An Afternoon in Edinburgh Scotland and a Visit to the Mythical Rosslyn Chapel  

Posted by Heidi


"Cheek-upon-jowl" is how author Diana Gabaldon describes the medieval portion of Edingburgh.  I was very curious to see this speaking description in real life.  This photo that I snapped as we walked to the bus stop on our way to Rosslyn Chapel proves what an excellent job Edinburgh does of living up to the definition.  But first, we had to arrive in Scotland, which we did the day after the London photo shoot in Kingston Upon Thames which can be read about HERE.  (The tall spikey building is the Scott Monument which can be seen from nearly everywhere in Edinburgh.)


The tale of how we made it, finally, at Heathrow, (none of it my fault) and the debacle at the airport (all of it my fault) is fodder for hilarity, but it would involve being rude about others, none of whom are my daughter, so I will just say that it was an eventful journey from Bayswater to Edinburgh.  We were picked up at the airport by a friendly driver who took us past what he feels to be the most beautiful building in the city.  Donaldson's School for the Deaf has been in operation since the 1800's and is currently located in the Haymarket section of the city.  I believe he said that it is closed now, but I am having a hard time remembering much of that day as I was coming down with either a new virus (I got sick when we were in Scotland as part of the England coach tour we were on the week previous) or a repeat of the old one.


He was either super nice or a super big fan of this building because he actually pulled over so that we could get out and take photos.  Every other driver we have had on our travels has been in a super (the word super being my latest guilty pleasure as a writer) big hurry, so we were impressed.  Don't you just love the copper minarets?  Each of them has an elaborate filigree metal piece--a common sight in Edinburgh.  Not sure if they double as a lightning rod or not but they do add a lot to the beauty of the building.  Next we arrived at our hotel, a lovely Georgian building in the Haymarket which is the opposite side of town from where we stayed before in the Grassmarket.  (What is with these straw type names?  I KNOW!  Which is to say, I DON'T.)


I adore cherubs and this Georgian-era hotel had quite a few to enjoy, and from every angle.


The best part, however, was arriving at the hotel and seeing Alacoque, our Ireland tour guide, waiting for us in the lobby/foyer (what do they call it in Scotland?  I don't know.) We chose this coach tour of Scotland specifically so that she would be our tour guide--she's the best in the business!  It was so fun to catch up and then we were off to our room.


This was my favorite room of the entire two-tour trip.  I had a marvelous view of the Georgian buildings across the street and the windows had the paneled shutters that I dream of having in my own home someday (it requires thick walls, an architectural feature that has not been included in California structures since roughly the adobe period).  It sported two generous-sized beds and was very comfortable in many ways.  This was a blessing because we would be spending three nights in this room, and I would be spending two of our days in Edinburgh in bed with a fever.  This room made being sick somewhat of a pleasure. 


By dinnertime the evening of our arrival, my fever had spiked.  My daughter spent the next day in the hotel with me, seeing to all of my needs.  May I just take a moment to make a recommendation?  Daughters--have 'em.  They are a great comfort.  She went down to the reception desk and made sure that I had free wifi and as much gluten free toast as I wished sent up to our room.  She also spent a good chunk of change on bottled water for me.  (I am a delicate-snowflake-princess-and-the-pea kind of water drinker.) She also called a doctor and made an appointment, called a cab and provided an arm to lean on for the trip.  (I am a delicate-snowflake-princess-and-the-pea kind of fever victim.)  The doctor's opinion was that I had a second virus, one with the exact same symptoms of four days prior and that I might need antibiotics but refused to prescribe them.  (I have pretty much decided that Scotland is not a healthy place for me.) Since most of what we were doing that day was a repeat of what we had seen during the Edinburgh portion of the England tour we had done the week previous, my daughter didn't miss out on too much.  However, the next day I insisted that she go and see Culloden and the Clava Cairns.  Many thanks to our friend Nancy for this photo of Mary at the latter.  As all can see, it is a place that commands reverence.   





When my daughter returned that afternoon, I was feeling better, so we ventured out to find our way to Rosslyn Chapel.   Our journey took us along Princes Street where we passed the Scott Monument , the imposing Victorian-era edifice that can be seen from miles around.  It was raining, but that is summer in Scotland.


A view down Princes Street.  Edinburgh is a very cosmopolitan city that reminded me a lot of San Francisco, but more intimate and safer.  (Love you, San Francisco!)  It was bustling with activity but no one seemed to be in a huge hurry (still love you, SF!)

This building is so much taller than it appears to be from down here.  (See first photo of post.)

I did use the word imposing, right?  It reminds me of the spaceship/palace in Krull.  (Incidentally, a recent viewing of this movie, which I hadn't seen since it came out in theaters in the 1980's, revealed that Liam Neeson (!) plays the cyclops who nobly gives his life for the others.  Who knew?)


There is the man himself.  I wonder what he would have thought of this?



I believe this is a hotel.  I love its rather brash name.  There's something almost cheeky about it.  It would be like a hotel in San Francisco that called itself The American.  (There is one in S.F. called the Hotel Utah which makes me scratch my head every time we pass by it.  Okay, so I had to google it--it's a bar and has been for over one hundred years.  Who knew?)  By this time we passed this cheeky establishment, we had to get out our umbrellas whilst we waited for a bus to take us out to Rosslyn Chapel.  Someone very kindly pointed out that we were waiting in the wrong place and helped us "get sorted" as they say across the pond.  We were grateful.  It is only seven miles from the city center to the town of Roslin (I don't know--yet--the reason for the difference in spelling but google is only a mouse click away) and an easy walk down a lovely street that turned into a lovely lane that turned into the lovely entrance to the lovely chapel grounds.



I was greatly smitten by all of the carving and the different colors of stone. 


There were faces, gargoyles and statue niches galore.  I was in heaven!  Sadly, photographs are not allowed inside the building but it is a fascinating, beautiful, atmospheric place.  There is an hour-long BBC program on it that is available somewhere that I highly recommend.  It gives a better view of the treasures that are too high to see with the naked eye.


It was closing time so we only had about fifteen minutes inside of the chapel.  All too soon we were back outside again.  (I can never get enough of stone walls.)


The grounds around the chapel.


These windows glow with such depth and color at night (or so say the photos I have seen).





















Finally, we were forced to take our leave.


The chapel is part of a much larger complex of buildings and is on the grounds of Roslin/Rosslyn Castle.  This wonderful door belongs to an out-building that we passed on our way out again.


A peek at the chapel over the wall as we walked away.



Another outbuilding.




In spite of the rain, it was a beautiful evening.



Wildflowers glowing in the light of the fading sun.



If you have read any of my posts about Ireland or England, you know that I adore these balls of flowers.  When I saw this, however, I wondered what this building looks like in the fall.  And then a friend of mine went to visit in October and posted a photo of this very building.  (The flowers were gone but the green ivy was red and beautiful.)


Once we got off of the bus, it was back down Princes Street again and the Scott Monument.



Just another U.K. ferris wheel that my daughter did NOT get to ride.


Edinburgh castle from the Haymarket side of town.

Green, gray, green, gray, green, gray, and black.  It is my new favorite color scheme.





Goodnight Edinburgh!  Sweet dreams!