To read about this trip in order, you might want to scroll to Part One first!
To recap Part One……I spent an amazing week in Scotland with a group of friends – old and new – and had the best time! We flew to Glasgow and picked up a Cosmos bus tour that took us all over the country of Scotland where we had grand adventures, learned a lot, had great fun, and make awesome memories! This post picks up on Day Three in Edinburgh.
DAY THREE: We had a bit of a late start on Day Three – our Coach broke down (something about the doors not being able to close), so we had to wait for another coach to arrive. But, soon we were on our way to tour the capital of Scotland – Edinburgh. We picked up a local tour guide who talked us through what we were seeing as we drove through “New Town”, which was established in 1779….I guess “new” is a relative term – LOL. At one point during the day, we had a close encounter with Prince William and Kate, but didn’t know it at the time!!! We were stopped at an intersection and Mick (our tour guide that I introduced you to in Part One) pointed out that the royal residence for when the Queen or any of her family are in Scotland was just a couple buildings down the street. There was a lot of security and a motorcade in front of the building. Mick said that perhaps Prince Charles was in town to open Parliament in the Queen’s place. But, we heard on the news later that evening that Prince William and Kate were in town for some event. Sure wish we had gotten a glimpse of them!
After our drive through Edinburgh, we went to “Old Town” to visit Edinburgh Castle. This is a huge castle up on a hill overlooking Edinburgh that had a lot of very steep inclines and lots of uneven walking. After my trouble with the cobbled streets from the day before, my knee and back started screaming at me rather quickly…..I was concerned that I was going to make the rest of the trip a painful one, so I chose to only see part of the castle – I very much enjoyed what I did see and had some nice relaxing time in the sun – it was a beautiful day!
Looking down on Edinburgh from the castle
Some shots of Edinburgh during my walk back down to where the coach was parked waiting for us…..some of us went back to the hotel and some had some “on your own” time to walk around Edinburgh for a little bit and were picked up a couple hours later.
Someone on the coach asked Mick what the zig-zag lines on the side of the street were for. He said that those lines indicated the parking situation. He said a single line meant “no parking”, a double line meant “no parking – ever”, and a zig-zag line means “absolutely no parking – ever – ever”……and used one of his “Mick-isms for this…..he said, “We don’t have the death penalty in Scotland, except for those who park on a zig-zag line – we take our parking rules very seriously, here!” hahahaha
Later in the afternoon, we gathered for our second optional excursion. We went to a distillery and dinner after. The Holyrood Distillery tour was so interesting – we saw how gin and whiskey are distilled and tasted several examples. We learned that Single Malt has nothing to do with the quantity of malts — it simply means that it is all distilled in one distillery for the entire process, which means there is more control over the process and the aging. Blended malts mean it was distilled in multiple distilleries. We also learned that whiskey has to age in the cask for a minimum of three years and more, depending on the process used by the distillery. We also learned that gin has three basic ingredients – beeswax, sea salt, and juniper berry. I don’t like gin – I think it tastes like a Christmas tree! LOL But, I really liked the sample they gave us – they said they keep their gin pure, so it has less of a pine taste. And, the whiskeys we tried were so smooth – no burn at all!
I forget what this place was (saw it on the way to the pub), but it is cool, so I’ll include the photos! hehehe
After the distillery tour, we went to a Scottish Pub for dinner. Most of us chose the Fish ‘n Chips…..it was amazing!!! I also had a glass of Malt Smith Lager that was very good, too – a local brew.
The pub is reported to be haunted. It is located in the old Canongate Tolbooth, built in 1591. It was used to collect tolls from travelers entering the burgh, but has also been used as a Council Chamber, Police Court, and Prison…..and a suspected warlock was said to have been exorcised there.
Those at our table thought this looked like a cow on the back of a child……hhhmmm
My lager, fish ‘n chips, and sticky toffee pudding with ice cream……OMG – so good!!! We also learned that in Scotland, “dinner” is three or more courses and “supper” is two courses – entrée and dessert, typically. And, when a friend ordered a burger, they had the option of having it “with salad”, which meant it was topped with lettuce, tomato, and onion and they could get it “single” – just the burger – or “supper” – with chips!
DAY FOUR: On Day Four, we left Edinburgh and headed to St. Andrews, Pitlochery, Culloden Moor, and Strathpeffer.
We first crossed the bridge that took us over the Firth of Forth – a narrow estuary of the River Forth.
Our first stop of the day was for a photo shoot at St Andrews Cathedral – the ruins of a medieval Catholic Cathedral that was built in 1158. Really cool.
We then spent some time at St. Andrews Royal and Ancient Golf Club – the home of the rules of golf. It is a beautiful course and the beach that borders it was used for the opening scene of the movie “Chariots of Fire”.
The “Chariots of Fire” beach
We really only got to see a putting green and the 18th hole, but it was stunning! We also had plenty of time to wander around and check out the shops.
We had lunch and shopping time in Pitlochry – I had Steak Pie with chips…..it was incredible! The beef was tender and full of flavor and the gravy was so rich and delicious! The puff pastry was “on the side”, which I thought was a bit odd, but I just put it on top of the steak and gravy and it was amazing!!!
We also made a stop at a famous battlefield called “Culloden Moor” where Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Jacobite army were defeated by the British government under the command of the Duke of Cumberland. I didn’t get any photos, but here is a photo a friend took:
We also saw some Highland Cattle…..photo courtesy of a friend!
On the rest of the drive to the next hotel in Strathpeffer, we saw a lot of the beautiful country side of Scotland.
These yellow fields were everywhere! It is Rapeseed – it is grown for animal feed and to produce vegetable oil, similar to canola.
Our next hotel was the Ben Wyvis Hotel in Strathpeffer….very old, but elegant hotel, built in 1879! Stunning architecture and décor. For dinner that night, I chose the bruschetta, honey roasted gammon (which I found is ham that is cured differently than regular ham), and the salted caramel chocolate tart – for which I paid dearly with a restless night’s sleep because I consumed too much chocolate so late at night (dinners were 7:00 or after every night)…..but, it was so well worth it!!!
Here is my room and an actual key to open the door – not something you see too often, anymore:
I’ll end Part Two here…..Part Three coming soon!