Random Things Around Edinburgh

We've done a lot more than just visit castles while we've been here and I want to make sure to document these smaller things too. So here are some of the smaller things we have gotten up to while in Edinburgh. These are the types of things the kids really enjoy, as they are often fun things for them to do.

Princes Street Gardens:

This is a huge public park that stretches the main street in town. It also used to be the castle's moat/part of the defense system. And a couple hundred of years ago, was also where they killed the suspected witches...eek! But it's a beautiful lush garden today. There are walking paths through it, ice cream vendors throughout and currently, at the end, there are a couple activities you can do...the sort of activities my children are always suckers for! 

Portobello Promenade:

This is the seaside on the outskirts of Edinburgh. On the day we went it was quite windy and we felt a little chilly. But there were still plenty of kids playing in the water. Our kids enjoyed playing in the sand before we took them in to the way, way overpriced arcade for a bit. It made every arcade I've ever taken them in to before seem cheap. It was ridiculous. But the kids had fun playing a few games before we moved on.

National Museum of Scotland:

This place is h-u-g-e and it's free. Obviously the kids didn't want to look at everything, but they especially enjoyed all the space based exhibits and the animals. There are plenty of exhibits that are hands on, like the race car simulator Connor is in. On our way out, we went up to the roof to see the amazing view. It was raining, so we didn't stay out there for long. But I especially enjoyed all the roof lines of the old buildings nearby. 

A coffee shop on a boat:

One of my old coworkers posted a picture here and Ian and I decided we wanted to check it out. It is on one of the canals in Edinburgh. It was actually quite a cute and peaceful spot. We go to at least one coffee shop a day, usually more...because, hello, I am travelling with Ian! Isla actually did sit by the window of the place the whole time until they made her hot chocolate. That smile in the last picture, it is because the lady is getting ready to hand her the hot chocolate. The girl really likes her some hot chocolate!

Golf at Bruntsfield Links:

There is a little pitch n put golf course in the middle of a huge park in Edinburgh. I used to work close to the park, so we were familiar with the area. And Ian had played it before with a friend. You go into a pub to check out your clubs and golf ball. It's quite cute. Though there are 36 holes, Ian did a good job with managing 9 holes, playing with Connor and Isla. There were times I feared for someone's head with the kids handling golf clubs, but all was well. Isla was actually way more into it than I expected. 

Besides these things, we've gotten ice cream numerous times...because why not?! We have walked a ton and the kids really have been troopers about it. I noticed if they are distracted while walking, like engaged in conversation or something, they don't seem to notice they are walking and are totally fine. We generally only eat lunch out. Breakfast and dinner are enjoyed at our flat, making it much more pleasant for all involved. I am just not a fan of taking tired, hungry kids out to dinner. It really has been a good trip and I'm enjoying having Ian around all the time.

And just in case you haven't seen my other posts - here is our visit to Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle

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Stirling Castle

On Wednesday we rented a car and drove to Stirling to visit their castle. It's the only other castle  in Scotland besides Edinburgh castle built on a rock mountain, creating its own fortress. Unlike Edinburgh, Stirling is a small place with tiny little roads and not much parking. But we did eat lunch in a darling courtyard of a pub just outside the castle. I always love scoring outdoor seating with the kids, as I feel like it allows more space for the kids to wiggle and they don't have to be as quiet. 

The castle was not nearly as crowded as Edinburgh castle, making it much easier to get around. There was even a little kids area where they could dress up, play with some instruments, etc. The main inside of the castle underwent major renovations just a few years ago, so its neat to see things more how they would have been back then, with the king and queen's bedrooms set up, etc. 

Somehow, after having lived in Scotland for almost four years before, we never knew the national animal was the unicorn before this trip. We heard this before going to Stirling castle, but it was made obvious at Stirling castle with unicorns everywhere. They were on the tops of buildings in the castle, painted all over and even in some tapestries. We asked a guide about the unicorn. She gave a long history, but the gist is they stand for purity and are rooted in religion/the bible and that's why the king chose them hundreds of years ago. I really should and do want to do more research on this as I am totally intrigued. 

^^ These telescopes have always been a favorite of Connor's everywhere we travel. He is drawn to them anytime he sees one. 

^^ I thought it was pretty cool we were actually allowed to touch some things...and sit in the chairs. This was in the great hall. It was fun to imagine what a feast would have been like in there.

^^ One example of the unicorn. I noticed they all didn't have the same size horn and varied slightly in appearance as well, but that could have been because of the various artists that created them.

^^ Callum smelling the flowers. This was totally his idea and he went down the line, stopping every couple feet and smelling the flowers. It was pretty dang cute.

Callum managed to not nap all day and literally was asleep within minutes of us being in the car. We weren't even on the highway yet and he was out. Poor guy was tired. The other kids, they just wanted to eat the whole time we were in the car. What's up with car rides always bringing out the hunger in everyone anyway?!

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Edinburgh Castle

I had these grand ideas that I was going to write all these blog posts about all the things we are doing on our vacation. But something about it staying light out until almost 11pm and it being vacation, seems to keep the kids up extra late. By the time they are in bed, I seem pretty much ready to head to bed myself. Soon though...maybe soon I will get it all posted. 

We went to Edinburgh Castle on Tuesday. Connor really wanted to go, so it was one of the first things we did when we arrived. The castle is huge and there is so much to see and do inside. When we went in, they gave the kids these quizzes and told them if they got all the questions correct, they got a prize. Connor quickly lost interest, but Isla was super into it the whole time, which actually surprised me. Anyway, spoiler alert, the prize was a sticker. Sort of lame. But I guess since the quiz kept Isla engaged the whole time I would consider it a win. 

You really can't beat the views from the castle. They are stunning. You can see in every direction for miles and miles and miles. And it helped that we were there on such a beautiful day. On the way out, we hit up the gift shop. This was probably the most important part to my kids. No joke, they are obsessed with gift shops. We have given them a little money each week they get to spend on whatever. Connor blew all his right away. Isla has slowly bought tiny things each places we have gone...a pen at Edinburgh Castle was her choice. The boys walked away with knight beanies and swords. The swords quickly became dangerous. Callum was hitting at everyone from the confines of his stroller. And given the streets are so crowded, we had to take the sword away. But I have been hit by Callum more times than I care to admit while sitting there not paying attention at our flat. 

^^ Isla put her sticker on her quiz. It's on the bottom right.

^^ Just photographic proof that I too am on this trip

After we left the castle we wound down the hill to an ice cream shop I had heard about. It had a line out the door and down the block. But we waited and it ended up being SO WORTH IT. They make their ice cream fresh every morning and are open until they sell out. I got salted caramel and I still keep thinking about when we can go back for more. 

After ice cream, all our legs were tired out and Ian managed to get the bus driver to let us on the bus with our expired passes (it was the touristy hop on, hop off bus we rode the day before)...all he had to do was ask. That was pretty dang convenient. We walked 21,000 steps that day. And honestly the kids have been troopers about all the walking. So the free bus ride was definitely greatly appreciated. 

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This is how we all felt after getting to our airbnb in Scotland after 25 hours of travel. Yes, you read that correctly, it was 25 hours from the time we left our house until the time we got to our airbnb. And the reality is, we were all relieved we finally arrived and were flat out exhausted. Never again will we be that stupid. Saving money sometimes kills everyone. But we still could have saved money and spent a night in London and it would have been easier on everyone. Hindsight is 20/20. The time waiting for the train and taking the train to Scotland is when things started going downhill. After being up 23 hours without sleep, one of our children started throwing up all over the train (yes, truly all over...seat, wall, floor, self) out of pure exhaustion. Thankfully, we all slept amazingly well our first night. Said exhausted child slept for 18 hours and the other two and Ian and I slept for 15.

The 8 hour time change has gone remarkably well and we instantly were able to start doing stuff, after our extremely long sleep. That first day we wondered around the city and played in a park. There will be plenty more posts to come of all we are doing.

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Fourth of July

Like 99% of America, we celebrated the 4th of July with food and family. I actually started off the day with breakfast with my best friend. Someone pointed out they thought this was weird, as it was a holiday. I thought, hmmm....a holiday, people around to babysit my kids AND my best friend is off work (she's a nurse, so the days off are random). I thought it was brilliant. But, whatever. In the afternoon, my inlaws took the kids to a carnival while Ian and I had the genius idea of running errands. Every single place we went was dead. It was amazing. In the evening, my family came over for fireworks. We started early with the idea of getting the kids to bed at a decent time. BUT, Connor and my dad bought way too many fireworks. Plus, Connor and Isla insisted on waiting until it was completely dark for the grand finale. Callum didn't make it until the end because he was just too tired.  It was a fun evening for all. 

^^ We must really trust our unpredictable toddler, allowing him to hold a sparkler by himself and all. 

^^ Just before a loud firework scared the heck out of him.

^^ Now wearing headphones and giving two thumbs up that he is ok. Even still, there would be times he would take our hands and have us hold them over the headphones. Apparently we need more pairs of the legit ear noise covers like Isla is wearing. 

^^ He was a little hesitant, so always holding on to someone or in someone's lap. 

Connor and Isla actually complained that it wasn't dark enough for the grand finale. It was literally completely dark except for the street lights, but whatever kids. Isla's finale went first, then Connor's. Isla was offended that more people said "wow" about Connor's finale than her's. I wish I was making this up, but I literally can't make this kind of stuff up. It really bothered her. Oh kids. 

Connor and Isla actually wanted to keep the party going after fireworks, but at this point it was headed toward 10pm and this mama wanted to put on her pjs and relax in her own bed, so shooed the kids off to bed as well. 

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