What better way to spend a day than shopping at a knitting boutique (oh yes, it was a boutique and therefore quite classy), hunting through used bookstores for century old volumes of literature (with pretty covers, of course), having dinner out, going to a concert, riding a ferris wheel, and watching fireworks?

Let’s start with the boutique.  Erik’s mom, being the fabulous person that she is, picked up on my longing for the expensive, lovely Scottish yarns of such things as mixed wool and angora and gifted me the funds to buy some for a scarf (which is in the making).  As we were leaving, I noticed the most epic yarn creation ever in the window.  This is my next project…

 Our road passes beneath the castle, making it a splendid spot for a photo.  We’re slowly getting better at the whole stick-arm-out-and-take-picture-that-includes-us-and-awesome-location.  However, we do usually take about five to get it right.

 We stopped in a little craft/toy shop along the way to the bookstores and I found a snuggly bunny!  Guess which of us was more excited about it?

 Yeah… so I look about six years old right here…

 After a wildly successful bookshop afternoon, we treated ourselves to dinner at a wonderful place just around the corner from my dorm called Pizza Express.  I’d never been and didn’t really expect much.  We were both pleasantly surprised.

I would like to thank my mother for this dinner, since it was her gift to us.  It was perfect.

Best. Garlic bread.  Ever!!!

Portabello mushroom and parsley pizza.  Nom nom nom!

 Spicy sausage and pepper pizza!

There was a mixup with Erik’s pizza and the order apparently disappeared, so they swiftly made him one to make up for it.

As we were finishing up, they came up and said that the order had reappeared and his pizza was made a second time and would we be so kind as to take it free of charge to go?

We graciously accepted their offer and had a free pizza for lunch the next day!

 Since the restaurant was so reasonably priced, we had money left over for dessert.  I saw that they had cinnamon dough balls with vanilla cream and thought that sounded decent.  They were amazing.  Soft, hot dough with cinnamon and a bowl of thick vanilla cream that reminded me of cinnamon bun icing.  They were almost too good.

It was New Year’s Eve, so we had tickets for a candelit concert at St Giles later that evening.  The concert featured several excellent soloists and an orchestra playing pieces by Handel and Mozart.  It was lovely, though we were a bit full from dinner and felt a little sleepy listening to soothing voices in a dimly lit church…

 Knox peers over Erik’s hand…

 There was a door to this aisle, but the seat was way too small for anyone to fit…

Or is it?

 All lit up for a concert.

 Looking unintentionally sneaky…

 Directly after the concert, we had the street party, which was a bit insane.  Two hundred thousand people mobbing the entire section of road and gardens around Princes Street, five stages of music, several carnival rides, food stands, and some very oddly dressed people.  It was a little overwhelming.

Our solution?  We went up in the ferris wheel and got away from it all…

 The Sir Walter Scott Monument from a very different angle!

 When we came back down, one of the workers on the ride gave our car a spin!

 We suddenly realized that the ride was coming to an end and tried to take a picture before it did.  Unfortunately, we had camera fail.  So we took one after we got off the ride!

 Huge mobs of people in a noisy environment hold zero appeal for both of us, so we escaped the crowd and found a spot to wait for the midnight fireworks show.

 Erik will gladly confirm that it was the best fireworks display we have ever seen.

 Wave upon wave of explosions of all different colors and shapes.

I say it again: Edinburgh loves its fireworks.

 They had these little swirly ones that looked like pasta noodles.  I liked the pasta noodle fireworks.

 Happy New Year!!!!!

We sang Auld Lang Syne with two hundred thousand voices and called it a night.

 After our much needed day of rest, we decided to venture forth once more and take a train to St Andrews to see a cathedral and castle.

The weather prophesied rain all day, but, as usual, they were just guessing because the weather in this country is impossible to predict.

I wonder why they bother trying.

 We arrived in good time, but the bus took forever to come.  We had to amuse ourselves in any way we could.

 We finally arrived in the city and I set to work with my camera.

Must document everything!

 We followed the signs down the street.  The tourist information office was closed.  That should have warned us of what was to come, but we blithely went onward.

 Really?  Really?  I guess if there’s a way to get more business, you might as well take it.

 See how blue the sky is?  It only started to rain slightly at the very end of our day.

 Awesome arches.  We should have rented a car just to drive through them.

 A secret, little door.  And, of course, I followed my self-imposed rule regarding little doorways in out of the way places.  I stepped through and hoped really hard.

No luck passing into a magical realm, but it was still a great door.

 Our first stop was the cathedral.  We looked around for the ticket office, but it seemed to be within the cathedral, so we stepped on through into the grounds.

 What a grand ruin!  What did it look like when it was whole?  Alas, we will never see it that way.

 So, there was this grate into a shallow hole and people had tossed coins into it.  That sounded fun!

 Weeeeeeee!

 Silly moon, it’s daytime!

 St Rule’s Tower is usually open to the public. But when we finally found the ticket shop, we discovered that it was closed, not just for New Year’s Day, which was the day before, but for several days afterwards.

It would have been nice if the website had bothered to mention that.  Really.

Luckily, the grounds were open, so we could wander.  We just couldn’t climb the awesome tower and look out over the sea.

 Beautiful Celtic cross… with a dollar sign on it?

Confused…

I know it’s not a dollar sign, people.  Really.  But I do wonder what it actually is.

 Little locked gate.  You know the rule.  Had to try!

 We went out and walked along the coast toward the castle, hoping against hope that the grounds would be open the way the cathedral was.

 No luck.  We had to content ourselves with pictures over the walls and through the gate.

 Some of you may know that while I was in Ireland, I did a small oil painting of a lamp post.  I copied the painting off of a picture I took in Hyde Park back in London.  I was very proud of my picture, until I realized that the lamp post was slightly sloping to one side at the top.  I had neglected to draw the lines with a ruler or anything logical like that.  So I named the painting, ‘The Leaning Lamp Post’.  I’m embracing its uniqueness.

Anyway, we were walking along, and I spotted this one.  It’s the same kind of lamp post, and it’s leaning too!  Take that, silly painting.

 Curvy bench was not very comfy.

 Falling rocks????!!!!  Where???!!!!

 Somebody enjoys his cannons…

Also another lamp post.

 A long stone walkway leads out into the sea.  It was bitterly cold and windy at this point and we just wanted to be inside and warm.  But we were determined to walk to the very end of it.

 We made it!  Alive and everything!

The nice thing about having water in the background is it’s a lot harder to miss.

 We stopped at a chocolate shop and bought ourselves a box of chocolates.  And then I saw this little thing.  You can get a Bella Bunny and her chocolate poop!  I didn’t, but I was amused.

 We returned to Edinburgh exhausted and didn’t really want to go back out, but we had one last mission before the night was out.

 See, when I was in London at the Tower and I went skating with Meghan, my greatest complaint was the horrific buckle-on hockey skates that I was forced to wear.  I am a skate snob, apparently, but in my defense, I hadn’t worn anything but my own figure skates since I was very young and started taking serious lessons, so it was a major shock to my feet.

Erik, bless his heart, brought my very own skates with him when he came to visit and we absolutely had to go skating at the rink before it closed down on Wednesday.

 Fail Skates and Skates of Awesome.

 See? My own beloved skates! My feet are finally on the mend from the Tower-of-London-Skating-Trauma.

 The gloomily lit castle looms on the hill above the sparkling winter park.

 It took several tries by a very enthusiastic, but wobbly skater to get a mostly non-blurry shot of us, but she managed!

 I made a friend.

 I made another friend!

Erik made a friend too!

 And got a polar bear shoulder rub.

We left the park even more exhausted than ever, but I loved every minute of it.

We decided to take it easy the next day and start late.

 Our first stop was St Giles to get a better look at it than we did at the concert.

In 1910, they added this impressive chapel with seats for the Knights of the Order of the Thistle and, of course, a seat for the queen.

 We left the cathedral and headed down the road to the National Museum to get some culture.

Because culture is good for us.

 Celticosity!!!!

 Possibly a magical doorway, but we determined that we would have to find the rest of the pieces to make it work.  Kind of like one of those mini-missions in Zelda or something…

 More knotwork.  I loooooooove knotwork!

 One of the most famous exhibits (they giftshop will testify to this) are the carved chess pieces here.

 I think they are the cutest things ever.  I would learn chess just to be able to play with these guys.  The king looks so grumpy!

 Wardrobe!!!!!!

(No luck)

 Magical door?

(No luck here, either)

 I will never give up!

 Pretty little room deserved pose… yeah…

 Gigantic sword! 

 The Maiden: a guillotine brought over from France back in the day when they were a fashionable way of separating someone’s head from the rest of them.

 Someone really didn’t want this box to be opened by anyone without the key.  The entire lid is covered in complex lock mechanisms.

 Fifteenth century calculator.  Erik appreciated this more than I did.  My head hurts just looking at it.  It’s called Napier’s box.

 A John Knox casement!

 Why does the skull have a bow?

 I’ve always loved the concept of sedan chairs, not because I think they look comfortable or practical, but because I find the image of someone sitting in one and being carried around absolutely hilarious.

 The violin on the left is from 1817 made by a man named George Roger.

The Cello is from 1823, made in Edinburgh.

 This funny looking instrument in the book is a dancing master’s fiddle from the 18th century.

 This huge, complicated loom with its half-made tartan cloth was absolutely amazing.  The caption stated that it was a handloom with treadles for patterned fabrics such as tartans.

We were still tired today from yesterday’s craziness, so we headed home early and relaxed with an episode of Sherlock (yay!!!) and some delicious shepherd’s pie.  Tomorrow is our bus tour to Loch Ness.  Let’s just hope that the weather people are lying again…

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