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Guide Friday bus © FreeFoto

July 3 – Summer in the City
Princes Street and Waverley Station

We head toward Waverley Station at a slow steady pace, weaving in and out of the crowd. Buses whoosh by, pigeons perch on statues and the awnings of ice cream vendors' kiosks. This area of Edinburgh is a haven for tourists; I hear many different languages as I make my way along the walk, some that I can't identify.

At the corner of Princes Street, Waverley Station comes into view through a mad crush of people, but tempers are tempered, everyone seems happy to be here. We cross to the Tourist Information Centre intent on purchasing an all day city bus pass.

The line snakes around banisters, doubling back on itself. It reminds me of standing in line for a premium ride at Disney World. Is this necessary? There must be another option as opposed to standing here for what will certainly be at least an hour. There is, Robin says. We can go back to the corner where double-decker tour buses are lined up and purchase a Guide Friday bus pass. The benefits are the same; we can get on and off all day, and the price is comparable if not less, £8.50.

Soon we are seated at the back of the bus, studying the pamphlet which shows the route through the city. We pick our stops so wherever we walk, we'll be walking downhill. Off we go, retracing our path down Princes Street, listening to the guide run through his paces, telling us about Edinburgh Castle, which sits high atop a volcanic mound overlooking the garden.

It's still early in the morning, and chilly, but the sun has fought its way through the clouds and I can see that the weather for our last full day in Scotland is going to be perfect. The closest stop to the museum is at the bottom of a steep hill so up we hike, laughing. So much for our grand plan of always walking downhill. We rationalize this misjudgment by noting that we should have our hill of the day, and this one will do nicely.

Looking around me, I realize that there are enough hills here to manage one a day for weeks. I wish I had that long to explore, even though I am like a fish out of water in the city. The only reason I had originally placed Edinburgh near the top of my "must see" list was to tour the Museum of Scotland, which I had read so much about subsequent to its opening.

During our online weekly chats Robin and Dana had both tempted me with the castle, which they had both previously visited, dangling the Stone of Scone and the crown jewels like a carrot before a mule. I remained stubborn in my desire to have as much time as I wanted to spend at the museum. Now that I'm here, and have had a taste, I realize that I will have to return someday to see the castle, gardens, churches and so many other things.

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