Sunday, April 17, 2016

Enchanting Edinburgh

We landed in Edinburgh on Saturday morning after layovers in Detroit and Amsterdam (the joys of flying out of a regional airport!)

Very Early Morning View of SchuypolAirport Inernational Termian
We were booked into the Doubletree Edinburgh hotel.  As is typical after an overnight flight "across the pond,"  our rooms were not yet ready.  No Worries!  We checked our bags at the hotel and headed out for a hop on/ hop off bus tour of the city.  I used to scoff at these tourist bus tours, and in fact have NEVER taken one in my natal city of Chicago - but after a great steer from our cardiologist who pointed out that you get a 24-hour ticket and can use these tour buses for transport, we have started out many visits to international cities getting our bearings via these bus tours.  We took a two hour loop around the city and after disembarking, had a great lunch at one of my UK favorites, Wagamama.

Joan's Entree - Panko Breaded Eggplant with curry gravy and rice

Isabella's entree - chicken ramen

Who knew Elyse likes Duck?

We got back to the hotel and glory be, our rooms were ready.  We really enjoyed the warm chocolate chip cookies - a signature of Doubletree properties, no different here in Scotland.  The girls were tired, so Rich and I let them rest while we ventured out just across the street to a Scottish Pub, The Blue Blazer.  

The Signpost for the Blue Blazer Pub - our Doubletree Hotel property is visible in the background.

The interior of the Blue Blazer - a rhapsody of red!

Mosaic on the floor at the entrance of the Blue Blazer

We had an unremarkable dinner at the hotel dining room, and agreed to get up early and head up the hill in the morning to check out Edinburgh Castle.  

Since it WAS Easter, we brought some Easter Candy for the girls at breakfast.  The breakfast service in the hotel had a nice buffet, with a few items available to order to supplement the buffet.  The mushrooms were actually Portobello Mushroom caps.  We had a nice meal before setting out for the castle.  The weather seemed to be fair, until we made it the short way up to the top of the hill, where we were met by freezing drizzle and whipping winds. I did appreciate the ticket sellers at the castle asking every single person where they were visiting from, and engaging in a nice discussion about the  hometown of the visitor.  (Our observation was that the majority of visitors during our time in Scotland were from Spain.)

This kilt-clad lad actually studied at University of Alabama, and said he HATED the weather in Alabama.  He said he was warm!  I think you can guess he was the only one!

Rich and our Castle Host

Elyse, Rich and Isabella with the castle in the background - apologies for camera malfunctin

midway up the hill - there is a little cafe in these old castle homes

of the Ill-Fated (or devious - perspective is everything!) Mary Queen of Scots

A bust of a horse outside of the War Memorial on the grounds of Edinburgh Castle

One of the many suits of armor in the Armory

Elyse posing in a guard station

Isabella wasn't sure if she was allowed

the very photogenic Elyse in front of part of the War Memorial

From the castle, we headed outside of Edinburgh to Rosslyn Chapel, on the recommendation of my good friend Mary.  Sadly we are not permitted to photograph inside, but the property is a stunning example of stonemason's artistry. 

After our return to the hotel from Rosslyn Chapel, we walked a block and a half to a great Italian restaurant, Bar Italia.  I had gone for a walk the evening before and walked past this place, noting that there were Italians out on the street waiting for tables.  Even though there was an item on the menu called "Haggis Ravioli," we thought it was worth a try.  

Before ordering, the server brought this tray around to show the fresh pastas of the day.  Thumbs up!

So this was a daily special.  I misunderstood the server; I thought she said this had smoked bacon, so I was exapecting a saffron accented carbonara style dish.  It was actually smoked salmon...I am NOT a salmon fan, but honestly the fish was SO fresh and mild that it made for a delicious flavor profile. 

After dinner everyone was pretty tuckered out, but I decided to go for a walk around town.  I headed over the Grassmarket, up the Candlemaker's Crescent, and onto the Royal Mile.  It was a gorgeous night and there were loads of people around, with plenty of good people watching. 

Loved the idea of a comfy sofa in front of a bookseller

Glimpse of Edinburgh Castle from a Mews on the way to Grassmarket

I am SO hoping that V stands for "Very" 

Edinburgh is apparently mad (loco?) for Mexican food

I just walked by...but the building was very narrow, so I''m guessing that's what makes it the smallest pub?

Looking up the Candlemaker's Crescent

The Cathedral

A Scot Shop, resplendent with kilts.  Forgive me, I was thinking of Gareth in the movie "Four Weddings and a Funeral"

Some Tartan plaids on display.  We learned a LOT about the Clans on our day trip to the highlands on the next day

Springtime in the UK.  Mad for gardening and happy for spring.  I've learned to love primroses from the UK flowerboxes!

Looking down the Royal Mile toward Hollyrood Palace.  No filters! 

These two were promoting a ghost walking tour

Adam Smith, the (Scottish) Father of the Free Market Economy

Walking back down the Candlemaker's Crescent

Public Garden on the Crescent

Day trip to the Highlands and Loch Ness - Next Post!

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