Today was spent mostly travelling to Edinburgh. I ate plenty of pastries in Charles De Gaulle. Once I got to Scotland I was pretty content on just turning in early and sleeping an extra long amount. However, my one roommate is French so we immediately hit it off. His name is Aymen and he is in Edinburgh before hiking the highlands for 10 days. We grabbed a beer in the Hostel bar and then his friend Alexia arrived, whom he had met on a travel site. We all went out to dinner at Deacon Brodies Tavern, which had strong inspiration for the book Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. I had a traditional Scottish meal of Haggis which is like lamb stomach or something. It tasted fine and not disgusting. I actually enjoyed it. We moved from there to a place J.K. Rowling frequented for writing, thinking it was a bar. It was actually a café called the Elephant Room. So we decided to come back one morning, we changed direction to the White Hart Inn, one of the oldest bars in the city. We did some whiskey tasting and there was live music by my favorite Jamie Scott, whom I just met. The night turned out extremely well and we enjoyed our time together exploring, drinking, and chatting. It was much better than just going to bed.
Whiskey! That was easily the theme of today. I went on a coach to 2 different distilleries, Glengoyne and Deanston. I used the company Rabbies and they drove us straight to each distillery as well as a small town in Lochness National Park for lunch. I really didn’t know much about how to properly enjoy whisky before this. Especially since the night before I just took it as a shot and didn’t sit there and enjoy it. The biggest take away’s from all this were that Whiskey is distilled from beer with 3 simple ingredients: Sugar, Barley, and Water. As well as how to properly enjoy it: swish it in the glass, let it sit a few seconds, smell it, then on your first sip swish it in your mouth for as many years as it was left to ferment, the second simply enjoy, and the third add a few drops of water to break up the oils and enhance the tastes. Besides all this there were the intricacies of all of the processes and how there were specific guidelines in order for whiskey to be considered scotch. Each tour began with a tasting of the distilleries 12 year and ended with a tasting of their 18 year. I preferred Glengoyne to Deanston.
Once I got back I metup with Aymen, we went out for fish and chips with Alexia and a new girl Flora. She was also from France. The entire night was non-stop laughs because Flora was so surprised at how quickly I eat and would always get wide eyed each time she looked at my plate and how much more was gone. We would stopped at local bars the Scotsman Lounge and The Devils Advocate, each had live entertainment. The Devils Advocate’s live entertainment was their bartenders dancing to every song on the stereo. At the end we went our separate ways as Aymen and Alexia leave for the Highlands tomorrow.
I woke-up with Aymen so we could go grab a coffee and chat before he left for the highlands with Alexia today. I really enjoyed spending so much time with the two of them while I was in Edinburgh. After I saw them off at the tram I began exploring the town a bit. I walked along the park underneath the Castle and continued on to a hill that overlooked the city. It was beautiful; Resembling Sacre Coeure. I continued walking around but took frequent breaks back at the hostel to draw the day out. Aymen had recommended a tour at a place called Mary Kings Close. I happily went and was able to get on one of their tours that they run every 15 minutes. This was an amazing tour. This tour takes people through the way Scots used to live in the 17th century. You feel underground but you are technically not underground, just under building level. This is because all the houses were built on a hill so some go further down than others. We saw real and rebuilt rooms and received explanations of who would live here, how many lived here, and more fun, sometime disgusting, facts about life for these people. Prominent figures and events were also discussed. Unfortunately no photography was allowed but I highly recommend the tour!
I wrapped up, had dinner, and headed for the train station after a few pints to head to Manchester. The train ride went well, except it unexplainably terminated a stop early. Everyone continuing on had to transfer trains. It sucked but the people I met were pretty cool to talk to on the second train. I don’t know their names but one was there on vacation from America and another was a student on her daily commute! Once I got to Manchester Chloe and her mom, Karen, were waiting for me and we headed to their house for me to get settled in before we went into the city the next day! I was rooming with the only other boy in the house Max, he is 14 but we got scolded for staying up and talking about video games too late on a school night.
Full video: stay tuned