Travel Europe Day 2, Edinburgh Part 1

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Culture Lesson #1
How to say Edinburgh correctly

The first half of the word is pronounced as you would expect, “Ed-in.”  The second half is very easily misread.  Do not say, “Burg.”  The way you say it is, “Brah” or “Berah.”  Brits and Scots like to add the extra “ah” sound on the end of pretty much every word.

Inveresk House

As I suspected, I woke fairly early our first morning in Scotland.  I took my book, Bible, and journal into the 2nd floor sitting room of Inveresk House and enjoyed the silence. I soaked in the ambient light shaking the jet lag from my head.

This room was interesting to say the least.  An ornate marble fireplace was on the north wall, and floor to ceiling windows lined the east wall. It was packed with antiques and art and nick knacks as well as books and papers and slightly outdated family board games.  Not antique games, but games like Taboo and Scattergories, the original versions.


By the time the other mamas emerged from the room, I had showered and was ready for breakfast.  We descended the staircase (that was built in 1643) and into the dining room.

Croissants, yogurt, fruit, and cereal were set out for us, and John brought us our drinks followed by a plate of toast. Only minutes later, he delivered our large plates filled with a Scottish breakfast: scrambled eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, and sausage.

Scottish Breakfast
This was a photo of our last breakfast at Inveresk House and the only day we had Black Pudding.
While I am not planning on eating it again, I am glad I had the chance.  (And this was after the continental breakfast bar and the oatmeal she made for us)

I ate it all.

I don’t even like mushrooms, and while I did gag on them a little bit, I tucked every last morsel into my belly.  I knew it was going to be a long day, and I needed as much energy as I could get. If it had not been for that, I would have just sat and eaten toast all day.  The toast seemed like the Chute’s everyday variety, but whatever they did to it was magnificent.

To the Royal Mile

When we had finished our meal, we loaded up our backpacks with water, cameras, and Rick Steves, and headed out the door planning to catch the bus from Musselburgh to Edinburgh.

Catching the bus was again an ordeal (we may or may not have drawn attention to ourselves being the obnoxious Americans that we are–I really tried to be good), but we made it onto a bus and climbed the stairs up to the second level.

On the Top Deck!

Riding a Double Decker Bus.  Check. We were checking boxes left and right it was only Day 2.  

We took the bus back to the Sir Walter Scott Monument. This time, when we hopped off, we were free to drink in the view.  The National Gallery, Edinburgh Castle on the cliff, Sir Walter Scott monument up close. Where was Arthur’s Seat? The gales were blowing us to and fro, and we were loving every minute of it.  

Scottish National Gallery

We climbed the Playfair Steps up to the street–not sure which street but definitely not the Royal Mile at this point–and hiked up the hill around a bend and through a narrow alleyway.  



And we made it to the Royal Mile.  We were here.

We were just a couple blocks down the hill from Edinburgh castle. Not stopping for long, we marched up the cobblestone path and ducked into a gift shop just as we approached the castle.

Edinburgh Castle

This four-story gift shop was also a Tartan factory.

Culture Lesson #2
What is Tartan?

What I could gather is that tartan is a fancy word for plaid.  And each Scottish/English clan has their own colors (excuse me, colours) and pattern. You can buy kilts and shawls and gloves and hats and socks and magnets and shot glasses and everything in your family’s tartan.

The Royal family has a tartan and there are ancient tartans and contemporary tartans.  Tartan is everywhere.

As expected, the Royal family has more than one tartan.  Did you expect anything different? They are Royals.

As for the tartan I was able to enjoy at the Palace of the HolyRoodHouse, they wore Ancient Royal Hunting Stuart Tartan.

If you suggest the spelling of Stuart to be s-t-e-w-a-r-t, you may be in danger of being beheaded.  Let this be a warning to you–it most certainly was to me.

I loved learning what I could about the Tartan, but we didn’t go on the tour, so this is where my knowledge ends.

A Visit to Edinburgh Castle?

The Witches Well in Edinburgh
The Witches Well was the closest we got to Edinburgh Castle. Want to know where it is? Walk to the ticket booth facing the castle, then turn 180 degrees. Take 10 side steps — big or mediumish and you will be in front of the Witches Well.

We stepped out of the shop, into the unceasing wind, and back in front of Edinburgh Castle.  Everything looked weird. Temporary fences were put up, and there were official looking people in jackets standing six people deep behind the barriers.  It looked like we were being blockaded, but there wasn’t any announcement or sign explaining what was happening.

So being the bold, forthright person I am, I marched up to an official-looking person and asked what was happening.

That’s when he explained to us that the castle was closed due to the high force winds.  It was unsafe for the public to be in the Castle at that time.

Shaking our heads incredulously, we headed down the Royal Mile.

“But it’s a castle, right?” Dacia asked  “If it’s going to blow down with a little wind, it’s not a very good castle.”

We agreed and turned our attention down the Royal Mile.

Musicians and dogs are abundant on the Royal Mile.

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