torrie's travels


The Royal Mile November 28, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 4:38 pm

The day started with breakfast at a local café before heading to Edinburgh Castle. Chas and I were setting off for a day of sightseeing along the Royal Mile and our accommodations were by the Castle, which is at one end of the Royal Mile. Good place to start then!

The Castle opened at 9:30 and we got there shortly thereafter. I saw that a guided tour was starting at 10, which was about 30 minutes and gave a history and overview of the Castle before we set off on our own. Our tour guide was quite funny. Not beef-eater funny, but funny nonetheless. My favorite story he told was when he was pointing out the Kingdom of Fife, which is beyond a river. He pointed to a tower and said that he has had people ask if that’s the Eiffel Tower. No, he says. Then he has had people ask if it’s Ireland. He said, they’re getting closer, but that’s the wrong side of the country! Finally, he said he has had people ask if it’s the United States of America. I couldn’t help it, I go, No! really loud! Whoops. He said, no the United States is more than 5 miles away. “I don’t know where these people were from and they don’t know where they’re going!” Too funny!

Edinburgh Castle is quite old, but the original buildings no longer stand (except St. Mary’s Chapel) because in 1314, after a sneak attack led by Robert the Bruce’s nephew, Robert the Bruce ordered it destroyed. See, it had been in the hands of the English until the sneak attack. But Robert the Bruce couldn’t afford to maintain the castle (with an army), so he decided if he couldn’t have it, no one could. It was eventually rebuilt into what we see today.

I think my favorite part of the Castle was the Prisoner of War prison. It actually held prisoners of the American Revolution. There is a door on display that prisoners carved in and one of the American prisoners carved an early American flag into it. That was so cool to see. Kind of chilling and just made me reflect on the people who have gone before me to ensure my freedom. We owe so much!

It was also interesting learning about life in the prison. The rations seemed to be ok, for a prison. And they earned money. Just by being in the prison. But they definitely looked down upon the American prisoners. They got less than other prisoners and when the end of the war was in sight, and the other prisoners were swapped out or released (French, Spanish, etc.), the Americans stayed. They were considered “those rebels.” Ha!

We also got to see a military prison, for members of the Royal armed forces when they misbehaved. Two cells told stories of a deserter and a man drunk on duty at the Castle. He was sentenced to 2 months solitary confinement and 2 months hard labor. Ugh.

After the Castle we just meandered down the Royal Mile (with a brief stop for me to call and yell at my bank again for not removing the fraud hold on my card like they said when I called them last night!). We were going to see St. Giles’ Cathedral, but services were going on. So I’ll hit that on Sunday. We didn’t see the Real Mary King’s Close, so I am going to have to look for that on Sunday as well. It’s supposedly haunted, so I’ll keep you posted!

We hit up some shops along the way and I got some gifts checked off my list, which is good because I had to send a package home today (barring any unforeseen circumstances, it will be the LAST!). Finally, we made our way to Scottish Parliament. They weren’t in session today and we didn’t book a tour in advance, so we had to just look around on our own. And we were very limited by what we could see. Just the downstairs, which had an exhibition in a small nook consisting of gifts from other countries and some information and trivia about the parliament. Then we went upstairs into the Parliament Chamber. It is very modern, as the building is only 10 years old. It’s very bright and airy. It was neat to see it, but it would’ve been cooler to see it in session, obviously.

By then we were hungry, so we found a pub for lunch. I had a burger, but Chas decided on the Highland Chicken. Sounds innocuous enough, right? Wrong. It’s stuff with haggis. Gross. Chas said it wasn’t too bad. And he ate it all, so it must not have been. I think it wasn’t just haggis, but something else. Some other stuffing or something. But still. Haggis.

As we were walking back up the Royal Mile, we happened upon the High Court of the Justiciary. We decided to go in and see if they would let us in to see any court that was in session. There was one courtroom going, a trial. So we went in and security told us that if the judge is on the bench to nod to him before sitting down. Weird. We soon realized that a crown prosecutor was beginning the examination of an expert witness in psychology. Namely, domestic abuse and sexual assault victims and the reasons for their delay in reporting the assaults and reasons that they don’t leave their partners. It became clear that this was a sexual assault trial. I felt bad for the prosecutor because the witness was kind of terrible. He’s a professor and you know he’s smart, but he can’t testify to save his life. He gave long, run-on, rambling answers and tended to flit from one thing to another, despite not being asked. He rarely looked at the jury members, but rather was almost always looking up. Which reminded me of the body language of liars; they supposedly are always looking up! I don’t think he was lying, but he wasn’t connecting with the jury, either. Chas thinks the lawyers have to be more deferential to witnesses, but I think the prosecutor was too timid. (Shocking, right?)

It was fascinating to see what they can do here. The prosecutor led her witness the entire time. She was doing most of the testifying, which, at the beginning, made me not know if we were on direct or cross! And when the defense attorney was crossing him, she objected at the end and was terribly timid. I would’ve objected a couple times where she didn’t and I wanted to get out of my seat and object when she finally did. Relevance, Speculation, Beyond the Scope. Come up with something. She just said she objected to the line of questioning, “my lord.” I understand the judges are called “Lord Henry” or whatever, but I couldn’t imagine calling any of my judges lords! Anyway, the judge turned to the defense attorney and he said, “well, I don’t really understand the objection, but seeing it’s 4:05, I will withdraw my question.”

He was definitely more personable than the prosecutor, but that tends to be the case at home, too. We are too bound by rules and our role to be happy-go-lucky. Another example of the terrible witness, I don’t remember what the defense attorney asked him, but he said, “well, sometimes juries get it wrong.” I cringed. While I agree, you don’t say that. TO A JURY. So the defense attorney handled it like I think he should’ve, by saying that we work in the system and believe that actually juries get things right. I saw two of the jurors smirking. Not good.

Afterward, we asked the police officer if we could take a photo because court was over, but he said no. The prosecutor had come over by us talking to someone else in the gallery and I started talking to the officer and Chas talked to the prosecutor. The defense attorney stated on cross that the case involves three charges of rape. One from 2002, one from 2006, and one from 2014 (or recent). The officer said that recent one reported it (these were all domestic-related rapes) and then they went back and found the other victims. Apparently the government is focusing on domestic assault-related offenses and pouring money into it. Rightly so, he said, but he also feels like it’s the flavor of the month. But as a result, when these allegations are reported the officers then go back and investigate previous partners to see if there is a pattern. He and I also talked about the reluctant victims and the difficulty they have with them “giving evidence”, aka testifying. Just like at home!

The officer left and Chas was wrapping up his conversation with the prosecutor as the defense attorney was leaving. The prosecutor said we were two American prosecutors and he stopped for a minute, asked where we were from. He knew of both North Dakota and Minnesota and commented that it’s cold there! I told him I wanted one of their wigs and he said they cost $450. And he wasn’t kidding. He was leaving and the prosecutor said, “we will finish the Crown’s case (the prosecution) on Tuesday (they weren’t meeting on Monday).” The defense attorney said, “ok, he’s going to give evidence.” Prosecutor: “He is?” Defense attorney: “he’s crazy.” Yep, just like home! If I had a nickel for how many times I’ve had a similar conversation! Despite differences, so many things were just the same as at home!

Chas and I parted ways after that. He had plans tonight and leaves in the morning. I went to my hostel and gathered my things for mailing. Had a difficult time at the post office; they are all run so differently from country to country! But at least it was all in English. If I had had to do all that in another country? Forget about it. Then I surfed the web before deciding I needed to go get dinner. Just did Subway tonight. Wanted something lighter. Then I paid December bills and am getting ready for another early-ish bedtime. Early alarm clock tomorrow for my day trip to the Scottish Highland and Loch Ness!


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