I want to always be a tourist. It's not hard to think that way when you're in an internationally renowned historical and cultural center, but it's amazing just how quickly I start to fall into my usual rhythms, start going to the same places, sticking to the same area -- my comfort zone. Comfort zones are all well and good (we need them, we definitely do), but on that note, it's absolutely worthwhile to keep from getting too complacent by always making time to be a tourist. So I take my camera with me (in addition to my phone) most--if not all--of the time. I try to stop and take in places, really observing how I and other people interact with them. I like to stop into temporary exhibitions (see below), and also see the interiors of buildings I may have walked by a hundred times. There is always something new to learn, and something that will captivate and potentially inspire.
So, with that, my trek down the Royal Mile this morning. Objective: Get to Scottish Parliament and look at a gigantic tapestry. Secondary Objective: Take my lazy old time.
So here's this guy. An unavoidable feature on the Royal Mile in front of St. Giles High Kirk, here stands the sculptural likeness of Walter Montagu Douglass Scott, 5th Duke of Buccleuch (bewklewk? buckloo? bewklew? It's a mouthful even without the Scots pronunciation)... by William Birnie Rhind. Anyway. I've passed it numerous times and only just this morning stopped to really take in the detail, primarily, of the pedestal, which includes a series of these bad boys:
...and a whole bunch of decoration. It's nice. Also, it stands in the place of the Old Tolbooth, first established on the High Street (fair warning, "Royal Mile" is something of a tourism construct -- it's still primarily considered the High Street, or Lawnmarket, or whatever the street is you're actually on) in the 14th century. Though now an open square in front of St. Giles Cathedral, there are markers in the pavement, some with dates, that outline where various walls once stood. The Heart of Midlothian, in the bricks on the pavement, also marks the spot of the Old Tolbooth.
My primary goal was the walk to the opposite end of the Royal Mile, to the Scottish Parliament building, where an exhibition in its final week, The Great Tapestry of Scotland, is on display. There are well over 150 panels showing Scotland's history from the very beginning -- like, 400+ million years ago -- up to the present day. The website has some fun facts about how much thread was used and how many people actually worked on it, but it was mostly about the history. And Alexander McCall Smith was kind of The Man behind the whole project. It was cool, but I would hazard a guess that I was perhaps one of the very, very few visitors there under the age of 50.
And then I sort of meandered my way back up the Royal Mile, stopping for a coffee along the way and a break on a bench for a little bit, a few photos. It's always interesting what catches your attention when you sit down for a few minutes and simply look around you, studying everything big and small. Like little tiny people walking way up on Arthur's Seat, which provides the backdrop for the rather abrasively modern parliament building.
Many of the final photos in this post were taken just outside the cemetery gates where Adam Smith is buried, among many other notable people. I didn't want to juggle a grande Americano and my camera, so I saved the visit to the actual churchyard for another time, but it won't be long!