Edinburgh, a majestic city with a long and varied history, was our first stop in Scotland (Pronounced Edinburra, not to be accidentally rhymed with Pittsburgh). We arrived for a multi-generational and multi-interest trip with one person, our daughter, whose goal was to taste all the Scotch in Scotland; a five-year old granddaughter who just wanted to have a fun; one person, me, who was all about history, literature, and walking; and one, my husband, who is always willing to do anything and everything.
Edinburgh actually met all the challenges. We found a two-bedroom apartment in a hotel near the Royal Mile using TripAdvisor, Rick Steve’s, and Fodor’s where we could cook, wash clothes, and relax. Our flight arrived early in the morning so, even though we were tired, we walked the Royal Mile before deciding on a pub, The Land’s End, to enjoy lunch. For our first pub experience of the trip, we had to try the pub staple, fish and chips. The food and beer were good, but they left us all exhausted and ready for much-needed naps before we began our sightseeing in earnest.
The Royal Mile, which runs between Holyrood Palace and Edinburgh Castle, contains historical sites, tourist shops, Scotch stores, and pubs. There are many guided walks, or you can use self-guided ones such as those by Rick Steves. Of course, our granddaughter’s favorite stops included the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions Museum which provides entertainment via mirrors on the outside and the many kilt-wearing street vendors playing bagpipes or performing magic.
We split up in the evenings so one adult stayed in the hotel and played with the five-year old while the other two adults went out to experience nights in Edinburgh. The tourist areas were very safe and always busy. Our evening adventures included several Scotch tastings, a literary pub crawl which met the demands of both my daughter and me, and a night tour of Real Mary’ s King Close, an original area of the city that was built over by city architects and, therefore, became an underground city. (Older children would enjoy Real Mary’s King Close, but it was too scary for our five-year old.)
We took time to explore Edinburgh Castle which overlooks the city. Our granddaughter was kept busy during the tour by looking for unicorns featured on Scotland’s coat of arms. We stopped in front of a church with the crowds to watch a “Royal” leave worship. Even the Scots that we asked didn’t know which Royal we were awaiting, so we didn’t feel too bad about leaving before he (or she) came out. We also couldn’t tour the Holyrood Palace because Queen Elizabeth was in residence for her annual garden party. (We weren’t invited, but we looked through the gates and enjoyed watching the comings and goings of the Royal family. Check the dates online before you plan your trip if seeing this palace is a priority for you.)
During our four-day stay we took a hop on/ hop off tour bus to get an overview of the city, found many Harry Potter settings, and discovered the burial site of Greyfriars Bobby, the Scottish Terrier made famous for his loyalty to his dead master. In fact, we spent several hours in the Greyfriars Churchyard Cemetery looking for tombstones with characters’ names that J R Rowling used in her Harry Potter books. Our granddaughter loved running from gravestone to gravestone looking for names she recognized, and we enjoyed the pastoral setting.
Of course, no trip to Edinburgh is complete without a visit to the Grassmarket to see a Scottish parade which included bagpipers leading the marching band across the very spot where many people had met an untimely end in years past.
Some of our plans, such as picnics and a hike up Arthur’s Seat, were changed because of rain; however, flexibility makes traveling much more fun as we discovered new things not previously on our list. We found four days was not enough. In fact, we look forward to the next time our travels take us to the area.