Email from June 25:
Today was spent entirely in Edinburgh and this is our last night in the UK. We got up, walked down the road to see the Greyfriar's Bobby statue, and then spent nearly an hour looking around the National Museum of Scotland. There was tons to see, but we spent all of our time in the Scotland wing learning about early Scotland. Then we met up with friend, Brandon, and his wife (she's Scottish) for brunch close to the museum. Tom got a traditional Scottish breakfast (basically the same as English except with haggis in place of black pudding). His haggis was actually really good (I've only had gross, soggy haggis, so it surprised me that I liked it).
We walked up to the castle from there and waited in a long line to get our tickets. Our timing was actually quite good as we heard the one o'clock cannon in line just before we got our tickets and walked into the castle as everyone was walking out that had waited to see the cannon fire. So it really wasn't that crowded inside the castle. We did everything inside the castle (except go inside Margaret's chapel as there was a wedding there) and then started walking down the mile. They've already put most of the risers up for the military tattoo, so the view of the castle from the royal mile was completely blocked.
We walked in and out of shops on the Royal Mile for a while. We walked through some textile shops and saw all the clan tartan patterns. We went into St. Giles's Cathedral to see how Scottish cathedrals compare to English ones. This one apparently was originally built in the late 1200s in the Romanesque style, then after a partial fire was added to the Gothic style. So it was an interesting mixture of styles and didn't follow the conventional layout. Then we went into a small church that is now used as a market like a Pike Place Market or a Saturday market. We saw the original Greyfriar's bobby statue and the dog's collar in the Edinburgh museum on the royal mile. When we got out, we realized it was 4:15pm and the national gallery closed at 5, so we raced over to it and ran through (seeing the Vermeer... the only one he did on a biblical theme... and found some more Canaletto, which is still one of our favorites). From there, we walked by the Scott monument and up Calton hill for views of the castle and city. We could see Holyrood palace and the parliament building from up there.
We walked back through new town, old town, the royal mile, and back into the Grassmarket area below the castle and ate at Howie's on Victoria street (a recommendation from the Scottish Peter that stood by us two weeks ago at Trooping the Colour). We started our meal with "haggis, neeps, and tatties" which was haggis, mashed potatoes, and mashed sweet potatoes. It was all really good together. Like a fancy shepherd's pie. Then we ate dinner (I had spaghetti with prosciutto and veggies and Tom had a Scotch lamb roast) and had another Banoffee Pie for dessert. This one was better than the last one we had, but Tom's is still better.
Wales beat Northern Ireland today in Euro 2016, so that was exciting. In the end, it was just one goal and the Irish guy was the one to accidentally bump it in while trying to block it. Whoops.