So we arrived in Edinburgh! After going through immigration, we caught a taxi (and by the way the taxi's in Scotland have the roomiest passenger compartment we have ever experienced - they were very comfortable) and went to The Point Hotel. As we were being driven to the hotel, Dennis commented on the gas prices. Most stations were advertising gas for 99.9. Now it is hard to compare Pounds Sterling per liter to Dollars per gallon, but he figured that the cost was 3 or more times as expensive as back home.
As we said in our honeymoon registry, The Point is described as "stylish and contemporary" in central Edinburgh Hotel - "a class apart, combining stylish accommodation with contemporary design." It was chosen as one of the "top 50 design hotels in the world." The hotel was described as "in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle" and we were not too far from it at the bottom of the small mountain it was on.
The desk staff was very friendly and allowed us to check-in even though we were there very early. The lobby area was attractive and modern with the restaurant on one side and a bar on the other. Once we got on our floor the hallway walls were painted bright colors (purples, and greens, etc.) - very attractive and stylish. The room itself was a little small by American standards but functional. Lisa was a bit tired so we napped for a bit before getting started exploring the city.
First thing, once we got going again, was to grab a bite of lunch. There was a small pub across the street so we stopped there. We wanted to experience local cuisine as much as possible so this was a great way to start! We decided early on that we would each eat something different than each other so we could sample a variety of local foods. And eat well we did! We both gained 3 pounds on our trip, sigh.
Lisa had a "steak pie" which was like a homemade pot pie. Dennis had the "bangers and mash" which was kind of like putting a couple brats on top of mashed potatoes, then pouring gravy over the whole thing. He washed it down with an Irn Bru, which is the national soft-drink of Scotland and a bit hard to describe it's taste. It's sort of like orange soda with an aftertaste!
We then started exploring. We thought about walking up to the castle but doubted Lisa was up to climbing a mountain so we went the other direction on our "walk-about". We passed an old run down grave yard and explored that a bit (didn't see any Shaw names on the tombstones). It was cool and quiet there. We then continued and walked through park of the Princes Street Gardens. It was quite a contrast. Here was a beautiful place with tons of flowers and green space, right in the heart of the busy city with lots of traffic going by, and all at the same time you could admire the uninterrupted view of a medieval castle perched up on its rock above us. Lisa took pictures of the castle from afar and also one of a sundial made of flowers.
We then went shopping and where better than to the stores on Princes Street? It's hard to believe that Princes Street is part of the "New Town" of Edinburgh, which was built in the latter half of the 18th century during the reign of the Hanoverian King George III. How can some part of any city be "new" if it was built before our country became a country? Anyway, we had a good time with Dennis buying a Scotland cap, Clan Shaw plaque and several items he can use in his tent at Highland Games he participates in. Lisa picked up some music CDs that were not sold in the US.
On our way to get something to drink, we saw some street musicians from a distance. There were a couple of guys beating a big drum and one guy playing the bagpipes. The piper was bouncing and making his kilt fly around - he was obviously enjoying himself! We stopped at a place called "Filthy McNasty's" on Rose Street and had a pint of McEwans at a table outside. It was nice to get off our feet and rest a bit. Unfortunately by the time we finished our drinks and left, the street musicians were no longer where we had seen them. We would have loved to get a picture of them - where else except Scotland would you find a piper as a street musician?
It was getting late so we started to walk back to the hotel. Dennis saw on the map a way he figured we could go to get back but when it was obvious we were going up and up toward the castle, we caught a cab back. Our castle tour would come soon enough.
After we cleaned up at the hotel, we decided we'd treat ourselves to a nice 3-course dinner at the Point Hotel restaurant. What a great experience! For starters, Lisa had griddled rainbow trout on potato and chive salad while Dennis had the onion soup. Then for the main course, Lisa had a grilled fillet of Greek sea bass while Dennis had the goulash of Scotch beef. For desserts, we had a Belgian chocolate mousse cup with strawberries and chantilly and also a baked lemon and ginger cheesecake with fruit parfait. To drink, Lisa had a Vespa Martini while Dennis enjoyed a nice single malt Scotch Whiskey (which came from the Speyside area near where the Clan Shaw is from). As became our tradition whenever we stopped for a meal, we toasted to those who purchased the meal for us via our honeymoon registry. Not only was this meal excellent, it was the best meal we had on our entire trip!
A perfect end to our perfect first day in Europe!