John & Anne Wiley

2018/12/22

Edinburgh Dusk

It was dusk by the time our train rolled into Edinburgh, our little suitcases rolled into the hotel, and we’d unpacked and rolled back out onto the street. Cobblestones seemed ancient, even if new, edged in the green nourished by frequent rain. How far had each of these stones traveled, and when were they formed?

7425 Set In Stone

7425 Set In Stone

After that glance we began to drink in the striking eclectic city skyline.

7447 Mixed Styles

7447 Mixed Styles

Towers beckon from a nearby hill, inviting us to climb up for a look.

7452 Hill of Towers

7452 Hill of Towers

Everywhere are memorials and statues, many adorned with moss and lichen, and defended by birds at the top of their pecking order.

7478 Living Ornamentation

7478 Living Ornamentation

The grand castle of course dominates the skyline, and snapping this I paused to ponder how many images of it must exist in the world by now.

7483 High Point

7483 High Point

The other notable hill in the old city core is this one, popular with hikers who enjoy the high vista it provides.

7487 Viewpoint

7487 Viewpoint

We returned to the hotel eager to explore in daylight, as you’ll see in the next post here.

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2018/12/21

Scenic Train

Our train from Aberdeen to Edinburgh had us snapping lots of pix, so here’s a collection of our favs starting with a slow roll out of the main station.

104031 Leaving Aberdeen

104031 Leaving Aberdeen

Soon we began zipping past stunning coastal moments like this.

7127 Coastal Colors

7127 Coastal Colors

Even snapped through rail car windows, some of these pix convey a sense of the beauty.

111547 Tidal Boats

111547 Tidal Boats

Countless expanses of beach rolled by beyond the green.

7178 Quiet Beach

7178 Quiet Beach

The work of elders long past, still echoes with whispered memories.

7221 Stone Memories

7221 Stone Memories

We took a pause at Dundee to visit their new V&A Museum next to the new train station, only to discover that it was to open the next day!

122252 V&A Miss

122252 V&A Miss

So we stayed close to the station and caught the next train through, for this view back.

7256 Leaving Dundee

7256 Leaving Dundee

At the far end of this rail crossing lie the stout bones of an old vessel.

7274 Beached Bones

7274 Beached Bones

As the train picked up speed, glimpses of country life blinked past. Sometimes a village.

131046 Village Life

131046 Village Life

7306 Time & Place

7306 Time & Place

More views of this magnificent countryside unfolded between settlements.

124536 Earthy Essence

124536 Earthy Essence

There were castles aplenty, many in ruins, some well-kept, others being rebuilt.

7312 Restoration

7312 Restoration

Many quiet churchyards sheltered tombstones of the hands that built their walls.

7340 View to the Past

7340 View to the Past

This once lonely harbor lighthouse now makes a stepping stone for a long rail bridge, with Edinburgh coming into view far in the misty distance.

7389 Bridge Fort

7389 Bridge Fort

Next to an old highway bridge, the new one rises to shine.

134018 Bridges to Edinburgh

134018 Bridges to Edinburgh

2018/12/20

Sweet Aberdeen

For myriad reasons, two weeks have escaped since last I shared from our remarkable UK/EU Adventure. Similarly, many reasons that now escape me prevented any good pix of our lovely train journey from Inverness to Aberdeen. There was a song known to the guitar of my youth about Abilene (TX) that we’ve actually flown past, absolutely unrelated to this post aside from the tune now playing in my head. The city we visited in Scotland though, is indeed a pretty “town.”

6923 Hotel View 1

6923 Hotel View 1

We enjoyed the walk to our hotel despite dragging our light luggage, and the room views even more.

6925 Hotel View 2

6925 Hotel View 2

It was among the better room views of our remarkable trip, but even so…

6929 Hotel View 3

6929 Hotel View 3

…after quickly stashing luggage we headed out to explore and to look for a tour of the area. Carrying a camera and a few light items in a backpack, we contemplatively strolled an ancient church cemetery.

162420 Ancestral Memories

162420 Ancestral Memories

The search for tours wasn’t going well, though we were greatly enjoying the random wandering between old and new aspects of this rugged yet welcoming city.

6959 Old & New Comingle

6959 Old & New Comingle

It’s a major seaport, with quite a different feel than Inverness as large ships rock slowly amid rushing city traffic.

6964 Fast & Slow Contrast

6964 Fast & Slow Contrast

We didn’t find a tour. Surprising to us for an attractive city this size. There were a few tours to specific sites, mostly out of town, but no bus to take us around the city itself. So in a lucky stroke of inspiration, I hailed a cab. Lucky for us, it was driven by a native who turned out to own that small cab company. For about what an Edinburgh bus tour would cost, he started us out with highlights of the city and then nipped out to King’s College.

6980 King's College Chapel

6980 King’s College Chapel

To us, the chapel there qualifies as a small cathedral with an impressive steeple. Hopping out to walk into the courtyard, I of course snapped some decorative lintels like this one.

7006 Ages Of Learning

7006 Ages Of Learning

This place goes back a bit! Walking back out to the cab, I paused for this look at the neighboring towers and wondered whether they’d ever repelled an attack.

7019 Two Towers

7019 Two Towers

If it had once been a bastion of armed men, now there were families and I presumed women have now assumed prominent positions in the faculty and student body (about 54% of students now).

7020 Girl Scales the Wall

7020 Girl Scales the Wall

Among the many highlights of this custom tour was a stop at the ancient Church of St. Machar. The two main entrances curve among tombstones and memorials, invoking a reverence even before entering the cathedral.

7026 St. Machar Cathedral

7026 St. Machar Cathedral

We declined our guide’s offer to show off the city’s perhaps currently most famous golf course, but he enjoyed pointing out that the course was nearly not built. The developer threatened not to build it unless a planned offshore wind turbine was canceled. Despite that, the count was upped to a dozen or so and the golf magnate relented to the great amusement of locals.

7052 Local Storm

7052 Local Storm

Near where that zoom pic was shot, we drove past a beach arcade enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.

7068 Beach Promenade

7068 Beach Promenade

Our tour ended after a stop to check out perhaps the driver’s favorite restaurant, in a lighthouse themed building a little further along the beach at left. We strolled the downtown core a little more, taking in another breath of the fresh Scottish breeze wafting among the new and ancient facets of this rugged and friendly place.

7097 Aberdeen Air

7097 Aberdeen Air

2018/12/05

Inverness

“It’s my fault.”

Someone once told me that statement is the husband’s secret to happiness. I’m happy to say it in jest, because Anne’s open heart and mind enable us to talk about everything until consensus emerges. So this time the quip is that during initial planning for this UK/EU Adventure I wanted to visit Inverness and she didn’t. Now that we’ve both greatly enjoyed this lovely city in the Scottish Highlands (and the thoughtful dialog that brought us here), “taking the blame” is my playful “told you so.” 😀

105639 LHR to Inverness

105639 LHR to Inverness

It didn’t add all that much to the cost of our trip, so a night’s sleep after our whirlwind London walking tour we were winging out of LHR up over the English countryside. Far too soon, high and fast in this jet, we descended over the heather nearing the wide mouth (Inver) of the River Ness.

115518 Scottish Highlands

115518 Scottish Highlands

We both enjoyed every moment of the journey: London hotel to LHR, flight, and bus into the city. But I’ll spare you those pix and go next to what greeted us outside the bus station.

6772 Scottish Air

6772 Scottish Air

The general air of healthy, friendly, hardy people bustling about uncrowded sidewalks contrasts with stolid stone buildings, noble statues, and flags snapping in the brisk wind. It’s instantly refreshing. Those signs on the left point out the direction and walking times to various local points of interest in the native Gaelic and English. We wandered smiling, popping into the occasional shop in large part just to taste the flavor of routine life here.

104650 Colorful Streets

104650 Colorful Streets

An easy stroll from here is the river, where a beautiful pedestrian bridge beckoned us to explore the more residential side.

6788 Footbridge

6788 Footbridge

Instead we detoured a few steps to check out perhaps the city’s oldest active church.

6793 Old & Older

6793 Old & Older

The building on the right is older than most in the U.S., and on the left stand remains of one with 1607 carved on it and tombstones silently crumbling to sand inside.

From there we wandered more of the city’s daily life. In time we strolled back to that footbridge, and paused out over the Ness for a longer look at the residential side.

6828 Along the Ness

6828 Along the Ness

Back on the downtown side an imposing brick castle (now refurbished government building) stands guard on the distant hill.

6829 River Ness

6829 River Ness

Walking along the river we got a closer look at the castle and imagined how everything looked at various points back into the distant past.

6847 Proud Castle

6847 Proud Castle

Eventually we explored our way toward our B&B that seemed so exotic when booked from home, now nestled among assorted tidy homes. We’d already exchanged friendly looks, greetings and some conversation with locals but when we noticed this dude’s dog he proffered what was easily the most demonstrative wave and posed for a pic.

DSC06871-b.jpg

Most yards had flowers in front, and glancing over the fence as we passed this back yard glimpsed the owner’s little heaven.

6877 Scottish Sanctum

6877 Scottish Sanctum

Unlike many (most?) cities, fences here are of a height to establish dominion but low enough to invite conversation if agreed by exchange of mutually approving non-verbal eye contact.

After friendly dialog with our host, depositing our light luggage and freshening up, we headed back toward town to seek out dinner. We enjoyed a gourmet meal with glorious view of the Ness & castle, a sound sleep in our comfy room, and a morning meander around the castle. In front of the castle wall atop the hill we snapped these views before heading to catch our train.

6895 Castle View

6895 Castle View

6908 Along the Ness

6908 Along the Ness

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