Thursday, April 26, 2012

Visiting Edinburgh

This past weekend I ventured outside of London's cloud cover to take a trip up North to visit the well-known Scottish city of Edinburgh.  We left London's Kings Cross Station on a cold, late Friday afternoon.  As the train pulled out of the bin, we popped the English sparkling wine (Ridgeview) and opened the fresh and super creamy (yet smelly*) cheese and fresh bread that we had picked up earlier in the day from Neal's Yard. 
* really very sorry to the other train passengers in our cabin that might be reading this.  


The perfect start to a 5 hour train ride through the countryside.  


We arrived late that night and promptly went out for a whiskey, since we were determined to become educated Scotch drinkers by the end of our short, two-day, trip.  
The next morning our B&B offered us a really nice Scottish breakfast, which we excitedly took part in.  


Although it was a little difficult to make it up to the Edinburgh Castle after such a hearty meal and so early in the morning. 


I am in pretty good shape, but I was seriously considering taking a break for a few minutes on our walk up the hill.  Luckily, the incredible landscape kept me in awe.



 And eventually after a  few hours of touring the castle, I was ready for round two...more whiskey tasting.



 Just a few steps outside of the Castle gates is the Whiskey Heritage Center, which I was afraid was going to be a bit touristy.  Instead, it was a really great education on how Scotch is made... and also how it tastes.  I was pretty impressed with their private collection of over 3400 whiskeys, including the one right in the middle of the photo above, which is their most expensive bottle...don't ask me how much it is worth, I was tired and had already had my first drink by this point.


 After the tour we managed to spend the next hour or so in the tasting room, where we saw at least a few other tour groups come and go, but we had some work to do.  We chatted up the knowledgeable and friendly bar tenders that helped us pick a handful of whiskeys to our liking.  After our fourth whiskey we decided we did not like the cigar smoke flavor, nor the rubber tire...
We managed to stumble down the stairs to the large and well stocked whiskey shop to purchase our favorites.  We ended up with some smoother Speyside varieties with quiet toffee and vanilla notes.   
Feeling quite warm and fluffy by this point, we seemed to float back down the Castle hill with the cool wind blowing on our faces. (note that I felt much better walking down after a few whiskeys that I did that morning walking up, after a large bowl of porridge). 


While we did find some great Indian tapas (due to a tip from a local), this pulled pork at Oink in the Grass Market, looked and smelled the most incredible. And would definitely give Memphis,TN a little run for its money.  We unfortunately happened to be too full (or maybe it was too tipsy) to eat it at the time,but they were serving a line of people out the door.  Freshly carved hog roast in a white or brown roll with a choice of sage & onion, apple sauce, chili relish... or haggis!


Our Scottish trip ended after two full days of museums, castles, whiskey, tartan, shortbread, smoked salmon and plenty of kilts.  We headed back to London on late Sunday afternoon with another bottle of champagne and a small picnic dinner from Marks and Spencer.  Tired, and still buzzing from finishing off our last miniature bottle of whiskey, while sipping our champagne, I spent the next few hours back home staring at this illuminated sign and wondering if you are "engaged" (as in to be married), then maybe you are in the figurative "toilet", since being in the toilet means you are "engaged", then maybe the reverse is also true
...ahhh champagne and travels... makes everyone a philosopher.    


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