Scotland, Part I

Click here (or on the photo above) for the “best of” photos. Click here for the uncut collection.

We connected in Heathrow, which is huge. We had breakfast there. They didn’t tell us our gate until just before boarding started (like, five minutes before scheduled boarding). KrisDi zonked on the plane, and I read. I think I was reading a book for work.

We got to Edinburgh without any major incident (unlike some dude whose checked bag seems to have been destroyed). We got to our car rental place. They gave me a wristband to remind me to stay on the left side of the rode. I asked the kid giving us a rental car what is the number one stupid thing Americans do that I should avoid. “I don’t know. Don’t drive on the right side of the road.” He proceeded to give us surprisingly detailed descriptions about what damage to the rental car would cost us money, and what wouldn’t. We got a Vauxhall Insignia. She was anxious. Lots of sensors that freaked out given the slightest reason.

We drove into Edinburgh, found where our room was, and went to find a nearby parking garage (very near Edinburgh Castle) since it was too early to check in. We left our stuff in the car and walked around, found lunch, discovered there’s another Lebowski bar, and then headed back for our bags before checking in. On our way out of the lot, someone coming from the opposite direction told us their way up to the castle was closed. This was our first hint of something bad.

It was miserably gray and rainy. We walked quickly to the room, got ourselves checked in, went out to go buy another suitcase, dropped it off at the room, and then trudged through the rain to and through the castle.

It was wet, misty, cold, and crowded. On the bright side, I committed a crime, got caught, and got away with it: Lots of “No photos!” signs around the crown jewels; I snuck a photo as a stepped out of the room; I stumbled on the step; one of the employees laughed at me and made some comment about an idiot taking a picture and falling down (didn’t even keep the photo! turned out blurry).

From there, we walked to Victoria Street, apparently the inspiration for Diagon Alley, then went down Candlemakers’ Row. I saved KrisDi’s life by grabbing the back of her collar and yanking her out of traffic as she walked blithely into it; her recounting of the story may be substantively different than mine. We didn’t immediately find Elephant House (apparently a place where JK Rowling spent a bunch of time writing her books), but we did find it eventually.

We headed back to our room to dry off, ad made a plan to go to dinner at a Doner Kebap place and then visit two bars. On our walk out there, we walked by our parking garage, which was now closed off and guarded by cops. We got distracted and went to ramen instead, which was perfect on a rainy day.

We followed through on our bar plan and went to the Hanging Bat. I think a dude was hitting on me at the bar. We then headed back to the Lebowskis bar for White Russians.

When we went back to the room, we used the hair drier to try to dry off our shoes and clothes. We relaxed a bit and went to bed.

Our plan the next morning was to drop our bags off at the car and then head to breakfast at a place called One Cafe. But, there were cops posted all around the garage, and they wouldn’t tell us what was going on (but said it was in the news). They pointed us to the one and only manned entrance, found our car, felt creeped out by the fact that almost all other vehicles were gone (as in, we were among four vehicles in the lot). We did some quick Googling and discovered a dude was murdered with a pair of scissors in or near our lot; some quick mental math revealed this occurred within about 10 minutes of our visit to the car to pick up our bags the previous day. This was a little unnerving.

We decided we didn’t want to come back to the lot, so we left. But, we didn’t find parking near our target breakfast location, so we left Edinburgh and ended up driving to a place called Toast for breakfast. The food was good, I had black pudding, but every time we got out of our seats (to look around or to visit the restroom, for example), they thought we desperately needed something. We talked briefly to our waitress. She told us her dream was to visit Seattle.

“Oh, why?”

“Oh…uh…it sounds nice?”

So we drove on to Stirling Castle. They had some people dressed for parts. We bought Chilkat a bear. KrisDi thought I had a doppelganger 400 years ago. We discovered I’m moderately tall.

We moved on to Doune Castle, of Monty Python, Game of Thrones, and Outlander fame. I really appreciated that you could by coconuts in their gift shop. This was smaller than most of the castles we visited, and very sparsely decorated — almost empty rooms for the most part.

Again we moved on, and stopped in Perth. We drove around in laps for a while before we decided our only choice was to accept a parking spot that needed to be paid for in cash, which required us to obtain some cash. To break ATM money into parking meter money, I bought a pie.

We walked and peered for a bit, had a beer at a local pub, the Malt House. It was exactly what I imagine in a UK pub. Small, dingy, with a big fat friendly weird-ass bartender with terrible teeth, sparsely populated with locals.

We walked around a bit, and then back to fed the parking meter and meandered off to Effie’s for lunch. And accidentally, also for afternoon tea.

We picked our food, and KrisDi decided she wanted a cup of tea. “Afternoon Tea” was listed in the menu along with “Darjeeling Tea” and “Green Tea” and whatnot; that’s what she ordered — expecting a cup of tea.

“Oh! Well, what sandwich would you like with that? You get a choice! … and, you can choose a scone or cake! Here, come look at them! Oh, very good, but you have to pick a cake, too!”

So, we got a full blown lunch (chicken and leek pie, steak) and afternoon tea which was enough for a second full blown lunch. It was delicious. Just a lot of food. Afterwards, we had to go back to the ATM and get more cash.

We drove on. We stopped someplace with scenic rocks and sheep. We got to our room for the night, Conval View near Aberlour. We made small talk with our hosts, dragged our luggage up to our room, and went to dinner at Dowan’s Inn.

It was a fancy place, where they make you sit at the bar for a while before they decide whether you’re worthy of their dining area. KrisDi drank a Passionfruit Mojito. She later tried to get a Caiperinha (after about fourteen attempts to make the waiter understand her order), but got a Bramble instead. She also wanted sea bass, but they were out, and after some fierce negotiation she got stone bass (they refused to make mashed sweet potatoes with the stone bass, due to lack of herbs that matched the flavor profile). I had a steak with haggis (the steak was great). I drank a Solera Old Fashioned, and then some Benromach with dinner.

After dinner, we walked around the building, saw the grounds, discovered their quite impressive wall of whiskey. Then we went back to the room to juggle our luggage again.

Posted by snaotheus

1 comment

That strikes you as a dingy pub? “Dingy” as in dark, badly lit, dusty or grimy? Looks like a fairly normal one to me… I giggle at your afternoon tea experience. “Tea” is a pretty comprehensive meal!

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