Edinburgh: walking uphill both ways, part 2

We purchased coffee and breakfast snacks at the market across the street, and Oldest went for a morning run.  He’s a runner.  My offspring is a runner. He runs for fun.  I still can’t get over that one.

fullsizeoutput_45b5Anyway,  we began the day by walking uphill along the Royal Mile, our destination being Edinburgh Castle.     This wasn’t our first bagpiper sighting, but it was probably our most touristy.

 

 

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The castle itself,  which sits on a steep hill above Edinburgh,  is dark, imposing, and simply oozes history.  I have some Scottish blood, and  I had the very creepy feeling that some ancestors were watching me.  Scottish sorcery, I guess.

The green lawn visible in the forefront of the photo above is the castle’s dog cemetary. At least today we experienced typical atmospheric Scottish gloom.

Conveniently located just outside of the castle is the Scotch Whiskey Experience. Oldest and I didn’t know much about Scotch,  so we figured this would be a good way to learn about it.   A cheesy hologram guided us through the history of Scotch Whiskey,  we sampled aromas from the 5 major whiskey regions, and then we sat down for a tasting with about 10 other tourists.   Learning Moment Alert:  We do NOT like  Islay whiskeys (pronounced Isle-a,  not Iss-lay like we thought). Peat just doesn’t seem like something I want to ingest.  Oldest pretty much did not like Scotch, to be honest,  while I enjoyed a smooth Speyside and several blends.  A few photos from the Experience:

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Tasting room display
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aging barrels
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Lots-o-whiskey!
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cheesy ghost hologram

 

After dinner at the World’s End Pub just across from our AirBnb, we wandered uphill toward Greyfriars Bobby –  we love dogs –  but every photo we took included closed eyes.  Really,  we weren’t even drunk (yet).  We’ll try again,  we’re all about the photo op with a dog,  even if it’s just a statue.   After listening to quiet trad music at Sandy Bells,  we headed  to Cowgate, where we stumbled upon Stramash,  a dance hall with a stage and a fantastic band.  Amazingly,  even at my semi-advanced age,  I didn’t feel out of place –  it was that kind of club.   I don’t know,  maybe some nights it’s crazier or hipper,  but on this night, this mom & son fit right in.  We ended up dancing til 2 before walking uphill back home.  Some photos from our evening in Edinburgh:

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we tried…

 

 

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in the lassies’ bathroom

 

Edinburgh: walking up hill both ways, part 1

Not that I ever need an excuse to take a trip,  but the Oldest graduated from college with Honors in May, 2018.  With a secure job he wasn’t due to start until August,  it was the perfect time to embark on a two week journey to Scotland and Ireland. Edinburgh was our first destination.

The Oldest and I  landed in Edinburgh well rested after our first class flight on British Airways from JFK.  I looooooooove to fly first class on an eastbound, redeye, overseas trip.  I also loooooooooove finding such flights using points,  specifically “point saver” deals.   This one was booked utilizing 100,000 Avios Points (50k apiece) transferred through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

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Oldest settles into seat 63J

We got a particular kick out of having seats in the Upper Deck of the 747.  It felt like we were on a private jet!

Our first glimpse of Scotland, landing over the Firth of Forth (say that ten times fast): IMG_0676.jpg

Ah, Scotland.  Sunny, bright, and hot,  just the way it’s supposed to be.  Wait, what?

We may have been well rested, but finding the Airlink Bus, which involved reading signs (in English) and following arrows,  was more challenging than it should have been.   I should note here that we packed lightly for this trip –  a carry on + backpack each –  and now only 30 minutes after landing, I was extremely glad for this as we wandered this way and that, in 85 degree temps, searching for the bus.

The bus ride was fine, but it was also our introduction to a key feature of both Scotland and Ireland in the summertime:  AIR CONDITIONING IS NOT REALLY A THING.

Our AirBnB was a quick, uphill walk from Waverly bus station.  I highly recommend Allan’s 2 BR apartment, which was well appointed and extremely convenient.   https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/531292 We never met Allan during our stay, but he was kind enough to leave us a few Scottish goodies as a welcome gift.  The best part was a window seat with a corner view of lower High St. aka “The Royal Mile” aka Canongate and Jeffrey St./St. Mary’s St.

After a quick and tasty pub lunch at the No. 1 High Street Pub right below our apartment, we started exploring by walking, uphill,  in the direction of Edinburgh Castle at the top of High Street.  We ended up making a loop which took us through the bucolic Princes Street Gardens,  where many locals were soaking up the bright sunshine.  We sat right on the grass and took in the park scenery:


We shortly found our way uphill to the beergarden above Waverly mall,  which was lively with a happy hour crowd watching the World Cup.

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Beer!

After the beergarden stop,  we made our way back uphill toward our apartment.   But not without another stop, at the Whiski Room on High Street,  where the a one-man band playing pop tunes with backing tracks drew us in.  We quickly made friends with Dave,  who seemed to know everyone in the pub.  For my first (but not last) taste of Scottish charm,  Dave insisted that I couldn’t possibly be Oldest’s mother,  because I was only 32!  LOL. He bought us a round of drinks, which we returned in kind.

IMG_0687.jpgIt was a later night than we intended for Day 1,  but we enjoyed lots of laughs before walking uphill to our Edinburgh home.

 

 

 

How I became a travel addict

When it comes to travel,  I’m something of a late bloomer. As a child growing up outside of Chicago, I always looked forward to taking trips with my parents, and was lucky enough to visit Disney World and Hawaii before the age of 18.  Torch Lake, MI was a regular destination, as was Door County, WI.   Even a train ride to the big city was an adventure I loved!

After college, I relocated to New Jersey to get married and start a family at the age of 25.  Due to a lack of both funds and time,  my own first trips were short and sweet.  A road trip to Myrtle Beach.  Visiting family in Florida and Virginia. With a full time job and a growing family,  for many years there was little time for anything but a weekend at the Jersey Shore.

I enjoyed planning a few family trips –  a surprise trip to Disney World for my children,  a cruise, and a rented condo in Bethany Beach, DE.  I researched, budgeted, and booked everything.  Somehow, my husband was never quite happy with my choices.

After a 2007 divorce I should have seen coming (but didn’t),  I decided that the best way to regroup would be to take my two sons, then 12 and 7,  on a trip to Sweet Home Chicago.    With no husband to second guess me,  I felt that peculiar mix of discomfort and excitement that sparked my travel addiction.

So off we went, the “three musketeers” as we began calling ourselves.   We stayed in hotels, navigated mass transit, visited friends, and toured museums, skyscrapers, and ballparks.  I introduced the boys to all my hometown favorites:  deep dish pizza,  the “El”, Michigan Avenue, and the Cubs!

When I got home,  it quickly became apparent that there was only one thing to do:  begin planning my next adventure.  And the next, and the next…