Published: November 10th 2011November 11th 2011
Our time in Edinburgh has come to an end and we will all miss the place.
We have spent the time wandering the streets and doing a bit of people watching. The city parks have been good, allowing the kids to run off some steam. We walked everywhere. To Calton Hill, with its historical monuments and 360 degree views; to the Princes Street Gardens underneath the castle between the two towns, old and new; to the West End and its business district; to the Meadows (which should only be said in a Scots accent, just like other words such as "look", "dog" and "murder"); along Princes Street and its shops; along George Street and its book-end squares of St. Andrew and Charlotte; along Abercromby Place, where we could imagine living, assuming the lease came with a set of keys to the adjacent and exclusive Queen Street Gardens; and of course, along the Royal Mile and its Closes, which was pretty much our local strip given its proximity to our apartment. Although we have walked a lot, the place is very compact and very easy to navigate once you get your bearings.
The weather has been magnificent. Where is the
rain, cold and wind everyone warned us about? We brought way too many winter clothes. We were more at risk of getting sun burn than hypothermia! Heading to Rome tomorrow and the forecast is for 20-22 degrees C and sunny. Are we ever going to hit the snow and ice? My recent purchase of a fabulous vintage faux fur may just be too warm, but I am willing to suffer as it really is fab.
I was not the only one to spoil myself. Ian purchased a very smart wool flat cap from Walker Slater, a Scottish Tweed specialist store situated between the Royal Mile and the trendy area of Grassmarket, underneath the towering castle. In Grassmarket, the kids played in the market square where public executions took place.
We hit the National Museum of Scotland twice as it is huge and incredible (and free). Ian was keen to point out to the children the marvelous feats achieved by the Scots over the years such as James Watt, Alexander Graham Bell, John Logie Baird and Alexander Fleming, and inventions such as antiseptic, the bicycle, the radar and Dolly the Sheep. The kids just took off once there and
we had a chance to sit in the coffee shop and drink an average cup before exploring the exhibitions ourselves.
We visited Edinburgh Castle and it is very impressive. It has amazing views over the city. The place was busier than all the other castles we had been to which took some of the magic from it, but still inspiring. The crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny are a major draw card. In the busy months you can be waiting over 30 mins to see them but we were just able to wander in.
The castles of Scotland we have visited will be a lasting highlight of the trip for all of us. Not once have we heard from the kids the likes of "...I'm bored..." or "...not another castle...". In fact, most of the time we have had to drag them away. Typically, we have entered the main gate and then gone our separate ways wandering through the maze of the castle to cross paths now and again and share our experience and ensure we all see particular aspects. Whether male or female, old or young, we have all been enthralled by these historical, architectural gems
that catch our attention and feed our imagination. Edinburgh Castle was no different.
The search for the perfect brew has been on and there are too many contenders. We will just have to try them all again. Compared to the variety and styles of tap-beers that Edinburgh has to offer, the beers back in Australia just seem distant, homogenous and bland. On the downside, while the pubs are old, wonderful and plentiful, they will generally not let kids in.
We have been disappointed that we have been unable to take the kids into many of the more traditional pubs. Local licencing rules mean that many will not let them in at all and a small minority might allow them if they have a full meal. In other areas of Scotland it was more child friendly where we may have been asked to buy a bar snack for them, but the main meal rule in Edinburgh makes it unfeasible. Empty pubs were turning us away. We were being constantly teased by A-boards promoting the roast of the day or their 10-pound lunch special. It is a funny rule as, in the corner store, you can find beer and wine
for sale next to the milk and bread!
This has meant that the kids have been doing the babysitting of Oliver while we have explored a few local pubs in the evenings. As a pretending couple with no kids, we enjoyed the late night atmosphere of the pubs. One night we found ourselves late for the quiz night but were still able to answer a few questions, another night we heard some live music.
We have had trouble finding a good coffee throughout the UK (necessary after a few beers and late nights). I enjoy a good coffee and I am not that fussy, but the milky substance that has been produced you could give to a baby and it would not keep them up. We were hoping this was going to improve once we hit Edinburgh but to no avail. We found one outlet that is ok, but I think I just might be getting desperate.
The Edinburgh Dungeon was something I got roped into while somehow Ian got to take Oliver on the tour bus around town….not sure how it happened. I did find myself wandering around in the dark watching actors retell the more
Check out the blue sky
gruesome side of Edinburgh’s history. It was done well and the kids loved it. Have the souvenir picture to prove it. My face on the drop ride tells it all. Will try and scan it and put it up at some point.
The apartment has been perfect, on St Marys Street in the Old Town just metres from the Royal Mile, which has allowed us to come and go and use the place well. It is a 2 bedroom flat that has a pull out in the lounge room, tiny kitchen but all really workable and simple. We would come again and recommend to anyone travelling to the area.
We are off to Rome in the morning. Till the next blog, ciao.
There are more photos below