I want to give a big shout-out of gratitude to Alyssa, Christy and my Instagram friend Carrie for all their recommendations. Nearly everything we saw and ate and experienced was recommended by one of these ladies. Thank you so much!
The train travels north more or less as the crow flies so my parents had a much shorter journey. We left a bit after them and had to drive, and none of the motorways are very direct so it took us a couple hours longer. It was about an eight hour trip from our house to Edinburgh, and we only stopped once.
The Tattoo Festival we were attending that evening didn’t start until 9:00pm so I really wanted the kids to take a nap on the drive. A few drops of melatonin after lunch did the trick and they all slept for at least an hour. (I didn’t have to give Eli any melatonin, he was sleepy enough on his own.)
We made our way to hostel, parked our car, checked in to our room and then headed to the Royal Mile. The Royal Mile is the main thoroughfare that starts at the Edinburgh castle and stretches down approximately one Scottish mile toward Holyrood Abbey. Carrie taught me the word “busker” for a street performer, and I think the buskers were the kids favorite part of the royal mile.
The kids ran around in their underwear in the hostel room while I threw all the clothes in the hostel laundry dryer (I was so excited that they had one!) and we waited until my parents finished at the castle. The adults got baked “tatties” for dinner, and we took them to a mall food court to eat them out of the rain. (The kids were thrilled to have KFC for dinner.)
Then we made our way back up to the Edinburgh castle for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. (I already mentioned this on FB, but a “tattoo” isn’t just an ink design on skin; it is also “an entertainment consisting of music, marching, and the performance of displays and exercises by military personnel.”
My favorites were the Tattoo Highland dancers, the Trinidad and Tobago Steel-drum Marching Band, and the Singapore Armed Forces Ceremonial band which included some bright and colorful costumes and dancing. The whole festival was one of those experiences in my life where I just couldn’t stop smiling.
We felt especially grateful that we didn’t get rained on. As a last minute precaution my dad and Richard bought some rain ponchos for us, and we joked that buying them was the best investment ever because of course it wouldn’t rain if we were prepared.
At the end, all of the performers came out on the stage for a final medley which involved a lot of dancing, including a hilarious rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and Pharrell Williams’s “Happy”. When people from literally all over the world are all dancing and clapping along to a pop hit, the world really does seem smaller. But nothing compared to the finale when everyone in the stadium stood up and held hands while singing the Scottish classic “Auld Lang Syne.” It was international unity that gives me goosebumps when I recall it.
There were fireworks at the end and a lone bagpiper played a solo from the castle balustrades. It was remarkable.
I think the kids enjoyed it too, despite it getting a little chilly outside. They do the show at night because it needs to be dark, and there were colorful pattern projections on the castle, which served as a backdrop. Simon fell asleep at the end and we had to walk back down to the hostel, but it felt magical in the air after the show.