“ Princess Street / Edinburgh „
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After spending the night in Edinburgh Airport way back in June of last year, I couldn't wait to get on board the city bus at 6 in the morning. I knew that most places would be closed but that didn't matter, I just wanted to be free of the airport and able to walk around in the city in my own leisure. I didn't have too long to spend in Edinburgh as I had to catch a coach to Newcastle at 1pm but I was determined to see as much as I could in such a short time. I have always had a soft spot for Edinburgh as it was the first city I hitchhiked to when I was a youngster. I was very foolish in those days; I went without hardly any money and didn't take any warm clothing. I certainly regretted it as one night I had to sleep under a bench in the railway station. Happy days!
I know my way around the city pretty well and was so pleased when the bus driver dropped me off just outside Princes Street Gardens. It was a beautiful morning, the sun hadn't quite woken up, the air was cool but the light quality was perfect. I remember taking in a deep breath and feeling glad to be alive. I looked across at Princes Street but wasn't too bothered about walking down it especially as the whole road was up and workmen were digging foundations and laying tracks.
The view from the south side of the gardens near to the Scott Monument was as clear as crystal. I could see the curvaceous sweep of the giant lawn embroidered by perfectly shaped trees bearing leaves of deep greens and summer browns. The colossal stone walls of the castle could be seen in the distance and parts of the Old Town. Initially the park designers wanted to keep the southern side free of any obstacles so that visitors and residents could see the castle in its entirety. I was happy with the view, I thought it was perfect.
Walking away from the green areas of the south side of the park I ventured into the eastern side. This is part of the gardens that has statues commemorating famous people. Being used to monuments and statues in all the parks in Warsaw I was very happy to come across the famous explorer, David Livingstone and publisher Adam Black. It was still early and there wasn't a lot of movement from passing visitors or people walking through the park on their way to work. The air was still and there was a calming silence in the gardens. I should think this is not always the case as this part of the park does get very busy with tourists.
Before moving on to explore other parts of the city and to get a bacon buttie as I was starving, I took a peek at the western end of the gardens. Here, flower beds are set out in formal displays, there is the wonderfully designed floral clock with pale blue, yellow and green being the dominant colours, a statue of Alan Ramsay, the Lanarkshire poet and once wig maker and the Ross Fountain and bandstand where many musical shenanigans take place, especially on New Year's Eve.
This was the first time I had visited Princes Street Gardens when it was empty and I loved the experience. I wish I could have stayed longer but time was pressing and I really did have to find a sandwich shop where I could buy a white bap filled with crispy bacon.
I'll be back soon.