We had zero energy yesterday to do much and I think my post yesterday reflected that. We decided to leave the castle and the highlands a day early; there was so much we wanted to do in Edinburgh. Plus, it was freezing. You could see your own breath in the main turret stairs and we were hauling space heaters and blankets around to different rooms to keep warm. Honestly, what did we expect?! It’s a 1598 castle in the Scottish Highlands in late November. And it was charming and perfect and wonderful and just what we wanted – but we were ready to move on. We had tried to find cool kid things and struck out around every corner up there – no kids at the parks (because it was freezing!), no kids near the castle, even the Landmark park was closed. The only thing near “kid encounter” we had was at the café at the Forest Visitor Center the day we went to see the reindeer – little guy had a small girl come up and sit with him at a puzzle table. Turns out the puzzle was an omen – neither one of them could understand a word each other said. As funny as it was, it was time to hit civilization again.
We quickly packed up the castle yesterday morning and drove the three hours into Edinburgh. I had found at the last minute a townhome right by St. Mary’s Cathedral in the Dean Gardens/Theater district. We had no problem finding it or parking. I covered most of this yesterday but a few things I want to discuss again:
THAT HOUSE. On Chester Street. I should post pictures later. The house was owned by an artist/young father who had art and antique mirrors everywhere. Antique chairs, 16’ ceilings, the stairs that just went up and up and up, the shabby chic carpet and furniture, juxtaposed with modern bathrooms. I swear, If I ever win the lottery that would be the place I would buy. It needed love but I felt like I was in a Bronte novel.
But let’s be honest – a house that big isn’t easy to heat. And after a week of the cold castle, we were all disappointed to find ourselves again raiding rooms for extra duvets, looking for space heaters, trying to figure out ancient plumbing.
And we had a “weird” AirBnB moment. I had one in NYC a couple years ago so I guess my time was up again. At 9 AM, someone furiously rang the buzzer again and again – it turned out to be about a dozen rowdy Scotsmen (one dressed as a clown) ready to occupy the house and begin the party. Problem was, their check in time was noon. We ended up having to unplug the buzzer and notify the owner. Kind of ruined the morning mood but I will still have fond memories of the place.
We packed up and headed out around 10 AM after African coffee. Our journey today was to see the Rosslyn Chapel, made famous in the book The DaVinci Code but really, Hubby and I had watched an amazing PBS documentary and he asked that we try to fit it in. It’s really a marvel. It’s medieval and has a history involving the Bruce family (of Robert the Bruce), numerous artists and poets who were attracted to it. And mystery; it was said to have been a sacred place of the Knights Templar and also has these amazing corn/maize carvings that predate Columbus by 40 years. The chapel did not disappoint. We spend almost 2 hours in the tiny, gorgeous place.
We headed back into town to land at our respective AirBnBs (new ones tonight) and my brother suggested we park and walk to lunch. We went to a wonderful Indian place (Tuk Tuk) that served Tiffin lunches; an entrée, two mains and a rice or naan. Oh. Em. Gee. It was better than ANY Indian food I have ever had in the states.
We emptied our suitcases into the AirBnB, which is right off Kings Stable Road, under the great Edinburgh castle. Out host, Martin, was so super friendly, full of stories and tips. And his apartment is the cutest. It’s the smallest place we have been at to date and that means – THE WARMEST. It’s also delightfully efficient. It’s right off the Grassmarket so there is plenty for us to do and see.
Our first stop after unpacking was to meet our travel buddies at Mary King’s Close, the Edinburgh Underground tour. We were so sad to learn that the tours were sold out for the next 24 hours. It just gives us a reason to come back again!
Instead, we headed down the close to the Edinburgh Christmas Market. I wasn’t expecting it to be so huge and crazy. It was elbow to elbow. We managed to pick up a little gluhwein but passed the booths of pretzels and sausages and brotkartofflen (sigh) because everything was just too busy and crazy. Little was in his element – finally, there were KIDS! Tons of them! Kids rides to rideith kids on, kids to talk to in line. He was elated.
We did a few easy rides like the flying elephants and a reindeer roller coaster and a cars ride – but from there, he saw the jackpot. A faux-ice wall. For climbing. It was about 20 feet tall and there was a line of little boys just waiting to take a try at climbing all the way up to hit a buzzer. He had to do it.
We were certain he couldn’t. He’s never climbed before and he’s afraid of heights. My brother leaned over to him while he was waiting and told him he would buy little a stuffie if he made it to the top. The thing is, the kid loves LOVES stuffies and has been begging for one this whole trip. We don’t buy things like that and for two weeks, his hints have been unanswered. But this was his chance!
Up he went, down he went. The guy running the wall told him to try again and always make sure his feet were solid and taken care of first. He made a second attempt and —- made it all the way up. We were cheering like crazy and had the folks around us cheering too. An elderly woman behind us grabbed my brother and asked if the little guy was his – what a show he had put on! I can’t make this up. Or the next part:
The stuffie. He knew EXACTLY what he wanted. We walked up to the main street and he took off, leading us to a store a few blocks down across from the cathedral. He was driven. He was dialed in. He picked up a little highland cow stuffed animal from a display and handed it to my brother. We had entered this store hours earlier to buy tickets for the underground tour and I didn’t even know they had stuffed animals for sale. He knew where to go and what he wanted. And he earned it. We said goodbye to my brother and Maggie – they will pick us up in a few day’s time when we return home. Right now, we have a last morning in Scotland before we head to Ireland in the afternoon for the last few days of our vacation.