I arrived in Edinburgh at about 9:00am, and navigated successfully to the express bus which quickly dropped me within a block of my hotel. This first night I have parted with a chunk of my stash of Hilton honors points, and I am staying for freebies at the Waldorf Astoria Caledonian. Very shmancy. The doorman is wearing a kilt and all the bellman have tartan pants. I was too early to get my room, but I did check in, and left my bags. After a cappucino in the “peacock room,” I ventured out.
Somehow I managed to get here with none of my books, especially my “top ten Scotland” book, which it have, not one, but two copies of, because I lost one in my house. Now there are two in the house, but none in Scotland. I had a map though, and since right outside the door there was the giant castle, it seemed easy enough to wing it. I walked towards said castle, passing through a small farmers market that contained among other things, a whole roasted pig that was being ladled out into some delicious looking sandwiches.
After a hike up the hill (pay attention geography students, cities are often built around hilltop sites, for defensive purposes) I stood in a long line for tickets to the castle, and had a nice chat with some Canadians. The castle itself, is of course, quite impressive. Huge cannons, beautifully restored royal rooms, and a very impressive and moving Scottish war memorial.
There is a small chapel near the top of the castle, and there were clues that something was up as a bagpiper appeared, and then I spotted a woman in a long pink dress. I spoke to her and it turns out that her granddaughter was getting married there. The best moment was when the bagpiper went into the tiny chapel to warm up and one by one the workers who were setting things up for the wedding tumbled out, rubbing their ears.
After the castle, I took a chance on the Scotch Whiskey Experience, which was a ride of sorts, inside a large barrel, as though you were going through the process of becoming whiskey. It was followed by and informative talk about the regions of Scotland and how they produce different tasting scotches because of the different environments. (Yet more geography!)
A walk back to the hotel, with a stop at a cafe below the church that is across the street. I might go to church there tomorrow morning. I had eyeballed one further away, but I like the proximity of this one.
Now I am in the bar, enjoying my free drink and watching some World Cup action, and after a little snack it will be bedtime, as I have been up for about a billion hours, it feels like.
My only disappointment today, aside from my ridiculous hurting foot, which I will mention no more from here on out, as it is tedious, was that I never got back to the pig guy for one of those pork sandwiches.