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Welcome to part 2 of our Scottish adventure. If you haven’t read part 1, click here.
It seems the Edinburgh is a word no American can manage to say. You have probably heard it pronounced rhyming with Pittsburgh. You may have heard the popular Edinboro or Edinburrow. But the Scots pronounce it Edinbruh. However, try saying that without a Scottish accent and it feels overly precious. However, you pronounce it you can be assured that someone will correct you! Why can’t we all agree to disagree?
With only 2 days in Edinburgh we had a lot of ground to cover and no earthly way to cover it all. We decided to chose things that the kids would really enjoy and found that we really enjoyed them too.
This museum is a multi story museum dedicated to illusion and tricks of the eye. It features a camera obscura on the top floor. The camera obscura was the most fascinating part of the museum, but the other floors offered plenty for my kids to do. The attractions included a mirror maze, an optical vortex, science displays, and lots of hands on entertainment. The camera obscura is over 100 years old, and is able to project Edinburgh on to a drum like surface in the center of a darkened room. The guide for the camera obscura was well suited to kids and let them take turns “splatting” visitors to Edinburgh castle with the use of a notecard.
Be aware, the museum has a lot of stairs and strollers need to be left at the entrance.
Tip- the View of Edinburgh from the roof of the museum were the best we saw the entire time we were in the city.
Palace of Holyroodhouse-
The queen’s official Scottish residence was once the residence of Mary Queen of Scots. The tour features many of the rooms that housed Mary Queen of Scots and her court. There is an audio tour for the palace, and in addition there were costumed actors in Mary Queen of Scots rooms. They were enchanting. They interacted with the guests as if we were modern day visitors to the court. The kids didn’t seem to mind this tour because they had an audio headset to play with and they raced each other to see who would get ahead to the next track first.
Upon leaving Holyroodhouse, you can easily walk to the beginning of the trail to Arthur’s seat. We didn’t have the time to climb all the way up to the top, but we did do a little bit of hiking and got a great view of the lower city.
The Real Mary King’s Close-
There are numerous Closes advertised in Edinburgh but we chose this one because the trip advisors ratings were by far the highest. A close is alleyway that is privately owned, and this one was owned by Mary King, who was a real person (hence the “real mary king” part). These closes led north and south off of the Royal Mile and as Edinburgh built upon itself many of these closes were cut off from daylight. Mary King’s close was one of those that was built on and in doing so it preserved a fascinating part of Edinburgh’s history.
The tour through the close starts at modern day street level, and you descend lower and go back in time 400 years. While on the tour you learn of many of the actual residents of the close and see how they lived in Edinburgh through various years.
If there was one must see in Edinburgh, this would be it for us and our kids!
Tip- get your tickets as early as possible as they sell out most times by 11 am.(according to an employee)
The Royal Mile-
The Royal Mile is the main street in old Edinburgh. It runs from Edinburgh castle down to Hollyroodhouse Palace. It is a cobblestoned street with areas closed off to traffic. Restaurants, museums and shops line the street. It is a great place to shop for your Scottish treasures. My kids loved buying Campbell tartan scarves in honor of my Scottish great grandmother.
This is hardly a traditional Scottish restaurant, but it was close to downtown and it was delicious.
Meze is a grouping of small dishes in the Middle East and that is exactly what this restaurant serves. It is a great option for kids, as there are lots of choices, and some are very familiar (think pita bread and french fries.) The food was authentic and delicious!
When we turned over the visit to Edinburgh to the kids and what they wanted to do, that included food.
Their favorites included: Shortbread, haggis, sausage rolls, and Irn Bru. All of these foods are easy to grab and go so I thought I would include it.
Shortbread– Scotland is proud of this buttery, mildly sweet cookie and they should be! It is ubequitous in every store, every gift shop, and every restaurant. And after trying multiple brands, we determined that our favorite was…Walker’s shortbread.
Walker’s is available the world over so one would naturally assume that they are good at marketing and maybe not so good at baking. But those tasty cookies melt in your mouth the way other varieties just didn’t. And the great thing is you can get them at home too!Click here to order!
Haggis- is the Scottish national dish and gets a lot of teasing. It is a mixture of sheep liver, heart, lungs that is mixed with oatmeal and seasoning. If you can forget what goes into making it, it tastes like a slightly gamey sausage. My boys, loving all weird meats, took to haggis like a fish to water. Grocery store haggis was a common request, and it was ordered almost daily when we ate out.
Sausage rolls- might be the world most perfect portable food. Browned and seasoned sausage encased in a flaky pasty. Not only is it delcious it is quiet inexpensive. I don’t think we ever paid more than a pound for a sausage roll and they were easy to grab and go at any bakery we passed.
Irn Bru- Affectionately called Scotland’s other national drink, it is the bestselling soft drink in Scotland. You will be able to find this everywhere! It is a bright orange soda and has a very unusual flavor. I would describe it as a mix between orange soda and root beer, but that’s not completely accurate. It is a taste that is hard to describe. My little guy thought it was the best thing ever, the rest of us were not big fans.
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