Sunday, October 2, 2011

Farewell to Scotland

After our meet-up with Jean we decided to explore Edinburgh Castle. Last night while sitting in our hotel room in London we rated various parts of our trip. This castle tied for first place in our "favourite historic site" category with The Churchill War Rooms, which pretty much sums up how fantastic it was.

Walking down the Royal Mile we went by these mirrors that captured the before and after effects of eating one too many Perthshire breakfasts.

Edinburgh is a beautiful city, and it would have been nice to have had a few more days there to explore.

On day two we visited the Scottish National Gallery where we got to see depicted on canvas scenes very similar to those we had walked through in the Highlands. A whole day could have been spent there admiring the artwork! Next we headed to the National Museum of Scotland. This won in our category of "best museum." Shocking, I know, but it actually scored considerably higher than the British Museum in the Hammond/Howard rating scale. I especially loved the Pictish stones. Their designs reminded me of knitted cables.

On our way to the museum Kath happened to glance across the street and saw a familiar name. It was The Elephant House, the tea and coffee house where J.K. Rowling wrote some of her Harry Potter novels. Do you suppose writing genius could be contagious? Hoping to catch even a mild case, we headed in for a bite to eat. By the way, the bar with chocolate on top is what I ordered. It is called millionaire shortbread, and is Scottish in origin. Oh my. In what had to be a first for me, I actually didn't finish the whole bar because it was so rich. Also, notice the chip (or, if you are in the UK, crisp) flavour: ham and English mustard. I could do a whole blog post on odd flavoured chips!

In one of those great accidents that can happen when traveling, we walked by a church and discovered they were about to do a Celtic tour. It was free and sounded interesting, so we tagged along. Our expectations weren't high, but this ended up being a fascinating glimpse into the religious history of Edinburgh. They even offered free tea and coffee at the end of the tour but sadly we couldn't stay. We had happened upon the church tour on our way to the Whisky tour, and needed to hurry if we were going to make it before it closed. Rather shocking, I know.

Many pubs and restaurants advertised "haggis, neeps and tatties." We didn't partake, having given haggis a try in Kirkmichael. Once was enough for haggis, but not for the cider Jean introduced us to!

Our farewell evening in Scotland was picture perfect. As we walked through the area in front of the National Gallery on our way to catch the bus we heard the sound of bagpipes. A street band was playing, and there was a crowd of people sitting and enjoying the music. We joined them, and not too long after we sat down a group of young people started doing a traditional dance. I couldn't have written a better ending to our time in Scotland. I am just sorry it wasn't a longer story.


  1. I've loved following along with you on your trip to the UK, thanks for sharing it with us Kristie.
    But you do realise that's Irish cider you're drinking! I think your next trip should be a cider tour of England ;D I'm a Somerset girl who was raised on cider so I've a bias as to the best cider county, but there's Suffolk, Herefordshire Worcestershire ... and as many different flavour variations as you'd get with whisky!

  2. @Annie - I am glad you have enjoyed the posts. They were a lot of fun to write. We did know that was an Irish cider. I believe the kind we had when we were with Jean was a Scottish cider, but I can't remember its name. The Irish cider was all the restaurant we were at carried, and we figured it was better than no cider at all. :-)

  3. Oh, I hope I can visit Scotland sometime!
    Lots of great photos!

  4. Such beautiful photos and commentary on a wonderful trip! Makes me excited for next year - I will definitely be counting on you for tips! Safe continued travels, my friend. Now I'm hungry (and thirsty) for Scotland!

  5. So wonderful to have taken this part of your journey along with you both. And so glad the weather has held!

  6. I thought Edinburgh Castle would be one of the coolest places, thanks for confirming that.

    I've had bad luck with ciders in the US. They taste the way really rotten apples smell. I need to try a UK brand or two.

  7. Kristie, thanks for taking us along with us on your fabulous journey. I've loved all the photos! Methinks it's time for us to plan a trip over there, as we haven't traveled out of North America since 2002 (yikes, has it really been that long?!).


  8. Um, I meant "along with YOU". Duh.