In my end is my beginning

I had a hard time figuring out how to start this post. I wanted to summarize my impression of Edinburgh in a single word. A word that would describe my reaction to it — the emotion it evoked. I even tried looking up to see what words others have used. There was “old, new and rainy” from the travel blogger Alice White, and “Cheers!” from an article on The Jakarta Globe website. Alas, the former didn’t resonate as I happened to be there during a stretch of fine Scottish weather indeed, and the latter was lazy and inane. And so I continued to struggle.

And then it hit me. Guarded. Guarded was the word I was looking for. Maybe it was because I focused my first full day there on taking in Old Town and the medieval historic sites — the gothic architecture looming above me. Or maybe it was the (very elementary) knowledge I had of this great city and its bloody history. Whatever the reason, while everyone I met was warm and inviting the city itself felt somehow closed off to me.

Edinburgh was born on Castle Rock, and to this day lives in the shadow of its once impenetrable fortress.


Views en route to Edinburgh Castle.



The Scott Monument, commemorating the great writer Sir Walter Scott. This is the largest monument to a writer in the world.



Views from Edinburgh Castle. I wish you could feel the cool breeze that’s coming off the water as the late morning sunshine warms your shoulders.



Storming this place was not something people looked forward to.




Used since the time of Queen Victoria, a burial place for regimental mascots and officer’s doggies.


There is a lot to see at the castle. Several museums, the royal quarters and lots of different vantage points from which to take in the magnificent views of the city. When you go, plan on staying for a few hours. There is a lovely cafe where you can take tea should the mood grab you. (I passed as I wanted to do a bit more exploring of the Royal Mile before stuffing my face.)


St. Giles Cathedral, the Mother Church of Presbyterianism. It was here that John Knox waged his campaign against the very Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots.



Let’s be real, no tourist in the history of all time has ever taken a decent photo inside of a church.



Horrid design. Beautiful words.


Gothiced out, and hungry, it was time for lunch. Enter Ecco Vino.


I thought for sure that I could remember the name of this gorgeous Pinot Grigio. I was wrong.


Aubergine, parmesan, tomato and basil bake, with fresh mozzarella. Assorted house-cured olives.


The food was very, very, very good, and the restaurant easy to get to (it’s right off the Royal Mile). Cannot recommend enough.

After lunch, I explored Old Town for a while and then headed over to the National Museum of Scotland. I had seen adverts for a an exhibit on Mary, Queen of Scots and wanted to make sure I got a chance to see it and learn about one of Scotland’s most recondite and tragic figures.


The Willy Wonkaishness whimsy of the museum surprised me. A kid’s paradise.



Mary’s motto, which she embroidered on her cloth of estate while imprisoned by Queen Elizabeth I of England. She was beheaded in 1587, after having been Elizabeth’s prisoner for almost nineteen years. Mary’s son would eventually become King James VI and I — ruler of the unified Crowns of Scotland, England and Ireland.



Mary was a devout Roman Catholic trying to rule a Protestant nation. Her arch nemesis, James Knox, saw her as a threat to the Protestant Reformation. He and his supporters were ultimately responsible for Mary’s abdication, imprisonment and demise.



The exhibit not only included a chronological telling of Mary’s life but also key pieces of art, clothing and other artifacts such as this enameled copper cup featuring the arms of Scotland. This stunning pieces was made in 1556 by one of the most talented painters of the Limoges school.



Italian Maiolica plate. Part of an accouchement set usually gifted to aristocratic women during confinement.



Not Jonathan Rhys Meyers.


Mary’s life story has all the twists and turns of an epic novel. Love, power, betrayal, murder — basically, you can’t make this shit up.  If you want to learn more, this is a decent start.

Now, since nothing makes a girl hungrier than a good beheading it was time to head back toward my part of town and find a place to feed the beast.





Serious thumbs up. Burger cooked perfectly. Deeeelish!



DJs spin tunes every Fri, Sat and Sun until 1 a.m. (BTW, if this guy can be a DJ then I can be a writer. Just sayin’.)





Have a fab weekend my pets.


PS:  The wee new royal, Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, is a direct decedent of Mary, Queen of Scots as Mary is of the House of Stuart.  I think it must be so incredible to be able to know so much about your family tree going back to over a thousand years ago.

Categories: NYC & Travel, Yummy

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