We decided on a trip over to Edinburgh today, it is only about a hour’s drive over, so if it wasn’t that great we could always head back. It was an easy drive over, but once you get to the Edinburgh city limits, you go through about 16 different roundabouts to get to the actual city center. Those things get to you after a while.
We circles around the Castle Hilltop, looking for parking, and finally found a spot on the end of Princes Street. The day was clearing up, and the city looked amazing! the view up to the top of the castle from the ground was spectacular. We walked along Princes Street, checking out shops and found an open street market. We grabbed Sasha a Ham Crepe, checked out the stalls, and continued on our way. To get to the castle we had to go up a street called “The Mound” which was pretty steep, and at the far end of Princes Street from where we parked.
The weather was a risk at first, it was raining as we drove into town, and I was worried that we would get trapped in a cafe somewhere looking out the window. But the weather was clearing up quickly, and we had a bright and sunny walk up the hill to the Royal Mile, which is the tourist shopping street that leads to the castle. This was apparently an early defensive measure for the castle, as enemy troops would get caught in all the shops on their way to invade, and the defending Scots could pelt them with haggis.
We enjoyed stopping at the little shops on the way along the street, Sasha found a few cool souvenirs, and we made our way up to the castle entrance. Right before we got up to the castle, Yulia found one cool attraction, and I found another. A high recommendation in the guidebook (a good recommendation this time) was for the Camera Obscura, a 150-year-old attraction that has been a part of the hilltop since it was created. it is a working Camera Obscura (think of a giant pinhole camera that turns), and the other five floors of the building are like a children’s museum dedicated to illusions and optical effects. It is a very cool exhibit, and well worth the time.
It took us a fair time to do the whole exhibit, and I had to run back to the car to feed the meter while Yulia and Sasha took a quick rest at the Deacon Brodie Cafe. Deacon Brodie was a famous local who was the inspiration for Jekyll and Hyde, he was a well respected gentleman during the day, and a criminal at night.
My kind of guy.
I came back up the hill from feeding the car meter, and we headed over to my choice. The Scotch Whisky Experience. This was a Scotch Tour that included a Ride, a Tasting, a our of one of the largest scotch collections in the world, with a bar in the basement.
Let me repeat: we went on a freakin’ Scotch Ride. We got in little Barrel-cars, and were toured around the scotch making process by the “ghost” of the Master Distiller. The whole thing was kid-friendly. We went to the tasting room, where they poured the kids IRN-BRU, the Scottish made soft drink, and we all got Scratch-and-Sniff cards for the main regions to explain the flavors. Sasha thought that the Speyside was her favorite, with fruity-banana like characteristics. Yulia even found a lighter Scotch that she liked. We all got to keep our tasting glasses.
After this it was too late to tour the castle, so we walked down the street to find some dinner. We found what looked like an interesting local restaurant, called the Filling Station. As it turned out, this was some kind of “Tipsy McStaggers” – a Scottish TGIFridays-type place. I ended up ordering Haggis Nuggets as an appetizer.
I’m not sure how I’m supposed to top that.