This morning we woke up to a homemade breakfast. Natalie and I each got special gluten-free meals with potatoes that the owner had boiled the night before and it was delicious. When we were finished we set off to visit Edinburgh Castle which is on a massive rocky hill at the very top of it. Within the castle there were all sorts of military exhibits and medals and bagpipes on display from wars fought by Scotland. We learned that bagpipes were used during combat in order to encourage the Scottish as well as alert the enemy that they were nearby and not to be messed with. We got to learn about what the Scottish women did while the men were away as well and how important they were to the war effort. The castle itself housed such things as the Royal Jewels (including The Stone of Destiny, I kid you not) and places and things that Mary Queen of Scots and James the VI and I might have used. The Stone was very cool, placed next to the crown and sceptor after having been returned by the English within the past couple decades. There is still a debate as to whether they actually returned the stone or replicated it but it was fun to see nonetheless. We later went to do a geocache on the top of an enormous mountain. Natalie and I didn’t make it far before we sat down on a rock to watch the others climb. We didn’t know that we would end up witnessing the incredibly fit Scottish people climbing up the side of the rocks and ignoring the path. We did, in fact, see that occuring and not long after mom and dad came back.

After we’d finished at the castle we walked down the hill toward a gluten-free restaurant where Natalie and I got nachos and the best gluten-free pizza that I’ve ever eaten in my life. We also got a chocolate dessert which may have been a mistake in the long run since we were so full afterward. When we had finished eating we walked along the Royal Mile again and saw a lot of the same street performers as well as some new ones. In the end we settled down in a pub and got to see some free live comedy. The show had two men and a woman and they did several different skits which were absolutely hilarious although I think quite a few of the England/Scotland-applicable jokes went over my head.  We later got to go to another gluten-free restaurant for dinner where I had spaghetti with marinara sauce. That was also very good and afterward we went to see the Edinburgh Tattoo.

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo was absolutely amazing. Essentially what it is is a lot of military bands playing songs and marching in formation, but in reality it’s so much more than that. There were bands from all over the world including countries like Jordan in the Middle East and South Carolina in the U.S. They each played their own set and the Highland Dancers danced to one of the bands. There were also very small children riding motorbikes and men doing gymnastic stunts that looked very dangerous to me. I have to say that my favorite part was the tribute to the soldiers in Afghanistan where they projected a slide show onto the castle. Throughout the Tattoo the castle also fired fireworks out of the top. The whole experience was amazing and certainly something worth seeing if you’re ever in the area/have enough money to fly yourself to Scotland for a little while. In the end they played Scotland the Brave and then a lone bagpipper took it away from the very top of the castle between the crenelations. We waited a good 25 hours for the bathrooms and then started back to the room. We relaxed a bit with some drinks and started packing for tomorrow when we’ll leave Scotland to go to York in England again.

Scotland was truly one of the most wonderful places I’ve ever been. It’s completely and totally alive. The art scene is everywhere, live music and comedy are almost always going on, they have a rich history and the people and scenery itself if beautiful. Certainly one of the favorite places we’ve ever been. It does rain incessantly here though and everyone carries umbrellas just in case.

Now I’m so tired that I’m falling asleep. Goodnight!