Tuesday 5 June 2012

I did it...

... eventually tried Haggis! ... and it doesn't taste too bad at all! I felt like being thrown into a time warp back to when I was a student thriving on cheap liver sausage. The haggis at The Links Hotel Edinburgh was spicy and had a quite good consistency. Thus now I am not just on a Whisky quest but on a Haggis quest, too. I decided that I should try porridge as well - nope, even after 12 years in the country I never had porridge and now feel the urge to remedy that!

It appears that this trip is becoming a quest for all sorts of things. On our last day in Edinburgh we brought the Whisky challenge into full gear. A tour at The  Scotch Whisky Experience helped setting the scene for the entire trip. There was a very charming ghost accompanied by a cat describing the process of Whisky creation, and a very much alive guide explaining the specialties of each of the four main Scottish regions for single malt: Lowland, Highland, Islay and Speyside - 'single malt' meaning one distillery and one type of cereal, usually barley, in one bottle.  Of course we did some tasting and then, quite unexpectedly, found ourselves in the largest Whisky collection of the world. It was AMAZING!
only one shelf of the world's largest Whisky collection. There were about 4 of those.

... and very special bottle - limited edition only given to Royals and presidents

Of course it is very exhausting to go to school like this; one needs a break! Coffee and cake it is, and if the cake is an Ecclefechan Tart the day is a really good one. This is a very buttery rich fruit cake local to the Edinburgh area and it determined the ultimate purpose of this trip... not a holiday, No! I am now determined to not just find the best haggis and the best Whisky, but the best cake/sweet as well. Who would have thought that Scotland would be the one of all places wanting to do that?

Quest aside: We needed to comply to our sightseeing duties as well and hopped on the bus to see the Royal Yacht Britannia. We should have booked the tickets; the wait however was bearable, due to queuing in a mall while enjoying an ice-cream. Although big, it was not as impressive as I thought. One has to take into account that parts are still under restoration, the rest is very nicely displayed, though. It just appears to me as rather modest - well, or old fashioned, given that a queen was traveling on it. 

The bed of the Queen - I know I would feel like falling out!
The tiny bed impressed me most, how did she not fall out of it, it's a wonky environment after all! 

Communication Queen Style!
Altogether a nice experience. And off we whizzed off to the Balmoral hotel, where the booked Afternoon tea was waiting for us. Those never look a lot, but we were stuffed by the end of it and due to the late hour we were aiming for a break.

Sandwiches, scones, and cakes at Balmoral hotel

A very sparkly drink for hubby
and a yummy less sparkly version for me

The bus chauffeured us close to the hotel and after a rest we couldn't help but going for a little pub crawl. It turns out that we are much too inexperienced, we only managed two pubs and a cocktail bar; the first pub was very pretty and had good whiskys, the second one fell into the category interesting and was chosen as the only place still offering a grub, while the latter had an impressive cocktail list, a little bit confusing decor and was named The Dragonfly.  If you like cocktails, definitely a place to visit in Edinburgh.

So what did I take home from the Edinburgh leg of the trip?

Edinburgh is definitely worth a visit, most of the things can be done walking, for the rest of it, like the Britannia, take a bus or a taxi; having a car is not worth the money. And for the airport there is a bus anyway. Hotels, bars and pubs are plentiful and of all kinds; they can be found everywhere and in good density around the inner town (Princess street, Grassmarket), Tripadvisor gives rankings which are rather trustworthy, and I would use The Links Hotel again anytime, trying to get hold of room 110, or 120 as very calm twin rooms.

So off we go now to Islay to explore the Whisky situation.

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