At the Close.
Specifically, Edinburgh. You feel medieval Edinburgh the way some of us can know when a storm is in the air, even if your eyes are telling you that the sky is blue - your body tells you the truth. It's incredible, the moment you first drink in the deafening, somber beauty and impossible age of Old Town. We were so instantly blown away by it.
That's right, summer vacation recaps are back! Our home away from in Scotland was, quite fittingly, The Scotsman. Do you see the view of New Town from our room window? Amazing. Throw in the posh robes, slippers, and scotch-heavy minibar, and we were pleased as punch, even before we saw their insane underground swimming pool, with hot tubs, saunas and steam rooms:
Out of this world, no? It's where the printing presses used to be. We also discovered that they'd bring you a delicious beverage at absolutely any hour you wished. As you might know, the actual Scotsman is a British newspaper published in Edinburgh since 1817, and the hotel housed the paper's headquarters (with carrier pigeons and everything) for nearly a century until 2001, when it opened up to guests and quickly skyrocketed to become one of the world's best hotels. Also, like much of Old Town, it's famously haunted.
Confession: I LOVE SPOOKY HAUNTED STUFF. (More on that later, for our underground vault tour.)
We were famished when we arrived. Remember that last insanely full day in London? Well, we hopped into a car that took us to Gatwick, and popped over to Scotland on a quick flight. I don't think it was more than an hour or so. We settled into our room and I'm sure didn't make it out for dinner until 8PM or 9PM. We found The Albanach just around the corner, and enjoyed our first real Scottish meal. M ordered the lamb (at the top) and I had a beef stew (at the bottom). Doesn't it look gorgeous? We each ordered a nice scotch and watched as night finally fell over the town.
We decided to take a stroll and explore. It wasn't warm, but not very cold either, just right. There was still enough light that we felt perfectly safe wandering around.
Top left, New Town at dusk from Cockburn Street. Center left, The Royal Mile. Bottom left, The Scotsman at night.
Top right, Canongate Kirk (founded 1688 and used as a music venue at the Edinburgh Festival). Bottom right, clock detail on the Royal Mile.
Tugging a reluctant M, I made a beeline into the Canongate Churchyard. Many notables have been buried here, for centuries and centuries. I've always loved cemeteries - I miss no longer living so near one - but this is without a doubt the oldest I've ever been in, and it was surreal.
We'd have stayed longer but Edinburgh has these terribly creepy birds that fly around at dusk and the sound they make is as abrasive and unnerving as a witch's cackle. (MANY points to anyone who can tell us what those birds are.) We got all spooked and found ourselves a nice, cozy bar.
Holyrood 9A was a hip little place with a younger crowd and slick details, like the bronzed stag and candlelit mantelpiece. We moved on to Whiski on the Royal Mile, a multi-award winning bar. There was a band there playing traditional Scottish folk music and they were really amazing, the atmosphere was lively and there wasn't an inch on the walls that was boring to look at. We stayed until they stopped playing for the night and then made our way (so reluctantly!) home.
Next up: Scotch whisky and Scottish tartan museums, and the gorgeous 12th century St. Giles' Cathedral.
Have a lovely weekend, everyone!