Day 4: Arthur's Seat and National Galleries of Scotland

And one thing I love about you
You follow no leaders
You go your own way, your own way
Be yourself
Be yourself
Nobody does it better than you

Be Yourself - Jay-Jay Johanson

Day 4 was spent all in Edinburgh. I had plan to go hike up Arthur's Seat, which is this hill in Edinburgh. When I told people what I did and what happened when I tried to get down, they asked why I went to hike up a hill? I answered, for fun? Going for a laborious hike doesn't sound fun and I guess they wondered why I would do such thing :D I'm such a lazy city girl. I often take a bus even though my destination is just one bus stop away and I could easily walk there. I don't exercise, so I guess I just don't strike people as someone who likes physical activity. I guess sometime after living in a city since you were born, you kinda like the idea of just walking somewhere where the city disappears. That being said, I was very nervous about going up Arthur's seat. I poured over maps and instructions before this trip and though some people wrote it's not difficult, I wonder if I was built for it. When I woke up that day and it wasn't raining, I thought I shouldn't chicken out and I should do this.

First order of business was getting a sufficient breakfast. I had pancakes, bacons, and a fried egg. Couldn't finish the bacon because the whole breakfast was just too much for me and because I didn't enjoy these English bacons much (to my dismay). I guess I love the fattening American kind more. Breakfast done then it was a walk down to the start or the bottom of Arthur's seat. It was a much longer walk to reach it than I thought it would be but the elevation was going down so it wasn't so bad, but I did think this might get annoying on the way back. Arriving at the bottom, I found the direction to one of the recommended path easy enough. So nothing confusing here, it was a nice walk. It's not so hard yet and I was loving it so much and glad that I did this. By the way, this is a picture of the surroundings on my way up.

The yellow plants are called gorse and they are currently blooming at many of the plains I've seen around the country. Below is a closer look. It looks pretty, but don't let it fool you. All these flowers are hiding sharp big thorns. So it is foolish to touch them and sadly you can't rely on them when you need to hold on to something to stop you from falling or to help you climb up.

I wasn't the only people hiking up Arthur's Seat. I think the locals do this often. Some were walking dogs and at the lower level I saw 2 cleaners picking up trash. You get different views depending on how high you are. At one point I saw the nearby loch and a view of the Holyrood Palace and Calton hill.

There is also the ruin of St. Anthony's Chapel. Well there's nothing much left of it.

I think after this, the walk up high get harder and harder. I started to breathe heavier and had to stop a few times to catch my breath. Towards the top, the path wasn't that clear anymore. It became rocky and I thought there's nothing in my life experience that prepared me for this. I had little confidence at myself because I think I'm such a clumsy person at times and my luck is not very good. So as I was trying to figure out which path seemed easier, I also prayed so that I won't fall and die. Seriously it was quite rocky and getting quite steep towards the end. By the way I also think I wasn't properly attired for such hike and weather. However I made it. Let's clap everyone :D There weren't many people on top. There were these 2 guys who I think are American. There's this brick marker on top. The Indonesian word would be tugu. I cannot find the English word, google told me it's monument, but it's kinda too small to be called a monument. It's not very tall but tall enough and it was quite small and I really don't think it's meant for you to stand on it, but that was what one of the guy wanted to do. He wanted his friend to take his picture doing it. It was super windy on top and I have to reiterate that it was rocky and it's steep up there. His friend was like this is stupid, but the other guy made it and picture was taken with his hands spread out. I have to say it's kinda cool, but I refrained from clapping because it was seriously stupid. Recently a guy died falling into Yellowstone hot spring. Dying on vacation doing stupid things are just stupid.

So anyways, the sky was getting dark and there were more people coming so I thought I should go down. Off the peak, we went down to an open grassy area. I seriously think with steep places going down is harder and scarier than going up. Again nothing in my life prepared me for this, so my instinct just told me to go backward, face the rocks and go down like you would going down a ladder. I felt that way was more comfortable for me. I tried to find the way back from here. Based on the maps I have I should go a different route than when I came from, but I couldn't find any easy way :( So I thought let's just hang around this grassy area and wait for people to go down then follow them. The problem was I felt some drizzle so I was getting worried. I didn't want to be stuck up there navigating steep rocky paths in the rain. When the 2 guys headed down, I thought good, now I could follow their way down. Unfortunately I don't think they also knew which way to go. They were some distance away from me and them and as I followed their way down I saw the photographer one of the two was having problem with the steepness and he almost fell. However I was already on their path so the only thing I could do was just to commit to it. Going back up was just as hard. It was really bad that I resorted to just slide my way down. Seriously when I thought trying to go down was impossible, I just packed the camera into my bag and slid down. There was another guy behind me and he then was doing the same. I said, "Do you think this is the right way?". He said no and laughed. I said something like well the point is as long as we don't die. The 2 guys in front heard us and said something like, "It must be our fault that you all are following us". It was quite scary that at one point I just stand and look down and the guy behind me caught up to where I was. I told him to go down first because I wasn't ready yet. I forget if he asked if I was sure. He went ahead and since I couldn't stand there forever, I then slid down again. The guys were now in front of me and I think they kindly looked back at me 1-2 times to make sure I was okay. I don't know if it's to make sure the Asian girl didn't die. I just like to think they did it to make sure I was okay and I was comforted with that thought. After a while, the path became much better and I could continue walking. Thank God. The only injury I got from the whole ordeal was a really tiny tiny cut on one of my left finger, it was totally negligible :)

Now I then did something stupid. After some time walking down, I saw a paved road for cars down below there and instead of consulting the map I had, I decided to go down to that road. The right way to go actually was to take another path which would give me nicer view of the hill and end up where I started. With me going down that road, I ended up getting confused of where I was and how to get to where I started. Then it became the usual thing I always do when I get confused and lost, I walked up and down the area a few times before stopping, looked at a nearby map, and set to the correct direction. It is embarrassing if people see me, but there I was, still a really directionally challenged person. I didn't feel like going up the hill again to go back to the hiking path, so I just followed the road which circles the hill. In the end I was again where I started but this walk is not a scenic walk at all. So if one day God gives me the chance to go to Edinburgh again, I promise I will go up Arthur's seat again! Promise. *Providing the weather is cooperative :P All in all I think I only spent 3 hours or so going up and down.

After that I made the walk back to town. Made a stop to St. Giles' Cathedral. I didn't take any picture because while entry is free, you have to pay for pictures. There's a service going on, but there were not many people attending service. I always find it awkward when there's service going on and there are also tourists milling around. So I didn't stay long and as planned I made my way to Scottish National Gallery. Scotland is really cool, the National Galleries of Scotland is this group of 3 museums: The Scottish National Gallery, The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, and The Scottish National Portrait Gallery, all located in Edinburgh and all are free!!! They have really nice collections and they're not very big. While we also love big museums, smaller museums are also great especially when they are free (very important) and have good collection. With smaller museums, you get to see everything and don't feel overwhelmed and tired from walking its rooms. There are 3 floors in The Scottish National Gallery and they have things from Italian paintings of Jesus and the likes, to Monet, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Degas, Gauguin, and the rest and also of Scottish art in the basement.

I think they should have put the Scottish art first in the ground level so that they're the first thing people see rather than put it down at the lower level. Anyways, I had a really pleasant surprise here. I saw this painting below, Reverend Robert Walker (1755 - 1808) Skating on Duddingston Loch by Sir Henry Raeburn. Firts of all I didn't know Sir Henry Raeburn is Scottish. When I saw this painting I think I gasped. You see, last year when I was in San Francisco on that dreadful day of exploring Golden Gate park, I saw this painting in the poster / banner promoting an exhibition at the de Young museum. Seriously I didn't know that the exhibition was about Scottish art or with items loaned by The Scottish National Gallery. I just remembered the painting. So to see it again here, for me it's like fate. Even though you don't think about it or plan it, you will eventually meet. Maybe not today, tomorrow, maybe it takes longer, but when it's fate your paths will cross. It seriously felt amazing for me. This painting wasn't put at some sort of special display and I could have easily missed it or ignored it among the many other paintings, but there it was and I can't help feeling God when this encounter happened. So sorry for being all dramatic :P

Anyways, I know that there's a free shuttle van that takes you to the other museums. So after confirming where the stop was and since I was early I walked out of the museum and explored the area a bit. Outside of the museum actually gives you a really good view of Edinburgh and Princess Street Garden.

Got into the shuttle on time. There were only a few of us. While it's free, you are asked to give a 1 GBP donation, it's not compulsory. The first stop was to The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. This museum is divided into 2 compounds, Modern One and Modern Two and they're just across the street from each other. By the way look at how the museum's name is styled, being modern art and all, it cannot just be normal text :P

We stopped at Modern Two. One of the couple in the van asked the staff about Paolozzi studio. I never heard of him, turns out Eduardo Paolozzi is a famous Scottish sculptor and artist. There are a few of his works in the museum and there's this studio of his. I'm sure this is just a small part of what his studio contains or looks like, but you can see how extremely creative he was.

There's actually nothing much to see at Modern Two. There's an exhibition, but it's not free. I did walk the ground a bit to see the sculptures around. Then I went to Modern One. I was interested to go to the Modern Art Museum because I have seen pictures of their unique pond. As you can see there was blue sky and the sky is out. It was such a lovely day that afternoon especially compared to the morning where there were dark clouds. There weren't many people at the museum so it's nice and quiet and the modern art has nice grounds to walk about or just to sit outside enjoying the view.

Inside there were some interesting paintings and sculptures too. I saw some paintings by Russian artists which I thought to be really nice. I can't remember if I have seen any art works by Russian artists before. Maybe I have never. So to see something different is great. These paintings below are by F.C.B. Cadell, another Scottish artist.

Since the museum is not very big, I was done before the shuttle arrived. I spent the time waiting outside by the pond. I don't know if we can walk on it, but I saw a girl walking around it. I just sat on the grass nearby. Another passenger asked if they're going to stop at The Scottish National Portrait Gallery next. I did wonder if I should go there. I was hesitant because I had spent so much time walking that day and going there means making the way back on my own because the shuttle is not picking passengers from there and that means more walking. Turns out due to construction around the museum, in this period they're not stopping there. I was glad that God made that decision for me :) We were dropped back at The Scottish National Gallery. I went for an early dinner then I went in and out a few shops at the old town. I had moments of stupidity that day, but it was a good day, a really good day and I thank God for that :) So that was the last day in Edinburgh. For pictures of this city, please go here. For pictures from the galleries, please go here. Next stop, London.

Other note: When I talked to mom about this trip and she found out I was staying at 2 different places, she asked if they both use the same money. I said, "Of course, they're the same country!". I thought my mom was silly until I started getting change in Scotland. The notes I received were issued by the Bank of Scotland and the queen is not on the money! Suddenly my mom didn't sound so silly anymore and I was actually the silly one for saying they're the same country. I started googling if they can be used in London. By right, they should be accepted but some wrote that there's no legal requirement to do. So I kinda made sure to use all the Scottish pounds I had before leaving.

:) eKa @ 2:31:00 PM •

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