On our one full day in Edinburgh, we got up early and walked up to the Castle. So early, in fact, that we were there 30 minutes before they opened. We walked around the square and were third in line when the gate opened.
Cannons are cool. They have one there called Mons Meg, that I didn't take a picture of, that is the largest ever used in battle. It was built in the 1400s. It could fire a 300 lb. ball up to 2 miles.
Did you know that the national emblem of Scotland is the thistle? We saw this symbol all around, and I kinda love it. Anyway, we walked all over Edinburgh Castle, saw the Crown Jewels (no photos allowed), and enjoyed the prisons (which were most recently utilized in WWII, which is crazy to me.) And then headed out to see some more Edinburgh and buy a bit of Anderson tartan.
Our next stop was down the Royal Mile a little at St. Giles Cathedral.
The cathedral dates from the 1300s and is the seat of the Church of Scotland. I love the Gothic details!
We paid our 2 pound donation for the privilege of taking photos inside and enjoyed a stroll around the interior. It is simpler than some we have seen, but had some neat accents. See that blue ceiling in the background? And the stained glass, dating from the 1800s, was lovely.
Amelie favors the comfy seats over the common pew.
In case you were wondering, St. Giles is the patron saint of Edinburgh, and also of "cripples and lepers." He was very popular in the middle ages.
This is just a shot looking back up the Royal Mile toward the Castle. Blue skies and sunshine! Yay!
We only saw a few on this trip, I actually thought there would be more.
The last place on my "must see" list was the National Museum of Scotland. I imagined we would learn all about Scottish history, but after a few rooms of that, the kids were over it. The museum is like a mini-Smithsonian with everything under one roof and we dabbled in the interactive technology wing, the art and fashion area, and Rob took the big kids into an extensive exhibit on primates while Amelie and I took a break and watched people. It was VERY crowded inside and I didn't take any pictures. Oh well.
After the museum, we went out to dinner near our apartment at Nando's. The kids and I had never been to Nando's, but Rob had in Maryland and said it was good. It was, we ejoyed our yummy dinner and then headed down the hill behind the Castle grounds because it looked like there was a city park there.
The park was lovely with flowers blooming and people strolling.
And a great playground! So that was pretty much a perfect evening activity for our family.
We were just getting ready to head to our apartment for the night when I realized I had left my purse under my chair in Nando's! No bueno! I ran back to the restaurant while Rob headed to the apartment with the kids. It wasn't there, so I asked a waitress, and she got the manager, and he came out of his office with my purse. Everything was in it and "all's well that ends well," but boy can I be a space cadet sometimes!
The next morning it was time to leave Scotland and head south toward our London finale! We stopped at the border for a stretch and a photo.
Just a little further south we stopped in at Housestead's Roman Fort and to see part of Hadrian's Wall. There was an itty bitty museum with some interesting info and then we headed out to the wall.
Hadrian was the Roman emperor around 122 AD who kinda consolidated Rome's empire and fortified it's borders. This wall originally reached all the way across England- 74 miles coast to coast- and had Roman Forts along the way. The kids are actually standing on a segment of the wall that it is okay to walk along in this photo.
Housestead's Roman Fort was a place for the Roman soldiers to live- but many of them also had their families with them and seemed more like a modern military base than I imagined it would before we visited.
Those soldiers really would have been at the last frontier of the Roman empire looking north into the land of Barbarians.
We love places like this- history out in the open.
And you get to climb on it.
The kids were tired after hiking around the wall and fort for some time and we were all ready to get back on the road to London.