It’s drizzly today, though it was gloriously sunny this morning. The weather office is threatening ‘arctic weather’ but the forecast doesn’t show any lows below 4C for the next five days. I’m not sure what to think. They keep threatening snow. The kids have been prompted to please check the school website every day in case of closures. Meanwhile, our corner of Canada has been slammed by weather that can only be described as ‘bat-shit crazy’.
Anyway, Edinburgh! We really went! I loved it!
The trip there was annoying. We set out on December 27. The trip was originally supposed to be London to Carlisle, then Carlisle to Edinburgh. There had been some bad weather the previous day, resulting in obstructions on the tracks, and the continuing windy conditions had resulted in a 4o mph speed limit for the trains (that’s about 64 km/h. Which is pretty unimpressive) in the north of England. The end result (which involved train changes, queues, and waiting) was that our 5 hour trip took 9.5. But at least we got there!
Edinburgh is very old (Old Town dates from the 12th century, and New Town from the 18th), and an important cultural centre. Between the Fringe Festival in the summer (was it the first?), Hogmanay (New Year) in the winter and the fact that it’s a university town, the feeling here is of cultural quirkiness, but with a backdrop of super-old architecture. I loved it!
We rented a flat for the three nights we stayed there (I love Air BnB!), which was in Leith, just north of Edinburgh proper, right on the Water of Leith. We were lucky that the two full days we spent there were sunny, so we did a lot of walking.
Most of our exploring was along the Royal Mile, which goes between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood House (where the Queen lives when she comes to town). The mile is as you’d expect, crammed with alternating cashmere stores and whiskey shops (with about three times more of the former than the latter). We walked along the shore of the Firth of Forth, and walked down on a great walking path (part of the National Cycle Network) through New Town to Old Town.
We visited Edinburgh Castle, St. Giles’ Cathedral, and the Scottish National Museum (which is excellent – go there if you go to Edinburgh). We went to the Camera Obscura, which is basically a large pinhole camera, built in the 1850s that has a view of the city. Unfortunately, it was already too dark when we got there to use the Camera Obscura, but the rest of the exhibit was an array of optical illusions and visual tricks that was a lot of fun to visit.
Since we were in a flat, we ate most of our meals at home, but we did manage dinner on the first night at a so-so Italian restaurant (it was close, and we were hungry after many trains and lots of queueing). We had lunch the next day at a fantastic coffee shop type place called Earthy that we stumbled upon after our walk to the shore and back, where I had the most delicious stout ever (Cauld Reekie, it was called). The food was delicious. Vorlon actually voluntarily ate all his salad. That’s how good the place was. We also ate at a pie shop, where, to my delight, my pie, which I picked at random, had a blob of haggis on top. Win! The kids were pretty happy with that place too. Oh! And I had an Irn-Bru. I don’t recommend it – it tastes of Cream Soda (there’s a caffeine warning for children on the can. I honestly think the cloying sweetness is a higher cause for concern). Dr. Thingo, of course, found us some excellent espresso everywhere. We didn’t drink any scotch at all, which seems dumb in hindsight, but scotch is easy to come by in London.
The fact that we were there just before Hogmanay meant the city was buzzing. Apparently, the party on New Year’s Eve is huge! I would love to go back. But we also want to possibly go to Glasgow. Maybe even farther north, though we’re definitely going to wait for spring if we go back. With the sun rising at 8:15 and setting at 15:15, it felt like sunset all day!
(for the picture-hungry, all the pictures are here)