I managed to pack a lot into the day today… and I still love Edinburgh, despite all the crowds! I started the morning at Mary King’s Close. This was one of the things I was most looking forward to in Edinburgh. Mary King’s Close is one of the tiny alleyways off the Royal Mile that has been preserved and turned into a museum of sorts. Sadly no photographs are allowed inside. The tour winds its way down through the close stopping at various points for some background on the locations, conditions, and families who lived in the closely packed tenement buildings (some could be as tall as 10 stories!). The tour lasted about an hour and was a neat way to see some of the original parts of the city. After the close, it was off to see the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. This particular performance was staged by an American high school acting group. It was my second time seeing the play and I laughed several times and had forgotten a few of the scenes, so it was a good choice.
Can you guess what I needed after my busy morning? Yep, a midday scone, this time at Loudons Cafe. I’ve only had a couple of scones this trip, but this was definitely one of the best I’ve ever had. Very light and fluffy, and once I smothered it in clotted cream and blackcurrant jam, it was even better. I thought I might go back to the hotel to rest this afternoon, but I’m in Scotland. I can rest all I want when I get home. So I spent time walking around Greyfriars Kirkyard (kirk = church) before enjoying some afternoon Scottish folk music and cider at Sandy Bells pub.
Then it was off to the theater again. One of the performers from the play “Departure Date” was passing out flyers on the Royal Mile this morning and it looked good. A depressing storyline about a man who finds out he has 24 hours to live and decides to try to live it up with a girl he’s had his eye on actually made for a good 40 minutes of laughs. As one of only 10 people in the audience, I felt like I was completely immersed in the story. I had dinner at Deacon Brodies Tavern on the Royal Mile tonight. Part of the chain of Nicholson’s pubs throughout the UK, the atmosphere was pure British pub with food to match. Bonus: excellent sticky toffee pudding!
The final and best event of the day was the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. This will probably end up being the highlight of Edinburgh. Not to be confused with body art, the Tattoo is a nightly ceremonial performance involving military bands, dancers, and various other performers from the U.K. and around the world that takes place every August. Think Disney World meets British pomp and circumstance. Set up on the castle esplanade, the Tattoo is a 90 minute spectacle that is completely amazing and choreographed with all the pageantry you can imagine from a British military ensemble. The evening is capped off with a fireworks display over the castle. Picture perfect!