Scottish influences are everywhere around us in our culture in the U.S. from butterscotch candy to Scotch whisky, from Tartan plaid cloth to shortbread cookies. However, full immersion in Scottish culture is never more obvious than when walking down the busy sidewalks of Edinburgh and hearing a piper play a tune. There is the piper we heard outside St. Giles Cathedral on the Royal Mile, and the piper we heard near Waverly Station, the central train station second only to London’s Waterloo Station as the largest train station in the UK. They must limit the pipers to avoid a cacophony of competing songs.
Every corner of every street in the Old Town District of Edinburgh has a restaurant or shop serving the varied needs of the seven million tourists that visit here every year. It is probably a good thing we are not here in August for the Edinburgh Festival because we probably would not have found lodging, and if we had lodging it would be costly. Nevertheless, I am eager for us to attend the Scottish Military Tattoo outside of Edinburgh Castle during the festival. Imagine a formal military pass-in-review ceremony in which the various regiments march and drill with every soldier either a drummer or a piper. We will be back for that show once we obtain tickets.
Unlike our desire to get off the beaten path, we are currently in full tourist mode. We had to visit Edinburgh Castle, which towers over the city. We took the hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus around town to get a feel for what Edinburgh had in store for us. We walked along the Royal Mile of shops and restaurants on High Street just to say we did, or more likely so we would not have to say that we didn’t. I still want to hike up Arthur’s Seat, the 823 foot tall hill in Holyrood Park, one of the largest parks in the UK with castle ruins dating back 2,000 years. Holyrood Palace near the base of the hill is the Queen’s official residence in Scotland, and is open to the public when the Royal Family is not in attendance.
We have a couple of cathedrals to see on the ABC tour (Another Blessed Church), which I became accustomed to after more than a year touring through much of Latin America. I do not know if we will fit in the Edinburgh Zoo or the Royal Botanical Gardens. However, I do expect us to tour the HMS Britannica, once the royal family yacht. I have done my best to keep up the pace while fighting off a cold. It is a good thing, too, because we are headed to Glasgow this weekend. Clearly, we will need to return to Edinburgh to discover more of its plentiful delights. Right now we are off for a spot of tea.