Everything was going smoothly as we arrived in Edinburgh until we tried to find our rental home. Despite many emails with our very sweet and very kind host in the months prior to our arrival, and hours spent on Google Earth’s street view (A very good tip for finding your exact point of interest) I still had only a vague idea of where we were going.
Host was a tad flighty and kept saying reassuring (Although not altogether helpful) things like, “Oh, sweetie it’s ‘no hard to find the hoose.”
I did know that there was no parking. Also a good tip that I will remember next time, if you need parking, don’t put down a deposit unless you know if there is parking! We arrived at the agreed upon time of 1:00 and Mike more or less circled the terribly busy, extremely narrow block, while myself and the two oldest leaped out of the van at a dead run because Mike couldn’t really stop due to the massive bus behind him.
We hupped over a metal barrier because we didn’t see the pedestrian entrance in front of us in our frantic dash not to be killed, and started searching for the house. I had more or less pinpointed its location on Google Earth, but now, standing there in person, the only building we could see in that spot, was a library.
As Mike came flying by on lap one, we hollered (As only Americans can) ‘WE CAN’T FIND IT.”
He shouted back, “CALL THE OWNER,” as he whipped past, delivery vans honking furiously in back of him.
Sure ok, hadn’t thought of that myself. Of course I had been calling her but she wasn’t picking up, or more than likely, my calls weren’t actually going through.
Son, daughter, and I left that side of the street, crossed the road again at great bodily peril, and ventured into a courtyard on the other side of the street. Tucked back in the courtyard there was a house number that was one off from the one we were looking for, but as we poked around it became apparent that the numbers were all odd numbers in the courtyard, and we were looking for an even number.
Rushing back across the street and spying our white van just as it turned the corner on goodness only knows what lap, we made it back to the library building. And that’s when I discovered a door that had escaped our attention earlier, and on the door was the elusive number.
We had found the house, for the love of Haggis!
Lapping back around, we waved joyfully to Mike to pull over in order to unload the suitcases, which caused no small amount of honking and swearing from the kind people of Edinburgh, but we didn’t really care at that point. Our triumphant joy was short lived however because by the time Dad stopped, it was painfully obvious that our host was not there. Son had been knocking and banging on the door for some time with no response. Defeated, the three of us had no choice but to get back into the van, where everyone was none too happy with the delay.
Eventually our host would arrive, all fresh and bright from an afternoon lunching and shopping with a friend. I tried valiantly to greet her with a smile, but my distress at her being over an hour late, and me having borne the brunt of everyone’s impatience, must have shown because she also got a little miffed and said, “But sweetie I left ye several messages to coordinate the day, but when I didn’t hear from ye I made my plans.”
Trying to explain the lack of cell service was fruitless and reminding her of the early morning email and the 1:00 check-in only produced a dismissive Scottish wave of the hand.
Anyway, we eventually got into the house, which was completely amazing, and after unpacking we walked to a nearby restaurant for an early dinner, where nerves were soothed with wine and larger.
Returning to our house we discovered that the property had an American sized washer AND dryer, which went a long way to making me love our host again. Immediately a mountainous pile of laundry sprung into existence like one of those volcanoes that suddenly erupts from the ocean. With clothes blissfully sloshing away in soapy suds, the night ended with a quick dash across the street by us parents to the incredibly convenient grocery store for provisions. And all of us settling in to watch the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics.
“Wait, why aren’t they showing the United States very much?”
“Uhm, probably because this is the United Kingdom mum.”
Never heard of it.
Part of the “Come to Scotland for my birthday” deal was that we all attend The Fringe with our daughter. I had no idea what she was talking about, so after a quick internet search, scrolling past the bands, books, and television shows of the same name, I found The Edinburgh Festival, Fringe. A massive city wide festival that runs for almost the entire month of August each year.
The festival is rife with comedians, artists, musical talent of every possible genre, and all manner of insane and thrilling street performers. According to the statistics for 2017, (At the time this blog post was written) there were 53,232 performances from 3,398 shows in 300 venues.
We were all game for The Fringe.
The next morning all comfortably dressed in our freshly washed and mechanically dried clothes, we chugged some coffee, ate a little breakfast, and headed out to the crowded streets of Edinburgh.
Our daughter had thoughtfully purchased tickets for the whole family to see a comedian, and his bit about millennials had us snorting with laughter.
We strolled around for a bit after the comedy show, taking in the sights and sounds of so many talented people from all over the world, but eventually we got a little hot, and a lot thirsty. Unfortunately, our oldest son needed to attend to a work crisis that required him to go back to the house and our youngest decided to go with him because he just wanted a nap. Dad was emphatic about escorting them back to the house, no doubt because it was so damn hard to find the first time.
Left to our own devices my daughter and I strolled along the thoroughfares in the opposite direction of the Fringe crowd. She wanted to show me the restaurant where, in 1997, Harry Potter was born. We found a strategically placed coffee shop across from The Elephant House where my daughter, well versed in all things Potter, was able to regale me with secrets from the novels as we sipped coffee and ate a snack.
Mike caught up with us there and surprisingly had our oldest son in tow. Satisfied that our youngest son was fine and well and taking full advantage of a quiet house to catch up on his napping, the four of us set off to sightsee.
Edinburgh is Scotland’s capital, but surprisingly is only the second largest city, Glasgow being the first. Edinburgh has long been known, and well admired, for its history of law, medicine, arts and literature. Literature so much so that in 2004 it was named the very first recipient of the UNESCO City of Literature designation. Ancient and full to the rafters with history, there is too much to tell in a short blog post but if you’re at all curious here’s a nice synopsis.
As the day wore on we took a quick side trip to visit Edinburgh Castle because Mike and I would be attending an event there and we wanted to get the lay of the land so to speak. It was a brisk 15 minute walk from where we started on Candlemaker Row and the crowd was thick with families on this rare bright and sunny day. I struggled to keep up with my fast walking husband and son as I was also trying to snap pictures every now and again as we traversed the famed Royal Mile.
Huffing and puffing we arrived atEdinburgh Castle. A remarkably well preserved, centuries old, active military base, and an UNESCO heritage site. Because we were only there to scout out the location we did not purchase tickets to enter the castle, however we were allowed into the inner courtyard.
If you have the opportunity to visit, I would encourage going in the castle, if for nothing else, to view “The Stone of Scone,” with it’s incredible ties to Kings, Queens, and infamous college students.
We wrapped up our day with a wonderful dinner at a restaurant within walking distance of our VRBO. Over drinks and appetizers we discussed our next day venture, and Part 6, Arthur’s Seat and The Military Tattoo.