The Palace of Holyroodhouse

Our last day in Scotland was a bit of a morning blur. Half of our day was spent exploring The Palace of Holyroodhouse and the other half was traveling to Dublin, Ireland; the traveling part of adventuring is exhausting but exciting and then you end up in a new spot you’ve never visited before.

Like before, anything in italics are current thoughts and musings on what I decided to write in the moment. If you would like to read past entries, click on the following links: Part 1: Departure, Part 2: Arrival, Part 3: Exploring Edinburgh and Part 4: Craigmillar Castle.


Part 5: Our Last Day in Scotland and traveling to Dublin, Ireland

“In my end is my beginning.”

Mary, Queen of Scots

To be kind to all, to like many and love a few, to be needed and wanted by those we love, is certainly the nearest we can come to happiness.”

Mary, Queen of Scots

July 27, 2016

This morning we had breakfast and checked out of our hostel around 10 AM. We left our suitcases in the hostel lobby and ventured straight down The Royal Mile to the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

The Palace of Holyroodhouse is an current palace residence, home to the Royal Family, specifically the Queen of England. When Kate visited Scotland the first time, the Queen was in town opening Scottish Parliament, so tours of the Palace were closed. When the Queen is in residence, the Royal Standard, instead of the Royal Banner of Scotland, is flown. But on our visit, she had already gone back to England so we took a tour, complete with audio guide. I also bought another guidebook, which ended up being a smart move, as you couldn’t take any pictures inside.

The inner courtyard, part of the Abbey and a panorama of the forecourt of Holyroodhouse
The entrance to Holyrood House if you go on tour

The inside of the Palace was gorgeous and the history was fascinating. There were the Historic Apartments where Mary Queen of Scots lived and several plaques in the different rooms told the sad tale of the end of her reign. After Mary returned from France in 1561, she lived in the Queen’s Apartments on the second floor of the towers built by her father, James V. There was a plaque in her antechamber that marked the place where the body of her secretary, David Rizzio, was left after he was dragged from her small dining room attached to the bedchamber and stabbed 56 times by her second husband Henry Stuart, Lord of Darnley and his advisors in 1566. The reason that this detail is so vivid in my memory is that you literally had to squat down to see the plaque, like the historians wanted you to see the very exact spot where this poor man was murdered. Mary fled the palace and gave birth to her only child, a son named James, at Edinburgh Castle. After Lord Darnley’s mysterious death in 1567, Mary married her third husband, James Hepburn, the Earl of Bothwell. But her third marriage wasn’t considered “favorable” and she was forced to abdicate her throne in 1568. Her son James, now only 2 years old, was taken from her and Mary fled to England to seek shelter. Queen Elizabeth I kept Mary captive for 20 years then had her convicted and executed at the young age of 45.

I bought some postcards in the gift shop that featured Mary. I don’t know why she is so fascinating to me. We also got to see a gallery of the current Queen’s dresses, the adjacent ruins of the attached Abby and walked through the Gardens where the Queen hosts a party every July.

The origins of Holyrood actually start in the foundations of the Abby, which was built by King David I, who had a vision of a stag with a cross or ‘rood’ between its antlers. The larger the community grew, the large the church grew. By the time Edinburgh because the capital of Scotland in the 15th century, its’ kings preferred to stay at the Abbey as it was surrounding by gardens for leisure and hunting grounds for sport. The Abbey was completed in 1250 but suffered extensive damage over the years, particularly from raid by English armies in the 1540s and a final collapse of the roof in 1768 after stone slabs were added to help strengthen the building. James IV was the first King who decides to extend the buildings and convert them into a palace after his marriage to Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII.

Soon, we had to make our way to the airport for our flight to Dublin. We got our boarding passes printed out at the hostel and took the bus back to the airport. We weighed our bags and went to get tags, went back to the right machines to check and pay for our bags properly, got the right tags and dropped them at bag drop. It was the most unnecessary back-and-forth I have every done at an airport.

We grabbed some lunch before our flight and took a bus out to the tarmac to board our plane. The flight to Dublin was about an hour (45 in the air, 15 landing and departing the plane). The immigration officer that we were lucky to get at customs asked Kate and I what felt like too many nonsense questions like where we worked at home, why we was visiting and if we had a ticket home…did we have a guidebook and what were we going to be doing in the city…etc. (and I get why he asked these questions, it was his rude tone that set me on edge). We both just wanted to get our luggage and get to our new hostel.

The bus ride into the city was about 30 minutes and our hostel, Isaacs Hostel, was a very short walk from our stop. We have a private room with a bunk bed but it is a lot larger than our last one. There are community bathrooms but towels are provided. The showers are push-button short spurts for water conservation but the water is warm and I just want to get clean anyways so I can handle it for the two nights that we are here.

We had dinner at a small pub down the street from our hostel. They had a wonderful traditional Irish stew that was very good and tasted like my Teah-Teah’s cooking. It was loud with conversation and Irish music. Being around all of that reminded me of my Gramps; we are going to explore the city tomorrow and I will see if I think he would have liked to visit.

So far, the city reminds me of New York City, specifically Brooklyn for some reason, but we shall see tomorrow what this city decides to show me.

Until tomorrow!

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