After taking a day in the country to see The Highland Games, we made our second walk to the Royal Mile with our pre-booked (the night before) online tickets for Edinburgh Castle. This helped us save a bit of time and skip the ticket line, which was especially key with ominous clouds rolling in.
Despite cool weather and intermittent drizzle throughout the week, this was the one day that it significantly rained, which put a bit of a damper on our tour. It was also Sunday, which means long lines.
Sundays are also the one day of the week that they do not shoot the 1 o’clock cannon off, FYI. As you could imagine, the lines only get longer when everyone else wants to get inside at the same time!
Our guide (a half hour tour comes with your tickets) had a thick Scottish accent and was a little hard to hear. This, paired with rainy weather and impatient kids lacking an interest in Scottish military history (who knew?!), meant that we were better off ditching the tour and going off on our own.
The most interesting parts to see (at least with kids and no guide) were the Crown Jewels (sorry, no pics allowed), the Great Hall, with a huge fireplace and various weapons and armor; and the Prisons of War-basically he dungeon-like quarters where prisoners lived.
Additionally, the castle’s ramparts afford a fantastic view of the city. We killed some time before the started, checking out the fortress walls and some of the 1 o’clock gun (basically, a modernized military cannon) information which entertained the kids for a few minutes with an interactive countdown display.
I’m not personally a whisky drinker unless you count whisky sours…but my husband enjoyed a little whisky tasting in the whisky-filled gift shop as well.
There is more to see and it’s definitely worth checking out, especially if you are a history buff. Visit ideally on a day (Sunday not the best) with either better weather or without kids-but not both.
We eventually bailed on the castle because of rain and hungry tummies and grabbed lunch at Zizzi’s a nice but casual restaurant (it’s a chain-who knew?!)-nice enough for the adults but casual enough for kids with fresh, healthy choices such as yummy salads, pizzas, and pastas, and a very tempting dessert menu. A little set back behind the Mary King’s Close, it was a nice reprieve from the typical English fare (like fish and chips). Sorry, but the English aren’t exactly known for their cuisine!
We also bought tickets for Our Dynamic Earth. This was at the top of my list of places to visit. If you are not already in awe of our earth and how it has evolved, changed, and created life, you will be after visiting here.
The front walkway shows a timeline of the earth’s different periods along with examples of their corresponding rock types. You can tell I am not well-versed in Geology.
Once you enter, they take you on a journey in a “time machine” (elevator) to the beginning of the earth where you’ll experience the Big Bang. Then watch as volcanic lava flows toward you and the ground underneath you shakes.
My kids loved the interactive exhibits showing how mountains were formed. I loved the video globe (for lack of a better description) depicting how the earth’s continents moved and formed over millions of years. I had no idea Scotland was once on the equator! They also showed future projections for where our continents might end up.
We took a walk through a “yellow submarine” to learn about our oceans and marine life with more interactive exhibits.
We visited the ice age and learned about the glaciers that once covered large swaths of our planet, including the mountains of Scotland we would later be enjoying in the highlands.
This visit also enriched our experience in France as we can appreciate the different types of mountains and imagine how and when they were formed. The Scottish Highlands are rounder and seem generally older than the steep, rugged mountain ranges we see in the Alps.
We also walked through a small rainforest area before heading on our last mission-outer space! Our visit ended with a really cool 4D dome show from the perspective of an astronaut. It was a great mix of educational, inspirational, and funny.
We all loved this place. I wish we had more time. We made it right before the last showing at 4:30, so we were a little rushed. I could have easily spent another hour or two reading everything. Beyond the gift shop, there is a water play area for kids, but it was already closed for the day by the time we exited.
The pictures don’t do the place justice, since I was so wrapped up in seeing everything. The few photos I took were mainly informational, so I could reflect on them later!
If you haven’t yet, check out our first day on The Royal Mile with Kids where we visited the Real Mary King’s Close and the Camera Obscura.
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