Field Notes


What's it like to travel with National Geographic? Take a look at these reports from the field.

August 2006

There was something special about the mood in Edinburgh this morning. The streets were just awakening and morning sun bathed the castle in warm light. Despite the quiet, the city seemed to hum with energy, as if about to burst into a swirl of color and movement and music. August is the month of festivals in Edinburgh, and we are lucky to witness the age-old pageantry of the Military Tattoo. As we walked up the Royal Mile—in the very footsteps of Mary, Queen of Scots—the magnificent castle towered ahead, gleaming in the sunlight. Behind us, the wild knoll of Arthur’s Seat rose up. Edinburgh seemed to dwarf us with her majesty.

Tonight, the Tattoo imbues the city with an international vibrancy. The kilted bagpipe bands of every Scottish regiment march by. Their sound is nostalgic and filled with power—it recalls the remote beauty we have just experienced on the Isle of Skye. Behind the pipes comes a cascade of every conceivable kind of art, from twirling Chinese dancers to a troupe of Swiss drummers to a chorus of African singers.

As the festivities wind down, some of us head to a cozy pub to hear a Scottish jazz band. Etched into our memories is the image of a lone piper standing atop the castle walls, silhouetted against the night sky as fireworks blaze overhead. We are moved by the magic of this place.