OG Post: March 20th, 2017
Edinburgh Day7 (Saturday) I'm writing this update from Spain. I've got two days of travel stories to catch up on. Saturday morning I slept in but not too late. The original plan was to go up to the top of Arthur's seat to take pictures and to see the whole city from that viewpoint. However, the weather was not cooperating with that plan so we came up with a new one. Instead, we would go down to the Scottish National Gallery and then out to Leith for some food and shopping.
After a breakfast at Red's new usual spot, we figured out travel arrangements for the day. At first, I was looking at just getting a cab or an Uber but I forgot we were in a city where public transportation makes sense. I was able to get us both single bus passes for the trip up to Leith. The night passes for the return and even Tram Airport passes for the next morning all for about 20 quid.
We walked to the Gallery in the "rain". I say that because it was a super light drizzle when we almost reached Princes street we decided to cut through the graveyard at St. Cuthbert's Parish. Everything was so delightfully old and gothic, yet bright due to the mossy bright green that covered the ground and stones. There were lots of flowers in bloom as well so it made for a very pleasant walk.
We came out on the other side of the parish into the Princes Street Gardens. They are a beautiful combination of sculptures, paths, and floral life in the area where they drained Nor Loch for the building of New Town. Just inside the gates we stopped at a little food truck inside and picked up some pastries for our walk. Red was delighted and took pictures of everything. I was very happy because this was one of the gardens I wanted to visit but always ended up walking around because it is closed by the time I get off work.
We came out of the gardens right at the Scottish National Gallery. We stopped by the Academy side first and looked at all the modernist art that was for sale and then went around to the Gallery side. We started there on the ground floor. The first room we walked into where galleries two and three. They were covered in masterpieces painted by the Italian Renaissance painters between 1500 and 1600. From there we went into an antechamber containing 'cabinet pictures' from 1560 to 1700. Then we crossed to Gallery 5 where the Southern Europe Baroque artist Gallery was with paintings from 1580 to 1680.
Then we walked into another antechamber that contained Poussin's Seven Sacraments. These are a series of seven paintings depicting the various sacraments by the French artist Nicolas Poussin. They are one of the greatest series of pictures in the history of Western art. I almost felt as if I couldn't go on after that. Such an overwhelming feeling having already looked at the Italian Renaissance paintings of Bacchiacca, Tintoretto, Titian, and more, then the Baroque paintings and then Poussin. I wasn't even halfway finished and I could have walked out happy.
There was lots more to see. Galleries 7-10 featured various Dutch and Flemish artist from 1590 to 1720. There were several here that Red seemed to be really drawn to. Gallery 11 was a dedication to the evolution from Rococo to Neoclassicism from 1700 to 1815. Galleries 12 and 13 were dedicated to "Painting as a Spectacle" and featured colossal sized work from 1785 to 1870.
After that, we had circled around back to the beginning and I realized that there was the Gallery one upstairs that I had missed. We went up and to the left where some very nice Gothic Renaissance pieces from 1300 to 1550. We then went around to the right of the stairs and saw some Northern Renaissance paintings. I stood there awestruck as I looked at three Rafael paintings, "The Madonna Del Prato", "The Bridgewater Madonna", and "The Holy Family with a Palm Tree". I was so awestruck that it took me about 15 minutes to realize that directly behind me was Leonardo Da Vinci's "Madonna of the Yarnwinder". This floored me. It's not my first time to see a Da Vinci up close and in person but damn if it didn't just about knock my knees from under me.
After all of this, there were still more galleries upstairs on the other side of the building. We went to them and I, for the most part, was still thinking about the Da Vinci so galleries 14-16 of the 18th and 19th century European artists didn't quite capture me. When we reached galleries 17 and 18 though that was a different story. These were the French Impressionism galleries and as we reached the end we saw some works by both Monet and Van Gogh. That was a nice cherry on top of our Gallery experience.
From there we were done so we went down to the garden level and back out on to Princes Street. We were looking for the number 22 bus to catch a ride up to Leith and there were plenty of them. Just a block down from the Gallery we picked up the bus and were on our way out to the docks. A short 25 minutes later we were in Leith and walking to an entirely different kind of Art Gallery. This one for modern street art. There we picked up a Banksy print and some glass art and had them shipped back home.
Afterward, I was famished so we headed over to The Roseleaf for a bite. They have a really cool thing going on there. If you order their cocktails for two they serve them in teapots with teacups and call them 'pot'tails. We had a delicious elderflower version of a mojito. For food, I had truffle oil bacon mac and cheese with garlic bread and Red had the eggs benedict florentine.
After that, we walked over to the Oceans Terminal which is a mall and the tourist center for the HMY Britannia. After walking around and window shopping we didn't go on a tour of the yacht but we did stop by the gift shop. Amongst all the quirky tourist Royal Family gifts you could get there we found a Swarovski Crystals replica, commissioned by the Crowns & Regalia collection of the famous Cullinan Diamond III & IV Brooch. Only this was on a necklace instead of a brooch. The Cullinan III and Cullinan IV are together known as the Lesser Stars of Africa. The Cullinan III diamond is a 94.4-carat pear-cut stone that was originally set in the coronation crown made for Queen Mary, consort of King George V. At present, Cullinan III is usually worn as a brooch, in a configuration that includes Cullinan IV.
Cullinan IV is a square cushion-cut diamond that weighs in at a still astonishing 63.6 carats. It was originally part of Queen Mary’s coronation crown as well. Queen Elizabeth II lovingly refers to the brooch with Cullinan III and IV as “Granny’s Chips”; she has worn the priceless piece just six or seven times during her reign.
So of course I bought that for Red how could I not?
After that we headed back out to the 22 bus back to City Centre and to the hotel. We packed up and during the packing I found that somehow I lost my scarf from the Tartan Mill. We both remembered me saying I wasn't going to wear it that day and leaving it on the desk. We couldn't remember if I changed mind and put it on but neither of us remember me having it on that day. It's possible I could have picked it up at the last minute and forgot about it and the dropped it and left it some where. Either way it was a great scarf but I wasn't too heartbroken about it. We finished packing and turned in for the night.