Friday, October 03, 2008

Great Scot!

What do you know?  Our arrival here in Raleigh has kept me pretty busy.  I've got exactly 10 billion things to do and just about 27 days to do it in.  But without further ado, Scotland...

We arrived in Edinburgh bright cloudy and early and set out for a bit of exploring.  Pretty much the first thing you see from almost anywhere in the city is the castle, perched high on a hill.

We walked up the Royal Mile, in the direction of the castle, with a stop here and there...  

At a cafe with some rather precarious toilets

And to see if the rumor is true...

Then it was off to the castle for a visit proper and an artillery inspection.  Verdict?  Yup, it's a cannon.

All up and down the Royal Mile were little alleys, or "closes" as they were called.  Some led to nothing spectacular, some led to gardens, some to little courtyards - but we just liked the pile up of rectangles and squares caused by doorways and shadows in this one.

At our pub break, Jason unfortunately got ahold of some beer he was none to fond of.  Not an easy feat.

Next we went for a whiskey tour.  I had heard mixed reviews on these and I have to say, this one was pretty rubbish.  They just herded us from room to room where videos played and the guide read a few lines from an obviously memorized script.  Also, I found out that I kind of hate the taste of whiskey.  I told Jason I thought it tasted like rubbing alcohol.  He wanted to know how in the devil I knew what rubbing alcohol tasted like.  Fair enough, I reckon...  The answer?  I don't know what rubbing alcohol tastes like.  But this whiskey tasted exactly how I imagine rubbing alcohol would taste.

But, you know, aside from all that - SQUEEEEEEE!  My name's on the wall!

The sun did manage to come out for about 45 seconds on Friday though.  Too bad we had just gotten back to our hotel for a rest before our evening pub crawl so I had to capture this glorious, yet short-lived event from the window of our room.

While Jason made arrangements for the second leg of our trip...

I was busy playing "Queen for a Day" on the big people's furniture.

Finally, Jason gets a beer he likes on the first stop of our literary pub crawl.

Saturday came bright cloudy and early late.  We slept in like fiends!  It was awesome.  After a leisurely stroll through an international food fair - or "fayre" as the Scots would say - and a breakfast bratwurst (What makes it a breakfast bratwurst? you may be asking...  The answer is simple:  The fact that it was consumed before noon.  You can make any food a breakfast food really.  Just maul it before the clock strikes twelve.) we made our way towards Calton Hill.

Calton Hill is home to the city's unfinished monument.  Plans were initiated in 1816 for a monument to commemorate Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo.   Building began in 1822 but the project lost funding and was never finished.

Next, we made it our mission to climb to the top of the hill that over looks the city.  Now, let's keep in mind that there is a fully pedestrian friendly, partially paved pathway that leads to this particular summit.  Jason, however, says "Pshaaawww" to such creature comforts and says "You know, we could save ourselves a lot of time if we just haul ass right up the side of this thing."  I'm all "Ummm, I don't know.  That's pretty steep."  Jason's all, "What?  You scared?" so of course I'm all "Hells no I ain't skeered!  Race you to the top, suckah!"  

Umm, here's a little pictoral of the hill we scaled...  You want to know why you can't see the lower half of it??  Do ya??  Because after that little 5 yard incline, it pretty much drops straight f-ing down.

In, well, let's just call it "not exactly my climbing gear":

But the views were, indeed, lovely.  This is of course Calton Hill, where we were just before this...
And Edinburgh Castle in the distance there...

Windy much?!?  Jason's hair looks like Ace Ventura when he dresses up in a tutu and goes undercover at the mental hospital.  Mine looks like, well... like it's attacking me from behind.

A little game I never tire of, courtesy of Kids in the Hall:  I'm crushing you.  I'm crushing the little people on the other hill.  Crush crush.

And back to the international food fayre for some divine French Alpine potato treat.

The castle lit up at night...

Saturday night, we were hoping to find another pub crawl to join - sort of like in Dublin where we did a musical one the first night and a literary one the next night.  Well, since we couldn't find any others, we made our own.  Except we never made it past the first pub.  Can you blame us?  The music was great, the Guinness was flowing freely and we had seats!  We literally shut the place down!  

There was only one problem.  Remember that whole "the Guinness was flowing freely" business?  Perhaps a tad too freely.  We both got a wee tipsy and I did Sarah Palin impressions all the way back to the hotel, listing all the civil liberties she would take away if elected.  "I'm Sarah Palin and I'll take away your gosh darn late night drunken cheeseburgers."  What?  Is not late night drunken cheeseburger bingeing a civil liberty???

The next day, despite some killer hangovers (and waking up surrounded by various and sundry suspicious-looking McDonald's cartons), we arose early and holy shit!  It was SUNNY!  Up and at 'em George McFaddem!  Let's get out there and seize this glorious day!  Ooops.  Ouch.

Erm, yes.  Perhaps after some ibuprophen.

The hangovers did, in fact, subside and so we hit the open road and drove north.  Our first stop was Dunfermline.  (Fun fact:  Andrew Carnegie hails from Dunfermline.)  Quite charming...

...if a little cheeky.

We walked around the church where William Wallace's mum is buried.  (We got to thinking about the film Braveheart and couldn't recall anything about her so after we got back home, we watched it and there's no mention of her at all.)

The fog hadn't quite yet cleared so you can just barely see across the firth to the bridge we came through on.

From Dunfermline, we followed the Fife Coastal Path towards St. Andrew's.  

We stopped at some point along the way and took a little walk out on this jetty.  For some reason, I couldn't stop singing "I don't think you're ready for this jetty.  I don't think you're ready for this jetty." a la Beyonce & Co. in the Bootylicious days.

Next stop was the adorable fishing village of Pittenweem.

Git along little rockie!

You can't leave him alone for a second.

I was a little obsessed with all the cute cottages and bright doors...

After that, we were off to St. Andrews, the birthplace of golf.

Ummm, I'll take the next street, thanks.

The ruins of the abbey...

and St. Andrews Castle both sit right on the bay.

If just so happened that The Old Course is open to the public to walk around on Sundays and it also just so happened that we arrived there at pretty much the precise moment that the final day of Ryder Cup play was starting.  So Jason said a prayer on the famous Swilcan Bridge for the American Team to win.  

I made Jason do this.  He was vehemently against it.  He says nothing makes a guy look like more of an ass than a fake golf swing.  

So we had to go to the course-side pub, the Jigger Inn, so he could drink away the embarrassment.

Just a halfie for me since I'm not really a "hair of the dog" kind of gal.

Then we drove north to Pitlochery to spend the night.  We got there after dark so while we knew our B&B was up on a little hill, we had no idea what gorgeous views we had from our bedroom until we woke up the next morning.  I don't know how or why but we were blessed with another sunny day.  This may have been the only two consecutive sunny days ever in northern Scotland's history.  

This river is actually 100% man-made.  It was part of the plan to bring hydro-power to the more remote parts of the Highlands.  (We saw in a little exhibit that some folks in the really really remote bits of the Highlands didn't have electricity until the 1970's!!!!!)  Part of the hydro-power plant was what they called a "fish ladder" which was a device that let the salmon in the river swim through the dam.  Jason was all excited because he imagined an actual ladder that salmon would be hopping up and over the dam.  Not so much.

And a couple more pics of the town...

Then we were off to walk the Birks of Aberfeldy, which is a little hiking trail that goes up one side of a huge waterfall and back down the other, with lots of little mini falls along the route.

Sneak attack!

We hiked a little off the path and found a perfect rock for picnicing.  It hung out a little bit over the falls and was in a patch of sun (no easy feat when you're surrounded by this many trees).

Our last stop was Stirling to see the William Wallace Monument.  It was really good because it had a whole thing on his life and history and there was a lot that they didn't really cover in the film and a few things they took Hollywood liberties with.  Plus they had his actual sword on display and Jason was pretty psyched about that.

So that's our trip to Scotland, in a nutshell.  I still have one more trip to blog about and of course my "farewell London" post so stay tuned. 


Suze - Cheshire, UK said...

Is that really blue sky in Scotland or is that Photoshopped?? Dang, never looked like that when I went!

FloridaGal said...

beautiful pics. so what does your husband exactly do that you guys get to travel to such nice places? i need to get a job like him :)