Saturday, August 16, 2014

Photos from inside Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the city of Edinburgh, in fact, in the whole of Scotland. It has been there for many centuries, starting from early fortifications with succeeding kings either building on top or replacing the existing structures. The castle sits on a natural defensive fortification, a volcanic plug that rises above the surrounding area and hence provides a natural line of defense (although it does make getting supplies inside in the case of a siege more difficult).
Edinburgh Castle is also famous for another more sinister reason, it is supposed to be haunted (although since most people visit it in the daytime, you won't see people running out of the place scared). These haunted sections are typically supposed to be in the underground dungeons and tunnels connecting to the Royal Mile (there has been no proof though, so consider this with a pinch of salt).

The Portcullis set inside a gateway of Edinburgh Castle
The Portcullis set inside a gateway of Edinburgh Castle (More photos at this link)
The metal Portcullis set as part of the stone doorway near the entrance of Edinburgh Castle. The purpose of this metal device was simple. At the sign of any danger or as part of normal security procedures, the metal structure with thick bars would be lowered to ground level, setting another barrier against enemies who had managed to penetrate inside the Castle to this point. Now of course, it is permanently raised, just being there so that visitors can also note the presence of one of the security structures located inside the castle.






The sign for the Castle Gates inside the Edinburgh Castle
The sign for the Castle Gates inside the Edinburgh Castle (more photos here)
The audio clue (also meant for those who have rented headphones for an audio guide to the castle) telling visitors that these stone walls have been guarding the inside of the castle for over 2000 years, maybe in different versions. But these high and thick walls have been protecting the castle for millenia now, ever since fortifications were setup on this site (located at a much higher level than the surroundings).





Grand staircase inside the Edinburgh Castle
Grand staircase inside the Edinburgh Castle (view more photos at this link)
A grand and sweeping outdoor staircase inside the Edinburgh Castle. The blue sign that you see announces an exhibition inside the Argyle tower, a tower that got its name from politics and death (it was the tower that was apparently housing the 9th Earl of Argyle before he was finally executed in 1685). The castle seems very well maintained, and it is pretty safe to walk all around the castle without worrying that any of these structures (or part of them) will come down.




Tourists emerging from a lower level in the Edinburgh Castle
Tourists emerging from a lower level in the Edinburgh Castle (View more photos here)
The Edinburgh Castle has a number of different buildings inside it, as you would expect, given that the castle had a large number of people living inside it, and was expected to hold out for long periods of time during a siege by enemy forces. In addition to the royal family, there would be the garrison (royal guards and others), and the staff catering to the royal family. Some of them are at different levels, some of them have lower levels (or basements), walking through the entire Castle can be tiring for those not used to walking so long.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2014

More photos in and around the HMY Britannia (berthed at the port of Leith near Edinburgh)

Previous photos about the HMY Britannia (Link 1, Link 2)
It is very rare for normal laypeople to see the kind of conditions in which royalty lives like, and the HMY Britannia provides a way for people to be able to view such conditions. Visitors are able to see several sections of the ship, although there are cordoned off sections of the ship. The ship is visited by a large number of visitors every year, and is part of the various bus schedules that are part of the Edinburgh tourist circuit.

The stately wardroom inside the royal yacht, HMV Britannia
The stately wardroom inside the royal yacht, HMV Britannia (See more photos here)
This is the wardroom inside the ship, meant for the senior officers, the captain and members of the royal family (if they are on board). The table has been preserved with places set, giving a view to visitors of the dining standards and facilities on the royal ship.






Tourists on board the deck of the royal yacht HMY Britannia
Tourists on board the deck of the royal yacht HMY Britannia (View more photos here)
On the deck of the HMY Britannia. There is a specific tour route that visitors follow, you cannot just roam around here and there on the ship. This part involves a small walk on the deck of the ship, from where an open door eventually leads inside the ship.






The royal yacht HMY Britannia berthed at the port of Leith
The royal yacht HMY Britannia berthed at the port of Leith (View more photos here)
This photo shows the berthed side of the ship at the port of Leith near Singapore. There are metal supports that ensure that the ship remains stable and at an even distance from the shore. In addition, there are multiple gangways for getting onto the ship, some of them meant for the tourists, one ceremonial one that is only meant for royalty, and some meant for supplies. 

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Photos from the HMY Britannia, at Leith in Edinburgh and can be visited by tourists

The HMY Britannia, used by Britain's Queen Elizabeth for more than 40 years, was finally decommissioned in the year 1997, and was probably the last such ship available to the Queen. It has not been replaced by another ship, and at times of austerity and recession, it would not be politically feasible for any Government to announce the construction of a large ship for the Queen. British subjects have changed, from loving the Queen and the royal family earlier, to now grumbling about the expenditure on the royal family. As a part of this, let us see some more photos from the decommissioned ship and the way that the royalty would travel.

Bunks for the crew inside the decommissioned royal yacht HMV Britannia
Bunks for the crew inside the decommissioned royal yacht HMV Britannia (get more photos here)
These bunks is how the crew would rest and sleep inside the royal ship, HMY Britannia. These have been retained in a manner that would show visitors their way of living, including items they would use, their dress uniforms, and so on. These seem pretty comfortable, but then this was a royal ship and one would expect the crew to not live in a bad condition. Visitors get to see these quarters as part of their tour around the ship.




The glass enclosed corridor leading to the HMV Britannia
The glass enclosed corridor leading to the HMV Britannia (View more photos here)
HMY Britannia is berthed permanently, and is now a tourist attraction. When you look at the bus tours in Edinburgh, many of them include the ship in their tours, and there is a whole support system for this. On the land side, there is an entire building infrastructure for guiding tourists, providing shops for them to buy food and drinks and memorabilia. This corridor is one that connects the ship and the building, allowing a smooth flow for tourists.





Grand staircase inside the berthed royal yacht HMV Britannia, cordoned off to prevent tourists from entering
Grand staircase inside the berthed royal yacht HMV Britannia, cordoned off to prevent tourists from entering (more photos)
A grand staircase inside the ship, meant for leading to the royal quarters and other parts of the ship. This area is off limits for tourists and hence the gentle reminders - with cordons at the bottom and top end of the staircase. And of course, with the number of tourists who visit the ship, too many people up and down the carpet is liable to make the carpet ragged.








The royal gangway along with red carpet used by the royal family
The royal gangway along with red carpet used by the royal family (More photos at this link)
As part of maintaining the royal ship, this special entry gangway has also been preserved, along with the red carpet. And to ensure that nobody does any mischief, the entire area is blocked using a wooden fence, with the entry only being seen from a higher point, such as from the ship.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

HMY Britannia at her permanent position in Leith near Edinburgh

The Queen (or King) of England have had royal yachts from a long time (since 1660, with the restoration of the monarchy, there have been 83 such ships to bear the royal name). The ship was commissioned in 1954, taking an inaugural journey to Malta in April of the same year, but not carrying the Queen or Prince Philip, instead carrying Prince Charles and Princess Anne, with the Queen setting foot on the ship on the return journey on 1st May 1954. The ship has been used for a number of ceremonial occasions with leaders of other countries also stepping foot on the ship, as well as being used for the honeymoon of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. The ship was decommissioned in 1997 and there has been no replacement ever since, and it is unlikely that there will be, due to public relations impact of building another ship of this cost, with the cost coming from the British Government.

The pier at Leith where the royal yacht, HMY Britannia is berthed
The pier at Leith where the royal yacht, HMY Britannia is berthed (View more images here)
Now the yacht is berthed at the port of Leith near Scotland, and offers tourists a chance to view many sections of the ship, including the bedroom of the queen (through a glass partition), many of the official dining and state rooms, and for a different touch, the sleeping quarters of the men manning the ship. A number of people take the tour, and it is part of many of the tour packages of Edinburgh.





The royal racing yacht, the Bloodhound, berthed next to the HMY Britannia
The royal racing yacht, the Bloodhound, berthed next to the HMY Britannia (more photos here)
Tourists who come to see the HMY Britannia can also get to see the royal racing yacht, the Bloodhound. It was built in 1936 and has been used in the past by many of the royals (including Prince Charles) to learn how to sail. Now, it is available for charter. Berthed next to HMY Britannia, the racing yacht looks much smaller, but sleeker.

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