First off, it’s pronounced “ed-in-burrow”. And despite only having been to 3 non-US cities in my whole life, I’m going to go ahead and declare it to be one of the world’s most beautiful. Nearly any which way you care to look there is some stunning piece of gothic architecture mixed with pleasing modern bits and bustling life. The skyline is graced by cathedral spires at each turn, and a huge foreboding Lord-of-the-Rings looking castle rises out of the stone hill in the middle of town and overlooks the central park.
Despite some rumors I’ve heard about food in the UK, Sophie and I found the restaurants to be top-notch. We had some of the best Indian and Thai we’ve ever had. And a traditional “Full Scottish Breakfast”, available identically almost anywhere, consists of a fried egg, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, tomato, toast, black pudding, and tea. Black pudding is actually another type of sliced sausage patty made of grains and pigs’ blood, which turns jet black when cooked. I tried some black pudding, but despite it’s inoffensive taste I just couldn’t get over eating blood. Yeah, I make no sense: I subsequently got the feel of it out of my mouth be eating the pigs’ fat on the other side of the plate.
We only had two nights in Edinburgh, but the better part of three days. we walked up to the castle, which is a huge tourist attraction — some beautiful views of the city from there. The castle itself was started in the 1100′s, but has been through so many wars (including a two year siege!) that only a small bit of the original remains. The rest has been patched and rebuilt, mostly as of the 1500′s.
They still fire a cannon every day at 1:00 PM (noon GMT). This used to be for the boats in the harbor to set their clocks. In fact, they had a map of how many seconds it takes the report to get to different parts of the surrounding area so you can set your clock to the second. We were about twenty meters from the cannon when they fired it and it seemed like the loudest sound I’ve ever heard. Even including Metallica at Monsters of Rock back in ’88.
It was on our way back from the castle that I finally gave in to buying a kilt. There was a touristy shop that seemed to have them for a little cheaper, and the rest of the outfit in bits so you could buy only what you wanted. But I ended up buying most of the accessories anyways to get the full effect. All together I think it cost a few pounds short of Rosanne, but we bargained the guy down a good bit so I didn’t feel terribly bad. Then we went out for a night on the town where it was quickly apparent that the only people wearing kilts in Scotland are street pipers and the occasional dorky tourist. It was great.
The last thing we did before leaving the city was to visit the zoo. It was quite large and had a great assortment of animals, but had the more relaxed feel of a casual park. We also noticed that the they were much more upfront about the natural situation of the animals; basically stopping just short of calling the zoo a DNA repository. Nearly every animal we heard them talk about had some sad small number left in the wild. At least we got to see them before they’re all gone.
We took a train back to Glasgow, completing our use of nearly every mode of transportation available in Scotland. I think the only thing we missed was a rickshaw ride. One last night’s sleep and zoom we were back in the US on 6/19. We left satisfied, but still wishing for more someday. A super-neato trip all around. Thanks to Sophie for suggesting such a great place to visit, that frankly I wouldn’t have thought of.
Okay, I’m done now. Move along. Nothing to see here.