurant around the corner from my B and B. They gave me the table by the window I asked about when I made my reservation, and the food was wonderful. It is not always easy eating dinner by yourself, and I appreciated their warm welcome and gracious service.