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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

New York Christmas Window Tour 2015

Christmas Eve 2014 was balmy, so warm that we saw guys in shorts and tee-shirts walking around Manhattan.  The nice weather meant that the sidewalks were crowded.  How crowded?  This was my view of Rockefeller Center:
It was soooooo crowded in Midtown this year.

We started the window tour uptown at Barney's.  The most interesting window was the one with the glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly, which were lit with fixtures that changed color.

Dale Chihuly glass sculptures

Cartier's has moved their flagship up closer to the Plaza so we chuckled over the bows with panthers at their new location.

Then we continued to the yearly highlight of the tour, otherwise know as Bergdorf's.

I could never wear these but I loved the flowers.

Everything was covered in pearls or crystals.

Spelunking never looked like this when we were doing it.

The lions' manes were made of bugle beads!
See you later, alligator.

We continued walking down 5th Avenue.

Bulgari retired their snake decoration and displayed a sparkly necklace in its place.


Tiffany's was next.

The miniature chandeliers even turned on and off!

Ralph Lauren decorated both the outside and the inside.

We don't know if this is a new store or just filling an empty one, but it was pretty.

Two illuminated windows in St Patrick's Cathedral caught my eye.

Between security and the crowd, this was as close as we got to Sak's...

but we did get to see part of the Sak's light show on the front of the building.

The tree at Rockefeller Center, which will be turned into lumber for Habitat for Humanity.

Dolce and Gabbana went old school this year.

Here is Patience in front of the New York Public Library; I  didn't manage a photo of Fortitude because there were strange people dancing around that poor lion.

Then it was on to Lord and Taylor, another high spot of the walk.



The cakes also go up and down but I missed getting that on video.
An interesting use of cookies in this small window

Our last stop of the night was Macy's, which was featuring Charlie Brown and the gang.

Since we missed Bryant Park, I took a photo of the tree the next day.  It was certainly eye-catching.

This shot gives you an idea of the size of the ornaments

 That was it for the window walk of 2015.  I hope you enjoyed the virtual tour of New York dressed in it's holiday finery.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Edinburgh, the last day: Ghosties, Ghoulies, Shopping, and Wandering Around

Our last day was full of variety, as we caught up on a few things and just wandered around the city.  First, we headed back to the Nation Museum because we had missed an exhibit that we really wanted to see:  the Arthur Seat coffins.  The museum exhibits 11 of the 17 miniature coffins which measure less than 4 inches (10 cm) long and contain tiny wooden figures inside.  These mysterious coffins were discovered by a group of boys in a cave in Holyrood Park in 1836 and people can only speculate on their purpose.  If you want to read more on this collection, visit Miniature Coffins.  These coffins were part of the story of Ian Rankin's The Falls, so we couldn't leave Edinburgh without seeing them.

8 of the Arthur Seat coffins

A close up view

We discovered a few other things that we had missed-it's a big museum!
A display of jet jewelry

A replica of the tomb of Mary, Queen of Scotts in Westminster Abbey

Don assures me that these canons can do some real damage to a human being, but they look so darn cute.

Somehow we ended up by the statue of Greyfriars Bobby and the Greyfriars Kirkyard.

The statue of Greyfriars Bobby, which people rub for good luck.

Greyfriars Bobby was a Skye terrier who maintained a vigil over the grave of his master (an Edinburgh police officer) from 1858-1872, when he died.  A life-size statue of Bobby and on top of a fountain was erected and paid for by a local aristocrat.  Almost from the beginning there were those who had doubts about the accuracy of the story.

The grave of Greyfriars Bobby.  Since he was a dog, he couldn't be buried in the churchyard but his grave is right inside the gate.  His original bowl and leash are in the Museum of Edinburgh.

We also took a stroll through the graveyard.  The first interesting item was the mortsafe over one of the graves.  This was an iron cage erected to keep grave diggers from stealing the body and selling it to an anatomy school.  Of course, it was still easy enough to dig underneath the concrete surround.

A remaining mortsafe over a grave.

A reminder of mortality
The houses are built right up against the wall of the graveyard-no wasted space in this neighborhood.

You can also tour the graveyard at night as part of the City of the Dead tour, but we passed on that.

Next, we popped into the Scottish National Portrait Gallery to look at the lobby done in the Arts and Crafts style of architecture.  We ended up wandering through the galleries anyway.

The outside of the portrait gallery
One section of the lobby
A close-up of the mural

Of course we had to stop in the museum shop for a quick peak.  I fell in love with a lambs wool scarf, which I really didn't need, but after the third time that I walked by it and stopped to pet the darn thing, I bought it.  It is soooo soft.

My new Scottish scarf

We visited the Highland Gems store that carries Two Skies Design jewelry made with Scottish green marble and the friendly clerk gave us small samples of  the stone.  It is limestone with chlorophyll from decaying plants that forms to make a green and white stone.  I plan to make earrings of our samples.

Scottish green marble

Then we stopped for lunch at Oink on Victoria Street for a traditional sandwich with roast pork from their farm-raised hogs, onion and sage stuffing, and apple sauce  We had to stop there because the aroma wafting out of the store was too tempting.

An interesting mural that we ran across

 After that we wandered around the Grassmarket area, the site of a cattle market from the 15th to early 20th century and the city's place of execution.  There is also monument for the martyred Covenanters, people who signed the National Covenant in 1638 to confirm their opposition to the interference by the Stuart kings in the affairs of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland.  Plus Burke and Hare, the infamous murder/ resurrection men, operated from a now-vanished close on the west end of the area. 

Trust me to find a knitwear store.  This was Bill Baber, a family-run designer knitwear studio that sells modern, Scottish, knitted items for women.

One of the outfits for sale

The knitwear was very nice but, sadly, I couldn't find anything that looked good on me.  It was me, not the garments, but I had fun trying on items.

Next we walked past the large collection of Georgian homes in New Town and headed for Carlton Hill.

Don standing on one of the paths on Carlton Hill

The hill is dotted with grandiose monuments, most of them built in the 19th century.  One notorious structure is the National Monument, an over-ambitious attempt to replicate the Parthenon that was intended to honor Scotland's dead in the Napoleonic Wars.  Construction began but the subscriptions never covered the whole cost, so funds ran dry after 12 columns were erected.  It became known locally as "Edinburgh's Disgrace."

The incomplete National Monument or Edinburgh's Disgrace

 Carlton Hill has some amazing views.

After that, we climbed up the stairs in a nearby parking garage so that we could walk this really neat pedestrian bridge to the shopping center.

After browsing through John Lewis and a few other stores, we headed back to the Grassmarket area to find a place to eat dinner.  We stopped at The Fiddlers Arms, a supposed traditional Scottish pub with music on some nights.  I don't remember what I had to eat but I do remember that Don's Scottish version of lasagna

Part of our uphill climb to the Royal Mile

After dinner, we checked the map and started up a street that would take us to the Royal Mile and the bus home.  The operative word is up, as we did a lot of climbing uphill.  It turns out that we were walking up the Old Fishmarket Close.

How's this for a street sign?

We headed back to the Dorstan Guesthouse, where we sadly packed up for our journey home the next day.

The bus to the airport the next day

Thus ends our excellent adventure in Europe.  The whole trip was amazing and I certainly wouldn't mind going back to Edinburgh.