Monday, September 13, 2010

Weekend in Scotland

Over the weekend, we took a ferry from Ireland to Scotland and headed to the capital of Edinburgh. Just about the entire weekend we practiced our pronunciation: which is to say {Eh-din-burr-eh} (try to roll those r's just a bit) instead of Edinberrr-g. I have to admit, Edinburgh could be my favorite stop so far. There really is only one word to describe the town, towering with high rise stone buildings, lining the royal mile leading up to the castle, with parliament buildings, churches, and banks so grand each building could easily be a highlight if placed in a regular town. Okay so the one word to describe it before I began my run-on sentence is this: majestic.

When we first came to town square, we were immediately seized upon by a parade of sorts. Armies of Scots in kilts were walking through the streets, playing bagpipes, and hitting drums.

It wasn't until later that we found out that this was a "Protestant March". It seemed the natural extension of our black cab tour and the U.K.'s Protestant vs. Catholic history. Later in the day we learned that the pope is coming to Edinburgh next week, so perhaps fervor was brewing for the visit? Who knows.

If you see in the picture above of the high rise stone buildings, you get a sense of the presence of "The Royal Mile". It's a cobblestone street with buildings that old and that tall lining both sides of the street. It was on The Royal Mile that I tracked down my salad of the day.

A few things I'm starting to figure out about food over here.
A) Big Salads are rarely a menu item. Usually it's a side with something else.
B) Apparently my U.S. palette is sodium heavy, because I keep ordering all this delicious food but end up cranking the salt shakers all over it.

So I was excited to eat this salad because it had sweet potatoes, but the greens were bitter and the potatoes bland. My yellow split pea soup however, was divine.

We toured the castle, imagined life as royalty, and later in the day did a tour called "The Real Mary King's Close". That was a fascinating look into the everyday lives of people living here centuries ago, particularly the poor. With such huge buildings, the basement levels were generally fallout shelters, just one big dark enclosed room. They explained that usually 2-3 families shared this space, slept on floors, and the only light was from a wick burning the cheapest oil available: fish oil (gag me now). And in the corner was a bucket where everyone went to the bathroom and which could only be thrown into the alleyway twice a day, draining down the roads and into the lake below.

We also took a bagillion flights of stairs up the Sir Walter Scott Monument. Here we are about one-fourth of the way up.

Next we stayed in Glasgow, but didn't really hit the city scene at all. We strolled through a HUGE park with a museum showcasing the private collection of John Burroughs. Lots of Degas, Rodain, and this sculpture, which I disturbingly related to the most:

This park was huge rolling countryside hills. Apparently, Scottish cattle had nearly been lost in farming practices until a recent resurgence to bring back heritage breeds. Very cool. Check out this particular herd at the park. They are owned by the city council, and they have enough pasture to remain clean and eat a healthy grass-fed diet. So cool! My little farmer husband got up close to pet one.

Other things in this park was a community garden, horse riding stalls, the miles and miles of soft green grass and forest. It seemed to me what every park should try to be. So lovely.

At the park we hit some old house where the former "servants kitchen" was turned into a restaurant. It was there I had my salad for September 12th. Perfect with a little quiche on the side.

And a kiss to end the post.


Angenette said...

I love Edinburgh! It's one of my favorite cities. I stayed in a hostel right across the street from the castle and wish I would have stayed longer.
And I'm glad you got to see the Scottish cattle (though not pronounced cattle... they're "coos").
Dont forget to try haggis neeps and taties.

Terry said...

WOW, I love your blog. I was caught by the great trip you are having and just followed it on through. Hum, I'm wondering who the free souls were who joined you on the night swim. Good for you. You remind me of me a few years ago. Well, maybe not so few.

paula said...

WOW. You are seeing a lot of cool stuff.

Two things:
1) you look beautiful
2) love Rodin's fav is "The Kiss".

oh-and that soup looked ROCKIN!

Holly said...

Amber, I am loving this! Thanks for posting. The pics are amazing. I'm traveling vicariously though you.
Love you!

Wade and Marilyn said...

We also loved Edinburgh. Sounds as if you're having a great time. Love your postings about your trip.

Allen Family said...


Monica said...

Edinburgh looks like a dream. I'm so glad you are keeping us updated about your trip.