Edinburgh Castle & Royal Mile

Scottish breakfast at the hotel is served with the choice of black pudding and haggis. For those of you unfamiliar with haggis, here is a description from Wikipedia: “Haggis is a savory pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver, and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and cooked while traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach though now often in an artificial casing instead. According to the 2001 English edition of the Larousse Gastronomique: ‘Although its description is not immediately appealing, haggis has an excellent nutty texture and delicious savory flavor’.” You don’t see it on my plate of ham and eggs, do you?

What I learned this time in Britain is about black pudding. According to the locals and Wikipedia: “Black pudding is a type of blood sausage originating in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It is made from pork blood, with pork fat or beef suet, and a cereal, usually oatmeal, oat groats or barley groats. The high proportion of cereal, along with the use of certain herbs such as pennyroyal, serves to distinguish black pudding from blood sausages eaten in other parts of the world.” I tried both the next day for breakfast. Haggis really is not that bad. The black pudding is not that good, or at least this kind wasn’t edible for my palate. The porridge is basically bland oatmeal which I doctored up with raisins and nuts and things to add a little flavor. Not the best breakfast but that’s okay. 

We chose Edinburgh Castle as our destination today and after breakfast, we decided to walk. And walk we did, and all uphill. I knew it was quite a hike uphill from a previous visit to the castle in the 90’s and I wanted to see if I could still do it 30 years later. And I did! All those days at the gym paid off! My motivation? It would be all downhill the rest of the day. 🙂

Because this is a holiday weekend (with bank holidays attached on each end extending the weekend), Edinburgh is insanely crowded. We pushed our way through the crowds to see the exhibits, snaked through Disneyland-like lines to get into the building to see the royal jewels, and tried to take photos above the crowds, realizing we’re just too short to get many good shots. All in all, it was enjoyable and Dick got to hang with his peeps (his heritage is Scottish, English and Welsh).

After fighting the crowds all morning, it was time to hit the Whiskey tasting – but the lines were out the door. Now I know you may not ever hear this again, that Dick would pass on whiskey, but the crowds were just too crazy. We walked on. There were several other whiskey establishments, each was equally busy as we couldn’t even get close to the entry door. No whiskey tasting today. Dick held back his tears of disappointment.

Down the Royal Mile we walked. By the way, the Royal Mile is not a mile at all. Check out the link for more details from Wikipedia. We decided to find a pub for lunch. The interesting thing in the pubs here is that a lot we have gone into serve cheese toasts (or cheese sandwiches), and macaroni and cheese for lunch. I just found that odd. I ordered soup and sandwich, but they served the cookie first so of course, I started with the cookie as one would do, right? And yes, it was as large as the plate!

The Royal Mile is filled with interesting shops, pubs, and historical places to visit. I wanted to see the Writers’ Museum which is located in Lady Stair’s Close. I read that to mean Lady Stair’s Closet so I thought there was clothes shopping involved after we visited the Writers’ Museum. (My brain just naturally put a ‘t’ at the end of the word ‘close’.) If an area is called a ‘close’ it simply means a courtyard or square. Well, that was a minor letdown.

The Writers’ Museum was a delightful little building, although it had a massive amount of spiral stairs to ascend and descend during our visit. But then, what building doesn’t in these ancient cities. This little museum had great artifacts and information on Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns, and Robert Louis Stephenson. 

Soaking up all this ancient history sure does work up one’s thirst and appetite. It’s time for a drink and dinner! On the recommendation of a local we met in a pub one evening, we ate at McKirdy’s Steakhouse tonight and couldn’t have had a better meal with nicer staff. We met one of the owner’s Colin who was more than happy to share his family’s heritage of butchers from back to his grandad’s days. The quality of the meat is superior. Dick ordered a rib eye steak and received a tomahawk prime that was out of this world. I ordered sticky ribs which were excellent too. 

I think we have thoroughly exhausted the eating and drinking portion of our day. We touristed up a few attractions with more to explore tomorrow.

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