Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Stories & The Pictures: Edinburgh

I had really high hopes for Scotland. I have always wanted to go and I anticipated it would be the high point of the touristing on the trip. In addition, given where I come from, I figured I would just feel like I was home when I crossed the border.

With train delays, we pulled into Edinburgh around 5:30. The station was very nice, but we were anxious to make up for lost time checking out the city. We should have stayed in the station.

It turns out everything in Edinburgh closes at 5. There was hardly any food to be found. Finally we found a place still serving food. I use the term food loosely, because I think it would qualify as the second worst meal on the trip. I had what turned out to be brie, rolled in nuts and deep fried. I know, it sounds good, but deep fried brie is good for one bite, not for dinner. Stork's dinner was deep fried apricot, almond, oat balls. We quickly realized that everything in Scotland is deep fried. Kind of reminded me of the North Carolina State Fair. To add insult to injury, they were playing Paul Anka's version of "Smells Like Teen Spirit", which made me want to cry.

Emerging, we set out to find some little shops and get some souvenirs. Another mistake. Pretty much everything was closed. Except the truly tacky souvenir shops that were blaring bagpipe music. Now, I love bagpipe music. At a reasonable level, and preferably in the great outdoors. Not Scotland the Brave on high volume on repeat. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that pretty much everyone we met that night was miserable and kind of nasty.

When we finally gave up, we went off in search of our b & b. By this point in the trip my arm was shot and each step dragging my luggage was agony. It took us substantial amounts of time walking around to find the right bus. This was the only time on the trip when I broke down and said "I want to go home".

Getting to the b & b was actually a breeze after that and when we arrived the people were very nice. They even had an internet connection that we could use, which was much needed.

The next morning was blissfully uneventful. Downtown was much better in the daylight when stores are open. We explored the "Royal Mile", saw St. Giles Cathedral, stocked up on souvenirs in their store, saw Edinburgh Castle and wandered back to the train station. Desperate for good and reliable food, we ate at the Marks & Spencer's food shop. Yummy sandwiches and great snacks.

So, Scotland was a letdown for me. If I go back, it will definitely be to the countryside, not to the city. To me it was a very bleak city - too much limestone that just looks gray in all the fog.

Here are some pictures from the day spent there.


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