Scottish National Gallery and Princes Street Garden
Edinburgh quickly became one of those places I could see us making a life together. It felt like home. Not that it wasn’t new or exotic but in the way that it felt like we have lived there for years. We quickly became comfortable with our surroundings, navigating the city with ease. I was enamored by the roses which seemed to be in endless supply in every park, front yard, and market. It didn’t hurt that they smelled lovely too. We were constantly gushing over how wonderful the weather was our entire trip. So cool and the air stayed crisp even following an afternoon shower. We live in Charleston and consider our town to be quite old but nothing compared to the stone buildings in Edinburgh. Their buildings were sturdy but quaint. They don’t build structures to last like that anymore. I already miss our nightly walks and adventuring out until late in the evening because it was so light outside all the time. We were also so surprised by the amount of green space in town. To be such a metropolitan city there seemed to be a park, lake, or garden on every corner. Dining outside in the neighborhood cafe or letting the dog walk with you along the waterway seemed to be a priority over using the car to travel miles for work.
The morning of day two began with lots of sleep. We didn't really mean to sleep in as long as we did, but being jet-lagged and having black out shutters didn't help! We were surprised to be greeted by full sunshine when we awoke. Our room had a walkout basement patio which was much more convenient for Pat and Kenneth than using the shared door to their flat sometimes. We showered and put on the same clothes as the day before due to our lack of luggage. We picked up a bunch of groceries at Scotmid so we had eggs, bacon, meats, and bread with orange juice for our brunch which evidently is a very heavy English breakfast for a regular old Tuesday morning. Oops... how very American of us.
We finally got going and went to the Scottish National Gallery on The Mound, a fairly steep hill in Edinburgh that connects but also clearly delineates Old Town and New Town. The Scottish National Gallery is just as beautiful as the art it holds. It's a Neoclassical building that has a more modern basement level entrance to Princes Street Gardens. We were lucky to get to see a traveling exhibit of Titian's works called Titian and the Golden Age of Venetian Art. All of his pieces were huge and they were even more breathtaking in the way that they popped against the vermillion colored walls of the gallery. My favorite collection in the gallery was of course their Impressionist Room. We saw works from Monet, Gaugin, Van Gogh, Poussin, Pissarro and Seurat. That was a very abridged list because I literally could go on and on and on about all the famous artworks we saw in the gallery. We also loved getting to see the Scottish art because 1. we were in Scotland, duh and 2. it's not something either of us were particularly familiar with from our art history studies.
After a few hours we left the gallery and grabbed some ice cream near Princes Street Gardens. The best part about soft serve cones in Scotland is that they come with Flake bars, my favorite. We sat and listened to this rock bagpipe group that is evidently fairly famous for playing there. I don't remember what they were called but check out this video to experience the awesomeness. We walked through Princes Street Garden to see the Scott Monument, which isn't actually to recognize ALL the Scots, but does honor the famous poet Sir Walter Scott. It's THE largest monument to an author in the world. Really. It's pretty dang tall and you can go inside it if you feel like spending a few pounds. We decided that it would be best to run across the street to Topshop and H&M to grab a few undergarments while we continued to wait for our luggage to arrive. Alex even picked up a sportcoat for cheaper than what he could get here in the U.S. so that we could go out to the dinner club later in the week.
Princes Street Gardens became one of those places we would walk through almost daily. We were there so often, in fact, that it's the only place I ever paid to use the facilities. Yes, you have to pay to use the restroom and honestly, I didn't really mind because they were very clean. Even though the weather was quite cool by our standards, there were people sitting outside sunning, enjoying picnics, practicing their juggling skills, walking their puppies, and whatever else you could imagine doing outside on a nice day.
After a bit of shopping we walked down Rose Street in Edinburgh which is the coolest pedestrian street I've ever been on. Flags mark the street so that it's clear you're on a pedestrian way but the cross streets are still open to cars. Rose Street is full of bars, restaurants, shops, and tons of these little betting shops that are just kind of different concept than anything we do in America.
For dinner, we cooked pasta with pesto and mushrooms before going out in search of a bar to watch the World Cup game. Pat and Kenneth had a little TV that they kept hidden in a closet somewhere but we didn't really want them to go through the trouble of pulling it out (even though they did and Kenneth had a great time watching the game) plus we were trying to be more social. We stumbled upon St. Bernard's Bar in Stockbridge which was kinda a hole in the wall but one of the few places we could see had a TV from the street. You could tell it was kinda an old fogey pub mostly frequented by the locals but we did meet another American couple while we were there! They were a bit older than us but the guy actually played for a pro soccer team in Portland or Seattle or something like that. We watched the USA vs BEL game until the end. Unfortunately, Belgium won in extra time and it was off to bed again for us.