Thursday, June 18, 2009

Last day in London

We flew back to London today and stayed here for one more day before we fly back to Arizona. We did one more touristy thing this early evening. We went on The London Eye. It's like a Ferris Wheel but with capsules where about 20 people can stand around and walk in at once. It's over 400 feet tall. It's the 3rd largest in the world, but the 1st largest that is held on one side, if that makes sense. Anyway, you can see a lot of London in there. It takes about 30 minutes to go all the way around. It was beautiful and fun.

Jake and I in front of the London Eye

The capsules on the outside

Here's the inside of the capsule

The view, The Parliament and Big Ben

Mom, me, Jake

Buckingham Palace from the Eye

Me and Big Ben

Jake touching the top of Big Ben

The classic double-decker bus and the London cab (we rode in both, so fun)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dunnottar Castle : Stonehaven, Scotland: aka: MY CASTLE

Today we hopped on a bus and traveled for about 3 hours to a town called Aberdeen in Scotland and then took a taxi for about 25 minutes back down to another town called Stonehaven. This is where my ancestors (Clan Keith) lived in a castle for a time. This is on my mom's side of the family. I'm not sure if they built the whole thing, but I believe there was a tower that one of them built. Anyway, it's called Dunnottar Castle. It's in ruins now, but still has many standing buildings. As you can see in the pictures, it was a very rainy, windy, cold day. This was the one thing I wanted to see the most and out of all the days in Europe, this had to be the worst weather day, although the tail end of Sweden was pretty bad too. Oh well, we're here, I can't believe it!!!! It's still a very beautiful place, rain or not. At least there wasn't any snow!

Over there you can see Dunnottar Castle, you may have to click on the picture to see it better. It's there in the distance, I promise.

Here's a sign showing Stonehaven and Dunnottar Castle. WE'RE HERE!!!!!! Pinch me, I think I'm dreaming.

Jake and I in front of a sign with the castle behind us. We had to walk about 20 minutes to the castle. Many, many steps going down and then back up.

There she is. I wish it was more clear, but what else can I expect on a rainy day next to the ocean.

You can see the pathway and a little hole at the bottom in that massive rock. The castle is just behind it. You can kind of see a little part on top.

We loved this rock work on some of the steps going into the castle.

Here's the layout of the castle.

Some of the building ruins. I just loved all the green grass. So not use to this in Arizona. Do you think all the rain has to do something with it?

Mom sporting her lovely blue poncho

There's a grassy circle where a deep well or cistern is located. When it was excavated last century, they found four brass pans, a small French sword, five cannon balls, part of a Dutch pot, and one and a half silver teaspoons.

Breathtaking views

This dark, small area is called the Whigs' Vault. On 24 May 1685 to the end of July, they imprisoned 167 men and women, whose only crime was refusing to accept the Episcopalian style of church that Charles II imposed on Scotland. They were held for 9 weeks with little food and no sanitation.

You can see the outline of a fireplace and chimney. This was called the Smithy or forge.

We went up inside the Towerhouse or Keep. Mom poked her head out of one of the windows.

Jake and I sitting inside this huge sit-in fireplace inside the Towerhouse or Keep

Here's the Scottish crown jewels that were safely hidden here at Dunnottar Castle and again safely smuggled out so that an Oliver Cromwell wouldn't destroy them like he already did with the English crown jewels.

While we were waiting for our cab driver to return and take us back to Aberdeen, we saw a line of cows walking down the country street followed by their owner on a quad and a dog making sure all was well.

Back in Aberdeen, we ate lunch in this restuarant. This is where we tried the famous "haggis" from Scotland. It's basically the heart, liver and lungs of a sheep minced and mixed up with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices and salt and baked inside the intestine. Sounds yummy right?? It actually was quite tasty. I would defenitly eat that again.
I'm going to plan on coming back someday. I love the people and the place here in Scotland and have a crazy love for their accent too. It was a crazy day trying to get to the castle, but we made it. We planned on going to see other sites that my ancestors inhabited, like the town of Peterhead and another castle in ruins, but Dunnottar was the main castle of importance. I just love the idea of walking where and touching things that my ancestors once did. I have a special place in my heart for geneology and where and who I came from. I can't wait to meet them all one day.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Scotland's Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle

I LOVE SCOTLAND!!!!!! Scotland is #1. Sweden is now my 2nd best country. It is amazingly beautiful!!!! If I could live here, I would move in a heartbeat. Here's our cute Bed and Breakfast called Drumorne. The man in charge, Abby, was so nice and friendly. I would go back there again and recommend anyone to stay there. It's about a 1 1/2 miles to the Royal Mile where all the tourist stuff is. An easy and beautiful walk.

We saw this ruin castle on our walk to the Royal Mile. I'm not use to all this green. Arizona is quite brown.

At the start, or the bottom of the Royal Mile, there is the Scottish Castle called Palace of Holyroodhouse, where the Queen of England stays in Scotland.

This is the Palace of Holyroodhouse

Some pretty scenery up the Royal Mile. We tried a deep fried battered Mars Bar. Apparently it was founded here in Scotland. It was ok. I won't buy it again, but it was warm and gooey inside.

One of many "closes" which are basically alleyways between buildings

At the top of the Royal Mile there is this magnificent castle, Edinburgh Castle. I love how it's just built on top of this huge volcanic rock.

Mom and Jake at the entrance

Mom and I standing inside one of the guard pillars

This is a church inside the walls of Edinburgh Castle

We visited the place where they held the prisoners. This is one of several doors that held the prisoners in. They left many markings on them which were cool to see.

One of them had an early version of the American Flag "Stars and Stripes". Can you see it?

Another view of the castle inside the walls

This is a BIG GUN that they use now just about everyday at 1pm. They said that the Scottish people were very practical in that they didn't want to waist 12 bullets to signal at 12 o'clock when 1 bullet would do just fine. That's why they do it at 1pm. It's very loud and fun to watch.

I wanted to share our experience with the 1 o'clock gun. We didn't want to stand too close for fear it would be too loud. We got an excellent view from another area up higher. The weather was starting to look a little scary with rain about to drop, but we were able to get the gun going off before the rain really started. After the gun, we went and saw the Scottish crown jewels. There were very few compared to England, but these were the best because these Scottish crown jewels were hidden in my ancestors castle, Dunnottar Castle, keeping them from being stolen and destroyed by an Oliver Cromwell. YEA Keith Clan!!!!!! I'm soooooo stoked to see "my" castle tomorrow.

Edinburgh, Scotland

When we were finished with Edinburgh Castle, we walked back down the Royal Mile and came across this mime dressed up. He wouldn't move unless you placed money in his container. We did so and he started moving, grabbed my hand as if to kiss it and my mom took our picture.

There was a bagpiper, except his was more electronic sounding. I liked what he was wearing more.
While we were waiting to take a tour, we saw this strange pierced lady. She was charging people to take her picture. I saw a sign that said she was in the guiness book of world records as having the most piercings. OUCH!!!!! I didn't pay, so I went on line later and looked her up, that's where I got her pictures. Her name is Elaine Davidson. She lives in Edinburgh and we saw her in person walking right by us.

After seeing Elaine Davidson and her many piercings, we did a tour of an underground close called Mary King's Close. This is where many people had the Bubonic Plague. It was very dark and it is said that there are ghosts down there. Woooooooooooooo.

Here's some tour guides dressed in their clothing from that time period (1600's).
Here's the close (which means like an alley between buildings). One funny/gross thing they told us was that the people living there would keep a pot in their small studio type apartment where about 12 people would sleep. They would all use the same pot for disposing of their bodily fluids (all kinds) and they were only allowed to dispose of this pot at a certain time each day. They would take the pot, throw it out the window where it would land on the streets in this close and say really loud "gardeeloo". I know I probably spelled it wrong, but you'll probably be able to say it better with that spelling. So basically...if you hear that word, you better make a run for it! Everyone did it at the same time, I think with the chimes of the clock at a certain hour. I told you it was gross/funny.

After our tour there, we heard all this bagpipe playing outside. We ran out and saw a bunch of bagpipe players. We only saw the tail end of it, darn, it sounded so nice. I LOVE that kind of music. We asked one of them is we could get a picture with him.