We reached Edinburgh in the afternoon, and after checking into our hotel, we wandered down the Royal Mile, Edinburgh’s tourist area with shops, restaurants, and tons and tons of outdoor performers. We were there during the world-famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival, in which the city hosts hundreds of shows and performers, ranging from free outdoor buskers to plays and concerts in theatrical venues.
Edinburgh has a cat cafe (a place where you pay to hang out with cats for a while), and I’d been wanting to try out a cat cafe since they first started popping up a few years ago. So I reserved a slot at Maison de Moggy:
There were about 10 cats, and about 15 humans. The cafe schedules customers for 8 hours a day, 7 days a week. Have you ever met a cat? I love cats, but they’re not THAT into human interaction. It’s too much. The cats were really nicely socialized (they were all adopted into the cafe as kittens), so they very patiently tolerated the attention and accepted pettings, but they weren’t into it.
In order to interact with the cats, you had to wait until no other humans were pestering them, then stalk them, and trick them into not running away from you. Then when you pet them, they just sit there. It’s no fun petting a cat who doesn’t particularly like it. I did more observation than interaction.
But like I said, I’m definitely glad I got the experience.
After my hour with the cats, I connected with Aunt Lyn for dinner at Mamma’s Pizza. After dinner, we watched some more performers, and headed back to the hotel.
On our last day in Edinburgh, we returned to The Royal Mile to do some shopping and to watch some more performers. We caught a performer named Able Mable, who was really great, and as she pointed out, was one of only 5 or so women (I can’t remember the exact number) out of the 60 or so paid street performers. She described her character as “a hapless showgirl, eager to entertain but manages to mess up everything she does with comic results.” She was fantastic, though I couldn’t get a shot that did her justice.
Because of the festival, the whole Royal Mile was always packed, and it was a challenge to find
good any places for meals. We ended up grabbing a soup and sandwich at the tiniest cafe you can imagine. It felt like a convenience store counter in a place the size of a closet, with a plastic table and chairs in the corner. It was pretty good though. I’m sure they make all their money during the month of the fest.
After lunch, we toured the mighty Edinburgh Castle!
We took a free tour of the castle with a great tour guide. There was a little spot up there that was the *only* place I remembered having been before. It was like a little jolt: whoa! This looks exactly the same. I visited England, Ireland, and Scotland with my family when I was in middle school, but I didn’t have many specific memories of the trip. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to go again (and make these blog posts), so that I could try to really remember it this time.
After the castle, we went to the one “real” Fringe show that we saw. There are so many shows going on, and we really only had time to see one, and I didn’t want to overwhelm myself by trying to pick the exact perfect show, so I tried to be kind of go-with-the-flow about finding one.
On our first night, as we were waiting at the bus stop to return to the hotel, I looked at the cute building to my left, and saw that it was called The Scottish Storytelling Center. That sounded interesting. Then I saw a description of a fringe show called The Man Who Planted Trees on a board outside of the center. It sounded kind of perfect: family friendly (a lot of fringe shows can be pretty raunchy), sweet and humorous, and had really good reviews.
The show was great: very creative and unique (they used marionette-style puppets, wafted essential oil scents and sprayed mists of water into the audience), heart-warming, funny, and was exactly as advertised. It was perfect.
After the show, we grabbed dinner at Rabbie Burns, a pub just down the street from the center, caught some more street performers, and visited some shopping tents where I picked up some sweet-smelling juniper gifts for my mom.
The next day, we took a train to Glasgow, and headed home (with a chilly stop-over in Iceland)!
Goodbye British Isles!