A trip to the Edinburgh castle
"Edinburgh is", someone had said, "what Rome should have been like". This place is indeed beautiful... with all the old-era buildings and statues and monuments, I get a fairly good idea what that man meant. A couple of weekends back, we had set out for the castle at about 12 noon (now, don't squirm please... even in Scotland you cannot do without a 12 hour sleep on Friday nights). But outside, it was still cold, windy, and as good as a 6:30 a.m. morning at home. Take a look below -- that is how it looks at 12 noon here:
At the top of the hill is the castle... and the fountain you see in the foreground is situated in the midst of an amzing garden, called the Prince's Street Gardens. They look like this (below) The person in the picture is Lalit, and I post this because his hands shook when he took my snap... :(
What you see behind him at the far end of the view are the National Galleries of Scotland. The pictures inside are really good... and although I understand art and its different genres as much as you might understand ghosts, I could appreciate the various eras of art --- Reniassance, Impressionism, Victorian war art. Please don't ask me the names of the artists, though... I cannot spell or pronounce them ;)
We decided to climb up the hill to the castle, instead of the usual circuitous route up there via the main road. Now, please don't picture us climbing up that hill face on the first picture... the road we took is a narrow one up the side of the hill. Somewhere up on that road, we looked down, and saw this train passing. Behind in the pics are the gardens we passed through.
Up on the road to the castle, we happened to glance up towards the castle, and suddenly we knew why attacking the castle was a foolish thing to do. Take a look at this:
Now, imagine being holed up there... you take a peek, or even move an inch, an arrow comes crashing out of the nooks of the castle walls. It is dar and cold (cold as in -15 degrees, a nominal estimate), with chilly winds blowing across your hungry, soiled and weather-worn and ill-clad body. How would you like to hold a siege like that for 3 years? Well, some Scotsmen and Englishmen did that some years ago. You see, taking a castle by storm is not a job for the faint-hearted.
Never mind.. lets see what the castle was like. The cost of admission (the ticket, dear) was 10 pounds and 30 pence. And the latest conversion rate is 81 rupees to a pound. Umm... to say the least, it was expensive. On the terrace in front of the castle, we had some bright sunshine for some time. Apparently, this very place is transformed into a awe-inspiring open air theatre for the annual Edinburgh festival every year.
and boy... they sure did fire far in those days... take a look on the right below!
We went to the Royal War Museum inside the castle. Unfortunately, snaps aren't allowed inside, so you must see the place through my words. There was a very nice depiction of the evolution of the dress of a soldier over the years. From the kilt-wearing sword-weilding Scotsman to the modern day soldier with the gas mask and Chemo- Nuclear- Biological warfare enabled suit carrying an ultra-light machine gun. But that was not the touching part. The touching part was the section where on a glass wall they had put up what different soldiers wrote back home at different times from the battlefield. I remember one letter there, written by someone in the First World War. The guy writes,
I am not allowed to tell you where we are... but I am all right. We are going to charge into the enemy trenches uphill and try to finish them. It begins in a few hours and you know as well as I do what is going to happen.
Below that letter, in a small plaque, was written... 'he died in the charge to the German trenches that day in 1915'. I was quiet for sometime after I read that, silently saluting the brave Scotsman. And he was just one in a million who have died at war. Well, we'll talk about this later.
After the museum, we went to the other sections of the castle.. like the old soldiers' barracks, the jail, etc. And we also had some coffee up there! But well, after a trip like that, you don't feel satisfied with just a tea.
So after some posing for the camera, we came down for some more food, etc., and then finally trudged all the way back home. After coming inside the house, I realised how cold it was outside: really numbingly cold.
Ok, before I close, let me tell you about all the things I have been planning to write about but could not: one post is coming about how it feels to spend in rupees and to earn in pounds (you know what I mean :D), another about the food at Edinburgh, a post about how it felt to be in a football match we went to (in the Tynecastle stadium where Hearts beat Aberdeen 3-0), and a very special post coming up for the Valentine's day celebrations here in Edinburgh. This place is already agog with posters, chocolates, wines... oh boy, another post about the run-up to the day, maybe? :D