Most of today was a travel day for us – we started in Killarney, flew to Dublin, then flew to Edinburgh and bussed to old town. The Air Link busses from the airport are super convenient and take visitors right into the heart of the city.
We stayed at a very nice hotel in old town – the best hotel we have had yet. Fraser Suites was indeed a suite meaning it was the first place we could watch a grown up show while little watched a kid show. Woohooo! We took a little break while we settled in and we met up with my brother and his wonderful partner, who will be joining us on the next week of the journey.
They are vegan. My brother has been a vegan for about 15 years now. This can sometimes be challenging when it comes to where we can eat. No problem in this case – his partner suggested a vegan restaurant where they served haggis! Yes, vegan haggis! We were on our way.
After the haggis (and curry hubby had and udon coconut sauce I had), and Belle and Sebastian tunes on the cafe speakers) we burned some calories off trekking to the Edinburgh Castle. The castle can be toured on your own or on an official tour. We were there two hours before it closed and we had a set agenda of things to see, so we did it on our own. In order, we wanted to see; the Scottish Military Museum, the Castle Prisons, the Crown Jewels, the Queen’s Apartment.
While everyone enjoyed the military museum (did you know the Scottish Military wore kilts as uniform until 1942?) the prisons turned out to be more interesting than I would have expected. Prisoners of War were held here from the revolutionary war and on display were two old doors where American POWs had carved initials, dates, even an American flag!
I’m a history nut and have read much about Mary, Queen of Scots. It was unfathomable to be in her chambers, in the room she gave birth to James in. What a treat!
After we left the castle, we walked down to St. Giles Cathedral, which was across the street from our hotel. St. Giles started as a medieval Catholic church but was turned Protestant when the country did. Queen Mary returned to Scotland after being exiled in France for her safety but did not return the Cathedral to it’s Catholic roots. It’s a beautiful church with bright blue ceilings and the telltale signs of a church that has moved through reformation – no crucifix to be found but a few Celtic crosses.
The church was closing and we were heading out for Indian food on Market street. One of the delightful things about being in that area is hearing bagpipes every time you step out of a door. It’s a busker trying to make a few dollars, but in that moment surrounded by the stereotypical large grey gothic stone buildings, it just seems perfect and right.