Monday, 2 January 2017

Happy New Year. Edinburgh's Christmas Lights.

                                               ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN

 For a few years now I've been intending to visit Edinburgh at Christmas to see the lights but other things have always got in the way. I now have my over 60s bus pass-National Entitlement Card which allows me (and Alex, who got his last year) to travel anywhere in Scotland for free on buses. What an amazing Christmas present. Yippee! (I hasten to add I won't be travelling around with Alex much on buses as he's totally hill walk orientated and I  plan to use mine to visit cities and towns which he has little interest in doing.)
As my friend 'Belinda' and her 'I'm up for anything' mum were going through to Edinburgh to take in the world famous Hogmanay street party and were intending to stay there for a week's holiday afterwards, I got an open invite and jumped at the chance to meet up with my lovely little slippery serpent again. (What? It's all in her name- look it up. I of course am 'bright in fame or valour'. Yippee. Lucky me again. What can I say about that outcome? Well, shit just seems happens when you're a woman  :o)
I didn't fancy the New Year celebrations myself as I tend to avoid stuff like that but I did fancy going through a couple of days beforehand just to reacquaint myself with the city centre district and see the lights. Above is the Christmas Market in Princes Street Gardens with the Royal Mile district behind.
Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh from Princes Street direction. With its ancient volcano (seen here) rising in the very heart of this east coast city and its magnificent skyline of centuries old tall tenements, towers and spires climbing up a slope to the castle like a fossilized volcanic comet with its long sweeping tail lighting up the sky behind it, this is one of most scenically impressive cities in the world.
Another view of the market with the Royal Mile as a backdrop.
Add in Edinburgh Castle...
and Calton Hill, seen here...both heights made up of volcanic basalt plugs and you have a truly extraordinary city. Yet I know many folk in Glasgow who haven't made the one hour trip by public or private transport through here. I love the place. I could easily take hundreds of photographs here... and did.
Let's see....Belinda and her mum... or Edinburgh. As a keen snapper it was extremely hard to divide my attention between them all and keep both happy. A real challenge in fact.

 This is the Cowgate in the old town around the Castle. Auld Reekie (on the sign below the udders) is the old nickname for Edinburgh with its packed narrow streets and tall tenements. Some of these go up ten floors high making them some of the first stone built hi rises in the world for living in.(as opposed to temples, pyramids,shrines etc.)
Great short history of the Cowgate here.

As seen here in this photo with other levels hidden below ground as well. A good example of that is Mary King's Close halfway up the Royal Mile and open to the public. An underground warren of ancient dark streets, long abandoned and sealed off after the plague then rediscovered and reopened for tourists to enjoy and explore. Well worth a visit and a unique experience.
Scott Monument. Jenners department store ( in red) and the Skyride.
A closer view of this fun-fair attraction which seemed to be doing a roaring trade. I suspected as much before I came through here but Edinburgh at Christmas is far more energetic and lively than Glasgow, despite having a smaller population. 75,000 people attend the New Year street party each year from all over the world so that must bring in a huge amount of revenue. Glasgow nowadays, in some ways, feels to me like the poor relation sitting around the one bar fire with a bare 60 watt bulb above. I do know both cities fairly well over many years and trips in all seasons so this is not just a snap judgement although according to a recent travel firm report Glasgow is also booming as a holiday hotspot these days. Edinburgh just feels very modern and vibrant although Glasgow has more tourist attractions to explore for free. For example Edinburgh Castle at £16:50 for an adult and £13:20 concession seems a bit steep which is why I've only ever been in it as a youngster on my first visit here with my parents. If you have demanding children £100 pounds can slip through your fingers very easily in this beguiling city.
I may have been beguiled and in the company of two fair females but my wallet was, as usual, reluctant to escape its dungeon. I would instead act as an unpaid tour guide around the city. (more of which later.)
The Dome in George Street in the heart of Edinburgh's New Town. Built in the classical style of grand architecture laid out in the late 1700s to 1800s in a grid pattern with sylvan squares and parkland ovals to increase the feeling of luxury and space this district lies immediately north of Princes Street.
The Dome was once home to a prominent Scottish bank HQ but is now an upmarket restaurant, bar and nightclub facility known for its Christmas decorations around the pillars.
The new Edinburgh tram system. This ran well over budget and time constraints during construction... much like the Scottish Parliament building but any city with trams gracing its streets surely has another tourist ace in the deck to play with. Cyclists are not so keen on it however as many have been caught out with wheels falling or jamming into the slots of the tracks. It does take some getting used to and something I've had to look out for myself- both as a cyclist and as a pedestrian.
Jenners and the funfair. Jenners was built in the 1830s and ended up as Scotland's oldest independent department store. I believe it's now run by House of Fraser group, which makes Frasers in Glasgow's Buchanan Street its sister store as they serve much the same purpose in being the prestigious top end front runner on the high street in both cities. With so much sparkling competition nearby they have wisely opted for an understated yet elegant red hue which is very effective.
The old Edinburgh. Tenement land near the Royal Mile from  Waverley Station.
Princes Street Gardens. Christmas Market and funfair.
More attractions and Canongate district.
The Playhouse Theatre. Leith Walk. Part two of this Edinburgh tour to follow shortly....

Keeping with the visual theme here's a fantastic short video that is really worth a watch. Art, entertainment, and sheer brilliance rolled into one.  I can't believe there's only 112 views on You Tube for this. But then again Vincent Van Gogh never sold any of his paintings in his lifetime which says it all really... we often celebrate and worship bland mediocrity far more than any original thinking or craft.


Anabel Marsh said...

Well, I love this - as I think you already know. Happy New Year!

Carol said...

Those cows back-ends and udders are seriously weird - I was trying to figure out what on earth they were!

I think I prefer Glasgow to Edinburgh nowadays although I haven't stayed long in either. I certainly couldn't do the busy Edinburgh Hogmanay Celebrations - I'd rather go somewhere much quieter - quite fancy Oban or something one Hogmanay - or maybe Ullapool.

Don't think I'll ever get a bus pass - you were very lucky to still get one - I know they'll give them up by the time I'm 60 next year - certainly in England anyway.

Ian Johnston said...

As ever Bob - a post full of interest; thanks for another year of a great blog!

Happy New Year - here's to 2017 :o)

Linda W. said...

Thanks for another great tour of one of your lovely cities. I enjoyed all the night shots with the colorful lights.

Kay G. said...

Lovely city photos but the cow one is odd, isn't it? Gee, I am from Georgia, I have seen the back end of a cow! :-)
Happy new year!

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anabel,
yes, it's a great city and so much to see there. I've still got a few districts left I've never explored.

blueskyscotland said...

Evening Carol,
At a guess it's probably like Cowlairs in Glasgow and a place where the cattle arrived to feed the old city on the hill with maybe a slaughterhouse nearby. I'll look that up later.
Feels like winning the golden ticket with the bus pass so I'll hopefully go places fast in case they take it back. Free golf was taken away just last year and I was really looking forward to that.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Ian,
Cheers thanks- Happy New Year.

blueskyscotland said...

Hello Linda W,
Yes, I've always enjoyed prowling about at night but taking photos in low light can be frustrating at times unless you use full night photography techniques which I've no patience for. One guy I watched spent over half an hour on one shot but the time-lapse effects are amazing. I always get restless standing in one spot too long.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Kay,
Happy New Year to you. I like the falling rocks sign changed into falling cows warning for motorists driving up that road. (Yellow sign in Cowgate photo.)

Linda said...

Wow, I thoroughly enjoyed this tour! That tram is very nice! Great series, thank you so much for sharing!

Rosemary said...

Your photos are colourful, vibrant and wonderful to see - what a great idea to pop over to Edinburgh for free with your new bus pass.
I never seem to have enough time in Edinburgh to do everything I want.
One thing I long to see is Mansfield Traquair, formally the Catholic Apostolic church. It now has the reputation of being Edinburgh's Sistine Chapel with wonderful murals painted by Phoebe Anna Traquair, an eminent Arts and Crafts artists, they took her eight years to do.

Neil said...

Happy New Year Bob. Edinburgh looks to have well outdone Glasgow this festive period!

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Linda
still to go on an Edinburgh tram. Another first to tick off at some point.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Rosemary,
I'd not heard of that place before now but looked it up. Only open to the public every second Sunday of the month between 1 and 4pm or if you buy cocktails or visit the venue as a paying or invited guest (wedding party, corporate function...etc.
Looks impressive.
You probably know about this stills artist already but You Tube. The Complete Wonderland Film. Kirsty Mitchell Photography.... might be to your taste as it's arts and craft style transported into a modern digital age. Well... sort of. Worth a look anyway. Many years of work and dedication in a five minute film.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Neil,
H.N.Y. Yes, I was back there again yesterday and Glasgow can't really compete outdoors with their version of Christmas or New Year. Very lively, friendly, effortlessly elegant, a complete colour splurge and a world class backdrop of buildings flowing over a rocky landscape. All we have in the city centre here is a building enclosed square... interesting as that is for most occasions but well beaten in this festive showdown.

Anonymous said...

Thoroughly enjoyable tour around Edinburgh especially the night-time shots. Even though I had a mate who lived in the city for a few years I never really toured the city, just used it a staging post for trips to the mountains