Sunday, August 16, 2009

Scotland - the Orientation Phase

I had wanted to write this immediately upon my return, but, as with all holidays, 5 minutes after your return.............the realities of everyday life come crashing down around you :)

Two weeks later, I'm finally sitting down to write about my trip!

My father & I arrived in Edinburgh in the early afternoon - thanks to being able to sleep on the overnight/over water portion of the flight, neither of us felt any jetlag. Immediately you are struck with being surrounded by the charming Scottish accents, which quickly become 'normal', but how I miss them now that I am home :) When we told our cab driver (a woman, surprisingly enough) that we were there for the Gathering, she replied "Oh, that's right...........I forgot that was on." Since that was the entire reason for us going, we were both surprised. My memories of the Spirit of the West Song "The Old Sod" popped into my head......"There's none more Scots than the Scots abroad..........." I get the meaning now. We experienced this quite a bit, but at the same time, there were plenty of locals that knew all about it & were also participating.

Our first meal was had at what became our favourite pub, The Reverie . Excellent food (we did end up going traditional & ordered the recommended fish & chips), great price, quaint & lively atmosphere. They were setting up for a band & was all ready to hear some form of celtic music. The band, good as they were, was blues (!). Thought it a bit odd, but enjoyed them nonetheless.

The breakfast routine at our B&B was good - you chose your hot items from a list the night before. You came down to the dining room, table number the same as your room number. A continental breakfast was set up, with cereals, yoghurt, fruit, milk, juice & coffee. I had gone with traditional breakfast items (excellent sausages........I ended up having them nearly everyday we were in Edinburgh), while my father had chosen Haggis. I squeamishly gave it a try, quivering only slightly while raising a tiny forkful to my mouth. Surprisingly, my immediate reaction was that it tasted just like crumbled up, good quality pate. Strong in flavour, but not all.

Coffee, however, was somewhat unbearable for me...........panic started to set in. The coffee itself was fine, but I unfortunately have never been able to take it black, despite many attempts to do so. I tend to make a meal of my coffee...........lots of cream & lots of demerara sugar. They are tea drinkers in Scotland.............the dairy brought to me was skim milk. Skim.........I would actually prefer no coffee, however desperately I needed it. The sugar packets contained white sugar, something which I no longer prefer. I drank a scant cup & feared about the impending caffeine withdrawl.

We spent Friday strolling up the Royal Mile, the location for the big Clan Parade the following evening. Bought lots of trinkets (including the new love of my life, one I'll have for the rest of my days........the alpaca cardigan in my visions). One of my favourite momentos is a silver pocketwatch with a celtic pattern on the front - I haven't worn a watch in years & always rely on my cellphone for the time. To my surprise, I had no cell coverage there.......thanks SaskTel Mobility! In the end it was quicker to just ask my father for the time than fishing it out of my pocket & popping it open. I continue to wear it now that I'm at home, & back with my cellphone ways, just for show :)

Still suffering from caffeine withdrawl, & the fear of when it might end.......there it was, a Starbucks. I know, I's like going to McDonalds in Paris (which I also did, but I was 17......forgive me), but the siren was beckoning (ok, screaming). Outside the Starbucks I witnessed an unlikely couple of buskers - 2 pipers!

Once sufficiently replenished with caffeine upon consuming my Caramel Macchiatto, we continued on. Spending lots, eating & drinking lots. Over a lunch of bangers & mash, I enjoyed a lovely Bulmers Pear cider. The fruit (mostly apple) ciders immediately became my beverage of choice. Just a little bit bubbly, sweet, but not overly so, & light. You don't end up with that full belly feeling after drinking mugfuls of Guinness.

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