As you can tell from the title, I'm still in Scotland! This is the half of the day after the castle. Before I continue, just wanted to make some notes--the buildings in Scotland, or at least that we saw, are tall. The ceilings are on average 12 feet, instead of 10 as they are in England. Also, there were wool shops and bagpipes and Celtic decorations everywhere--it made me happy. So...on again. Left the castle, found my way to the Writer's Museum. It was a small place, dedicated to Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson. Much of the display consisted of documents, letters, and paraphernalia. Especially for Stevenson--lots of souvenirs and trinkets from his trips to the south seas and so forth. They also had several locks of hair, which I found intriguing.
From there, I went to the Scottish National Gallery. Pretty cool; very nice artwork. I must say, though, that London has spoiled me for museums; that one felt small. But the band outside was great. Drums, electric guitar, and bagpipe. Sounded great. Also, there are fiberglass wild animals--tigers, alligators, and orangutans--scattered throughout Edinburgh, painted by local artists. My favorite was outside the National Gallery--posh gent sitting on a white tiger with his umbrella out and up. Very fun.
From there I proceeded to the Museum of Modern Art. Turns out there were 2, but I'd spent so long in the castle I was a little behind, so I didn't go to the first half. They had an exhibit by Hiroshi Sugimoto, a photographer. Half of the images were expanded prints of negatives from someone else...sorry, can't remember quite how those worked. The others were black backgrounds that he's run a static current across to create images like lightning. I suppose it literally was lightning, just a more controlled form thereof. Those were my favorites. See also: http://artblart.wordpress.com/2011/09/17/exhibition-hiroshi-sugimoto-scottish-national-gallery-of-modern-art/ I also may or may not have gotten turned around on the way there because the street switched names unexpectedly and then switched back which was rather irritating (it actually did something along the lines of (I), where the I is the street I wanted and the ()s went around it and I saw their names and got really confused) so there is one monument I passed, what, 4 times that day?
After exploring, I met a group of people in front of the museum to make our way to a place called Chocolate Soup. On our way, we saw a street artist who worked with spray paint. Lucky him, he found a group of artists. We all sat and watched from pretty much the beginning until in half an hour or less he'd created a spectacular black-and-white landscape of a waterfall in the woods, detailed and beautiful, using spray paint cans, paper, a knife, and a sponge as tools. We were much impressed and especially admired the methods he used. And so we continued to the Chocolate Soup. They have hot chocolate there. There were 2 flavor options: Dark or White. If you don't like dark chocolate--and I mean if you don't think dark is the best way to eat chocolate and milk-lovers are wimps--then you get white. Or mix the two, if you need the chocolate flavor. I got dark. They put the chocolate syrup in and then added steaming hot milk and the hot chocolate was to die for. (That one's not literal...I think I could survive without tasting it again, but it would be a slightly less satisfying life.) It was rich, it was kind of foamy, and it was so thick (probably the foam) that the straw stood up straight in the middle. No joke. So much molten deliciousness. There was a lady there, too, who was sitting behind me (I was at the end of the long table) who kept trying to talk to me but I honestly couldn't understand a word she was saying because she had a soft tone, an accent, a bit of a lisp, and there was other noise. So most of the conversation was me smiling and nodding and trying to turn back to the table but she would keep talking. She also was getting after people for using flash photography--which was because she had epilepsy, so that's understandable--but was then telling them to not take pictures in general, which I admit I didn't understand the reason for. The overall experience was enjoyable, though.
After that, we got some pizza--Sarah, one of my friends, is gluten-intolerant, but so is Tony, so he told her where she could find gluten-free pizza and we all went. On the way there, we stopped by an old book store. Old books, old store, owner not old, more middle-aged. We ended up having a wonderful conversation with him. He told us all about the Scottish-English history, and especially about Mary, Queen of Scots. The conversation ended with a more religious bent (not via the previously mentioned conversation, we talked about where we were from and BYU and it led from there to religion). He was a very interesting man, and he had obviously thought about religion a lot.
And then we get to post-pizza excursions--walking up to a monument overlooking Edinburgh in the dark, all 8 of us. Fun times, fun times. We talked a lot, some people started singing Hercules, general mirth and fellowship abounded, and then we found out we'd gone the long way up, which had been fun of itself. By the time we got back to the hostel, it was well late and we all went straight to bed.
More to follow.