We left the Glasgow Novotel bright and early after another excellent breakfast, and drove to Edinburgh.
We were immediately impressed with the massive Edinburgh Castle that sits on top of a vast pyroclastic extrusion in the middle of the city, which is otherwise fairly level. The castle broods over the city like a particularly militant hen, looking angrily over her clutch of peasant-eggs.
We drove around, just looking at Edinburgh's stunning architecture for a while.
Eventually, we dropped off our car in a parking lot, and walked nearly all the way around the castle.
We climbed the long stairs up the rock.
That's not us, mind you, just some random people walking ahead of us. The view from the top was extraordinary, though admission to the castle is not inexpensive.
This is the firth of forth, one of my favorite places. Just because I really like saying that.
This cemetery for soldiers' dogs made me sad, though of course all dogs go to heaven, especially hero dogs. At this point, I have to admit I was also getting a little homesick, mostly because I missed Blink so much. If we could have had us with him, I'd have been content to stay forever.
There's a little restaurant called the Queen Anne Cafe nestled in the castle, and I was very footsore and a little tired. So we had a drink and a snack, and it was actually really good. Normally one finds that eateries at tourist attractions are long on price and short on quality, since...they can be. But Queen Anne's was quite good, and we enjoyed our lunch.
We did get to see the Honours of Scotland, which are the crown jewels of the nation. It included the Stone of Destiny, on which the kings of Scotland and England were coronated for many centuries. It was returned to Scotland by the current monarch, but will return to London for future coronations.
pyr8queen stood by Mons Meg, the biggest cannon around. In the world? I doubt it. But no, she didn't suddenly turn into the 50 Foot Tall Woman - it's just a really enormous gun.
We also toured the Regimental Headquarters of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, which has one of the golden eagles, one of the very few, captured from Napoleon in battle. It was taken through extraordinary heroism by Sergeant Ewart, who was made up as an officer for his heroics. This was very rare for the time, as commissions were purchased and only available to the aristocracy. Just down the hill there's a pub called The Ensign Ewart. As an American cavalryman (seriously, for real) I really wanted to buy a pint at the Scottish cav pub and toast "Confusion to the French!" but we never did find the time. We were only in Edinburgh for the day, and far too rushed.
We walked down the hill visited a museum of whiskey, where for a fee you can take a whiskey tour of Scotland, with tastings of various representative malts. We also spent some time in the mill and kilt-maker on Castle Hill. I picked up a few more MacPherson tartan items for family members, as well as, somehow, a kilt that fit me perfectly and was deeply reduced in price despite being of the best quality. It was still not at all cheap, but due to some tax oddities they actually gave further discounts for using American dollars, and I had a travel belt with quite a bit of cash in it "just in case." It was a bit extravagant, even so, and thus I look for every occasion possible to wear that kilt and get my money's worth! The tartan was very close to ancient MacPherson plaid, and I don't think anyone but a genuine expert could tell the difference.
Eventually we walked around the castle again, and saw some of the more extraordinary monuments.
We also took the Edinburgh Dungeon Tour, which was not at all what I expected, it was not an historical tour, but more like a modern theme-park with a...well, torture and grue sort of theme. There were even thrill rides down in its extensive basement. But what I remember most was the incomprehensibly filthy Glasgow accent of one of the guides, who probably said some funny stuff about the Sawney Beans, but I'll be damned if I know what he said. Tough material to make jokes about. But maybe not - I mean, serial killings, incest and cannibalism - that's good comedy, right?
We had dinner reservations at a famous restaurant called The Witchery, but they weren't until later. I was absolutely wrecked from walking all day, and my feet were a living torment. They had basically up and revolted against the rest of my body, successfully staged a coup against my ankles, and were sending absurd demands to my brain. In the form of pain. Terrible, terrible pain. So continuing our walking tour around Edinburgh was out of the question for me, really, making it back to the car was somewhat in doubt. Herself is more of the Legion Etrangere school, though, and March Or Die was the order of the day. I did manage to limp back to the car, finally - and to top it off, the car park ate our last five pound note and wouldn't let us out, and was unattended. So pyr8queen went for cash at an ATM, while I sat in quiet agony in the car. Really it wasn't quiet at all, but no one else was there, so that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Finally out of the damned car park, we checked in at our lodings, Piries Hotel. It was economical but quite nice, and after a shower, I sat out in their little garden pub with a delicious pint of Tenant's, a good smoke and book for company while Herself tended to...some errand which I now forget.
Much restored and fortified, we set out for dinner at The Witchery. I regret that we weren't able to actually take rooms at The Witchery, but by the time our travel dates were set, it was long since booked up. The best thing about it was definitely the decor, which is absolutely over the top, sort of romantic-medieval, at which the entrance only vaguely hints.
We were actually more impressed with their wine list and single-malts than the actual dinner. I started with a pint, and Herself with scotch.
They had on their wine list one of my very favorite wines, D'arenberg's "The Dead Arm" shiraz, and after dithering about it, we went ahead and got a bottle. It's quite hard to find anymore, and despite the expense was well worth it.
About the food I can say little, and remember less. Except that dessert was very good, and the creme brulee especially delicious.
We were both quite tired and a little cranky by the time dinner was over, and gratefully went back to the hotel to crash out, exhausted, footsore but well-fed.