Despite the theatrics of certain family members, we made fantastic time on the hike and still had a few minutes to preview the Royal Mile. Ducking through a hesitant patch of rain, we got a close-up look at Edinburgh Castle which was not the most welcoming of structures, squatting as it was on a heap of dingy volcanic rock half shrouded in fog. (10 points to it for being mysterious, -20 for sucking away cheerfulness à la Dementor of Azkaban.) However, we were all amused by bellboys standing awkwardly outside of touristy hotels in their kilts—“Mommy, why is that guy wearing a dress? And why does he look mad?”—and we passed just enough brightly-colored doors and intricate steeples to whet our appetites for some real sightseeing the following day.
We returned around 8:00 the next morning, and by 8:03, we had realized that we would need a month to properly appreciate all the history strewn up and down and above and underneath the Royal Mile. However, we only had a couple of hours, so we made the best of them. For you girls, that primarily meant running laps around Mercat Cross, climbing statues of famous Scotsmen, and trying to gain admittance to nearly every building we passed. (The only one open was The Loch Ness Experience: only £15.85 “to be dazzled by 3D effects!!!” As we had already seen Loch Ness in 3D—plus a few additional senses—that week, we passed.) We had only walked about half the mile before you begged to turn around; something about “too tired” and “feet hurting” and “hiking up a mountain yesterday”… excuses, excuses. We took our time heading back, but I’d dare say you had a pretty good time regardless.
In between rescuing you from phone booths and rescuing 18th-century philosophers from you, your dad and I enjoyed the architecture and the city’s vibes. (Your dad told me more than once that if we ever had to move to Edinburgh, he wouldn’t mind, honest.) I particularly admired St. Giles’ Cathedral, not so much because of its impressive design or its status as the High Kirk of Edinburgh but because it was presided over by the “Very Reverend Dr. Gilleasbuig Macmillan.” (The writer in me wished so badly that she had come up with that name herself.) Sticking out like a tourist usually bothers me, but we had both the language and your plentiful charm in our favor, and the locals generally seemed happy to see us. Well, we did get some funny looks when we posed for a family picture on the Heart of Midlothian. Come to find out, that lovely symbol of affection is a marker for the infamous 15th-century Tolbooth prison execution site. Oh yes, and walking across the Heart means we will never find true love.
We almost made it back to the car without an impromptu detour, but we just so happened to have parked in front of the National Museum of Scotland. Maybe it was the way the doors swung open as we walked by or the giant “Free!” sign, but we felt compelled to take a look. I’m glad we did, considering the two familiar looking monarchs we ran into on the first floor. The dresses alone would have made your day I think, but you also had a blast at the various hands-on exhibits. We checked out a rocket, played music, taunted prehistoric wildlife, and at one point very nearly attained somewhere in the neighboring vicinity of something similar to capable of operating a catapult. It seemed a fitting farewell to Scotland.
“In the 14th century, queens spent their days putting together needlessly complicated pottery puzzles. Also, bloomers had yet to be invented, so their undergarment options were limited to Old Navy Jeans.”