Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Edinburgh / 愛丁堡


Since we were blessed with a week's summery weather in late May, I, more or less, prayed for the same lovely days when I traveled in Edinburgh. However, too many people had warned me beforehand about the gloomy weather in Scotland. I knew better than to be too demanding. While we walked along the Royal Mile, it started to pour. We thus hopped into colorful souvenir shops to feast our eyes on the beautiful Scottish scarves.


Though it was already the end of spring, or the beginning of summer, it was quite chilly in Edinburgh. Even the locals were in need of turning to steaming coffee for some warmth. 


The facades of buildings in Edinburgh are either light ochre or dark gray. In terms of size, they are more spacious than their counterparts in England. The architectural styles are quite consistent, reminding me of the wild highland life. In the background of the photo above is St. Giles Church. Though it appears to be kind of dark on the outside, the inside is pretty heart-and-body-warming on a rainy day.


Having lived in London for more than nine months, I discovered that Britons have their set of words referring to different kinds of roads or space. In Edinburgh, we learned that "close" refers to a narrow passage that leads from a street to a court and houses within or to the common stairway of tenements.


Waverley Station lies one level lower than the main bridge. Looked at from the bridge, it seems like a huge building made up of numerous white tents. 


Though Edinburgh is a well-developed  city, like London, there is infrastructure work going on. For example, a tram line is being constructed on the famous shopping street Princes Street. Also, when I read the Guardian after going back to London, I l realized that a referendum will be carried out on the Scottish independence in the autumn of 2014. 


I come to a conclusion that it makes sense for people who speak the same language and share the same historical background to identify with different governments. 


Scotland's tenners are of a different look! 


In fact, we spent no more than one day traveling in Edinburgh, so naturally we could see only a very small number of places. Fortunately we went to the Edinburgh Castle, which is a very good start to learn about the history of Scotland. 


The castle stands upon an extinct volcano. The summit of the Castle Rock is 130 metres above sea level. 


I read the history of the castle for a whole day. However, I have to admit that I am no expert in this field, and I am so aware that providing too much information will only give the reader a headache, I decide to summarize the history from my own perspective. In a few words, Scotland had its own dynasties and kings who expanded the castle in different eras. One of the most important kings is James VI, King of Scots from 1567. He succeeded Queen Elizabeth, who didn't have any issue and became King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crown in 1603. 

England and Scotland were individual sovereign states, each with their own political systems. It is worth noticing that after the Union of the Crowns, James based himself in England and returned only once to Scotland. He called himself "King of Great Britain and Ireland. My history sense tells me that this has much to do with the fact that Scotland became part of Great Britain later. 


The Royal Palace was greatly renovated for James VI's visit to his birthplace for his 50th anniversary as King of Scots. 


Finally, in 1707, the parliaments of England and Scotland passed the Acts of Union and named the united kingdom "Great Britain." 


Like other English castles, there were always towers reserved as prisons. The Edinburgh Castle is no exception. Between 1715 and 1814, Great Britain underwent several wars such as the Seven Years War, the War of American Independence and the French Revolutionary Wars. Thousands of prisoners were held in the castle. 


This is a record of the soldiers that died in the First World War. 


In the castle, I heard some tourists and staff talk about the history of Scotland and England. I really admire them for their desire to learn and share. It feels like the knowledge is more than facts listed in textbooks. It is rather part of their life. That's why I think I should go through my photos taken on the last trips before leaving the UK. I was often asked the differences between living in the US and the UK. After having lived in both countries, I have the impression that history is a very valuable asset for Brits. 


After a long lesson, we deserved some good food. I couldn't wait to try the renowned haggis, which is a kind of savoury pudding containing sheep's heart, liver and lungs, minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices and salt, mixed with stock. I found the taste to be quite mild, but reading the ingredients, you can tell that it was one of the major reasons for my current "roundness." 


After lunch, we went for a stroll in the National Museum of Scotland. We literally found everything in there, but I was especially impressed by the Scots' pride in their own culture! 


Chinyi said...


Weichuen You said...