A Quiet Weekend In Dundee and A Busy Four Days in Edinburgh

Its been a interesting seven days since I last posted a report and right now I’m not sure when you will get to see this because it appears the guest house I’m staying at doesn’t allow uploading content to my web site.  At least thats the way it appears so far.  We shall see.

As I said in the headline it was a very quiet weekend in Dundee.  It is a very spiffy city located on the Firth Of Tay with empties into the North Sea.  As I learned on the long taxi ride to the guest house I wasn’t actually in Dundee proper but in a near suburb called Broughty Ferry.  It is a very nice section of the city that had just enough restaurants so I didn’t have to eat at the same place at every meal.  I did see just about all that there was to see the first two days I was there including St. Paul’s Cathedral, St. Andrews Church,  the RRS Discovery, and the McManus Gallery.  The most famous place in Dundee is a bronze statue of Desperate Dan who is a hero of the children’s comic “Dandy”.  I was able to see all of that in between rain showers.  At the end of the day I had to ask myself why did I come here?  However, when the day broke over Dundee on Sunday it was almost cloudless and I spent the day at a small castle called Broughty Castle which was a ten minute walk from my guest house and was built of a strategically important rock at the mouth of the Firth Of Tay.  After spending about an hour touring this small castle I took a very long walk along the Firth Of Tay to what I think was pretty much where the Firth of Tay empties into the North Sea.

On Monday I made my journey to Edinburgh and as soon as I left the Edinburgh Waverly Train Station it was like someone injected me with adrenaline   BOOM!  I was back in a real city with music, art, history, theatre.  And have I indulged, which is why I haven’t posted until today and even today the city beckons and I don’t have a whole lot of energy or desire to write.  But I must write.  

The fine hosts of this guest house gave me explicit instructions to the house and I have a fine room overlooking a garden.  As soon as I checked in and unpacked I headed outside and began walking since the street the guest house is located is a ten minute walk from what I would call the beginning of the busy city center.

On that walk I passed a place called Queen’s Hall which is one of the venues for music during this last week of the Edinburgh International Music Festival which is one of the great music festivals of the world.  I was able to purchase tickets for an 11:00 AM concert with the Scottish Ensemble Commonwealth Strings playing works by Elgar, Sculthorpe, Vaughan Williams, Farr, and Sir Michael Tippett’s Concerto for Double String Orchestra on of my very favorite pieces of music.  I’ve never herd it live before although I’ve listed to it enough on what may be my very first LP (On Argo) by The Academy Of St. Martin-In-The-Fields.  The concert was broadcast live on BBC Ratio 3 as are all the rest of these late morning concerts.  This concert was thrilling.

While I was at the Queens Hall box office they told me where to find the other music venues.  It was also where I found out that the Fringe Festival finished up the day before I arrived.  :-(  There were a couple of plays I saw posters of while I was making my way to the guest house that interested me as well as a play someone at the James Joyce Center in Dublin recommend I see.  Alas, it too had closed on August 24. 

Undeterred, I took a 30 minute walk through Edinburgh’s Meadows a beautiful city park which took me not only to all the other venues of the Music Festival but to the two art house cinemas in Edinburgh where independent cinema is very alive and very well. I’ve seen three films this week and will see another either today, tomorrow or Sunday.  My next stop was King’s Theatre to pick up my already purchased tickets to Harry Partch’s “Delusion Of The Fury”, then walked about five minutes to Usher Hall and got tickets for the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Mariss Jansons performing the Shostakovich Symphony No. 1 The Paino Concerto In G by Ravel, with Jean-Yves Thibaudet as the soloist, and finally Daphnis et Chloe Suite No. 2 by Ravel.   That was on Wednesday evening.  Another thrilling concert.

Tonight I see the Philadelphia Orchestra’s conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin conducting the Rotterdam Philharmonic in Mahler’s Symphony No. 6.  Tomorrow evening I see “Delusion of the Fury”

As a grand finale to my week in Edinburgh I was able to secure a ticket to the Fireworks Concert on Sunday evening which will bring the Edinburgh International Music Festival to a close.

So you may ask if I’ve done anything else.  The answer would be yes.  Tuesday, was spent just walking around the city and getting used to how the city works.  I saw and climbed the 287 steps to the top of the Scott Monument that was built between 1840 and 1844.  It is dedicated to Sir Walter Scott.  Also rode the rather tame ferris wheel just a few hundred feet away on Princess Street.

On Wednesday in addition to attending the Concertgebouw Orchestra concert in the evening I spent the day touring the Edinburgh Castle  You can learn more about the castle by clicking on this link.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edinburgh_Castle 

Yesterday, I took a hike through Holyrood Park and climbed up to the top of the 300 million year old volcano 823 feet above sea level.  While I was up on the summit, one of those storms came and drenched those of us on the summit for about four minutes then passed.  It also made the way down very slippery and hazardous.  I did slip just once but the only causality was my freshly washed stone shorts which got really dirty.  I’ll have to wash them again.  I walked the entire length of the park while working my way down and eventually came to the Palace Of Hollyroodhouse, where Queen Elizabeth stays when she visits Scotland.  I haven’t visited the castle but I may do it today or tomorrow or Sunday.  I’ve got to say that I really admire Queen Elizabeth.  For sixty years she has been a great Queen and always seems to stay above all the family drama where her official duties are concerned.  I tip my Phillies cap to Queen Elizabeth.

That brings you up to date.  There is still a lot to see.  I would still like to visit to two art museums here and I might be able to visit them.  I still have the rest of today and all day Saturday and Sunday.

If I can get this uploaded I’ll start putting the photo albums together for Dundee, Edinburgh and Edinburgh Castle.

1.Louis.skypala@verizon.net © Louis M. Skypala 2014