Saturday, October 6, 2012

Scotland - August 2012

The husband has always longed to see the Scottish Military Tattoo held every year at Edinburgh Castle in the month of August.  The girls and I weren't particularly jazzed about this annual spectacle of bagpipes and bands, but we've never seen Scotland and figured it wouldn't hurt to go along for the ride.

The ride started out at London's Kings Cross station where we boarded a train for the four hour trek to Edinburgh.

Harry Potter fans will understand the reference to this platform number since it's the location in the HP series where students board the train to travel to Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  It's not adjacent to the tracks, in real life, but merely in the train station as a photo op for tourists like us.

The ride to Scotland wasn't particularly magical since the train line sold too many tickets and thus there were people standing in the aisles.  And then sitting in the aisles at crotch level next to our table of four that I had reserved a couple months in advance.  Grrr...  At least it improved a bit once we made a couple stops and people disembarked so that the rather scruffy looking young folks with backpacks headed to the month-long Fringe Festival had a place to sit.  It's supposed to be the largest arts festival in the world, and it definitely seemed to attract a lot of youngsters and unique sorts of folks.  

Once we arrived in Edinburgh at the train station, we knew where our hotel was located but not the very best way to get there since the station sits in a steep, narrow valley separating the old and new town.  So we hiked up a whole bunch of stairs and shuffled over to check in for our stay.

Edinburgh really is a beautiful old city with its interesting edifices, cobbled streets and greenery.  Pictured directly above and below you see St. Giles, built in the late 14th century.  

Outside St. Giles there were tents with craftsfolks selling their wares.  The husband and 6th grader are also pictured, standing around waiting for a street performer (from the US) to begin his show.

It was really crowded in the streets courtesy of the Tattoo as well as Fringe folks out and about.

Above and below are pics of the performance before the sun set, with Edinburgh Castle in the background as a backdrop for it.  

Not merely a performance of Scots, the Tattoo included bands from other countries like Norway, Australia and the USA.  Above and below are pics of an American military band stationed in Italy performing their salute to super heroes.  I love how they did such a good job of projecting images on the castle walls as the sun went down.

Here is another pic as well as some video of the Tattoo.  I'm glad we had the chance to attend since it really was entertaining.

This year the Tattoo was celebrating Queen Elizabeth's Jubilee, 60 years on the throne.  I thought the Union Jack projected on the castle walls was stunning.  Then everybody stood up and sang along as the band played "God Save the Queen".  The crowd was probably 50-60% UK residents, so they belted it out while we hummed along with the words to "My Country 'Tis of Thee" rolling around in our heads.

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