Monday, March 20, 2017

Our Trip to Scotland: Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Tourist Trap

We woke up to rain, then sun on Monday morning. This is what it looked like outside our big upstairs window.

We also got a parking spot right outside our apartment on the street, which was good luck. We had a breakfast of food we'd picked up at the grocery store: cereal, pastries and some fruit.

We've also been able to do laundry here, and even though there isn't a dryer, it's been very helpful as we'd run out of clean clothes.

We headed out around 9:30 and drove to a parking garage a pretty good walk from our destination, Edinburgh Castle. It was sunny/rainy/freezing wind all day. And at one point I saw hail. The Castle was very impressive and we saw the "Honors of Scotland" which are the crown, scepter and sword that have been used in a bunch (or all?) of the Scottish-British coronations. Also the Stone of Destiny, which I was totally fascinated by.

Jonah and Isaac got tired of the castle after lunch, which was fine. We cued up our Rick Steves Royal Mile podcast and walked and listened to all the interesting facts about the mile between the castle and Holyrood Palace. We saw Deacon Brodie Pub (the real Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde), original high rise tenements like Gladstone's Land, the Writer's museum (closed), statue of David Hume, statue of Adam Smith, where the last hanging in Scotland was, St. Giles Cathedral, the grave of John Knox, Holyrood Palace (which we were too late to get in to) and the Parliament building (which we entered by the skin of our teeth before closing).

As you can imagine, the boys were worn out and not interested in all of the fun details that Robert and I loved. So when Robert saw a store called Warhammer with Hobbit-like displays in the front window, we decided to step in and let the boys look around. Ninety minutes later we were leaving. (This is part of the reason we missed entrance to Holyrood Palace.)

It turns out that Warhammer is a complex fantasy-sci fi game kind of like Dungeons and Dragons. There are models that you put together and paint and a game you can play. The store employees had figures for Jonah and Isaac to glue together and paint. The painting took a while and turned out looking way better than I thought would be possible. But the store employee spent time teaching them all the techniques. After the painting, he showed them out to play the game. Then, there was just a little bit of finishing up of their figures and wouldn't you know it . . . if we spent £100, they would ship home for free!

Well after they spent so much time with Jonah and Isaac, I felt kind of obligated to buy a the starter set. But Robert said we would think about it overnight and gauge the boys' interest and come back the next day. I think we will be back there tomorrow.

Stopping in was the right thing to do. The boys both said Warhammer was the highlight of their whole day. Yes, even better than seeing the ACTUAL crown, scepter and sword that has been used for hundreds of years, was lost for 111, then found by author Sir Walter Scott buried in a chest, and now on display. Plastic fantasy figure > The Honors of Scotland.

We stepped in to a pub called Tolbooth Tavern for dinner and I finally tried haggis. I got the Tolbooth Tower which was tatties, nips, and haggis in a big stacked column. I was very pleasantly surprised. The horror of haggis is highly overrated in my opinion. The dish was delicious and everyone tried some, although Jonah and Isaac just had one bite.

Now we are back home and are looking down the barrel of our last full day in Scotland. We leave early Wednesday morning, so whatever we do tomorrow will be it. Probably forever. On the to-do list is The Elephant House, The National Gallery, Greyfriars Bobby (which should take about 2 minutes. We already saw it today) and some souvenir shopping. Robert is going to visit with some people he baptized and hasn't seen for over 30 years and catch up with us later.

Oh! I almost forgot . . . Robert bought me a silver ring today (I forgot my wedding ring at home) that says "soul mate" in Galic. Or, as Isaac pointed out, we hope that's what it says. I thought it was somewhat unique. Silly, I know, seeing how we purchased it in a tourist shop. But later in the day, I saw lots of them in another place right next to all the Outlander inspired rings. Oh well. I love the ring and am glad, after nearly a week that we look married again.

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