Edinburgh is one of my favorite cities. But let me back up.
Tonight is the Tattoo. A tattoo is a Scottish military festival of bands, mainly pipes and drums. It will be held in the shadows in front of the massively imposing Edinburgh Castle built high on solid rock overlooking the town below it.
We have booked a room at the Castle Rock hostel just outside the entrance to the walkway up the cobbled road leasing to the entrance of the temporarily built stadium. Finding a parking area nearby proved easier than it would have been if we hadn’t gotten lost again. After checking in to the awesome hostel we donned our kilts and kit, filled the glass flash with my favorite Laphroaig Scotch and headed out on the Royal mile. Our room, as if by coincidence, happens to be the Romeo and Juliet.
This road, the Royal Mile, links the castle to the Queen’s residence with shops, pubs and eateries lining the wide cobbled streets, filled with a wonderful mixture of people and cultures from around the globe. The sounds of talk, laughter and music filled the streets along with the scents of cask ales, fish and chips, and people.
We are complimented on our Scottish attire and welcomed the conversations that these brief interactions inspire. The day is sunny and warm with a scattering of clouds and occasional brief showers.
Check out the Edinburgh Cathedral.
Wandering into various pubs along the boulevard we met up with a funny, well dressed Scottish woman and her husband, in the Albonach pub. She engages us in conversation about how the Scottish flag painted on the wall has it’s color’s reversed. We get the other patrons involved and have a great time ribbing the bartenders about their screw up and most react with dismay and seem to be actually surprised as though not another person has ever pointed this out to them.
The festival also had another festival going on along side it, the Fringe. Throughout the city were other random venues with street performers and other bands with a schedule of what, where and when the performances were happening.
Before the festival performance we headed to a special three course meal with wine which is followed by a precession of the diners through and up the uneven, cobbled streets leading to the front of the Edinburgh Castle. The night had a chill in the air as we follow our Piper, who is outfitted in full military dress from red checked tartan kilt to a red hat complete with a white plume. Without a wait, we enter the Castle and take our seats just feet from the side of the arena, wrapping our legs in tartan blankets, awaiting the start of the 2017 Edinburgh Tattoo. The air is full of tension and excitement as people from around the world gathered for this highly anticipated performance.
The entrance of the first band sent chills through me as the pipes increase in volume and the band parades down the ramp from the castle the through the misty haze and shadows and into the stadium. The bands represented tonight were from several countries including the US Naval band. The opening ceremonies recognized several military brass and was very impressive. We continued to be impressed right up to the closing when all the bands took the field all playing, while fireworks exploded over our heads. Just spectacular!
The next morning after our breakfast at the hostel we take a bus tour of Edinburgh with a recent West Point grad and ourselves on the bus. He was in Edinburgh to finish his post graduate degree in IT. Congrats!
For now, Cheers.