On our last full day in Edinburgh, we let the kids have a slow morning before heading out to explore.
|Clara would not leave Maillee alone|
We bought a day pass for the bus so we didn't have to walk as much. Spoiler alert, we still did a lot of walking. We took the bus toward the Royal Mile, and grabbed a quick bite to eat in a bakery. By chance, we stumbled upon The Elephant House, which is where JK Rowling did a lot of her early writing.
We then stopped in a Harry Potter themed shop to look around. I've been reading the series to Miles and Lily at bedtime (we just started book 4), and they love it. Of course, they wanted to buy everything, but settled for sweets. Jelly slugs, Bertie Bott's every flavour beans, and a chocolate frog for Clara.
Then it was time for the Gory Stories tour that Jessica had found. Unfortunately, children under 5 weren't allowed, so Matt hung out with Clara while the rest of us learned gross history about Edinburgh.
|This is where our tour began|
The tour consisted of the remaining six of our group, the tour guide, Artemis, and two trainees. Artemis did a great job keeping the kids' attention (with quite a bit of poo talk, naturally), and I found the information interesting as well.
We started out by visiting a few of the nearby closes (those little alleyways I mentioned last time). Artemis explained how in the 19th century, the buildings could be 12-13 stories high (but not built very well), and of course there was no indoor plumbing. So everyone who lived in each apartment (which were mostly one room) would do all of their bathroom business in one bucket. People on the top floors didn't want to walk downstairs every time to empty said bucket, so they'd save it until the evening. They would open the window, shout, "gardyloo!," and dump the contents into the street. This story was the highlight of the experience for the kids.
We heard other history as well, including stories of witch hunts, body snatching, and being buried alive. Then we were led into the Blair Street Underground Vaults, where things were a bit creepy.
The South Bridge was built in the late 1700s, and had a series of arches underneath. It looked something like this:
The sides of these arches were enclosed, and the vaults were divided up for businesses. However, those tenants didn't stay long, as the walls hadn't been waterproofed. Once legitimate business moved out, the poor moved in, along with more unsavory enterprises.
Eventually, the vaults were filled with rubble and forgotten until the 1980s, when they were rediscovered and excavated. They are now used for tours like the one we joined. The lighting was low, and we weren't allowed flash photography, so I have few pictures.
Artemis shared that certain rooms have high paranormal activity, and told us about a few of the ghosts that hang around. (Side note: I'm definitely sceptical about these things, but you can be your own judge.) The kids were surprisingly brave in the face of these creepy revelations, even when told about Mr. Boots, who is not a particularly nice spirit.
At the end of the tour we went into a museum-type room, with more information and artefacts from the excavation. There was even a table full of things that we could touch and explore, which I thought was great for the kids.
This is getting a bit long, and I still have loads of pictures to share from the rest of the day. But I thought that the Gory Stories experience was a pretty cool way to get the kids interested in some of the history (which I like to hear about, although with a bit less poo). I receive nothing for my opinions here, I just like sharing. Anyway, I'll stop here and finish out our first Scottish adventure next time.