Old Town/New Town

Trip Start May 22, 2009
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Trip End Feb 16, 2010


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Flag of United Kingdom  , Scotland,
Sunday, July 26, 2009

A day spent exploring both the Old Town and the New Town in Edinburgh.  I love wandering through these areas and imagining the history that lies here.  Everything is just soo photogenic!  With cramped space in the Old Town and an ever expanding population they would simply add more floors to the tops of the already towering tenement buildings - creating the world's first 'sky-scrapers'.  Small winding cobbled streets and narrow closes were the main roads and markets of the day.  After going on a few tours and learning a bit of history it's possible to imagine people of old walking through these streets and commencing their business while ducking to avoid the emptying buckets from above (that is, if you can sit quietly away from the tacky souvenir shoppes, ignore the sound of rushing taxi's, and avoid bumping into the occasional tourist wearing a kilt and lady liberty crown). 

Went through an old tenement building in the Old Town that was built around 1550.  Partially restored, we could view a few of the flats that were lavishly decorated with painted walls and ceilings (still original!).  In the early 1600's the building was used for several merchant shops which have been restored as they may have appeared at that time.  One of the few buildings to be saved, most of the others along 'Kingis Hie Street' are new, but have been constructed with the older look. 

So after several visits to the 'Old Town' we decided to take a look at the 'New Town;. At a time when the old town was getting quite cramped with people (and increasingly filthy) it was time for a 'New Town' to be developed.  A competition was issued for architects to design a street layout for this area.  A plan was chosen in 1766, and by 1820 houses were ready for occupancy.  This new section of town put Edinburgh on the map as a worthy capital on the world stage.  Only the wealthier citizens were able to afford these opulent new houses.  However, not all had the funds to support their lavish lifestyles.  With taxes on windows, tea, carriages, and servants, one would live with sufficient debt.  As true Gentlemen and Gentleladies, the Lamont family of No. 7 Charlotte square did not work, but lived off the income of their country estates.  With mounting debt, they were forced to begin selling off these properties to uphold their status among the community.  'Better to loose money in the country to spend in the city'.  Walking through the lavish Parlor, the comfortable Drawing Room, and the cramped Servant's Quarters all decorated in the former trends and with artifacts of the day, it was a great glimpse into these lives.  It's hard to imagine a household of people of leisure who spent their days reading, having tea, and directing servants on how to prepare for the next big dinner party.  Houses where children were not allowed out of the nursery unless invited by their parents on special occasions.  Where young girls were only concerned with catching a man and marrying well. 

But then it was back to reality:  where women function as equals and run a blacksmithing business, where dinner is prepared by your own hands (not servants) and everyone helps with the washing up, where indoor plumbing prevents plague, and where young children play Nintendo on the couch while parents struggle to get them ready for bed.  But after bedtime, quiet finally comes to the house, and the adults engaged in watching a movie.  A true Scottish classic:  Harry Potter!  For several days now we've walked by the cafe where J. K. Rowling did much of her writing.  With a table spread with 5 different types of Scotch Whiskey ranging from not-so-fine to very fine, Brian enjoyed this little taste-testing a bit too much :)  I'm still working on developing a taste for this harsh drink.  But I do still have a few weeks left - LOL
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