Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Life of the Mayers + Kestermann: Edinburgh Castle and Other Awesomeness

If you have time (and you will need a few hours) to do only one thing in Edinburgh make sure you choose to see Edinburgh Castle. It is BEAUTIFUL! You can easily walk to the castle or catch a bus, the walk is worth it, just for the sights along the way. I estimate that we were here for at least 3-4 hours, but easily could have spent more time (we got tired of standing and hungry). There is not much more to say than that, as the picture below speak for themselves. Warning, this is a long post, as it was a single day and my favorite city.

My two favorites and the walk to the castle

The city below

The chapel, they still host wedding here

How cool would it be to get married here?!?!?!

Adam wanted to play so badly

The Great Hall

You could fit a small car in the fireplace

Would love this as my reading nook

The woodwork was incredibly ornate

Daily firing of the cannon at 1p, to orient the seafarers to the time

View down onto Princes Street

The man who fired the cannon and the shell remaining

Stuck in the prison

Inside the prison

Adam wanted to "invest", this did not happen

The Royal Mile

All the tour books tell you to do "The Royal Mile" road down from the Castle, unless you really enjoy overpriced tourist shops with identical things, definitely skip this. We made it about 100 yards down it before we abandoned ships to the more interesting side streets.

St. Giles Cathedral

So many fun and picturesque alleyways

A favorite pict of mine, not sure if Adam was going to me or his scotch, but came out well

Just FYI: England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland are not on the Euro money system, still using the Pound Sterling. This currently LOVES coins: 1 pence, 2p, 5p (thing 1 cent, 2 cent, 5 cent), 10p, 20p, 50p, 1 pound, and 2 pound. All different sizes, colors, and thicknesses. Similar to us, but with a few more options.

So many coins, trying to figure it out


Hebrides is definitely a "local" bar. A very friendly and social local bar. We were there too early for the music, but this is where everyone comes to catch the best music in the city in the evening. We sat at the bar and happily engaged with the bartender and the patrons for quite a while while Adam sampled a variety of scotches.

The Balmoral Hotel

Jenners: Outside

Jenners is a modern store (similar to Macy's) that is outfitted in a historic building. It is located centrally on Princes Street (the main street through central Edinburgh), and it worth a quick visit just for the ornate exterior and interior architecture. They definitely don't build stores like this anymore. There are marble staircases on the inside as well.

Jenners: Inside

LOVE my honorary Scotsman

Scouting out locations for the next day

Adam's overwhelming options

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Time for Scotland and NORA DAY!!!!!!!!!!

With the Steelers game done, it was time to get a move on, and to Edinburgh Scotland we go. Not only that, the bestest friend ever, my friend Nora, was joining us for this leg of the trip. I was REALLY excited for Edinburgh, and Scotland, but I was OBNOXIOUSLY EXCITED to see Nora. She is my roomie from college and lives in Germany (she is German, so I can't be too mad at her for this fact). We last saw her 2.5 years ago, on our first Europe trip that included Berlin.
We opted to take the Express train from London-King's Cross station to Edinburgh, to be able to sit back and relax, while enjoying the scenery. One thing that did NOT come to mind was the fact that King's Cross Station was the station from the Harry Potter series from which the departed to Hogwarts. Adam did, and found this little area while I was scouting out the bookstore, and brought me too it. I was embarrassingly (sorry my Love) excited for this, it was completely set up for tourists, and I was ALL ABOUT IT. Fortunately for Adam, it was a week day, late enough to miss the morning rush our, so there was no one around.

I was a Harry Potter geek too...

The train station itself is quite architecturally interesting, so it was really fun just to walk around all of it and take in its modern beauty.

Awesome train station roof

If you are ever making the journey from England to Scotland, I would recommend the train, it really was a nice and smooth ride through the vast countryside, and the scenery was beautiful.

Below are the sites we passed on our walk through downtown Edinburgh, from the train station to the apartment we were staying in. We will view all of these places in much greater depth later on. First impressions though, Edinburgh is a breathtakingly BEAUTIFUL city. You could do nothing but walk around for days to see all of its splendor, and thoroughly enjoy yourself. This is exactly what we did actually. And LOVED it.

The Scott Memorial

Edinburgh Castle

Close up of the Castle

I'm do you wash my clothes?!?!?!

When we first got the the apartment we had three objectives: Do the laundry, eat some lunch, and take a shower. Adam assumed laundry duty and I covered lunch. Well, above was the washing machine dials...Adam had fun playing with that. Eventually the clothes did get washed. Below is my attempt at toasting bread. I actually set the toaster on fire. With actual flames. I have never done this in my life, but within 10 minutes at this place, I am practically burning it down. An interesting thing about the electrical plugs in Great Britain is that there is a switch to turn them on. So you have the electrical sockets, and a switch next to them to turn on. It took us a bit to figure that one out, so hopefully this is some helpful info for those of you traveling there in the future and trying to figure out why none of the outlets are working.

Tried to burn the place down with lunch

After we met our three initial objectives, we IMMEDIATELY went out to find Adam scotch. This was one of the things he was looking forward to the most on the trip, tasting as many different types of scotch as he could. This awesome little pub was a 5 minute walk from the apartment and where we camped awaiting Nora's arrival. Unfortunetly, I did not write down the name of this pub, but it was awesome and we came back a few times. It was on the corner right next to the Haymarket Train Station.

Adam M U S T have scotch N O W

Scotch selection

I have cider, Adam a beer while TRYING to pick a scotch

First scotch of the trip, welcome to Scotland

Original water spout (think 200 years old) for the scotch

If the picts look familiar, yes we left the pub to meet Nora and then came back. It was that cool of a place.

Nora arrived

Nora is one of those rare soulmate friends that you have in life and I love her to death. The Fall semester of my senior year at Juniata was quite a life-altering one, I met both Adam and Nora. We were only roommates for the Spring semester, but have been best friends ever since. Something with her just always clicks and we any time together is always filled with stimulating conversations and belly-aching laughter with tear-filled eyes (proof further down). That, and she and Adam team up on me and have a good ole time.

Adam's patience for our catching up

Amazing food. AMAZING company. Really good wine too.

Nora is vegetarian, so we scouted out a place via Yelp and came across Henderson's. This place we DELICIOUS. (We really had great luck with food on this trip, in countries not really known for their cuisine). Even Adam loved it, and he likes an animal to have died for all of his meals. If in Edinburgh, do yourself a favor and eat here. If this place was feeding me, I could VERY EASILY convert to vegetarianism. And you know how much I love my sushi and cow.

Missed this girl. Always a great time.

You can still see my tears from laughing so much

Ahhhh....miss her so much.