Friday, April 29, 2011

Scotland: Part Two

No Eggs in Edinburgh
Good Friday is not a public holiday in Scotland. All of the locals we talked to were not happy about that. They were also quite upset about having to work on Easter Sunday. At least three times we heard from youth around our age that people should be in church on Sunday, not shopping or working. I told them that Good Friday was indeed a holiday in Canada, but that the government had decided to hold advanced polls. They were outraged! (Elections are coming up in Scotland as well.)

Princes Street and Gardens
So, on Good Friday we walked up and down the Royal Mile, in and out of shops along Princes Street, through the Princes Street Gardens, and around the outside of Holyroodhouse and the Parliament. The Parliament building is stunningly modern. I think it's great. Tall Guy thinks it's an eyesore.

Saturday morning was rainy. We started off on the wrong foot at Garfunkel's, a chain I will never again visit: we stood waiting at the "wait to be seated" sign for more than 5 minutes, before being told that we could just sit anywhere. Then we waited for 10 minutes to order breakfast. I ordered eggs.Keep in mind that almost all of the breakfast options included eggs....

Waitress:  "We don't have eggs...pick something else".

Me, with a raised eyebrow: "Excuse me? You don't have eggs? Are you serious?"

Waitress: "No eggs. We're waiting for a delivery".

Me, with two raised eyebrows: "Are you expecting a delivery in the next few minutes?"

Waitress: "Not really... hopefully later today".

Me, with no eyebrows because they're right up at my hairline: "Don't you think you should put a sign up in the window, or say, 'oh, by the way, we're out of eggs' to customers before you seat them?"

Waitress, as she hurries away: "no eggs"

As we left I informed the rest of the customers that there were no eggs. Almost everyone followed us out the door. We went into a place called the Filling Station. "This is going to sound really strange, but do you have eggs?" I asked our waiter, thinking that maybe but not likely, the egg trucks for Edinburgh could have been in an accident .... "Eggs? Of course" he answered.
The Rossyln Chapel
We headed to the bus station to go to the Rosslyn Chapel, a beautiful little church of Da Vinci Code fame. We noticed people on other buses using exact change to pay for their tickets, and we only had 20s. Great. Tall Guy sent me to a cafe to ask for change. No luck. The Scot monument. No luck. I ran down the street to a change machine. Out of order, no luck. I popped into a store and bought a postcard, thinking the bus would have passed. LUCK.
I saw Tall Guy frantically waving, one foot in the bus, so I started to run. I just made it into the bus and was about to drop change into the machine when Tall Guy whips out a pile of coins. What??? "I went across the road and bought a post card..." he said. Anyway, he dropped in two pounds and we moved to sit down. "WAIT" said the driver. "One pound fare". I said that yes, we put in two pounds, one for each of us. "NO! One pound FARE" he insisted. Again I said yes, one pound times two people... two pounds. It turns out he was saying thirty, not fare, so we still needed to pay 60 pence. Oops.
Ooo, what's inside?
We came back into the city and the pouring rain. Good thing we went outdoor gear shopping in Glasgow! Our raincoats kept us dry as we explored the castle (a very pricey visit that SHOULD include the audio guide, but doesn't, unlike Holyroodhouse). Then the sun came out again, hooray, so we walked around the outside parts of the castle complex once more.

We took advantage of the sun and went for a pre-dinner hike for some great city views. Before reaching the summit (Aurthur's Seat), we had to turn around to get ready for dinner at the Mussel Inn.

The Mussel Inn was a definite highlight: fresh oysters, fresh mussels, fresh fish of all kinds, and fresh chocolate creme brulee...

A seafood feast at Mussel Inn
We were tired on Easter Sunday, but made it to St. Giles for communion (Communion was long and not very well organized, but the choir was excellent!). Then we walked up to Arthur's Seat again for a daytime view of Edinburgh and a second-hand egg hunt (stepping on remnants of colourful hard-boiled eggs), and on to Holyroodhouse Palace. Tall Guy was disappointed that our self-guided tour didn't include the Queen's bathroom.
St. Giles
We rounded out the day with a peek inside the National Gallery, a small but lovely art collection (again I was reminded of Hamburg). For art lovers, there's a number of gems including a religious Vermeer and a lovely Rafael. For non-art lovers, it's a good survey collection that is small enough to take in in a short visit.

We walked back to the hotel and crashed in the lounge until it was time to head to the station. On the way home, the train passed through Dunbar (this pic's for you, Biker Dude and Future Mrs Biker!).
Passing through the town of Dunbar on the train
Now it's back to the grind of London. The air might not be as fresh here, but it's certainly filled with a charge of excitement for Friday... watch for a celebratory post soon!

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