Edinburgh is a city of contrasts. There is the cultural juxtaposition of The Edinburgh International Festival, The Edinburgh Festival Fringe and The 2013 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, and the architectural (and geographic) juxtaposition of Edinburgh’s historic Old Town (with its preserved medieval street plan and 16th century buildings), its New Town (in Georgian style and a masterpiece of city planning) and its controversial Parliament building (opened in 2004).
Edinburgh Old Town

Edinburgh Old Town

Edinburgh Old Town

Edinburgh Old Town

Edinburgh New Town

Edinburgh New Town

Scottish Parliament Building

Scottish Parliament Building

Scottish Parliament Building

Scottish Parliament Building

We toured Mary King’s Close which took us under the present buildings that line the Royal Mile (the high or main street leading up to the castle). Thousands of people lived in cramped quarters built deep into the side of the hill from the foot of the castle grounds down to the valley below back in the 1400s and 1500s. The ceilings were low, light was scarce, and the youngest of the family had the nasty job of emptying the family bucket twice a day, if you get my drift.
Mary King's Close

Mary King’s Close

Our final evening in Edinburgh was a highlight of our stay in Scotland, the Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo. The performance takes place on a big arena in front of the castle, surrounded by temporary seating stands that are erected each year.
Temporary stands hold 9000 spectators for the Tattoo

Temporary stands hold 9000 spectators for the Tattoo

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is one of the world’s most spectacular shows bringing together a cast of performers from across the world. It is an impressive array of military and civilian performances set against the iconic backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. Every year’s performance starts with RAF jets screaming past overhead, continues with Scottish military bands, bagpipes, and fireworks, and ends with the haunting wail of a lone bagpiper commemorating those who have served their country. The castle provides a dramatic stone canvas as it is flooded in various colors, projected images and glowing torches throughout the show.
Opening military band and pipes

Opening military band and pipes

Scottish pride and warmth overflow when everyone holds hands (arms crossed) and sings Auld Lang Syne, hands bobbing up and down in rhythm. (Auld Lang Syne is a Scots poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song).
Robert Burns, widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland

Robert Burns, widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland

Other acts vary from year to year, and this year’s show included groups from the Republic of Korea, Mongolia, and Mexico as well as a local youth choir and motorcycle stunt team, ages 6-16.
UK (2013.08.06) - 0211

South Korea

UK (2013.08.06) - 0214 UK (2013.08.06) - 0213 UK (2013.08.06) - 0212 UK (2013.08.06) - 0210
Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo

Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo