Another belated entry. Saving the galaxy from the Collectors is time-demanding business, and throw in a cranky FACS instrument, some memory B cells which hold the right to remain exclusive and a bunch of utterly suicidal angst-ball germinal centre cells on top of it all, and you have a representative overview of the things which keep me preoccupied these days.
After a day of typical “tourist stuff” we had another marvelous breakfast at the Bield – a pleasantly lengthy affair as we were getting to know two German ladies staying at the B&B as well. Talking to them was lots of fun, and it was almost noon before we managed to get to the city centre once more. Despite setting a pretty vast scope concerning objectives to cover during our five-day stay, we realized that we didn’t really have any plans for Odin’s Day.
First stop: Barad Dûr!
After criss-crossing through charming little alleyways appearing out of nowhere, we headed for a quick visit to the Scottish national gallery – can’t get neglect the chance to admire some art! Photography wasn’t allowed inside, which isn’t to say there were no pictures taken at any point, which isn’t to say mr. Boyfriend got never got caught taking said pictures, which isn’t to say he was being entirely honest when he sweetly told the guard he had deleted them all.
Wednesday’s adventures continued with further exploration of the Royal Mile and some mandatory shopping ranging from whisky to hats to cheeses. And Crabbie’s, of course. Words cannot describe how much I fell in love with that drink. The ginger beer I am used to is of the variety that hardly can be called beers at all; mostly ginger-flavoured soda or imported brands like Bundaberg and Fentiman’s which still aren’t the kind of stuff you’d order in a bar. I could go on at some length about the universal yumminess of Crabbie’s Ginger Beer, but I can already hear the get-on-with-its and so I shall. Where were we? Yes! The Royal Mile. Despite being a total tourist trap, I found it a pleasant walk, and we did quite well dodging the ubiquitous souvenir shops. The Grassmarket, on the other hand, was quite another experience with its abundance of specialty stores (HATS!!!!) and restaurants and pubs.
Once in a while, however, strange coincidences occur. As we were traversing the old town, I kept scanning the signs of every establishment we were passing by. While we were planning our trip, I asked around for recommendations about things to do and places to visit in Edinburgh and this was where Twitter-acquaintance, @thremnir (or Nick Larter, if you will), mentioned the live-music pub called Bannermans. So, still on the lookout, we passed through a pretty hidden-away street and this was where I suddenly caught glimpse of a sign which unmistakably read “Bannermans”. However, I had barely read the first syllable when we heard someone yelling “HEY YOU! You two! I saw you on the Royal Mile earlier today and you like you have a great taste in music. My band is playing at eight and you should come!” Yup, that definitely sounds like a good idea. Not that we had any idea what kind of gig this would be and what kind of music it would involve, but the guy was definitely of the alternative-looking sort, so something appealing didn’t seem too unrealistic.
Further adventures involved walking, walking and some more walking and we got to see some rather charming spots around Calton Hill before we returned to the Royal Mile, briefly visited a cosy pub called The Jolly Judge, and then went for dinner at the Witchery. The Witchery almost requires a post of its own. A luxury restaurant just outside Edinburgh Castle with the most wonderful interior I could have imagined, it was totally out of a fairytale. The food was exquisite and the waiters were such nice guys. A particular mention goes to “the wine-guy” (I sadly didn’t catch his name), whom we had a long, nice what with, and who gave us some nice recommendations and sound advice.
By the time we had finished our meal, it was almost 8:00 pm and a concert still sounded like a good idea. By the time we were back at Bannerman’s, we recognized the guy from earlier on and grabbed a table with his band; Nightmare Frequency, an industrial act. They turned out to be a really cool lot, and Damien (yes, that was his actual name, believe it or not), the drummer, was into many of the same things as we are. Mission accomplished: Befriending cool Scotsmen!
Time for some music!
First band out was Trauma Inc, an industrial metal band. Both bands put on a hell of a show, and truth be told, I haven’t enjoyed myself so much at a concert for a long time, and that says a lot. After a couple of hours of pounding, angry industrial beats, we were invited to the after-party. It was impossibly tempting, but by the end of the day, it was time to get back and to bed (sadly enough). Another great day in Edinburgh was at an end.
It was hard getting up this morning. Luckily, breakfast was once again a delightful experience which involved more chatting with the Germans. This morning, two fellow country-men had joined us at the table as well, and turned out to be nice people as well, at least based on our brief acquaintance. Speaking Norwegian to someone who wasn’t Jan Tore felt slightly strange, though.
As opposed to Wednesday, our plans for the day were crystalline this time; Arthur’s Seat, the great hill surrounded by lower hills and crags in the middle of the city. (On a side-note, if I get around doing some Silmarillion-related stuff soon, Arthur’s Seat is almost Himring-esque).
After picking up supplies at Tesco (conclusion; I’ve heard too many Tesco jokes; a grocery store shouldn’t produce fits of giggling) we headed for the hills, not running, sadly. The trails to the peak come in three varieties: light (read: boring), intermediate and insane (bordering on dangerous). We went for the second one as it provided a bit of steep hill-climbing and some lighter legs without getting boring and with great view all along. The peak was pretty crowded, but the view made up for it all; it was amazing!
Here comes the part where we get utterly and confoundedly lost. Oh look! What a charming little stone wall! OH LOOK! There’s a trail passing through there, let’s walk off in some random direction after we’ve passed beyond the wall! (Don’t tell me you didn’t see that one coming…)
Six hours after departure…
With sodden clothes and aching feet we find ourselves back at the Bield. What a trip! Getting lost isn’t such a bad thing in a relatively small city such as Edinburgh, even with said clothes and feet taken in to consideration. I bet we hadn’t seen some of the spots we passed had we walked down nicely back from where we came. Adventures are tiring business, however, and it was clear there would be few further endeavours that day. We did go to the Last Drop in Grass Market, though, to try haggis. And… *drum roll* I loved it! To be honest, I wasn’t all that skeptical about it in the first place; to me it just seems like sausage tucked into a different part of the gastrointestinal tract. The haggis was served with whisky sauce which enhanced the already yummy experience. However, after a more-than-decent meal, we decided to call it a day.
Departure. Sad, but inevitable.
An American couple joined the breakfast table alongside the German ladies this morning. They were fun talking to and said we were some of the strangest people they had ever met. I tend to take that as a compliment. It was a bit sad saying goodbye to the two Germans and Ken and Linda, all whom I had grown fond of during our week at the Bield B&B.
Our plane didn’t leave until late, though, so we had time for one final adventure. I’ve talked about storming castles earlier, and the beautiful, medieval Craigmillar Castle was ripe for the taking. Some 15 minutes by bus away from the city centre it wasn’t as run down by tourists as the more central sights by far. While we were there, I think I spotted three or so other families.
Craigmillar Castle has been left pretty much as it was at the time it was deserted, meaning large parts of the castle are partly ruined; roofs caved in and removed long ago, kitchen overgrown with grass, but I could still vividly imagine what it would have been at the time it was still inhabited. The oldest part of the castle date back to the 14th century where the Preston family who were barons in the area at the time erected parts of it. Throughout the centuries, Craigmillar Castle passed between several noble families and is particularly known for it’s connection to Mary, Queen of the Scots.
Craigmillar Castle proved practically labyrinthine, and we spent an hour or so exploring every single, hidden corner of the castle. Had we had more time, we would have stayed even longer. I only try to imagine how playing hide-and-seek back in the days would have been like!
After some last-minute shopping, it was time to head out to Edinburgh airport and at last wave farewell to a city I had come to love over the course of only a few days. The flight turned out to be delayed by an hour or so, and we only barely caught the last bus back to Oslo city-centre. It was a fantastic trip, and I can’t wait until next time we get the chance to visit Scotland. Next time, I hope to travel around Scotland in its entirety and see more of that lovely region.