We’d been west, we’d been north, we’d headed back toward civilization, and then, suddenly, we were in Edinburgh. And that began our final day in Scotland.

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Since my parents are decidedly not city people, and this trip was about them and their 30th anniversary, I purposefully scheduled our way around Scotland to primarily avoid large metropolitan areas. We’d done a couple of days in Edinburgh on our first visit in 2012, and there wasn’t much need to tread the cobblestones twice.

I knew they’d get enough of a dose of city by simply staying there the night before our flight home. But I didn’t pick any old B&B or hotel: I found someplace magical.

I found The Witchery.

It was literally a stones-throw from the gates of Edinburgh castle. The taxi to the airport wouldn’t take long at all, and it was in the heart of the city and we would be able to explore if we had any spare time. And it looked amazing. The history is something, too.

When we drove as close as we could, my mom and I got out and schlepped our luggage up the hill. I kept an eye out for the sign, but we got closer and closer to the castle, and I didn’t see it.

Then, there it was. We ducked down a narrow alley under an inconspicuous sign into an impossible garden, lit with lights and strewn with gourds. A glass door opened to a narrow lobby, quiet in the heart of the city, and an extremely accommodating employee took our bags so we could go deal with returning our rental.

We got to walk back to the Witchery from nearby, and it was a very pleasant stroll. Edinburgh is a lovely city, full of old things and older memories. The stones have stories to tell, and the houses gossip to one another over the centuries while trees and parks shift and change. After a quick stop in the lobby, we were taken across the street, dodging tourists and bagpipe players, to be shown our rooms.

That was when we felt as though we’d entered another world. It was as if we had been mistaken for visiting royalty, and the Witchery pulled out all the stops. We were swept up a stone, spiral staircase to suites of rooms with hidden doors, suits of armor, and bathtubs made for kings. I asked our hostess, and she said they’re very careful to keep the images on the internet from revealing too much because staying at the Witchery should be a surprise. My room alone had at least five hidden doors. Pipers played in the street below, and the cathedral gazed down on us all – it was so close, I felt as though I could touch it from my very window.

Once shown around, we sampled the complimentary champagne, discussed dinner plans, and eventually wandered out into the rainy Scottish night to have a delightful evening meal looking out over the city.

For the first night in a while, I indulged in perfectly normal food, but I was still a little cautious after my bout with food poisoning. We got back to the Witchery and I drew a hot bath. After weeks of travel, days of discomfort, and so long away from home – it was heaven. It was very possibly the best bath I have ever had, and, as a connaisseur of taking baths, I can tell you that I know my stuff. The tub was deep, the soap smelled pleasant, the towels were fluffy, and… I felt happier than I had in months. Some kind of weight released in my heart and I wept with relief, and I stayed in the tub until my fingers turned to raisins.

I don’t know what magic filled the Witchery that night, but it was the sort of treatment I needed down to the bottom of my very soul. I can’t explain it, but that place did something to me, healed me in a way that I needed very badly.

Breakfasts were delivered to our respective rooms in baskets early the next morning, my parents and I dined and packed, and then we flew home.

That was Scotland 2018. It was full of disaster and adventure and unexpected happenings. In spite of it all, it was a great vacation. We saw marvelous things, were touched by the history, and we found a deep something in the wildness of the Highlands. Friends welcomed us, strangers became friends, and we were told to please come again soon. The least-expensive B&B had the nicest landlord, the most expensive food had the best view, and, while the Witchery was the priciest of all – it was worth every single pound.

I still feel a deep kindred love for Scotland and the highlands, and, God willing, I will return one day.

In the meantime, I hope you have all enjoyed my travel log of the Scotland trip.

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