June 23-24: Edinburgh

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Everyone in front of Edinburgh Castle

We arrived! Our first day in Edinburgh was a dramatic one. Some of us fell ill — some of us simply fell (down a volcano). But on Sunday, all the Vocettes woke up bright and happy and ready to greet the beautiful day. We began our guided tour of Edinburgh at 9 am. Our tour guide, Alan, was a spirited wise-cracker. He taught us many fun facts, like the difference between Irish Gaelic and Scots Gaelic (it’s pronounced “Gallic” here in Scotland), and the origin of the word “loo.” After about five minutes of talking with us, Alan already wished he was our tour guide for the rest of the trip. Alas!

Alan (and our bus driver Gerry) showed us the Royal Mile, the road that stretches between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace. The queen herself is expected to stay at the palace any day now! We stopped at a picturesque “close,” or an enclosed area similar to a communal courtyard. We visited a cemetery that unexpectedly housed a statue of Abraham Lincoln among famous Scots. Scottish Parliament dazzled and perplexed us with its unique modern architecture.

The tour stopped at Edinburgh Castle, where most of us toured this medieval fortress. The castle stands on a crop of volcanic rock that serves as a natural defense. The spectacular views of downtown Edinburgh, the North Sea, and Arthur’s Seat made the trek up the hill worth it!

We split up for the afternoon, but a group of Vocettes took this opportunity to tour Holyrood Palace. The palace boasts spiral staircases, grand dining halls, and a dramatic courtyard. The group enjoyed walking in the palace gardens and trying to identify various birds and plants. In the evening, most of the gang ended up on the hotel terrace for a drink at some point or another. Tonight, we relax and prepare for our first concert of the tour at St. Giles’ Cathedral tomorrow. Wish us luck!

(Click to enlarge photos.)

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