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Edinburgh: All Wet

Some of you may have seen on the news that Edinburgh’s street party was cancelled last night. All told since I’d been before, this wasn’t crushing news for me. It was still a unique event in my life.

After dinner (chicken sandwich at a place called “Wannaburger” or something like that – probably a chain by the look of it), I went back to the hotel, relaxed a little and added a layer. I was at the nearest gate around 7pm… not even open?? Huh? Followed the crowds to another. This one open but letting no one in, sketchy details. Crowd continued to one of the main gates on Princes Street. Princes Street, for explanation sake, is a wide open huge boulevard. For most of the length of it, there are shops on only one side. The other side opens into the gardens and the view of the Castle and Old Town. I think this explains the incredible winds whipping down that street Had felt nothing like it on the streets in Old Town.

When I say the wind was whipping, I mean people were leaning into it, and it held them up. Metal fences flew over and I saw a group of port-a-potties fly across the street inside the barricades. According to the BBC news this morning, they recorded 70+ mph winds in the heart of the city. At any rate, quite impressive and amazing to see. People were standing all over the streets, playing in the wind and seeking shelter. For maybe a minute, I joined some under a covered bus stop until I noticed that it was moving a bit in the wind… probably nothing, but still…

I moved a bit to a side street where another entrance was. Since it was a narrower street, the winds were diminished. And on this one, the guards had better details. The event was not canceled yet. They were waiting to see if the winds would die down. If so, they’d let everyone in. So, everyone waited. I stood under the eves of the nearest building near the cops. This is where I heard the whole deal was cancelled for the weather.

Trudged back up to the North Bridge and back across to Old Town. Stopping briefly, I snagged some crisps, a coke, and a bag of jelly babies (candy for the unitiated). I headed back to my room. By now, I was thoroughly and truly soaked. In no mood to even try to find somewhere to ring it in. So, I watched a movie and ate until it was time for the equivalent to Dick Clark’s New Years Rocking Eve to come on.

That was actually amusing. Both the ones I found were Scottish broadcast. One was kind of a dinner party setting?? And has apparently been on for around 50 years… The one I chose was broadcast live from the great hall at Edinburgh Castle, literally over the hill from where I was. So, I chose that one. Lots of musical acts, mostly traditional, but some modern pop that I hadn’t heard (because it was pop HERE).

I’ll try to spare you anymore of my living life on the edge here.

The Aftermath

Woke up reasonably early today and managed to get out early, much to my chagrin since nothing was open before noon. So, I meandered up the main drag after breakfast watching them tear down the barricades and all from last light. Mostly a gray day and quite cool when the wind hits, but there werea few rays of sunshien and even a rainbow at one point!

The Rainbow is getting ahead of things chronilogically. When things finally opened, I took a brief run through Debenhams, a department store, to see what they had on sale. I got a hat there two years ago. Even with the sales prices today of the things I looked at, the exchange rate meant I was being robbed blind.

From there to the National Gallery – free admission! This is the way things should be. In the UK, most galleries and museums are FREE. They do charge for limited exhibitions and the like, but the main galleries are free. The Scots should be proud of their gallery. I sat down in one room as my feet are dragging, and in front of me was a Van Gogh, a Degas, and a Monet… wow… That really is just a fraction of the familiar names and I’m sure if I was any real art afficianado, I’d have recognized far more. This is actually day two of art fest as yesterday I saw a Canalleto exhibit at the Queen’s Gallery at Holyrood (that was not free, but it was WARM).

The National Gallery adjoins the Royal Scottish Academy Building, which was hosting their annual exhibition of the water colors of Joseph Mallord William Turner. I discovered his oil paintings at the National Gallery in London. If I like something enough to hold on to the artist’s name, that says something. So, had to take that in. Excellent work. I was amazed by the depth in some of his water colors. Just amazing images and because of the potential damage to displaying them, they are shown just once a year, January. How fortuitous!

Now, I’m just completely dragging. Over two hours walking the galleries, plus time on my feet before and after (one of those brief moments of sunlight and the rainbow where I was out with my camera for a bit).

Next on the olde agenda is finding some grub, and going back to the hotel to pack. I have to get up actually early in the morning, not faux early like this morning. I have to be at the Haggis office a few blocks from where I’m staying by 8am. If I don’t get some rest, no way I’m hoisting that pack up that hill! Then it’s on to six days and five nights meandering through the North of Scotland. Not sure if/when there will be more updates other than definitely when I’m back in Edinburgh (three more nights here before heading back to the states).

Hope everyone’s New Year is off to a great start!

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