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Royal Mile
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May 29

Breakfast (which is fruit and bread and coffee and cheese and such) is delivered to the room in a big basket, and Roxie et it up on the table (with white linen and china) while I was in the shower.(Roxie is the porter/greeter/staff character at the hotel - he's an absolute hoot and incredibly friendly and helpful) I emerged in a big fluffy warm robe and we ate breakfast (and made mimosas with the champagne and freshly squeezed orange juice). While we listened to the bustle outside the window. We debated just lounging about for the rest of the day in our hideaway, but decided we should at least walk down the Royal Mile and see the sights.

Today is the hottest day in Edinburgh in the last few years, we are told. All the winter-pale people who are outside today will be sunburned by Monday, I can guarantee it. Everyone is in shorts and tank tops and sitting in the sun.

The entrance to the rooms for the Witchery Is through a small locked close - we got some really odd looks when we emerged from the narrow little alley and at least one couple tried to go back the way we had come to see what was down there. I feel all secret-agent-ish.

The Castle and the Royal Mile

We walked up the 100 yards to the castle. Tons of people. Seriously huge crowds. It was hard to see anything with the hordes of people walking around. Neither of us remember that many people the first time we came to Edinburgh, but it was probably just a s crowded to be honest. We looked over the battlements at the rest of Edinburgh, looked at the 12-o-clock gun, walked through the main cannonade areas and then sat down to have lunch. We decided to return a bit later in the day, when the crowds were a bit less. Maybe before dinner.

I swerved into an armory shop juts down the street from the hotel and instantly fell in love with the small replica helmets that they sell (in addition to full size ones and all sorts of knives and swords). The little helmets, about 7" tall and in a bunch of different styles, were all on sale and I bought two of them for 30 pounds. Mark is sure that I've lost my mind, but he hasn't even asked where I'm going to put them. I just announced that these were my souvenirs and that's that! Hah!

So we walked down the Royal Mile from the castle all the way to Holyroodhouse. Which is closed, pending a visit from someone Very Important (I think, actually, The Queen). No matter. We popped into the Museum of Childhood (a rather strange museum of kids tows for the last century or so), saw the Tollbooth, admired all the lovely buildings along the street. The way back up wasn't as bad as I had thought it would be, but it was godawful hot, so we went back to the hotel and turned on the AC and napped for a bit.

It cooled off a bit and we headed back down the Mile for dinner and found a neat little Mediterranean place on one of the side streets -- a wine bar-cum-pasta place. We had a couple glasses of wine, I had lemon scampi pasta and Mark had something with chorizo and tomatoes and we had a great time talking to the server, who was from Michigan. We placed her accent immediately - she says that most people think she's Canadian. We climbed back up to the mile through one of the many narrow staircases and popped in to get a reservation on the tour of the Real Mary King's Close (not until 8:40) and then back to the room to relax. I soaked in the tub for an hour and a half (something I never do!) and Mark decided he wanted to go out walking.

The enormous roll top tub is definitely big enough for two, but it's very narrow and I discovered that it was very hard to get out of when I was done! For a moment I thought I was going to be trapped in the tub, but I did manage to escape. I'm trying to figure out if both of us will fit in here….hm…

Mark staggered back upstairs, all hot and sweaty, at about eight o-clock. He's lost track of time and gotten turned around as to where he was in relation to the hotel. He took a quick shower and we walked back to for the tour.

Not the "Fake" Mary King's Close

Which was cool . Mary King's Close is one of the narrow alleys that got entirely closed off as the buildings expanded on the Royal Mile and the tops of the tenements were cut off to build the new civic buildings. The tiny, warrnelike tenements on the street (which slopes precariously down to the now-non-existent Nor; Loch, are entirely in darkness now, and only recently have they started excavating the apartments, cellars, and passages. The tour is a bit cheesy, to be honest, but the close is fascinating, and we can't help but wonder how much fun it would be to have been in on the excavations when they first opened them up. Quite a bit of the street is still off limits and quite dangerous, and a there are a few rooms where we can only look inside. I thought it was fun, some of the people on our tour group really got into it and the ghost stories and such.

The iconic image of the close of the bricked-in alley, abandoned, still with a line of laundry hanging? We figure it was put up as part of the tours, to be honest. The close was inhabited until the 1930s and it wasn't actually walled up that quickly. Nor, we were assured, were the plague sufferers among the poor families here abandoned and walled in to protect the city. Interesting myths, but that's it.

We wandered along the mile for a bit as it got dark -- the red lights on one of the churches is a bit eerie if you ask -- and then went back to the room to have a bottle of champagne and sit in the window seat and watch as the streets emptied.