First of all we did not have enough time in Edinburgh. I’m almost certain that people LIVING in Edinburgh don’t have enough time in Edinburgh. It’s such an interestingly beautiful place that we’re chasing memories of it like we did with Iceland since we’ve been home; pointing out fields of cows near Seattle that look like the fields of sheep we saw driving through Edinburgh and saying “This is almost looks like Edinburgh, doesn’t it?” But we all know it’s not the same.
Nothing is like Edinburgh. It makes perfect sense that this is where Harry Potter was born.
We stayed in Edinburgh for two nights after we spent a night in York on the way from Stratford-on-Avon on a 10 day trip we took with kids to Great Britain. (We stayed in Liverpool after Edinburgh if you are wondering where we stopped next. We tried to keep each day’s driving to around 3 hours max).
I found ideas of where to find puffins and a park with giant horse heads called “Kelpies” that I wanted to visit. And despite having great pride in being a self-proclaimed master trip planner, I didn’t realize that it was the Fringe Festival when we were visiting so everything was festively over-the-top-busy and we threw all other plans away and decided we would stick to just hanging out in the city.
But everyone in the family wanted to see the Edinburgh Castle. I was only moderately intrigued about going, and thought we would definitely ditch this plan if there were crowds. We went for opening and sure enough there was quite a formidable line but it wasn’t impossible to get in. To skip the line, you can buy your tickets online with your phone (I can’t sing praises for T-mobile enough while traveling) to pick up at will-call and I think we waited mere minutes when we tried this option. (Please use common sense with this one. We could see the will call line while we purchased the tickets from the other line on the phone….) We ended up spending a long time at the castle, and I learned that my whole family really loves castles.
Thankfully they like tea too, so we ended up stopping for a little break and this is where I got myself into trouble. I was so excited to have tea in an actual castle but we had already had so many giant teas in England that we only wanted a few pastries, so we were told we could go choose a pastry or two from the pastry table.
I didn’t realize this meant I had to go there, check out the pastries, come back and tell them my choice. I figured this out quickly as someone gasped as I filled my plate.
Obviously I do not have royal manners (DO NOT SERVE YOURSELF PASTRIES AT EDINBRUGH CASTLE!!!) but thankfully we were still allowed to enjoy our treats in the castle and I was not sent to the dungeon.
After tea we sauntered through the city marveling at the stores and the Fringe Festival displays. We wandered into a free art gallery, the Scottish National Gallery, that had an astonishing collection for a FREE Museum but you kind of expect that here. So many museums in Great Britain are absolutely incredible and so many of them are free. We looked for “Diagon Alley” and the adorable cafe where Harry Potter was written. This cafe was extremely lined up and I wanted coffee from nearby Brew Lab Coffee instead which was really tasty and the Brew Lab Coffee looked out onto the “Diagon Alley” street.
And we went back to wandering until some point I turned around to mention something to one of my boys and he was no longer there.
With a sea of heads in front of me and waves of people behind me, I could not find my kid for the life of me. Was it just seconds? A handful of minutes? Whatever it was it felt like time was not going to give me the option of ever seeing him again and I screamed his name frantically into the crowd as I retraced my path until I stumbled right into his little trembling body.
“I stayed put when I found out I was lost.”
I don’t know if this is what we should teach our kids but this time it worked.
I can see how easy it is to just blink and have a loved one disappear. In an era where we can find Pokemon hiding in remote faraway forests and cars can can drive themselves and Amazon can deliver the world in an hour we can still lose our children in a matter of seconds.
We held hands for the rest of the day-neither of us wanting to let go. Maybe this is why the trip felt all the more precious, but I do want to return one day and spend some time north of Edinburgh wandering the lake cities and looking for the Loch Ness Monster and puffins hiding on the rocks.
Have you been to Edinburgh? If you have, I’d love to hear what you loved! And if you have a tip for preventing kids from getting lost or helping them when they do I’d also like to know to help be prepared on the horrible chance there is a next time. And please tell me you would ALSO serve yourself tea in a castle if you were given the chance.
(PS. I am slowly getting the rest of the trip up on the blog. If you’d like to hear about the monkeys we found in England you can check here or scroll through the pics near this one in my Instagram feed.)
(PPS. I think we should have researched bus passes here better-we read something about a family pass after we spent a bunch on single fare tickets)