We have reached Edinburgh and will be staying in the Grassmarket area of Old Town. We turn the corner and there it is…..Edinburgh Castle perched on a magnificent basalt rock formation rising more than 200 feet above the surrounding landscape. This is the view we will enjoy every morning from our hotel. After a good night’s sleep we will join the colorful bands of tourists that have made their way to the Castle since the 12th century. Before moving to Arizona we traveled in the spring or fall to avoid the crowds, after this trip, we will return to that practice. The crowds are taking their toll on us. We park the rental car with no intentions of climbing back in for a few days. Just like Lisbon, Dublin and Glasgow, anything we want to see can be accessed on foot. Just like Lisbon, Dublin and Glasgow, Edinburgh having been built on seven hills, is filled with steep slopes and steps to climb.
Our hotel is in a modern building and we have a quiet room in the back. It is far from the lift, no vending machines in sight, on the top floor, but quiet??
Edinburgh is the festival capitol of Scotland. Music, crafts, theatre, food, you name it, they celebrate it. Recently a new giant, open air concert arena has been built adjacent to the Castle. During the summer, at the stroke of 8 p.m. a band will take the stage. Rap, Jamaican, Scottish, pop, funk, hard rock, country, blues, folk music are played and the crowds love ‘em. Any hotel within a quarter mile resonates with the beat. We don’t even have to buy a ticket. These concerts will be our lullaby every night.
Morning brings a change in the weather. Finally we get to take the jackets we had packed away. A large umbrella from the hotel will shelter us from the misty rain while we work with James Christie, www.blackstarphotography.com. We climb to the top of Calton Hill and meet James just below the acropolis. The original plan of 1816 called for an exact duplicate of the Parthenon in Athens to occupy the site. It stands unfinished due to lack of funds. James uses the acropolis as well as Nelson’s Monument, the Old Observatory, the Robert Burns Monument, Queen Mary’s Bath House, the new Parliament Building, as subjects for our workshop. He demonstrates how to enhance our travel shots and make them more interesting by looking at them in an unorthodox manner. Watch those around you and do exactly the opposite. Walk around your subject. What does it look like from the back, to the side, from an elevated position? We did exactly that and discovered the skyline of Edinburgh behind the observatory and a better vantage point for the acropolis.
James has been a photographer for 31 years and has traveled the world living in London, New York and Los Angeles. He was good going back and forth between me, the beginner, and Terry, the accomplished enthusiast. He put us through our paces concentrating on the relationship of camera settings, composition, converging lines and the Golden Rule. By the end of the day I felt technically proficient and took some beautiful photographs. I still feel compelled to take “snap shots” in the street, yet I am better at composing “purposeful shots” on the tripod.
If you plan to visit Edinburgh, take your appetite. As in previous cities, food is a big, big deal. The young chefs take great pains to present beautiful delicious plates. Farm to table is practiced. Here are a few: Angels with Bagpipes www.angeleswithbagpipes.co.uk Ondine www.ondinerestaurant.co.uk Scotts www.scottskitchen.co.uk
We came, we ate and we photographed! We loved the city, but are looking forward to getting away from the crowds. The Lake District is next.