Day 11-British Isles:  Edinburgh and St. Andrews 

Saturday, July 5, 2014 Permalink

 

We spent our morning in Edinburgh with Tom, a local guide.  The scottish accent is thicker than any we’ve heard.  It takes awhile to understand it but once I did, I found it beguiling.  The Irish are charming and the Scots are adorable.   Tom regaled us with colorful stories of local history.  One of my favorites was about the bodysnatchers.  Back in 1820, the city erected a watchtower in the cemetery.  Bodysnatchers were digging up the newly dead because the University of Edinburgh would pay ten pounds for a cadaver.  So, guards would patrol from the tower.  If they caught a bodysnatcher, they shot to kill and then sold the body.

We toured Edinburgh Castle.  The castle has never been taken by force.  Again the pictures don’t do it justice but I can understand why.  The castle is located at the highest point on this rocky mountain.  There would have been a moat, a drawbridge, a gate and then a second gate and then there is another 1/2 mile up to the actual castle.  In addition, the gates get smaller minimizing the number of attackers able to cross the threshold together.  The road is paved with broken cobble to make it harder for the horses.  And as these guys are trying to storm the castle over these obstacles, they are being plummeted with arrows from above. 

Within the castle walls, the crown jewels of Scotland are stored.  The Queen is in town to christen an aircraft carrier in her name.  So, she stopped by yesterday to get the crown.  This isn’t where the Queen Elizabeth II stays.  She stays at HolyRood Palace.  Exploring the palace was on our itinerary with the note “unless the Queen is in residence.”  Since the Queen is here, we didn’t get the opportunity to see it.

There was no planned tour activity for the afternoon.  So, Jenny and I went on an adventure.  Her son/my nephew Joey is a golf enthusiast, personally and professionally.  He had encouraged her to visit the birthplace of golf, St. Andrews.  The Scots invented golf.  Tom told us the reason they made it 18 holes is because that is the number of shots in a bottle.  

Jenny and I took a train 55 minutes followed by a ten minute cab ride to the first golf course.  It’s alongside the beach where Chariots of Fire filmed its running scene.  We expected a bigger touristy spectacle for this historical place. It was weirdly unassuming.  We could have easily walked right on the course.  St. Andrews University is also located here.  We saw the coffee shop where the famous students, Prince William and Kate Middleton met.  

While Jenny scoured the village, I did a little writing.  I enjoyed a scotch at The Keys Bar.  It’s just called whiskey in Scotland. I tried Old Pulteney off the extensive list. I had never heard of it or many of the others.  They told me I could try more.  I decided to just enjoy my sip outside on the patio. In the picture, I’m wearing a wrap I bought in Edinburgh.  I have been in search of a functional souvenir.  It’s a little chilly.  I tried on a shawl fell in love with it.  Jenny agreed it was perfect.  The clerk told me it was 198 pounds.  It was cashmere!  I asked her to show me the cheap rack.  She pulled out an exact version in lambs wool at 40 pounds.  Jenny thought I was still wearing the cashmere one.  I bought it.       

We headed back to Edinburgh.  Apparently, Friday is a busy train day.  We had a ticket but it didn’t ensure we had a seat.  We had to stand.  So, we stood in the bar car.  The time flew buy because we ran into twentysomething blokes from England.  They were on their way to a rigging assignment and were drinking liberally.  Initially, they approached us and asked if we sang karaoke and if I was Judi Dench (I actually get that a lot although I prefer ‘a younger version of Judi Dench.’)  And then we just cackled the time away with them.  They like to mimic Americans.  It was hilarious!  At one point, the one guy said his mate had the bum of a 7 year old.  I said, ‘I’d like to see that.‘  So, he mooned me. Sometimes the unscheduled activities are the most memorable.

Back in Edinburgh, we dined at The Dome.  It’s this old bank converted to a restaurant.  It had this huge lit dome in the main area and oversized vases of lilies everywhere.  The food itself was delicious.  Jenny and I split three appetizers; brie cheese, smoked salmon and mushroom cakes.  It was my favorite meal.  

Later, we had a nightcap at the Hard Rock Cafe.  Our bartender remembered us.  She pulled out a wine bottle and put two straws in it.  Cute!  Jenny bought a souvenir Hard Rock Cafe traveler’s mug for wine takeaway.  

I’ll miss Edinburgh but I hope to come back.    

      

 

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