When I first got to Edinburgh I spent most of my days off finding new places in the city, searching out things I hadn’t seen before. Now that I’ve been here five months (five months? For serious?), I’ve gotten into a routine and am familiar with my corner of the city, which means I’ve stopped trying so hard to be a tourist. I’m trying consiously, now, to get out of my neighbourhood and section of the Old Town and still, on the odd day off, track down something new.
Last week, I took the train 15 minutes out of town and went to Linlithgow Palace. Most touristy sites I’ve been to in my travels have been lovely, but also full of other tourists. Because I went to Linlithgow mid-week, in the off season, when I arrived I was the only one there.
The place was silent except for the sound of my footsteps and the odd pigeon cooing. The palace – where Mary Queen of Scots was born – is huge with rambling cooridors and a huge great hall, big bedrooms with fire places. In the kitchen you can still see the giant oven. I’d take a turn down a random hallway and suddenly find the wine cellar, the brew house.
At one point, in the Great Hall, I did run into another couple, just long enough for them to exclaim ‘Isn’t it beautiful?’ and for me to reply ‘It’s lovely!’. We headed in different directions. I didn’t see them again.
The day was made more lovely because Ms. Dhana works at the court house across the street from the palace, and after my tour she took me out to a small cafe with killer mac and cheese, and we talked about Canada.
Awhile ago, on another free day, I hopped on a bus and headed to Rosslyn Chapel.
It is lovely, all conspiracy theories and made up history aside. I’m not bothered if people want to believe that everything from the Holy Grail to the mummified head of Jesus is buried beneath the thing: the fact is that it is beautiful, regardless of the myths. (Rosslyn is, according to my history teacher, ‘The biggest red herring in Scottish history’).
Unfortunately, though, it’s currently under a canopy and covered in scaffolding until 2011, because it’s taken on a lot of water and needs to be dried out before it crumbles. Apparently, for The Da Vinci Code, they had to reconstruct a model of it for the shooting.
You’re not allowed to take pictures inside the chapel, which is where all the amazing carvings are. (Though you can see some here).
Even with the canopy, though, the outside is still marvelous.
When you’re tired of Scotland, I think, you’re tired of life.*
*Shamelessly stolen and revised Samuel Johnson quote.