Tuesday, May 22, 2012

May 10 and 11 - It Rains in Edinburgh

In the evening we are just not hungry and it's still raining. We walk up George's Street and end up eating a few mediocre Spanish tapas, of all things, then go in search of a pub and whiskey, something not very hard to find in Edinburgh.

We end up at the Conan Doyle, a charming traditional pub. We try several different single malts, skipping the ones, like Laphroag, that can be found in the states. If I had had my wits about me I would have carefully taken notes on which whiskeys we tried, but alas, only by going to a whiskey website can I remember a few of them. Bowmore, Caol Ila, Dalwhinnie...., nevermind, it's all delish. The couple next to us standing at the bar as well are fun to talk to, but when the girl asks we if I know "hahrrrreeee pahtorrrr" I cannot figure out what she is saying. Finally, Harry Potter! Oh! Duh.

In the morning it's not raining! We walk up Calton Hill for the best views of Edinburgh according to Robert Lewis Stevenson, another man whose poem snippets have been running through my head. One about the gaslights being lit, and another about "the pleasant land of counter pane" concerning pretending that your bed is a country with hills and valleys made by the lumps and bumps of the bedclothes.

Calton Hill does have great views, we walk up the Nelson Mounument, and walk around taking pictures. Then down the hill we go and back into Old Town. Try the Natnal Museum, this time it's open, so we go in and learn some Scottish history, then eat in the Tower restaurant in the museum for lunch. It starts raining again, so we duck into a coffeeshop off the Royal Mile and have a florentine cookie (chocolate, caramel, almonds, oranges), Scottish shortbread, and cappuccinos.

Then we take the Mary King Close tour. A Close is a narrow alleyway off the royal mile that used to be lined with tenement dwellings. High walls kept out the sun; disease and smells were rampant. The tour is pretty kitchy but it's cool to see some of the original rooms and pathways.

That evening we ate at a very nice French restaurant on Jeffery Street, right off the Royal Mile. The name of the restaurant was La Garrigue, and the food and service were excellent.

This is pretty much the end of our UK vacation. The next day we left Edinburgh and flew back to London. We spent one more night in a hotel on the Thames, took a walk along the river the next morning, and then flew back to the US that afternoon.

This was a wonderful vacation. I liked so many things about it, but if I had to pick a favorite, I guess it would have to be the couple of days we spent in County Kerry. I definitely want to go back to western Ireland again and explore more of the rural areas of that country.

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