We came down from the mountain thinking that we’d missed an opportunity to attend service in one of Scotland’s cathedrals, but then we took a random turn down a random street and somehow came across this. God works in fun ways.
Day 2 (continued)
The church we attended in Edinburgh was live, mate. The music was pumping, the sermon practical and the people were actually our age. This brings to mind something I’ve been wanting to write about for a while but I’ll save it for another post.
We slipped away to a place called Ciao Roma for lunch and then meandered our way down the Royal Mile towards Edinburgh Castle. One of the things that makes Edinburgh so enjoyable, besides the attractions, are the little alleyways that run off from the main streets. Strolling by offers you glimpses of lives that you know nothing about: fellows out for a smoke, bright-eyed shopkeepers and people peering back, curious as you. St. Giles did not fail to impress, David Hume’s toe was well-rubbed and our necks began to hurt because of all the looking-up we were doing.
Although Edinburgh Castle was easily the most expensive attraction we checked out at £16 per person, the views were worth the money. How many castles do you get to explore in a lifetime? Sure, many rooms had been renovated for different display purposes but being able to clamber around battlements, peer through arrow slits and run up and down and along walls that soldiers in days long ago marched up and down was such a treat.The only room we didn’t manage to enter in time before the castle closed was the chapel, and by the time we exited the sky was drizzling over a picturesque view of Old Town.
Our next stop was a scotch learn-and-taste experience where we learned about the different scotch (whisky) producing regions of Scotland and had the chance to try small sips characteristic of those areas. The whiskies chosen had really distinctive flavours, with the Islay sample (Jack’s choice) being extremely smoky (think liquid barbeque musk) and the Highland sample being quite sweet and honey-like. I was most excited about learning of and tasting the different aromas, and then about being able to keep the glasses (aren’t they cute?)
Having a few hours to spare between the tour and the next one, we made our way over to Pizza Express. Since it’s a chain restaurant that’s quite popular in the UK I wouldn’t do a review. We did indulge ourselves though, starting with dough balls with three sauces: mozzarella, pesto and tomato); a feta cheese, sausage and rocket pizza to split; and Irish coffee and a date and mascarpone in cinnamon syrup to round off the meal.
At this point you’d think the day would be over, but instead we walked over to the beginning location for a tour of the Real Mary King’s Close, an underground area that used to be a series of open-air streets. In the 1300s, to develop the city, authorities had decided that building up and over streets would be more economical than destroying a whole mass of buildings. The result was a mess of structures and winding alleys overshadowed by towering apartments, some over ten stories tall. The impoverished would inhabit the lowest levels and the rooms that were now underground, and the rich would live in the middle, the safest and most stable portion of the building. The tour was for the most part in areas too dark to take proper pictures, so you’ll have to make do with this diagram (until you go on the tour yourself =D). Seeing the living conditions of those times and hearing stories of the underground was quite fascinating though, and Jack and I both enjoyed the time spent there.