Thursday, February 10, 2011

Edinburgh-Paris of the North

I've been meaning to put this tid bit up for a while-it's from all the way back in December.  David and I went to Edinburgh for a couple of days during our Christmas Scotland trip (our base camp was Glasgow).  We took a long cold walk around what I believe is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, even though sadly I have yet to see a fraction of this world.

It was my second time in Edinburgh, and this time was a lot more relaxing as I didn't have that frantic feeling of trying to see everything I could in the time allotted.  We went just to enjoy it, we stayed at The Knights Residence which I would recommend to anyone who was planning on staying in Edinburgh for more then a few days because it's more like a home away from home then a hotel.  The manager gave us a tour, and left a gift basket full of goodies for us down to fresh orange juice and cereal for the morning.

We took a nap and then got up to get ready to go for dinner.  I realized that my tights had a huge run in them, this happens to me without fail within a few hours of donning a new pair of tights.  So David sent me out on my own to find a new pair with no phone because mine did not work in the UK.  I was nervous at first to walk around the city with no phone, not knowing a soul...but the further I walked the more I enjoyed just being solitary in streets full of strangers.  I walked a mile or two and tried 3 or 4 shops without success, and a few laughs when I pointed to my "holy" tights.  I finally struck gold at a little makeup shop, or so I thought until the shopkeeper handed me a pair of Large tights and asked me if "I thought they would fit or did I need an Xtra-Large?"  Hmmmmm.  Anyway I found my way back no problem, and full of pride showed David my new tights.

We found a Chinese Restaurant in the guide book in the hotel called Chop Chop  We walked in about 6 o'clock to the almost empty, unpresumptuous looking restaurant, and the hostess giggled (in a friendly way) and asked if we had a reservation.  We thought that she was joking, but apparently she wasn't.  She told us we could have a table if we promised to be in and out in an hour.  We said that was fine, because at this point both of our bellies were growling impatiently.  About five minutes after we sat down, the entire place was full.  Seven or eight couples after us were turned away.  Chinese food in the UK is completely different then in the US-as in it is fantastic goodness. Not greasy, and the menus have a massive selection of items I've never seen in America.  If you're ever hopping around Edinburgh, you have to stop and try this place-and you have to order the dumplings! Also probably make a reservation!

We went to a few pubs on Princess Street after that.  At the pub we ended up staying in for the night, at first we felt a bit awkward, everyone seem to know each other.  We sat in the corner table by the bar, and picked up the newspapers that were lying there.  We read while we sipped our beers, talking once in a while.  After a few whiskeys we felt more at home and started playing with the jukebox.  We competed to see whose playlists got the bar going the most because you got to select 5 songs at a time.  It was so fun to sit there and watch people react to whatever music came on.   Whether it be groans, or their heads and feet bouncing in tune to the music-we were the invisible DJ's controlling the atmosphere.

The next day we went to the Edinburgh Castle, it was my second time and freezing so we didn't stay long.  On our way out we ran into a man I had read about in the paper the night before.  He is a 90 year old war veteran, who has been dressing up in traditional Scottish garb outside the castle for the last five years raising money for charity.  The council was giving him trouble, because he was only "allowed" to collect money for 6 days out of the year.  I had read the story the night before, and been appalled that such a restriction existed for someone legitimately raising funds for sick children.  You can read more about him here

We ended up accidentally running into Greyfriars Bobby Pub, which I had been dying to see ever since David told me the tale.  It is one of the most heartfelt and touching stories I've heard, and it's true.  Read about it here.

All in all it was a fantastic second visit.  If you're ever in the UK, Edinburgh should be top on your list.