This morning started off with us attending Edinburgh City Corps in the morning for church - the installation of new officers which was interesting - before we climbed a hill to look out upon Edinburgh.
It was quite a view.
But before we get to that, it was nice to talk to some fellow Salvos, including some from Adelaide and some from Canada. What was a little disappointing was that the new captains were English since I was looking forward to a Scottish sermon full of "they may take our lives, but they will never take our freedom!" It was a little bit more low key than that but it was still good.
Despite this being a different country, the meeting followed a pretty similar guideline other than the installation of the officers. Another thing I found is that the CSMs over here say bad jokes when doing the announcements. It almost felt like Perth Fortress back home.
After the meeting we headed to the gardens of Calton Hill to view the city from a bit more of a distance. This was a good idea...
From all our countryside driving we had gotten use to the smaller towns and villages along the road. Compared to them Edinburgh seemed pretty busy. In fact, Edinburgh seemed busier than London, despite its much smaller population of roughly 500,000.
A few reasons for this are that: it is just a few weeks until the Fringe festival (the world's largest arts festival), it is peak tourist season, the hills create multiple levels within the city and hundreds of little side streets, and the roads are probably more suited to medieval or Victorian populations and not motorhomes.
This meant that after taking a wrong turn we had to drive along the length of much of the old town (not that far really), turn back the way we came, and drive up a very narrow side street (it wouldn't have been too bad if there weren't cars on either side) before eventually got to our destination. We then walked the wrong way and couldn't find a path up the hill until passing by the Scottish Parliament. Then we had to climb the stairs.
But when we got to the top it was quite a view.
The old town of Edinburgh. You can see the castle on the hill with a stand on it ready for the Edinburgh Tattoo.
Arthur's Seat, a scary looking mountain on the outskirts of Edinburgh's old town.
The Scottish Parliament building.
Despite the density of Edinburgh, you're never too far from some fields. If you get high enough to spot some.
On top of Calton Hill is the Royal Observatory as well as some monuments to Scotland. If you can't climb Arthur's Seat then Calton Hill is worth a visit when you're in Edinburgh. We could have climbed to the top of the tower on the right of the picture below but it cost £4 and we didn't have time. The neoclassical Greek structure to the left is a monument to the Scots who fought in the Napoleonic wars.
The Scottish have a lot of monuments around, like the one on the left.
Looking out at the "new town" part of Edinburgh, I think construction on it began during the 1800s.
After a look at Edinburgh from Calton Hill, we went west towards Glasgow with the aim of staying around the town of Falkirk. The two main attractions we were after at this town were the "Kelpies" and the Falkirk wheel, a rotating boat lift that replaces some eleven locks.
Due to time restraints we were only able to visit the Kelpies but we will definitely get to the wheel tomorrow. So you're probably wondering what these Kelpie things are. Basically, they are giant horse heads. Sounds appealing, does't it.
We didn't read anything about them, particularly because it started pouring shortly after we arrived. Such is summer in Scotland. From what I know, they were constructed recently, within the past year or two, and were made to celebrate both the history and the resurgence of Scotland's canals. I believe, and I could be totally off the mark here, that they are sculptures of mythical sea creatures (horses), but I didn't read anything about that here so I don't really know. Just don't tell anyone that's what they are without checking first.
As they say, a picture shows a thousand or so words, so here's some images.
Canals, giant horse heads, clouds and mountains. Welcome to Scotland.
Overcast, rainy clouds mean a good opportunity for black and white.
I don't normally include people in my images if I can help it (sorry Mum), but that girl really gives some idea of how big these things are.
So we're in Falkirk tonight for our second night in Scotland. After checking out that wheel I keep on mentioning we'll head across to Glasgow before heading back south. Then we'll be off to Belfast for a week or so, and then back home. But there's still a little bit more of this road trip to go yet so stay tuned.