At the fabulous Greece writing retreat that inspired me to write a memoir about my journey healing Chronic Lyme Disease, I met Kate Emmerson, one of the Greece retreat leaders. We had so much fun that I told her I'd follow her anywhere. That's when she said she was offering Cutting The Threads That Bind in Iona Scotland this fall. And that's how I ended up in Edinburgh, Scotland on a gorgeous October Monday morning. It was like the sun had come out just for me, bleary eyed off two red-eye flights from LA. I'd landed in Edinburgh around 8:00 am local time. My body felt like it was on another planet, but I had sights to see, so I took an uber to my hotel, dumped my suitcase and ampcoil and headed up to the Royal Mile. I followed the cobblestones up the Royal Mile and immediately came across a bagpiper, as you do in Scotland.
I marveled at the ancient buildings, peeked in shops, and stopped by a craft gallery along the way to Edinburgh Castle. After a friend told me she had gone to the castle and couldn't get in, I'd planned a head and booked a ticket online weeks before. Here's what Edinburgh Castle looks like upon approach.
And you know the movies where the giant iron gates with the sharp spikes at the bottom chop off the heads of the evil dudes who are trying to enter the kingdom? That sh*t is real!
Here I am. Super tired and super excited to be on royal grounds.
Once inside, there is so much to see.
The ancient Royal Crown Jewels in Edinburgh Castles are so priceless that they are kept in a glass case in a room where photography is forbidden. Just like the spikey gate, the crown and the scepter look like they do in the movies but the WOW factor is REAL. As I circled the long glass box the jewels are kept in there was a weight to all of it. I mean, it's kind of crazy when you think about it; the crown was made for James V and he wore it to the coronation of Queen Mary of Guise in 1540.
After I looked down the barrel of a cannon, I walked the Great Hall of Edinburgh Castle (red room pictured above) which was completed in 1511 for King James IV. I stood with my head tilted back staring at the magnificent wooden ceiling and marveled that royal events still take place in that hall today. When I stepped inside St. Margaret's Chapel, which is the oldest surviving building in Scotland, I immediately felt warm, almost held. It's a tiny space and I'm betting there are angels in there. I snapped a photo of a beautiful stained-glass window that I learned is not original to the chapel which was built around 1130 by King David I. He must have been a good guy because he named it after his mother. But not all castle rooms were warm spirited. As I entered a dark cave-like room, chills went down my spine. I started to read a plaque about how that room was used to behead enemies. That King James V would invite enemies to dinner and then servants would appear with a bull's head on a platter - a sign that they would be executed. I couldn't finish reading the plaque. I had to get out of that room and away from that dark energy. After leaving Edinburgh Castle, I was feeling tired but I was determined not to succumb to jetlag and to stay up until my normal bedtime that night. So, I headed to Grassmarket and walked beautiful Victoria Street.
There, I found a delicious green juice and a cappuccino, along with a magical bookstore where books' pages were rimmed in gold. I discovered that Victoria Street is famous for magic as it was the inspiration for Diagon Alley where Harry Potter bought his magic supplies.
By then, I was hungry, so I went to an adorable pub and ordered some of the best fish and chips I've ever had. I even took a picture!
After perusing more shops, the sun was finally setting so I headed back to the hotel. After all, the next day, I was to take a train across Scotland to Oban where after a night's stay, I would then take a ferry to the island of Iona and start a whole other adventure. So, stay tuned. So many more Scotland stories to come!