After our day long trek out to the Highlands, we were ready for a bit of a chill day for our last day in Edinburgh. But since it was our last day, had a lot to pack in. Nevertheless, we woke up on the later side (by the kids' standards) and just the four of us headed out to spend the morning at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. We picked up breakfast on the way and walked over to the New Town while we ate and then cabbed it the rest of the way. It was a really gray morning so I knew some indoor time was what everyone needed.
Part of the huge draw of the museum for us though was the outdoor sculpture garden. Having traveled lots with the kids, I knew by day four of a trip filled with tours and such that they'd need to burn off some energy and stretch their legs. But I wanted to wait until we'd done the museum, so they begrudgingly finished their breakfasts and we went inside. There was no wait to purchase admission tickets and we went straight in.
We picked up a kids program and spent a few minutes looking over the suggested family-friendly activities, including drawing prompts and mini maker ideas to do throughout the exhibits. The program really piqued the kids' interest so we took off to check out the Surreal Encounters exhibit first. I don't think the kids had seen much surrealist art before, but they grasped the dream concept right away and then had fun trying to interpret the art.
I loved the Bridget Riley exhibit and the Pop Art gallery (which had some overlap with the International Pop Art exhibit from Philadelphia's Museum of Art we saw last spring). But the kids were dying to get outside and so we relented. They hit up the interactive outdoor portion of Surreal Encounters—the Surreal Adventures area were they could climb, slide, and play tag all throughout oversized, distorted sculptures a la Alice in Wonderland. They were a little big for it, so after a while I directed them over to the amazing landscaped Landform Ueda to jump, hide, climb and play.
The rain eventually threatened, so we started to Uber back to our apartment. As we exited, I noticed another sign across the street for the National Gallery of Modern Art. We asked our driver and he said "that's the other modern art building." Dope. I wanted to go back, but the kids (and Joel) were done. We missed a few things, but hit most of the major exhibits. But keep that in mind if you go!
Our clan was hungry, so instead of going home, we headed back to the Haymarket area to hit up the market for lunch. Huge pans of paella beckoned while the kids ordered crepes from the French stand (the crepes were far, far better than the paella). Steve and Leslie met up with us there and we all remedied our meh lunch with outrageous Scottish ice cream at Mary's Milk Bar. I got an affogado with malt ice cream that rivaled any of the gelato we had in Italy. There's something to having all those cows around! It was 100% worth the wait in line and if you go to Edinburgh, make sure to put Mary's on your list. We ate while watching street performers, lounged on the grassy area below the castle, and then headed over to meet up for our second Fringe Festival "performance": The Potter Trail!
We had a fantastically enthusiastic guide to take us on a group tour through Old Town to visit all sorts of sights pertinent to the Harry Potter series, which J.K. Rowling wrote at various spots throughout Edinburgh. We started at Greyfriars Church where she purportedly spent a lot of time and which has the grave of several Thomas Riddells (possibly the kernel of Tom Ridell for Rowling). According to our guide, Rowling liked to sit on a particular bench next to the gravestone of poet William McGonagall (Professor anyone?) with George Herriott's school looming in the background where Rowling's own children went and which could certainly be a template for Hogwarts.
We visited several shops where Rowling used to write until she became too famous to do so. And ended atop Victoria street, which was her inspiration for Diagon Alley and is full of all kinds of shops (Kane was obsessed with the AHA HA HA joke shop at the bottom where he purchased several Weasley-worthy pranks to play throughout the rest of our trip).
After our tour, we met back up with Steve and Leslie for a super fun Fringe Festival silent disco tour of the city. We all had an absolute blast, but were STARVING by the end. So we dragged ourselves to a quick dinner at MUMS Great Comfort Food, which was exactly that. Then we jetted back to our apartment to pack up for our move to Ireland the next day!