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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Edingburgh, Day 2: The Endinburgh Castle and the former Royal Yacht Britannia

Sunday was out first full day of sightseeing and we crammed a lot into it.  Our first stop was Edinburgh Castle, the historic fortress that dominates the skyline of Edinburgh from its perch atop the Castle Rock.  There has been a royal castle on the rock since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century. 
This view of the castle give you an idea why it was such a good spot for defense.

The entrance gateway

They were setting up the rockets for the fireworks that were to end the Festival on Monday.

One of the views from the Castle

Don having his photo taken for a change.

Looking down on the cemetery for officers' dogs.

Mons Meg, a giant 15th century siege gun

It's a little blurry, but here is a photo of part of the great hall built for James IV (reigned from 1488-1513) to use as a ceremonial hall.

As part of a tourist package deal, we got free trips on the hop on-hop off buses for 2 days and that turned out to be a very useful way to get an overview of the city and travel from one destination to another. 

It was nice enough that we could sit on the open deck above.  That ugly building you see through the windshield is the new Scottish Parliament building.

Our  guidebook calls in "a spectacular example of modern architecture designed by Catalan architect Enric Miralles."  I think it is just strange.  Here are a few more shots so that you can decide for yourself.  Everything is symbolic, like the dark grey shapes around the windows that represent open curtains to signify transparency in government.

  The entrance to the building

We bypassed the Parliament and continued on to Ocean Terminal, Leith to tour the former Royal Yacht Britannia.  When we were deciding on what to see, people kept suggesting the yacht but I kept thinking "What's the big deal?  It's just a boat."  Boy was I wrong-the Britannia is not to be missed.

Looking down on half of the deck of the yacht will give you an idea of the size

The ship was planned for King George VI, but he died during the ship's construction.  This gave Queen Elizabeth II the chance to design the interior to her taste.  Described as a large, oceanic vessel, this ship served as the royal family's home while on state visits or holiday from 1954-1997.

A view from the ship's deck

The queen traveled with 45 members of the royal household, 5 tons of luggage, and a Rolls-Royce that was squeezed into specially-built garage. Along with serving as a floating home, the ship could also be converted to a floating hospital in time of war.  Luckily that feature was never needed.   HMY Britannia was escorted by a royal navy warship when on official duties.

The operating room

One of the rooms on board

The queen's private cabin.  The royal cabins are surprisingly small and plain

The state dining room with the table set for dinner

The sitting room

Of course, such a large ship needed a crew and this one was made up of 20 officers and 220 yachtsmen plus the platoon of Royal Marines that traveled with the queen.

Part of the barracks for the Royal Marines

Crew bathroom

The laundry room

The spotless engine room

The smaller boat that took the royal family ashore in its storage spot on deck

Ever the inquisitive soul, Don noticed that one of the "Gates" on deck was not permanently fastened shut, which meant that someone could accidentally find himself in the water if they fell against the rail with sufficient force.  The poor employee who wandered by looked quite disconcerted when Don pointed out the problem.

     After touring the ship, we walked over to the Leith Shore area and had the Sunday roast dinner (roast beef, roast potatoes, and roast vegetables) with cheesecake for dessert at The Granary.  Don had a lot of fun trying yet another Scottish beer with dinner.  Then it was time to find a bus that would take us back to the bed and breakfast.  

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