Trip to Scotland, May 2002

The following is converted from an old email (and the blog is back dated):

Hi you all!

I am writing this in English since I don’t want to send this mail in two versions, one in English and one in Swedish. This weekend we spent in Edinburgh, Scotland, with Kiki and Richard. They are friends of ours who we met in the States about 10 years ago. Kiki, from Germany, stayed in Rockford and Richard, from New Zealand, stayed in Lake Forest, just outside of Chicago.

Friday last week we took a flight from Amsterdam to Edinburgh. It was amazingly packed at Schiphol due to Koninginnedag (Queens Day) and school holidays. After having endured almost 90 minutes of queueing with rude Dutch who constantly tried to cut in front of you we finally got our boarding passes and got on the plane. The flight from Amsterdam to Edinburgh was uneventful, just a little rough at the landing: it was windy in Edinburgh.

Kiki picked us up and drove us in to their apartment, located within walking distance to the centre of Edinburgh. A very British apartment, I’d say, with all the little quirks that you would expect (a combined shower and bathtub with separate taps for each, hot water that had to be turned on from outside the bath room, and a floor that was amazingly squeeky to name but a few :-). Later that evening we went out for dinner, to a restaurant with Sudanese food; oh my, it was good!

The Saturday Dita and I spent walking around Edinburgh taking in some of the sites. After having being helped to the tourist information centre by Richard and Kiki we took off on our own. The castle was on the top of the list, with the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre as a close second. We took a (free) guided tour of the outer parts of the castle and then wandered through the exibition of the Scottish regalia (the oldest regalia in Britain they proudly told us). Then off to the Sotch Whisky Heritage Centre! We got to know almost all there is to know about whisky, there was a lack of practical experience with it though. A small glass of Ballantine’s Finest was offered at the start of the tour, but none of the real stuff (or the real McCoy, which is a Scotch-related expression from the abolition in the States, a scotsman (McCoy) realised that most of the spirits in the States at that time tastes like crap so he saw his chance and started smuggling the genuine article over there, the real McCoy!). Anyway, it was well worth the visit, and of course a small stop at the gift shop was needed to get some of the Aqua Vitae (10 yo Laphroaig). Since we had tickets for ‘The King and I’ for later that night we headed back to the apartment and had a great dinner. The show was great and we wouldn’t have wanted to miss it for the world, the only set-back was the lack of posters on sale, we searched in vain for one to put next to our ‘Phantom of the Opera’ poster :-(

The following day, Sunday, we jumped on a bus and went out to Leith, the port of Edinburgh were Britannia is (permanently) anchored. It is the royal yacht, and it was in use from 1953 until the late 90’s (if I remember correctly now). Very impressive, indeed! They are meticulous when it comes to their royal family, the English. After that we went and quickly walked through Holyroodhouse, a royal palace in Edinburgh situated at the opposite end of the Royal Mile compared to the castle. It wasn’t really worth the money, some parts of it was closed for repairs so maybe it is more impressive on a regular day. Then we had tea in a tea house, a very British little cafe that served only tea and chocolate (hot and cold) ranging from just under two pounds up to over 8 pounds per cup.

On Monday we first tried to find a place that served breakfast. Since we were to pick up our hired car from Arnold Clark at Lochrin Place we searched the neighbouring streets for a place. After quite some time we found Ndebele where they served South African food, and they had breakfast. After getting the car (and having to explain just where the P on my MasterCard comes from) we started driving up towards Stirling. When driving through the gorgeous landscape, we realised just how flat The Netherlands is and how much we have missed seeing some rolling hills and mountains. Apparently we aren’t the only inhabitants of Holland who think so since we saw several cars with Dutch plates. It is said that whoever controls Stirling controls Scotland and it was a place of uttermost importance in old days, and they still have the buildings to prove it. It seems Robert the Bruce had a thing for demolishing castles (the Edinburgh castle was levelled with the ground on his command too) so the castle was relatively young. Positioned on the top of a hill it totally controlled the surrounding areas, and of course the view was spectacular. After a (free) guided tour we took the car and drove out to the Wallace monument, when we got there we realised that we didn’t really have the energy to climb up the hill and the monumentss stairs to take in the view, so we decided to return to Edinburgh again.

Our last day in Scotland, Tuesday, we got up quite early (early for a vacation anyway) and drove towards Loch Lomond. We were regularly passed by cars in more hurry than we (we only made about 40 on roads that allowed 50 mph) since I wanted to take in the views while driving. After a couple of stops along the lake and one at Furloch(?) Falls we reached Crianlarich where we had some lunch. Then we set out on the road along Loch Earn towards Perth. We took a guided tour at Glenturret distillery and got a little more practical whisky knowledge, a tasting of their 12 yo whisky. After another purchase, this time a bottle of 12 yo Glenturret, we drove on towards Perth. Dita wanted to see the Aberdour castle, but they were doing some restructuring so we had to enter through Silver Sands according to a sign at the regular entrance. However, after driving around for a while and not finding the entrance we gave up and returned to Edinburgh. Wednesday at 11:00 we borded our plane and had another eventless flight back to Amsterdam. Edinburgh and Scotland was amazing, with many, many things to do and see, maybe too many! The landscape is breathtaking and there is an abundance of historical sites. Edinburgh alone I think could easily take more than a week to explore. We know a few things that we would have liked to do, but we didn’t have the time, so it isn’t too unlikely that there’ll be another trip some time in the future.

We have taken quite some photos, so if anyone is interested you can just drop by and have a look. Of course they will be accompanied by some single malt water of life :-)

That’s it for now!

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