Edinburgh in Scotland

Edinburgh

You could probably spend a week in Edinburgh and not scratch the surface, but we only had a few days. Fortunately, I had been to Edinburgh three other times, so I knew the highlights that would be fun for my husband. We stayed near the Waverly train station so walking around Old Town was easy. I highly recommend walking through the West Princess Street Gardens.

My favorite is the large floral clock on the side of a hill. The day we were there in late May they were planting the clock. It was designed by John McHattie and started being used in 1903.  Later it was curated in 1928 by head gardener William Grant. He supervised the annual planting every year after until he died in 1946. Low cropped flowers such as begonias, lobelia, and succulents are used to form a tapestry and it tells the correct time to boot. It takes two gardeners five weeks to plant. They lay out over ladders placed on curbs and fill in the drawings. These days 35,000 plants are used. The day we watched them working, a small truck was unloading hundreds of flats of small plants. An assistant gardener was handing plants to the head gardener who was lying flat out on the ladder over the pre-drawn design.
floral clock in Edinburgh

From there you can walk past the Gardener’s cottage into the center of the gardens and see a lovely elephant sculpture made for children to play on. In the center of the gardens is the Ross Theatre. From there you can walk to the Edinburgh Castle and up around Old Town to see the shops and eat some haggis if you dare. Everywhere you go there will be wool shops with family tartans. Ask your hotel manager which shops are the best for good quality and which ones are mostly touristy gifts. The Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle is the site of the famous Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Once a show of arms, it has evolved into a sort of circus with 1,500 performers including dancers, motorcycle stunt riders, and of course bagpipers. This takes place in August. Book a year in advance.

But fear not. If you miss the Tattoo, there are festivals non-stop in Edinburgh. Film, The Fringe, Art, Book, and International to name a few. And there are always the most delightful street performers. The day we walked though the park we found a man blowing huge soap bubbles for the children to play with.

bubbles in Edinburgh
 

The Palace of Holyrood in Edinburgh is the official residence of the Royal family when they visit. There are tours all year long that cover the likes of Mary Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie. Adults are 16.70 pounds and for 21.60 you can also tour the gallery. You reach the palace by walking down Cannongate Road. It’s a lovely walk with many shops and restaurants.

A word of advice. Bring a map or a charged phone with GPS. Edinburgh is not a grid system. The streets are windy and hilly and confusing. The best you can do is orient yourself to Waverly Station and go from there. But if you have all day, wear sturdy shoes and pack a few granola bars and you should do just fine.

Sally Franz and her third husband live on the Olympic Peninsula. She has two daughters, a stepson, and three grandchildren. Sally is the author of several humor books including Scrambled Leggs: A Snarky Tale of Hospital Hooey and The Baby Boomer’s Guide to MenopauseShe hosts a local radio humor segment, “Baby Boomer Humor with Sassy Sally”.

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