I’ve been to Edinburgh before, and I only had a half-day this time. So what do prioritize? The castle, of course. Because it’s kind of a big deal in terms of castles, and because last time we had (correctly) focused on food tours and not freezing to death.
Like Stirling castle, Edinburgh castle sits atop an ancient volcanic bluff and has been fortified since pre-history.
I arrived early in an attempt to beat the crowds and was lucky enough to see the changing of the guard, complete with bagpipes and drums.
One thing that’s true of every castle I’ve visited is that they’re more interesting from the outside than inside, at least visually. From the outside, you have impregnable walls, sheer cliffs, and a dramatic silhouette of towers and battlements. From the inside, they’re basically just a cluster of military, administrative, and religious buildings. Historically significant, for sure, but fairly mundane after all the romantic exterior offers in terms of scope for the imagination.
The oldest building in the castle is St Margaret’s chapel, which sits on the highest part of the rock, and dates back to the 1000s. Remember in Macbeth how Malcolm defeats the usurping Macbeth at the end of the play and becomes King of Scotland? Well, after doing that he went to Scone to be crowned, and then came here with his wife (Margaret) to set up shop running the country.
The views from the castle walls were terrific. I’ve been lucky that, for a city so often shrouded in clouds and rain, both times I’ve visited Edinburgh has been bathed in sunshine and expansive views.
Leaving the castle, I walked down through the Royal Mile . . .
. . . and down the charming side streets that Justin, Amanda, Amy and I had explored the last time we were here.
I hadn’t intended to revisit the places we had already seen, but time was running short to go further afield, and I felt a strange nostalgic draw. I recalled the good times we had, and the pain and sadness of witnessing the debilitating toll that OCD had taken on Justin. Those feelings came rushing back to me, raw and complicated, and I didn’t know what to do with them. I hadn’t expected this, and I didn’t want to cry, not there on the public sidewalk, so I ducked into a shop and basically ate my feelings in the form of a Nutella-drenched waffle.
To say that I felt better after that would be an exaggeration, but at least it was time to go to the airport where the tedium of check-in and security did their best to hide away those troublesome feelings.