Friday, January 7, 2011

Scotland For Hogmanay- Day 2

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!


  1. Wow that must be something new at Rosslyn Chapel. I have been ther three times since 94 and I have taken pictures everytime inside. The first time they didn't have the lower chapel open, then the second time it was open but there was no window and this last time it was probably as you found it. Did you have time to hike down to the castle ruins?

    Your pictures of Melrose are gorgeous, I have only been there in the fall but the winter is brilliant. Melrose is a nice little border town.

  2. Wonderful photos. I've seen photos of your favorite place - would love it if those walls could talk. Sounds fabulous for you, Alexa, and us getting to tag along. I can't wait to see where you take us next.

  3. Wow beautiful, especially with the snow! I've never visited the area and I find it fascinating. If you find out about why the statue decapitations were done let us know! Now I'm very curious. Reformation? Thanks for sharing!

  4. Melrose Abbey would indeed by lovely in summer but this is quite stirring. Somehow it seems even more apropos than summer photos. I, too, would be interested in hearing about the reason for the decapitations, Alexa. Beautiful pictures! I'm glad you're sharing details of your trip. I love hearing about it!

  5. Yeah, Jody, they spent a lot of time telling us about all the work going on to preserve the chapel. They actually had big signs, a video and people to remind us not to take pics inside. Of course, I saw a woman using her camera anyway and thought, "Seriously?"

    Paisley, oh the stories we'd hear from those walls!

    Nicole, if I come across the real reason for the decapitations I'll be sure to share.

    Donna, at first I was upset not seeing the gardens, but then when I actually walked the grounds and took my pics I decided this was the best way to see the chapel. Much more special!

  6. A wonderful vicarious tour. So beautiful with the snow. Makes me want a bowl of nice hot cock-a-leekie soup.

  7. Love the photos and the virtual tour, Alexa! I can't believe the weather change within 30 minutes. That's mind blowing. I've never been there so thanks for taking us along. Magnificent!

  8. :) Apparently the soup was good in Melrose too! (It wasn't cock-a-leekie, though.) I had a cheese scone and a pot of tea.

  9. Thanks, Marian. It was very weird. It felt like an instant change. I've got tons more pics coming in the next week so be sure to come back!

  10. Again, Lexi gorgeous photos!

    I LOVE seeing where Robert The Bruce's heart was buried!!! OMG, I would love to see that!

    And of course who wouldn't LOVE the statue of William Wallace- Have you ever been to the William Wallace memorial? Becuase right at the base of it is a statue of BRAVEHEART. The locals HATE it, but I thought it was pretty cool! I'll E-mail you my picture of it!!

    And yes, isn't it incredible how fast the weather can change? Last time I was there we we spent hours peering into Loch Ness and it was Gorgeous, mind you it was bitter cold, but the sun was out and it was just beautiful, after seeing Urqhuart we decided to head over to Skye, and we got caught in a blizzard! Needless to say, I never made it to Skye, which really upset me, but what can you do? Just another reason to go back, right? :O)


  11. Looks like an incredible trip so far. Robert the Bruce's heart and Rosslyn Chapel on the same day. Wow!

    I love Scotland, and Edinburgh is one of my favorite cities in the world. Thanks for letting me live vicariously through your blog.

  12. Gorgeous new look and wonderful pictures. Happy new year!


  13. Andrea, apparently the rest of Robert the Bruce is buried in the abbey in Dunfermline. Yes, please do email me that pic! I haven't seen the statue.

    Jane, we should get together and I'll fill you in on ALL the details of the trip!

    Thanks, Landon! Happy New Year to you too!

  14. WOW! Fabulous pic's and information!

  15. sounds like a fantastic trip! loved the photos and your great descriptions. thanks for letting us tag along with you!

  16. Thanks! Kristen, it was a fantastic trip and quite honestly, I think I'm a little depressed being back in the States!