Day Six dawned foggy and cold, but since I like fog and cold, it didn’t bother me very much at all.
Around 10 am, I headed down the road to the Grassmarket and then up the bazillion stairs to Edinburgh Castle atop its imposing hill, where I snapped some photos of the view to the south. The ticket queue was long, but moved quickly and I was soon passing through the castle gates under Argyle Tower. By this time, the fog had turned to mist, which at times, blocked out the view of Princes Street Gardens and the rest of Edinburgh’s New Town to the north. The wind had picked up and everything was damp (which, according to Craig Ferguson, is actually a colour here in Scotland), but this is not at all unusual and is – really – sort of all part of being in Scotland. After passing the castle’s dog cemetery (really, it’s on the map), I briefly wandered through the National War Museum and past the Governor’s House and the Museums of the Royal Scots and the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards on my way up Forewall Battery, passing St. Margaret’s Chapel, the oldest building in Edinburgh. This lead me to the highest part of the castle where an assortment of buildings including the Great Hall, the Scottish National War Memorial, and the rooms housing the Scottish Crown Jewels can be found. While I wanted to see the Crown Jewels, old, narrow, spiral staircases and I don’t really mix (as I found out climbing the Tower of London’s White Tower, Edinburgh’s Scott Monument, and up to St. Paul’s Whispering Gallery on my last trip), so I thought it best to pass. Eventually, cold and wet, I made my way back down with the intention of wrapping up my visit … until I reached the meeting area for guided tours, noticed one was just about to start, and decided to tag along. James, the knowledgable and entertaining guide conducted the tour back up the route I’d taken earlier, explaining fascinating facts along the way, and despite the stronger wind and heavier mist, it was quite fun. But eventually, we reached the top of the castle and the end of the tour, so I carefully made my way down the slippery cobblestones to the gift shop, where I bought a three-pack of what is certified in the Guinness Book of World Records as “the Smallest bottle of Scotch Whisky in the World.”
I had lunch at the Amber Restaurant inside the Scotch Whisky Experience, a place I discovered on my last trip that’s a stone’s throw from the castle and which has a really good smoked salmon sandwich. That and a pot of tea vanquished the lunchtime munchies and warmed me up nicely and after sitting and reading for awhile, I ventured back out into the cold and the damp, heading down the Royal Mile and up George IV Bridge to Greyfriars Kirkyard, where I noticed that in addition to flowers, someone had left a bottle of Irn Bru at the tombstone of Greyfriars Bobby. I slowly made my way along the paths and down the kirkyard hill, eventually turning back onto the Grassmarket, and heading back to the dry warmth of my flat for an afternoon of reading, writing, postcards, and packing. I’m sad to say goodbye to Edinburgh, goodbye to Scotland, since these few days have definitely been too short of a visit. I don’t think there’ll ever be a visit when I’ll be ready to leave, but I hope it won’t be too long until I see it again.