Edinburgh

July 11, 2010 (Sunday) – July 14, 2010 (Wednesday):

Edinburgh is a wonderful little, big city. The city is enjoyably walkable. The architecture of the buildings (new and old) are fantastically photo-worthy (I went a bit camera-happy and had to pare down over 100 pictures down to a more “reasonable” 70). And the food is surprisingly not too bad, yes even Scotland’s famous haggis.

Upon arriving on the train into Scotland and after checking into our B&B, we were famished and needed food. Based on the recommendation from our guide book, we visited Urban Angel cafe. Hallelujah! Finally, good food! Miriam loved her smoked mackerel salad (a happy, full Miriam equals a stress-free, unbothered Frank). I enjoyed my haggis and mash as well. Haggis! It gets a bad rap. Basically it’s just “sausage”. What’s not to like.

Belly full and satisfied, we were ready to explore Edinburgh. I didn’t have much expectations for the city, especially since I was bummed that we didn’t allocate enough time to venture on a proper multi-day Scotch whiskey tour (most of the distilleries are a good few hours drive away, making day trips not too convenient). But after walking around the city a bit and taking in the scenery around, its hard not to appreciate everything the city has to offer. The city center is highlighted by the imposing Edinburgh Castle which sits atop a large hill overlooking the city-proper on oneside, and Calton Hill bookending the city to the other side. In addition, many of the buildings retain the look and feel of centuries ago. Just walking through Old Town, it was hard not to show restraint from going shutterbug-happy. Miriam was so impressed (with the architecture, not my pictures), that she’s considering scrapping her career and studying to become an architect. Uh-oh. City planners, be afraid….be very afraid.

We did manage to get out of the city and take a day trip to nearby Stirling Castle and Loch Lomond. And even made our way to a Scotch whiskey distillery, the Glengoyne distillery. Clearly a highlight of my day. We took a tour of the facility and learned the process from which barley, yeast, and water gets transformed into one of the most delicious beverages known to man, single malt scotch whiskey….mmm. Too bad we’re traveling for an extended period of time and can’t lug bottles of scotch around with us. Otherwise I wouldve spent our budget on buying several bottles. Actually, maybe it’s not a bad thing, ‘lest we might have to cut our trip short.

The trip to Stirling was to another castle. If you’re keeping score at home that makes it three castles so far on the trip (Windsor, Edinburgh, and now Stirling). I get the sense that we’re going to be visiting many castles on our jaunt through Europe. Anyway, in it’s history Stirling Castle was a major strategic stronghold in the many battles between England and Scotland; in Scotland’s constant fight for independence. Of particular significance, was William Wallace’s victory over the English army in the 13th century. But more importantly, without that historical event, many centuries later, there would be no ‘Braveheart’. “…they may take our lives, but they’ll never take…OUR FREEDOM!!!”

Our time in Edinburgh was short. Next time we should plan on staying at least a week. Well, not a necessarily a week in Edinburgh, but at least a week in Scotland. Take some time to drive up to the northern coast as well as the western coast. I heard both those areas are really nice. Also spend more time doing a proper multi-day Scotch whiskey tour at the various distilleries in either Speyside or Islay.

Also, on a side note, Miriam was complaining about the amount of luggage we have, mainly having a laptop (vs. a netbook), a full dSLR camera (vs. a compact point-and-shoot), and numerous thick travel books for the various regions we’d be visiting. She was contemplating about maybe getting an iPad, so we could get rid of the laptop and travel books. That way we’d have the ebook versions of the travel books on the iPad. Consolidation. Lighter luggage weight. But then I thought, we would first have to buy an iPad, and second have to buy again the ebook versions of the travel books. So….who needs to buy an iPad. Just take pictures of the pages we need from our travel books onto our existing blackberry/iPhone. Problem solved. Money saved.

To view more pictures from Edinburgh, visit the Photos.

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One Response to “Edinburgh”

  1. Joyce says:

    After you’ve visited a place, you can rip out that section of the guidebook and throw it away, thereby lightening the load. When I planned our Europe trip, I scanned only the pages we needed, including maps with restaurants and sites of interest already marked. Then I created my own abridged guidebook. We still took the books but the abridged version was much easier to whip out on the streets when necessary.

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