Roquebrune, Cap Martin & Edinburgh, Scotland
The weather is hot and sunny here in Roquebrune!
With the positive change in weather we ventured to the Port of Menton and rented paddleboards! Menton is a neighboring town with a population of about 29,000 and is minutes away from Kristin's apartment. It also has the honor of being called, "perle de la France" ("Pearl of France"), which we think it definitely is! We enjoyed the calm blue waters and were able to paddle from the French port to Italy! Ok, its is only a 30 minute paddle each way but seemed rather adventurous to paddle from one country to another and no passport check!
The views of Menton from floating in the Napoleon III harbor were fabulous! The view of the stacked and staggered pastel buildings of the town were even more of speculator sight from the water! You can see the Basilica Saint-Michel-Archange wrapped in scaffolding as it is undergoing an extensive restoration. We hope to be here when the scaffolding is removed as it quite the impressive landmark. We enjoyed two separate trips to paddle this week and had some beach time!
There was some great exploring to do 30 minutes north of us in Antibes. This is a Mediterranean resort between Cannes and Nice. There are 48 beaches along the 25km/16mi of coastline. Beyond the beaches there is 16th century ramparts and narrow cobblestone streets filled with flowers, much to Margo's pleasure! We enjoyed wondering around the quaint town, taking in lunch on Place Nationale and walk on the endless promenade. The 8m tall sculpture of a man looking out to see is the work of a Catalan artist Jaume Plensa, the mirage like piece is built from thousand stars of white letters and is lit at night. It was very cool.
We deviated from our French Rivera adventure to travel to Edinburgh, Scotland for 3 days to see Erika (our niece) perform with the Scottish Opera at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre! She has been working hard with the cast since early this year as their "repetiteur". (What does that mean? She provides piano accompaniment for the singers and helps them learn their parts to prepare them for singing with the full orchestra.) She told us success to her was when the singers were able to sing with the orchestra immediately as they were not surprised with any part of the music, that her rendition of the orchestra on the piano replicated the orchestra to prepare them - now that's a high bar to meet! With the singers ready, Erika took on the part of playing a Glockenspiel in Mozart's "The Magic Flute" - a keyboard that sounds like bells. This was Mozart's last opera written in 1791 only 11 months before he died. This version has been updated from the original with many improvements of political correctness and humor! The opera was filled with an evil creature, a few villains, a prince rescuing a princess and a hookah pipe, one of the updates from the original version! Of course, the music from the orchestra was fantastic! We particularly thought the playing of the Glockenspiel was exceptional! (I thought Glockenspiel would be a great name for our next dog, jury has come back with verdict on the name....NO!)
We enjoyed touring and eating around Edinburgh seeing the sights! Although the weather wasn't great, we did our best to manage our sightseeing in between the rainstorms! It did improve our second day. We also found some of Margo's Scottish routes with many references to her "immediate" cousin's name Leith and many of the Manitoba's hot spots like Brandon and Kenton streets. It was neat to find out were Leith's name came from. Unfortunately, just before press time we found new information from a trustworthy source (her mom)! A baby girl named Leith was born to prize boxer Rocky Marchiano and his wife on the same day our Leith was born. Uncle Kenny, Leith's dad, saw the announcement in the sports section, ran the name past Auntie Donna and that was history!
Erika lives in Glasgow, so met up with us early the day of her performance to check out Edinburgh Castle. We were walking up to the castle when the historical 1:00pm gun was fired off, very loud and startling! It has been fired at 1:00pm from the castle since 1861 so ships could set their maritime clocks. People have asked, "why don't they fire it off at 12:00 noon"? The response, "1 shot is cheaper than 12 shots"! I guess that is logical!
Edinburgh Castle has played a pivotal role in in Scottish history, both as a royal residence of King Malcolm Canmore (1058-93) and Queen Margaret who first made their home their in the 11th century, and it was also a military stronghold. The castle last saw military action in 1745; from then until the 1920s it served as the British army's main base in Scotland. It presides over Edinburgh and is one of Scotland's biggest tourist attractions.
We had a stop in our touring for a refreshment as we were parched!
Our Airbnb was right across the street from the Royal Botanical Garden, bonus for "you know who"! The Garden is the second oldest institution of its kind in Britain after Oxford and one of the most respected in the world. It also a nice touch is that this Garden has free entrance. it was founded in 1670 has 70 beautifully landscaped acres. It was great to see all the early season plants blooming! Margo was in her glory.
This is a fuchsia tree! Who ever heard of that?
Of course, we had to fuel up with a traditional Scottish breakfast to keep our energy up for touring of the sights! Fried eggs, baked tomato, bacon, tattie scone (like a potato pancake), sautéed mushrooms, baked beans, black pudding and haggis! Ok, that is what I had, Erika and Margo had the vegetarian version!
We also enjoyed the odd "Scottish cake" - Oreo cookie cupcake, carrot cake cupcake and a raisin scone with raspberry preserve (just like Margo’s Auntie Donna would make but not as good!)
Then the tour of the Palace of Holyrood - this is the royal family's official residence in Scotland but is most famous as the 16th century home of the ill-fated Mary, Queen of Scots! We toured Mary's bedchamber, home to the queen from 1561 to 1567. It is here that her jealous second husband, Lord Darnley, restrained the pregnant queen while his henchman murders her secretary David Rizzio, yikes! On a lighter note, Queen Elizabeth spends one week here every July. There are many functions during the week including an event were QE2 honors and recognizes locals for their volunteer work to people who have been outstanding civil servants. It is a real working castle with "the royals" using it on an off through the year. No pics are allowed inside unfortunately.
We ensured we got our steps in by hiking up to the top of Arthur's Seat which is a 251m/824ft elevation gain to a rocky peak above the Palace of Holyrood. It was carved by ice sheets from the deeply eroded stump of a long-extinct volcano and resembles a seat from a distance, hence the name. Once you reach the top you have an incredible view of Edinburgh's skyline!
And from the chef's corner... we have not stopped eating and enjoying the odd glass of wine!
Yes, Scotland has some wonderful dogs! Of course, we visited Greyfriars Bobby, the statue of a Skye terrier who captured the hearts of the British public in the late 19th century. From 1858 - 1872 the dog maintained a vigil over the grave of his master, an Edinburgh police officer. We also included a few other “animals” we discovered along the way!