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Fringe Festival office © FreeFoto

July 3 – Summer in the City
The Royal Mile and Princes Street Gardens

Down the hill we trudge, and wait only a few moments before a Guide Friday bus appears. I like this; it's like a personal taxi service. We flash our passes at the driver and retreat to the back of the bus where we prop up our weary feet. The museum was incredible, but the marble floors were taxing. I feel as if I've walked a hundred miles.

The shops are crowded, but the shopkeepers very kind and helpful. Persuasion works both ways, and a MacKenzie plaque Robin is debating over is ultimately added to her purchases of the day after I give her a little nudge, using her own words against her, "you need it". Tee shirts, an assortment of herbal bubble bath, a refrigerator magnet shaped like a sheep for friends and family back home, and (yes!) the perfect sized grumpy gargoyle for myself are added to mine.

I stand in front of the office for the Fringe Festival, which will take place later in the summer. Bright posters cover the walls inside and I consider going in to pick up a schedule of activities, but know that it will be disheartening. Perhaps some other time, some other trip, some other year I can be present for this world renowned festival.

We've misplaced Robin and find her next door at a police station chatting with an officer there. The officer gives Robin an arm patch for her husband, who is a police officer in the states, and Robin promises to send one on from him in return.

Next, we seek out the shop where Dana hopes to find the teapot she left behind last year. Much to her disappointment, it is no longer on the shelf. Apparently there was a flaw in the mold, and they are not being made at the present time. The proprietor gives Dana their website address and tells her to check periodically.

Dana had also wanted to return to Deacon Brodies Tavern, where she had dined in Edinburgh last year, for dinner, so this is how we plan to end our visit. We catch the bus and end up back at Princes Street Gardens, to try to get another look at the flower clock. We join the crowd meandering along the walk and turn into the gardens, running right into a huge tour group of students. Taking refuge on a bench, we sit in the sun.

The weather has been perfect for a visit to the city today. Cool in the shade and warm in the sun. After the crowd clears out somewhat, we're on a quest for the flower clock – a quest which is never realized.

It's getting late and the bus stops running at 8:00PM. We need to move on. We decide to walk through the gardens to the other side to a designated bus-stop there. In doing so we encounter stairs that I mentally dub "The Stairway To Heaven", because I feel like I'm going to die before I reached the top. Of all the hill climbing and walking I've done on this trip, this staircase far surpasses anything for oxygen and stamina required to reach the top.

Robin stops at one point halfway up, turns around, draws a huge breath and says "Whew! Look at that view!" Stopping to "admire the view" has become our catch phrase for needing a break before we drop in our tracks. I'm laughing so hard I can barely put one foot in front of the other, but people behind keep me moving. Finally we reach the top. A Guide Friday bus appears in moments and we collapse into our seats.

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