Edinburgh Doesn’t Rhyme With Pittsburgh
The locals pronounce it “Edinburrah” and all the other “burghs” (Fraserburgh, Musselburgh etc) have the same ending.
Ahh, Scotland. Yes, definitely a place I would and WILL return to! Yes, they do speak english there, but with quite a nice accent. Quite lovely to my ears. I found myself translating for Don, though. I’d just laugh and say, but honey, they are speaking english. I guess I’ve read so many Scottish romance novels, and listened to many more read by the wonderful Phil Gigante, that I was a little more used to the sound of it.
Our first stop in Scotland after a brief visit to Alnwick Gardens in Northumberland, (see previous blog post) was Edinburgh. We spent two nights there, not nearly enough time in my opinion. What a wonderful city! We visited “New Town” and “Old Town” and we drove up the narrow Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle where we spent the afternoon. When it was time to load up on the bus and return to our hotel, the hubs and I elected to stay longer and make the walk back down the Royal Mile after spending more time exploring and enjoying all the different views of Edinburgh from high atop the castle.
Walking back down the Royal Mile we must have went into every shop along the way. It was my intention to purchase a kilt for the mate… he has great legs and no doubt would rock the kilt look. Now, actual kilts are quite expensive, but they have economy kilts that look nice for the tourists to purchase. We decided to wait until later in the trip to purchase, surely on our last day in Glasgow we could pick one up there. Not. What the hell, Glasgow???? (Side note—I finally just a few weeks ago ordered him a kilt. Now he is a proud kilt owner. Kilt, sporran, socks, kilt pin. He has yet to actually try it on, because, well, I’ve been under the weather and I just didn’t know if I could take it. But, now there is nothing stopping me from enjoying that view… that’ll have to be another blog post on another day, though…)
While Edinburgh Castle sits high atop the hill on one end of the Royal Mile, Holyrood Palace sits at the other end. It was on our itinerary as a place to explore with a side note: except when the Queen is in residence. Well, as you recall she was in residence at Windsor Palace while we were in London so we did not get to visit there. Guess what? Yep, that darn Queen must be following us and putting a crimp in my vacation. There she was, in residence at Holyrood Palace the same time we were there so once again, foiled by the Queen of England.
Our second evening in Edinburgh we were treated to a Scottish Evening with dinner, wine and a show featuring singers, dancers, including the amazing Sword Dance, bagpipers and the Ceremony of the Haggis. Yes, the traditional pipin in, address and toast to the haggis set to the ‘Address to a Haggis’ by Robert Burns. What is Haggis you ask? Well, allow me to enlighten those of you who do not know. Dictionary.com defines Haggis as a traditional Scottish pudding made of the heart, liver, etc., of a sheep or calf, minced with suet and oatmeal, seasoned, and boiled in the stomach of the animal. Yes, I said boiled in the stomach of the animal. And we ate this. The mate thought it was really good. It was okay, if you didn’t think about it. Now, the bottles of wine they kept supplying to our table was another matter indeed. I partook of many a glass… a fact I was more than sorry for the next day as we drove from Edinburgh to Inverness. If you are not aware of it, Inverness is in the Highlands of Scotland. This was not a nice little straight highway drive. No, it was not. Hills, mountains, curves, oh my! On the way, we made a stop in Pitlochry to visit a whisky distillery where Edradour, a Highland single malt whisky is made. One, I’m not a scotch drinker, two I’m not an anything drinker after a night of wine over-indulgence. Of course they offered samples of which I smiled and thanked them politely while pretending to taste. The hubs did enjoy it and has looked for it here in the states to no avail. It is something he will have to order over the internet if he truly wants a bottle. By the time we arrived in Inverness, I was finally feeling more myself, but you can bet I had nothing stronger than tea that evening and the next.
We visited Culloden, where the final confrontation of the 1745 Jacobite Rising was fought and Between 1,500 and 2,000 Jacobites were killed or wounded in the brief battle. Some sad history that. I believe after that brutal defeat more civil penalties were introduced to weaken Gaelic culture and attack the Scottish clan system. They were forbidden to wear the tartan! Can you imagine?
Our hotel in Inverness was across the river Ness and facing Inverness Castle. We had a room with window looking out over the River Ness and the Castle. We had an actual KEY to get into our room. The hubs thought that was picture worthy when he unlocked the door, making a joke about how do you work this since these days you get magnetic cards and not keys.
From Inverness we made the drive along the shores of Loch Ness to the Inner Hebridean Isle of Skye. No, we did not see Nessie. The drive was quite harrowing for me. I sat next to the window on the left side. And as you know in Scotland they drive on the wrong side of the road. There was no shoulder to this road and when I would peer out the window it would be to a sheer drop right into Loch Ness. I could barely stand to look out the window. *shudders* While on Skye, we visited Eilean Donan Castle, one of the most photographed castles in the world—if you looked at a picture you’d probably recognize it. We also visited the Clan Donald Centre and visited the museum learning about 13 centuries of clan history. Don’t test me though I’m sure I’d fail.
Taking the ferry back to the mainland the next day we followed the “Road to the Isles,” stopping at Glenfinnan where I swear we were out walking and looked one way at the Glenfinnan Viaduct, the sun shining, beautiful and picturesque (I think one of the Harry Potter films had scenes shot here) then turned the other way and was hit in the face by a cold wind and rain. WTH? Typical Scotland. We continued on, stopping at Fort William beneath Ben Nevis (Ben is Scottish word for mountain peak) We also stopped along the “Bonnie Banks” of Loch Lomond. (Bet your singing that song now, aren’t you?—you’re welcome.
O ye’ll tak’ the high road and I’ll tak the low road,
An’ I’ll be in Scotland afore ye;
But me and my true love will never meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomon’
Our last day was spent in Glasgow. It was probably my least favorite city we visited. We did have an interesting evening when we decided to walk to St. George’s Square and sightsee around town. It was quite crowded there that evening with a stage set up and performances going on. As I looked around pretty much all I saw was couples. Same sex couples. Well, to each his own I am not judging, but coming from smalltown Ozarks USA I just don’t see that kind of thing regularly. I took another look up at the stage and noticed the banner hanging behind the performers. “Glasgow Pride” Well, okay. We just kinda walked around taking in the sights. Nice looking hunks in kilts hitting on Don… just kidding. I think.
We took a ferry to the Isle of Bute and visited Mount Stuart House, billed as Britain’s most spectacular Victorian gothic stately home. We had morning tea there and a tour of the house. I cannot even begin to describe it. Just google it.
The next day it was Glasgow airport and our flight home. I was treated to a full body pat-down and inspection of my luggage. What a way to end my trip.
So, this is just a few of the highpoints of our trip through Scotland. It was a lot to squeeze in, but a great overview and now I know I want to go back and spend several days in Edinburgh. From there, I think some hiking through the Great Glen would be a breathtaking experience as well as some hiking around some of the lochs. And, bonus, Edinburgh is just a short five hour (eight hour?) train ride to Paris, France… *the wheels are turning*
“Whit’s fur ye’ll no go past ye.”
Translation: ‘Whatever is meant to happen to you, will happen to you”!
Here’s hoping another trip to Scotland is meant to happen!