I am so in love with Edinburgh I simply can't stop raving about it. The architecture is amazing. The people are wonderfully friendly, haggis is not too shabby, and I just LOVE the accent!
|Holyrood Palace, where Queen Elizabeth holds garden parties|
Brandon and I did a slightly dumb thing. We took a BUS to Edinburgh. Going to Edinburgh is not dumb at all, in fact I would call it an incredibly intelligent thing to do, as the city is lovely, but taking the bus is not such a fabulous idea. We took the night bus thinking we'd just sleep on the way.....hahaha. I would call the trip up the worst night's sleep I've ever gotten, but the trip back topped it! About every hour, Brandon...who bobs and weaves as he sleeps sitting up, would bob, and my head would fall from his shoulder onto his back....which was fine. I'd sleep through it. But then he'd weave, crush my head against the seat, and wake us both up. Ha ha ha. Needless to say, by the time we made it to Edinburgh we were ready to go to bed....at 8 am. Not good timing.
We joke about our fake marriage, as our first hotel had us listed as "Mr. and Mrs. Lee"....well, turns out our fake marriage went south FAST. We were sleeping in separate rooms in just under 3 days! YIKES! Let's hope when I do get married for reals it goes a bit better than that!
After a short rest, and hot showers we were finally feeling up to exploring the town.
|the street fair in Princess Gardens with the Scott Monument behind, along with haggis and other fair sites|
Haggis is one of those foods that I am still not entirely sure how I feel about. It's a sausage of sheep's 'pluck' oatmeal, suet, spices and such that is simmered in a stock. See how much better it sounds when you leave out words like, liver and intestines? It reminded me of scrapple in a way, but then again, how different are meat puddings really? Brandon's only reaction was "After years without meat, that really was not what I would have picked to cheat with." Not a fan sadly.
We also tried some Irish Cream Marshmallows covered in chocolate (that really did not taste like anything) and ran off to ride the carnival rides. My second great accomplishment for the day was getting Brandon the haggis eating vegetarian who is afraid of heights to ride the ferris wheel! I am SO happy we did because the aerial view of the Scott Monument is completely worth it! The building is so beautiful despite all the soot staining Auld Reekie has put on it!
It was hard to pull me away from the holiday fair, but on we went to the Royal mile....and walking and walking and walking! Yikes! We stopped into Saint Giles Cathedral (which I also fell in love with) and came up with a plan of attack: dinner and going back to our hotel, warming up, and taking a break. We did not plan well for the cold, cold, cold that is Edinburgh! Unlike the women of Edinburgh, who are beautiful, and INSANE wearing mini skirts and tights in that weather, I am human and susceptible to cold!
So what was for our first dinner? All you can eat at Jimmy Chungs Chinese Buffet! Ha. I love that we went to Scotland and ate next to no Scottish food. I get a kick out of eating Chinese food in every country I visit (Paris has the worst in case you were wondering). Brandon was having a bit of a hard time adjusting. He's Asian, and somehow being surrounded by Asians with Scottish accents was a bit different for him...it was for me too I must admit. I kept flashing back to that ridiculous Starburst commercial about being Scotch-Korean and not making a wee bit of sense....in any event the food was surprisingly okay, especially when I hold it to all you can eat buffet standards....except dessert. I took one bite of my ice cream, and by this point in the trip Brandon was well aware that I make a face when I first taste things. That face tells you exactly how I feel about my food. Needless to say, I took one bite and before I could take another (not that I would have) the ice cream had been whisked away so I wouldn't glare at it for the remained of our time there. I have strong feelings about ice cream now. Very strong feelings.
After a few hours of warming up, hot chocolate, blankets, and prepping, we put on enough layers that we had to run out of the hotel because we were boiling inside....but as soon as we got outside it just still didn't feel like enough! But we headed off to David Bann's for our Thanksgiving Dinner!
We went and met up with my cousin Lexi and her wonderful husband Ry, and their wee baby Lani! She's all of two months old now, for a family dinner...which the Americans are calling Thanksgiving Dinner and I'm sure Ry was calling "simply mad." Ry is a Scot but he took it in good cheer when we toasted a happy thanksgiving....most likely because he could do the math and was outnumbered three (and a half) to one (and a half).
I had the Beetroot, apple and Dunsyre Blue pudding, which their site calls "a light soufflé of Dunsyre Blue cheese, beetroot and apple, served with roasted potatoes, roasted swede and savoy cabbage with tarragon butter." I admit to being somewhat sad. I was hoping for more emphasis on the apple and cheese, and little less on the beetroot, but even with that the dish was lovely. David Bann is one of my cousin's favorite restaurants, so much so in fact they had their wedding luncheon there. I do recommend it, especially for the "Assiette of desserts for two to share: Malt whisky pannacotta, raspberry and whisky chocolates, hot pear and passion fruit tarts with raspberry ice cream and pineapple sorbet." Um. delicious. Brandon was rather full by this point and I was THRILLED about it. I fell madly in love in the pannacotta. Easily my favorite dessert on the platter.
|Clockwise: Scott Monument, the Holyrood Palace, The Edinburgh Castle and Cow Gate (which we found to be ridiculously funny)|
The next day we went all around town, up and down and up and down the Royal Mile until we had the thing memorized. We didn't leave one stone unturned. Not one. In fact, we turned them all three times.
We decided to go on tour after tour....mainly because they took us inside and away from the wind and the cold. We took the Mary King's Close tour and got to go around the underbelly of Auld Reekie and see the horrid little places burried beneath years of improvement where the impoverished would have lived, where disease and crime ran rampant. It was a very well done tour, though if you are claustrophobic I would not recommend it. As it was I was feeling a wee bit stifled and had to take off a few layers to not feel so confined (an odd little mental game I know).
|underground in the Crosses and a Wiccan worship room|
We also took a ghost tour.....which frankly was not scary at all. Interesting, but not scary. Brandon may say differently, as my fake Asian husband is really a wuss about such things, but I found it more interesting. We were told stories of serial killers who would put the bodies dressed up sitting around a table in some morbid tea party, and saw Wiccan worship rooms (which are not Witches, so I'm not sure why they would allow their room to be visited on the tour. I feel like that just is sending misinformation rampantly about). For the most part the tour was fine....I kinda had higher expectations. I photographed no ghosts, and didn't find the stories frightening. Oh well. Maybe the next ghost tour I take will produce. Thus far Savannah and Edinburgh has been a bust.
|the carnival at night, a fried Mars bar, and the place that sells the "chypsies"|
With out last few hours to kill we went in search of the elusive fried mars bars of Scotland. I believe it is nearly as hard to find as Nessie herself! We randomely began walking down Rose Street, which we promptly adored for it's charm and vivacity, and saw a sign in a hole in the wall take out place (pictured above). If anyone tells you that Scots do not eat fried Mars bars, I think you need to tell them to visit this little establishment. All the Scots in front of us ordered the fried Mars bar, and every Scot behind us did as well....and it was while we were waiting for our fried Mars bar that the "Tale of the Old Bitty and the Chypsies" occurred, which alone made our ENTIRE trip worthwhile.
The Tale of the Old Bitty and the Chypsies
Not so long ago, in a not so distant land, a beautiful young girl and her fake asian husband were waiting curiously in the warmth of a small dining establishment. As their wait lengthened, a swarthy group of Scottish men entered, having had a bit too much whiskey already, they began brashly hitting on the lovely girl who working as quickly as she could to serve all her customers.
This sweet girl was trying to say that the plural of chips, is chypsies, somewhat like gypsies. Though it was humorous enough, and delightful to consider what the grammatical equivalent of two orders of chips would be, the brash young men, thought this would make a good seqway into conversation with the lovely girl.
"Eh, whereabouts are you from?"
"I said where about are you from?"
"This planet. You are not welcome here!"
The lovely girls father is now yelling at a little old bitty who has given him criticism after criticism about how he is preparing the food, and at the moment is paying with spare change.
"If you don't like the way I do things my door is ALWAYS open."
By this point beautiful young girl and fake Asian husband are rolling on the floor laughing, as father and daughter start huffing at one another "well you heard all of it!" and the rowdy boys are finally kicked out to wait in the street and the old bitty takes off her coat to get comfortable.
Fried mars bar in hand, the beautiful young girl and the fake Asian husband reluctantly stroll away down Rose Street....only to return, half an hour later to see the old bitty, still sitting inside the shop, still attempting to pay with change, ordering more "chypsies," while the father and daughter continue to yell.
Needless to say I have not been able to call fries anything but chypsies since. We couldn't believe that half an hour later the old bitty was still there! It was amazing to watch a perfectly calm restaurant implode like that in the course of a minute! The entire trip was worth if for nothing else than that moment alone.
Also, I do not recommend the fried mars bars. Though it isn't necessarily bad, it's simply very soft, very messy, and lacking in flavor. I personally would have seasoned the batter a bit. It came as a tempura fried mars bar to be more descriptive, and I think it could have been done a wee bit better.
After that, all that was left was to catch a night bus back to London.....which got stuck in snow....took thirteen hours....was FREAKISHLY warm, and had be trying to figure out how to remove layers of clothing without being scandalous. Oh what a trip. Easily the worst bus ride of my life, though thankfully a week later it seems incredibly funny!
I highly recommend Edinburgh. I really do.