When we checked into the airport in Salt Lake, they didnâ€™t have record of our reservation. That wasnâ€™t good. However, the ticket agent managed to get us onto the flight. That was good.
Before we took off, I went through my whole â€œCalm the freak downâ€ routine that I go through when I fly. I am scared of it, in case you didnâ€™t know. It freaks me out. It did not help that it was 9/11. However, I had managed to not think about that very much until the pilot got on the intercom and reminded everyone of it, in rather long detail. I am not objecting the fact that he did this, but it probably would have been better for me if he had waited until we landed to do so.
In a salute of homage to our missed luncheon at â€œThe Mesa Grillâ€ in Manhattan, Chelle and I dined at â€œMaui Tacoâ€ in the Newark airport food court. The similarities were really quite startling. Bobby Flay uses Cilantroâ€¦Maui Taco uses Cilantroâ€¦Crazy scary coincidence, huh???
Seriously, though. I was a little disappointed, but it is probably a good thing that we did not get to go to New York. It is wet, gray and cold. We wouldnâ€™t have been able to do a lot of the things that I wanted to, and Iâ€™m wiped out right now as it is without running around a city of 8 million for 12 hours. Right now Iâ€™m flying over the southwest of Scotland. We land in about 30 minutes. I canâ€™t wait.
We are here.
You cannot imagine how cool it is to be in this city, this country. I refrained from kissing the ground when we disembarked. I would like to say that it was out of respect for Michelle, who really shouldnâ€™t be embarrassed like that, but it had more to do with the fact that I was loaded down like a pack mule and there was a freakishly high amount of spilled coffee puddling and streaming over the littering the ground.You would be so proud of us.
We navigated our way to the hotel on two busses without taking a taxi, and landed at Priestville Guest House where we met Colin, the proprietor and his affectionate, yet calm dog, Tory. I wonder if the name is a statement of his political affiliation, but I didnâ€™t want to pry. First destination of the day was to hike along the rocky cliffs of Arthurâ€™s Seat.
Arthurâ€™s seat was formed by a volcanic eruption millions of years ago and it lines one side of Edinburgh and hiking it sounds and looks much more impressive than it actually was. It was lovely because it reminded me somewhat of the craggy cliffs of The Crimson Trail back in Cache Valley. This is where I saw my first clumps of thistle. I know, I knowâ€¦There is thistle in Utah, but dudeâ€¦This is Scottish Thistle. It was gorgeous. I love the wildflowers in this country; they are so varied and gorgeous.Hiking the trail took us right to the end of The Royal Mile and Holyrood House, which is the Queenâ€™s official residence in Scotland (They also hang out at Balmoral Castle in the Highlands). Holyrood got its name when one of the early Kings (Sorry, I canâ€™t remember) was out hunting and was attacked by a stag (A â€œRood) when a cross appeared between its antlers. He grabbed it and the stag retreated, so, he named it â€œHoly Roodâ€ in remembrance. Whatever, I just think itâ€™s a way cool house and park. If it got its start by some sort of Angelic Bambi, Iâ€™m ok with that.
Across the street from Holyrood is the new parliament building (Can you believe that it has only been a few years since Scotland got to have its own parliament? Seriously, since the unification of England and Scotland in 1707, they havenâ€™t had their own clubhouse. That would suck.) This building is just bizarre. I liked the modern design of it, but it had wooden sticks plastered all over it and shooting out everywhere. They say it is â€œControversialâ€. I believe it. They did have a very cool feature, though. On the sides of the building are famous Scot sayings carved into the wall.
We did a little bit of shopping, but mainly, it just isnâ€™t our thing. That, and almost every shop had piped music in it that screamed â€œAll things Scottishâ€ from Saturday Night Live. â€œIf itâ€™s not Scottish, Itâ€™s Crap!â€We went and tried to gain access to this VERY cool looking Kirk yard, but the gates were locked. I was really bummed out. I love cemeteries and these were older than any I have had access to in the past.
We ate the most divine lunch. Simple and inexpensive (I try not to think too hard about the exchange rate). Leek and potato soup with walnut and sundried tomato bread, the most delicious arugula, parmesan and tomato salad and shortbread and raspberry sponge for dessert. I was starving and wolfed it down in no time flat.One of the best things about lunch (And sitting in the city in general) was the people watching. We saw everyone from proper â€œGentlemenâ€ walking with their canes and terriers to a much endowed woman who REALLY needs to get a better bra. Sorry, but the RT almost put my eye out. The most adorable was a little girl in mussed braids and a pink t-shirt who was just adorable to watch. It made both of us miss our kids.
After a good rest, we headed back down The Royal Mile. We decided that we really needed to go to The Scottish Museum. This place is amazing. I loved everything I saw. One thing that got me really teared up was a huge iron chest that was used to transport money for â€œThe Darien Expeditionâ€. I am trying to keep this short, but this was one of my research â€œObsessionsâ€. The Darien Expedition is one of the things that caused the economic destruction of Scotland and thus, enabled the unification of Great Britain as it is today. In a nutshell, the Darien Project was something that was heavily invested in (Like everyone from Lords and Clan Chiefs to bootblacks in Glasgow.) It was to be a colonization and trade port in Panama. It would function like the Panama Canal today. If it had worked, it would have been BRILLIANT, but the terrain down there made it impossible and out of the 1200 original colonists, barely a handful made it back to Scotland alive. It broke the nation financially and they were forced to unite with England. While we were at the museum, Michelle and I were DYING OF FREAKING TIRED.
We finally managed to haul our tired asses out of the museum, we were right by Greyfriar Kirk and I had to see it. For one, this is a very old and very cool Kirk. It was eerie and peaceful all at the same time. There were some SERIOUSLY disturbing images on some of the headstones and mausoleums, but that just made it cool.
Then there was Greyfriar Bobby. I have loved the story of Greyfriarâ€™s Bobby since I was a little kid. You all know the story, right??? Bobby was a little Scottie Dog that was owned by â€œAult Jockâ€ John Gray. He was a man of little consequence and he died one night in Edinburgh in 1868 and was buried in Greyfriarâ€™s Kirk in a Pauper grave. Every.single.night for 14 years, when the bell rang to announce the closure of the Kirk gates, Bobby ran into the church yard to lay down for the night on his masterâ€™s grave. The whole town adopted him, fed him scraps, and little kids collected pennies to pay his license fees, so he became known as â€œGreyfriarâ€™s Bobbyâ€. But every night, he went back to the church yard to his master. When he died in 1872, they buried him in the Kirk and erected a statue of him.
From Greyfriars, we trudged over to “Edinburgh Castle”. My kids know this as â€œThe place where JK Rowling gave her wrap-up Harry Potter interviewâ€. Others of you may know it as â€œThat really huge ass medieval castle practically sticking out of a cliff.â€ That is no joke, either. Look at the damn thing! Either way, this was a very cool structure. We went up the back way. There were stairs. Lots and lots of stairs. I climbed every damn one of them. Rocky has NOTHING on me, man. The views at the top were well worth it, though. We walked through many different sections. The Royal Apartments and Great Hall were fascinating. They were surprisingly small, plain rooms. Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to her only son in this castle. My favorite visit was to the war memorial and the Highland Soldier section. I hated the â€œPrisoner of Warâ€ section. For one, it still smelled like urine, and for two, it was set up like a Disney ride. I didnâ€™t like it. I think that the heavily carved doors of the prison spoke stronger than any scripted actors could. The royal jewels of Scotland were interesting. There are very few of them. The 700-year-old â€œStone of Destinyâ€ was much more amazing to me. I was probably the most amazed by the fact that the national treasures of Scotland were guarded by two teenagers that we dubbed “Bonnie & Clydeâ€ that smacked their gum while discussing the precarious relationship between Britany Spears and Kevin Federline. Leaving the castle wasnâ€™t too hard. We were exhausted and it was closing, anyway.
We decided to eat close to our B&B and call it a night. We were going to go to a pub and listen to live music, but it was such a long day, there was just no way it was going to happen. We did have some energy to stop by the amazingly gothic shrine to Sir Walter Scott and gawk at it in amazement.
We also gawked in amazement at the guy passed out and drooling on the bench next to us. Seriously, he had a drool lake underneath where his head was. Pretty gross. Of course, this meant that we tried really hard to get a photograph. We ate at a little Thai place called, â€œThe White Elephantâ€. We were so tired that we failed to notice that we ordered virtually identical dishes to share, only one was with beef and one was with duck.
On the walk back, we stopped into a chip shop and bought the most divine discovery ever: Cadburyâ€™s Dark Chocolate Digestive Biscuits. I know, the name. Stillâ€¦Donâ€™t let it fool you. These things ROCK my world. I think we snarfed down four on the way back. And they are not small. Wendell approved of them.
I collapsed in bed by 9pm. I was so tired I could die. I didnâ€™t even have the energy to write down the events of the day or sort my suitcase out. Heck, I didnâ€™t even have the freaking energy to brush my teeth. I went into a coma in about 3 seconds flat and would have probably stayed asleep but some annoying yahooâ€™s woke up the house at midnight. Chelle and I watched â€œWallace and Grommetâ€™ and managed to get in some more hours of shut eye.
We were up by 7, and breakfasting by 8:30. Oh, my! The British do breakfast really well. I had a fry up with poached eggs, mushrooms, sausage bacon (So much better than American Bacon) fried tomatoes and racks of toast and coffee. We tried Haggis. I liked it, though Chelle ate more than I did. It was like spicy sausage and went well with the eggs.
We decided to take a cab out to Rosslyn Chapel in Roslin. It was amazing. Built in the 1400â€™s by the Knights Templar, you cannot imagine how cool this place is. Every stone is carved within an inch of its life and it all has a meaning. There are two main pillars by the front alter. One was carved by the head mason, who then left for the continent to gain further inspiration before carving the second. While he was gone, his apprentice had a dream and carved the second one. It was gorgeous, with a twisting ornementation weave that wraps around the column. MUCH prettier than the master’s column.
When he returned and saw what happened, the mason was so enraged that he killed the apprentice with a mallet.There is also the tomb of one of the Lords of Rosslyn, who was killed fighting the Moorâ€™s in the 1300â€™s while carrying Robert the Bruceâ€™s heart to Jerusalem.
We got back and grabbed our luggage to do more pack-muling and catch the bus to take us to the train station. We were two stops away when Michelle noticed that I hadnâ€™t grabbed by computer bag. We got off the bus and I ran my guts out back to the bus stop. Fortunately, a woman noticed that I had left it and waited there. She restored my faith in humanity, I tell you. The delay put us behind, with only 10 minutes to catch our train, but everything went smoothly. Considering that this is my first train ride, I am grateful. However, it is really similar to riding the metro and other trains, so it was all good.
It was really pretty and if I can get the guy across the aisle to stop yakking on his mobile for five minutes, the rest of the trip should be great.Trainâ€¦Invernessâ€¦busâ€¦computerâ€¦Pack muleâ€¦.