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Friday, November 20, 2015

Edinburgh, Day 3: Holyrood, Botanic Garden, and Fireworks

Monday was another jam-packed day.  We started at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the royal family's official residence in Scotland; in fact, the staff was readying the palace for the Queen's visit in
The gates to Holyroodhouse

The front of Holyroodhouse in an official photo

This is a more realistic view from the tourist viewpoint

The property also contains what is left of Holyrood Abbey, founded by King David I in 1128.

Holyrood Abbey as seen in another official photo

The inside of the abbey ruins (as seen by us)

Holyroodhouse is probably most famous as the 16th-century home of Mary Queen of Scots, who spent 6 years here from 1561-67.  During that time, she married her first and then second husbands and witnessed the murder of David Rizzio, her secretary and rumored lover.

Mary's bedchamber- believe me, it does not look this bright in real life.

We were not allowed to take any photos of the inside because it is, after all, the Queen's home, but the internet is a wonderful place to find official photos.

The antechamber where David Rizzio was stabbed and left to bleed to death

Back outside in the queen's garden with a view of Arthur's Seat

Here are 2 views of the Royal Mile, which is a series of 4 streets that form the main thoroughfare from Edinburgh Castle to Holyroodhouse.  It is so named because the stretch is about one Scots mile long (about 1.81km).

Part of the Royal Mile

View Victoria Street

Our next stop was the Royal Botanic Garden, 70 beautifully landscaped acres that includes a new visitor center with an interesting gift shop, 25 glasshouses, a selection of Chinese plants, and an amazing rock garden.

One of the many interesting plants in the demonstration gardens

The beech hedgerow next to the demonstration gardens

A peek at the interior of the hedgerow.  If you ever read about how much trouble soldiers had fighting through the hedgerows in World War II, this will give you and idea why.

Part of the structure in the Queen Mother's Memorial Garden

A close-up shot of the shell work decoration on the walls

The Victorian Palm House

 One section of the world-famous rock garden

Part of the Chinese Hill Garden.  The RBG has the largest collection of wild-origin Chinese plants outside of China.  In fact, Chinese gardeners came to the RBG to take samples of some plants that had been lost during the Cultural Revolution.

My one purchase in the gift shop was a pewter pin in the shape of a thistle with a Heathergem cabochon.  Never heard of that stone?  That's because it is made of heather plants that have been gathered, dyed, compressed, and shaped.  If you want to see photos of the process, click on over to Making Heathergems

Pewter thistle pin with Heathergem cabochon

After spending many hours in the gardens, we headed back to the Old Town to watch the fireworks from Edinburgh Castle that marked the end of the Edinburgh Festival.  While waiting for it to get dark enough, we grabbed a quick dinner of Mediterranean wraps with vegetables on Arabic bread at Palmyra Pizza.  The food was quite good and we certainly couldn't complain about the price.

Almost dark enough for fireworks

Since we didn't have expensive tickets to watch the fireworks while seated in the Princes Street Gardens, we joined many other people in the square near the National Gallery of Scotland.  The night was a bit chilly, but we had a good view of  the fireworks and the crowd was quite cheerful (courtesy of free-flowing libations).

The crowd at the square

Some of the fireworks

After that spectacular end to the evening, we got on a bus and headed back to the Dorstan Guesthouse.

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