It probably came across in my last post, but our first day in Edinburgh didn’t go great. We constantly felt that the opportunities presented to us (e.g. pubs/restaurants/tourist attractions) were not what we should do (e.g. something that kids will enjoy and so that we can all enjoy). In hindsight, it’s no wonder they were pills yesterday and we had to pull the chute for an early evening viewing of Despicable Me 2; they had nothing to do except ride around in the stroller because we were blinded by “this is what you are supposed to do here” syndrome.
So today we are going to the zoo. We knew we wanted to either try Edinburgh’s or London’s zoo but today feels like the right day because I literally don’t know what else we would do in the city center. R has been pointing out every single double decker bus he sees (even if they actually are double decker or just really tall tour buses) and so today he finally gets to ride on one for a few miles west of the city…up on the top level of course (daddy stayed below with the stroller to gaurd it…and read his book).
The Edinburgh Zoo is built on the side of a hill (because of course it is…everything on this island in up hill both ways) and has a couple of marquee exhibits. Our first big stop (after some monkeys) though was the Pandas where we were hoping to catch a glimpse of what has come to be L’s favorite animal…we think.
These guys can be elusive (so we’ve heard), but luckily for us they were out climbing around and having a pee in all sorts of interesting ways. There was the “do a handstand and take a pee” the “hug a pole and take a pee” the “prop one leg up on a pole and take a pee” and my favorite, “get on top of the hut and pee on the roof to test for leaks”. But for real though, both and Erin and I agreed that we’d never seen a Panda in person before, so this was really cool for everyone.
After the Pandas we walked over to the penguin enclosure where we spent a good bit of time watching them swim and waddle about like me with the drink package on a cruise. There was a viewing area below the surface of the water which was the kids’ favorite part. The penguins would materialize out of the green water, swim up against the glass of the tank, and follow R and L’s hands around looking snacks.
We moved along through the zoo past some crazy multi-colored birds and a bunch of cows (as in the game: everything is either a cow, fish or chicken). Unfortunately we missed the Rhino as he was being transferred, but we went through a Koala thing and then walked out into the Wallaby Walkabout. It took me a minute to process what was about to happen…ok yes…we were about to walk out into the actual enclosure that contained several (I counted 10) Wallabies, which are basically smaller Kangaroos…and no we have not somehow found our way into a restricted area…and no…there are no guides or official zoo staff with you. It’s just out you go with the wildlife.
…my brain starts building contingency plans…I’m still pushing a stroller here…I guess I could turn it into a weapon if I had to…we have the kids…which formation should we walk in to best cover ourselves…and oh man…where are the exits again?…and what was that number that the sign back there said to call if you need help…i mean come on…phone numbers here are already like fifty-leven digits long and I have to dial 011 to get out and by that time the wallabi will already be tearing open my chest cavity and consuming my heart which will be beating ever more slowly until it gets in syncopation with the ring of the dial tone in my cold dead hand and the thump thump thump of hind feet against my corpse…
…and just like that we were through. Turns out the Wallabies could care less about us and in fact were laying down, sleeping, about as far away from the track as wallaby-ly possible.
We pressed on up the hill and saw some Zebras and an impressive male and female Lion, though only the female could be bothered to wake up, and only then just for a few moments. R, after asking why they were sleeping, learned about the food chain and began asking of every other animal: “Do Lion’s eat that?”.
We missed the Tiger, unfortunately, but it had been a long day so we started to head out, but not before watching some baby baboons play, seeing a gang of meerkats clear out for lunch, and having a close encounter with some giant Pelicans that really wanted to eat children fingers.
The plan was head back to the place and pop on some more cartoons, but L feel asleep on the bus ride back, and R was in good spirits so we zigged instead and went over into the New Town area of Edinburgh.
New Town sprung up when a bunch of yuppies in the 1700s decided that Old Town (or, Castle Rock and the Royal Mile) was too crowded and too full of rats and too full of life-ending diseases for them, but also, they didn’t really want to move to San Francisco…erm I mean London, either. New Town still has a largely pub-and-restaurant vibe to it, and feeling the vibe despite our struggles yesterday, we went inside a cozy pub on so-hot-right-now Rose Street (a wide pedestrian only alley between two major streets) called The Kenilworth.
We have been surprised at Scotland’s (maybe the UK’s) general disposition toward kids in pubs. In Ireland, it was totally kosher up until about 7 or 8PM or so, but here if your party contains minors, no matter the time, every person in the party has to order food in order to be allowed to stay. This is apparently vigorously enforced as well; we overheard the bar tender actually turning away a family of 4 because of it. Hilariously though, the dad stayed behind with one of the daughters, telling her: “You can get these nachos or something if you want” …I guess dad really wanted a beer.
So R is munching down on some nachos because Erin and I really want a beer and we decide what the hell, this can be dinner. We ordered another appetizer for L (who is asleep and wouldn’t wake up while we were here…loop hole baby!) and we had a generally great and relaxing time.
We headed back and picked up a few groceries on the way since tomorrow is a long travel day to London, and we are going to need snacks.