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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Chopin Down the Cathedral – Day 1 & 2 in Edinburgh

We arrived at our apartment after a short drive from the airport.  It’s a really nice place that only lacks for some sort of carpeting on the floor.  The place is a friggin echo chamber.  Nonetheless, we are very happy with it.  I was able to do my laundry and we were able to make an almost full English breakfast. 

I like Edinburgh.  I like the accent.  I like the architecture.  I like the layout of the city.  I like the countryside around it.  This is a very cool place.

We started out by doing the obvious tourist stuff.  We walked through the city center.  We went to the tourist centre to get a map.  We looked in the “Scotch” stores at the kilts.  We went to Edinburgh Castle.  The place is the epitome of a tourist trap.  Most of the rooms in the place were either exhibits of some sort or gift shops.  We saw about two rooms that were…rooms in a castle. 

Later, we stopped at a whiskey shop.  The guy there was very helpful and knew more about whiskey than anyone I’ve ever met.  He told us how they make it and how to drink it.  We even had a few samples just to make sure we were drinking it right.  We bought one big bottle to take home and four little ones for drinking until we get to our first distillery, which will be on Thursday.

They’ve got some really good food around here.  The day we arrived, we ate dinner at an Indian restaurant that was very good.   Yesterday at lunch, I had a falafel sandwich made Kurdish style.  It was the best dang falafel sandwich I’ve ever had.  The guy that ran the place was an Iraqi Kurd and he was very nice.  I think the Iraqi Kurds like Americans because we rescued them from Saddam.  He was very hard on the Kurds.

This morning we hiked up the hill in the center of town.  It is the first park in Edinburgh and has a Greek style structure at the top along with an observatory and several other monuments.  Beside the cool views, it was a reminder of just how old this town is.  We couldn’t believe our luck because we were having our second good weather day in a row.   So, we just walked. We went into some shops and had a look around.  Susan got a Scottish cookbook.

We passed by a place that had Scottish food.  I figured I had been in town long enough to have my first haggis.  So I had haggis.  It came with tatties, neeps and whiskey sauce.  Yummy!  “Tatties,” as you may have guessed are potatoes.  “Neeps,” are some type of sweet potato type vegetable.   Haggis has some sort of lamb entrails with some sort of grain.  It’s a keeper!

Tonight we went back to a very massive old cathedral which we saw yesterday because they were going to have some sort of Chopin concert there.  Turns out, he was born in 1810, so this is a special year.  The church had a professor and some of his students from the Krakow School of Music come in to perform.  They were amazing.  The prof and his two girls could play the hell out of the piano.  Chopin is no easy material and they tore it up.   There was a quartet with two violins, a viola and a cello to go along with the pianists and they were great too.  The cathedral provided some very interesting acoustics with its stone walls and high rounded ceilings.

On the way home, we stopped at the Black Bull pub (Edinburgh’s #1 rock and roll bar, apparently) and had a whiskey and a pint.  I think we were a bit of a novelty to the locals.  We were supposed to be wearing black leather, but I left my leathers back in MI.

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