The next morning (Wednesday), we got up and enjoyed a full Scottish breakfast complete with haggis and lots of tea as we watched some sunlight wander across the sky. Then we were heading on a tour with Rabbie's Trail Burners Tours. As we walked to the Royal Mile to get our bus, the sun was just visible over the horizon. Pinks and yellows painted part of the morning sky. (It was about 9:00!) Our day tour would take us to the Borders.
As we drove away from Edinburgh, I was absolutely amazed by how quickly the weather went from this:
to this in less than a half hour:
Our first stop was to a statue of William Wallace. Funny, he doesn't look anything like Mel Gibson!
This was located near Scott's View, which we couldn't see because of the weather. Yes, that black blob at the base of the statue is me, I assure you!
Our next stop was my favorite of the day, Melrose Abbey. I'd seen this place on countless Scotland calendars and in books, but had never managed to get here. It apparently has an amazing garden, but I think it looks pretty cool with the snow. What do you think?
Robert the Bruce's heart is buried here at Melrose Abbey. I stopped after taking the picture and said a silent prayer.
Out one side of the Abbey was the cemetery. When I turned back to the Abbey ruins, I noticed that all the heads on these six figures had been cut off. It intrigued me and I went to work thinking of reasons behind the decapitations!
The village of Melrose itself was beautiful and pleasant. We had lunch in this little restaurant with about 12 tables or so and TONS of knickknacks and decorations. The food was good, the soup was hot and the tea hit the spot!
After we left Melrose, we went on to Rosslyn Chapel. I admit I didn't know much about it (never read Da Vinci Code), but WOW! It was awesome! They had scaffolding around it so I didn't take pictures and we weren't allowed to take them inside. By this time, the sun was fading fast and the cold seeped in from everywhere. Inside the chapel, portable heaters were set up at various spots. As with most chapels, the intricate details of the windows, walls and ceilings were absolutely stunning. We tagged onto a tour and listened as the guide told stories of the carvings and their origins. I, of course, found the carving of a bagpiper. I also slipped down the steep stone steps to the lower floor where they had music playing. The songs made me think of Gregorian chants. Down there I had chills that had nothing to do with the dwindling temperature. The walls were bare here and it smelled of dank earth.
Soon, our bus was ready to head back to Edinburgh. Once we arrived back in the city, it was dark and it was only about 4:30. We went to eat in a beautiful restaurant on the Royal Mile called Dubh Prais, or The Black Pot. EXCELLENT food and service! It's a bit hidden and very easy to miss, but if you're ever there it's worth searching it out. Of course, after this fabulous meal, we went back toward Grassmarket and our hotel and stopped in a pub along the way!
Next up will be the recap of the Torchlight Procession, the official opening of the Hogmanay Celebration!