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Day 3: Palace of Holyrood, Canongate, Old Town and Greyfriar's Kirk

Posted: October 2015

I started my morning off with another delicious breakfast at Biddy Mulligan's next to my hotel on Grassmarket. A simple Irish Cheese and Bacon omelette - it was huge and very rich, so I couldn't finish. But, it was very tasty and gave me the protein I needed to set off on a busy day of sightseeing.

I started out by catching the bus and headed to the Palace of Holyrood. This palace is home to the Queen when she stays in Edinburgh. Her more frequented home in Scotland is Balmoral Castle. This Palace of Holyrood was initially developed as a 12th century abbey (it is in ruins now - see below photos). The castle was then built in parts starting in the 15th century through the 17th century. Like the Royal Apartments in Edinburgh Castle, no photos are allowed inside of the Palace of Holyrood. So, unfortunately I could only take photos of the exterior. There is one tower within the palace (left side of palace if you are facing it) that is still original to the period of Mary Queen of Scots. Hearing stories, seeing films and television series that are inspired by the history of Mary are one thing, but being there in the castle, her castle, and connecting to her history is nearly impossible to describe. Being there, even in as grand of a palace as this, it humanizes these historical figures we have come to love, hate or misunderstand.  You also begin to understand the complexities of political powers at this time and see how volatile and how easily simple truths were twisted to eventually bring ill fate to those in power. 

Part of the tour also featured several photos of our modern monarchy of the Queen, her son and future king Charles, princes William and Harry, with the view of childhood as royalty in the media - photographs and video clips.

I also toured through the Abbey ruins, as well as the gardens and the Queen's Gallery which featured Scottish 18th and 19th century artists.

I walked just down the road to a small tearoom called Clarinda's. I saw her name in the Canongate Kirk on a gravestone and figured there was a connection, so I popped in for some tea and a bite to eat. I found out that Clarinda was a friend and mentor to poet Robert Burns.

From here I boarded the bus and headed down to Greyfriar's Kirkyard. Here, I visited the statue of Greyfriar's Bobby (a tribute to the loyal dog that stayed by his owner's gravesite every day for 14 years until he then passed). The statue sits out on the road just before entering Greyfriar's Kirkyard. There are gravestones for the dog and his owner John Gray inside the graveyard entrance. 

Inside the kirk are hundreds of old gravestones and tributes dating as far back as the 1560s. There is an eeriness as you wonder through the gravesites, but I also felt a sense of gratitude and respect for those that are laid to rest. I slowly took my time to walk by each gravestone to acknowledge the presence of those buried there. There are several very notable and important Scottish people interned at this kirk. Here are just a few photos...

As time passed by, I decided that before I end my evening I would take one last bus tour around the city as this was my last night in the city. Here are a few photos of the city just before sunset...

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