Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The rain stopped in Edinburgh

Thank goodness. We did go off and trek around a bit last night, in the rain, but as lovely as it is wet, it's lovelier when it's dry. William commented that Edinburgh would be the wrong city to attempt to parachute into. They have a love of pointy topped buildings. Spires 'R Us.

Having gone down to the high street and taken a quick look about, we knew where to go this morning to visit some of the main attractions. The first stop was the Edinburgh Castle. Very different from the Welsh castles - er, rather, the English castles built in Wales. We can't help but get a bit of an edukayshun while we're here. We're fighting it, but y'know, some of it just seeps in.

After the castle we visited another house, this one having rooms representative of both the 17th and 18th century, including furniture. Very interesting. It's nice having these British Heritage Passes, it means a lot of the historical stuff is free. If we had to pay every time, we'd probably have passed up a lot of the little things, but this way we've not worried about the cost and some of it has been quite worth it.

We stoped at St. Giles Cathedral as we walked down the Royal Mile (their High Street, aka the main drag of ol') and were treated to their choir singing. Gee, I haven't been to a church service in a while, but I can tell you this - voices in a cathedral sound a lot more inspiring then in your typical American church. We didn't stay for more then one song. William got bored. It's a balance keeping us both happy.

We stopped for lunch .... oh, wait. First we stopped at The Writer's Museum, in a home that Robert Louis Stevenson stayed at. Robert Burns. A few others. William bored. Me interested.

Okay, back to lunch. A nice pub. William got a burger and coke. I got a salmon and asparagus salad. Just goes to show you that you can never assume while traveling. Didn't ever expect to have to inquire if the salmon was cooked or not! But hey, new experiences. I told William "You know the ol' saying - "When in Rome...." "

William finished my thought - "....pillage?" Hehehe. Not the quote I was going for, actually.

We walked down to the Holyrood Castle. Unfortunately it was closed. Dignatories were arriving and actually going to stay at the palace, so it was closed to the public. We settled for taking the bus back up towards the castle and going to the Scottish Art Museum. Free to the public. Manet's, Monet's, Degas', Da Vinci's and a whole bunch of other artists that I recognize but won't embarrass myself by attempting to spell their names correctly. William got bored and then got lost trying to find a bathroom.

Now we're sitting in an internet spot waiting to do the ghost tour we had planned on doing originally last night. We've opted for the fun ghosts and paranormal one - still all real ghost stories, but not so much a history tour. We've had so much historical information that it's seeping out our ears. We need a bit of a break and some fun. (Last night we were just too tired. And hungry. Instead we saw an all-you-can-eat Italian buffett and headed towards it like lost travelers to an oasis. Rabbit, duck, fish, a zillioan other meats, and a zillion pastas. Nothing like an American buffett where you can't get much more then beef, chicken or shrimp.

Speaking of fun, I find myself somewhat amusing. I often feel like The Tourist from Terry Pratchett's first two Discworld books, sailing into new situations with a naive smile and a camera. And often my luggage in tow. Unfortunately my luggage comes with two wheels instead of hundreds of little feet. Too bad. I'd pay a lot for a luggage that followed me without any effort on my part.

The Scottish accent is a tad more challenging then the English and Welsh ones we've come across yet. Some people have a heavier accent then others though. And there are a lot of locals that obviously come from elsewhere, so their accents are mixed. It's a very cosmopolitan town. It's also, at present, a very cowsmopolitan town. They've got art cows all over the place. Here we are in a city full of amazing architecture but hey, you can only take photos of so many tall spires or imposing doors before they all sort of blur. But colorful cows! That's something new! Oh, and they have somethere here they called a "close", basically a very skinny long alley, only they run perpendicular off the main roads instead of parallel like an alley would, and they lead to the next street. Very cool. William says I've taken way to many photos of them. But the view down them are different every time!

Another thing, they seem to love to name their streets. They love it so much that they change the names of their streets every block or two. So, same street, two or four or seven different names. I think they just like to confuse the tourists.

I'm enjoying it here a lot more now that the rain has stopped. That and we're settled in to our B&B and gotten our bearings. Each time we've switched places, I have spent the first day feeling somewhat overwhelmed and anxious. Maybe this won't be an interesting place. Maybe we will be too far away, won't find our way around, won't like it. I've figured it out finally, a pattern. I feel much more adventuresome after a good night's sleep and a new day. So I didn't worry about it last night.

Well, I've used up my time, and it's time to wander back out and wait for our catacomb tour to start. Since it's underground, I figured it would be just as scary during the day as at night. Duh.


Anonymous jeff said...

"I AM William Wallace! And I see a whole army of my countrymen, here, in defiance of tyranny. You've come to fight as free men, and free men you are. What will you do with that freedom? Will you fight?... Aye, fight and you may die, run, and you'll live... at least for a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willing to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take... OUR FREEDOM!!! (Braveheart)

11:48 AM  
Blogger kristen said...

could you please have a shandy for me? it's beer w/"lemonade" - it's lovely. no one here - even those pubs who claim to be from scotland - knows what they are. they look at me funny if i even deign ask for one.

i'm enjoying your trip vicariously. and absolutely true on the scottish accent. try drinking heavily. it sort of helps...oh...hmmm...that doesn't work so well when you're not 20 and have no children, does it? *smile*

12:37 PM  
Anonymous LoveAnna said...

I love Edinburgh and I am insanely jealous that you are there and I am having to go to work in 20 mins!

Oh and was the salmon in your salad smoked? That isn't cooked, merely...er...smoked and then eaten. I personally can't stand it, but I hope you did (and I LOLed at William's end to your quote. I may have to adopt it!)

12:16 AM  
Blogger Diana Troldahl said...

Hey! I found some recipes for Shandy, it sounds easy!

1/2 glass Beer
1/2 glass Ginger Ale
Mixing Instruction
Fill a glass half full of beer (lighter beer works better). Fill the rest with Ginger Ale.

And a more high-toned sounding one from epicurious.com. THey both sound delicious!

Shandy  — a drink made of beer mixed with lemonade, ginger ale or ginger beer  — first appeared in Britain in the mid-nineteenth century. Guests can, of course, quaff the beer and lemonade separately.

1 cup sugar
3 cups water
four 3-inch strips lemon zest, removed with a vegetable peeler
1 cup fresh lemon juice
2 fresh mint sprigs
chilled beer, such as pale ale

In a small saucepan bring sugar and 1 cup water to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved, and stir in zest. Cool sugar syrup to room temperature.

Transfer syrup to a small pitcher and stir in remaining 2 cups water, lemon juice, and mint. Chill lemonade until cold. (Makes about 4 1/2 cups lemonade.)

Pour 1/4 cup lemonade, or to taste, into each of 4 chilled beer glasses and top off with beer.

3:26 PM  
Blogger kristen said...

diana - the first one sounds like what i had -- but it was a newcastle type beer that they used - so, more tan than light. yummmmmy :) and i think they used sprite/7-Up kind of soda as their "lemonade"

the high falutin' (sp) drinks sound fun too.

9:58 PM  

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