Boxing Day started with a nostalgic walk. Jo used to live in an area called Marchmont, closer to the city centre. I visited that house many times, and Andy and I spent six weeks housesitting there back in 1993. We wanted to go and check out the house and walk from there to the city. Jo’s old house looked pretty much the same, except the blue front door was now boring brown. We showed the kids the house and Jo’s old school, then walked through the Meadows to the old town. We passed a few famous spots including the statue of Greyfriars Bobby and the cafe where JK Rowling started writing The Harry Potter books.
We couldn’t resist another pub meal at a different place on the Royal Mile. Edinburgh is really busy, so our strategy is to eat early to avoid the crowds, and it works really well.
The kids were really keen to visit Edinburgh Zoo again. The zoo is famous for its penguins, but on our last visit the penguin enclosure was closed for refurbishment. I was also really keen as I had memories of the penguins from my first visit when I was 6, and had never seen them again. Andy stayed in town to take some photos and we caught the bus to the zoo.
Edinburgh Zoo is built on the slopes of a steep hillside, so you do a lot of climbing. The bonus is you get amazing views of the city as well as seeing all the animals. The penguins did not disappoint. There were 130 of the adorable little creatures. Every afternoon there is a penguin parade. They open the gates and see if any if any of the penguins would like to go for a walk outside the enclosure. The exception is a penguin called Kevin who is banned from taking part, to protect the ankles and shins of the spectators. Only two penguins decided to parade on the day we were there, but it was still really cute.
Edinburgh Zoo specialises in endangered species, so there are quite a few animals you don’t commonly see in zoos. We saw the giant pandas last time, but they were typically inactive and not very interesting. We got really lucky this time as one of the pandas was quite active (for a panda anyway) and having a feed of carrots and bamboo. Our other favourite thing was the many types of monkeys, always great entertainment.
Over the Christmas period, the zoo holds a Chinese lantern festival after dark. We were considering doing the lanterns one night, but then realised they could be seen by day as well without having to pay another admission fee. It seemed a bit weird to have Chinese lanterns all over a Scottish Zoo, but I guess it’s not much different than the lantern festival at the Domain in Auckland.
Dinner tonight was pizza night at Mike and Maggie’s house. Maggie was Jo’s travel buddy on her very first trip to NZ back in the 1970s, so I have known her for a long time. It was great to catch up with them again and we had a great evening. Mike and Mags are well travelled so we had great fun sharing travel adventure stories and getting more inspiration for potential adventures.