i feel like i have discovered a different [but in some ways, similar] world over here in scotland compared to canada. i had heard a lot about london–songs are written about the city, chick flicks eat up a main man with an english accent, businessmen and women fly to walk the streets in their important suits, doing important things. after london last week, kristen and i flew to edinburgh on monday afternoon.
unlike england, i don’t hear about scotland often in my daily life nor do i know much about it. i’ve never seen a chick flick based in scotland. i didn’t know if they had a native language [gaelic?! or is that irish!?] or if it was english and english only. my only memory of hearing a scottish accent is my grandpa galt [whose father–or perhaps grandfather–was born in scotland] acting silly in my childhood. when i was thirteen, grandpa lost about eighty percent of his voice; it was hard for him to talk loud enough for people to understand or to demonstrate his scottish tone. he was good at it. he was a proud scotsman from the mcdougall clan: he owned the family tartan, the family plaque — those were some good roots right there. at grandpa’s funeral five or six years ago, the bagpipes proudly started the memorial. i know he would have loved to have been there to hear.
flying into edinburgh at seven thirty was beautiful. i never stopped to think about how long the days must be this far north. i am not completely foreign to the beauty of northern summers… in vancouver, we have light until nine thirty come june. but the may days in edinburgh linger until nine themselves–praise the lord for sunshine. a thirty minute bus from the airport to the city centre, my soul exhaling every mile we traveled. i was so happy to be out of the big city.
i coordinated every detail for our trip. it’s in my nature to take charge–i know i’m fairly capable, i feel well traveled and kristen is happy to rest in whatever i do. [currently, as i write, she’s asleep beside me at the edinburgh airport. typical.] i know my way around booking flights, finding hotels, planning transportation routes–however, i’m not this good. when we arrived at the kingsway guest house monday evening and saw the “bed and breakfast” sign out front i thought, oh that’s cute and fun! i didn’t know it was a bed and breakfast! let me tell you, this booking was a goooooood decision.
we entered and were greeted by name, from a woman quickly introduced as lizzie. lizzie along with her husband garry, run the kingsway guest house–situated only a mile from most of the action in edinburgh–and have been for over three years now. we climbed the windy stairs up to our room, room number two. soft patterned wallpaper covered the walls, bright white furniture, a crystal chandelier, white bedding decorated with two gray tartan pillows. we were shown the breakfast menu and daily specials for each morning, served from eight to nine thirty in the dining room. it felt like home. [not that i get this kind of service at home, no offense mom, but i make my own breakfast every morning.]
the first of our two days staying in edinburgh was spent wandering the cobblestone streets. up and down the royal mile, admiring the views from the left to the right–remarking at how different than london this felt, how thrilled we were to be here. i have wonderful blog readers and i received a recommendation to eat at a shop called chocolate soup. amazing, economical place to have lunch! i had the vegetable soup and kristen had something more like a stew–filling and wonderful. apparently their specialty is hot chocolate and espresso drinks with chocolate, in general.
we wandered down princes street, stopping at costa coffee for a green tea and a break from the wind. after a little warmth, it was to the park with our bibles and our journals–i promised myself i would take time to reflect on this whole adventure. we sat in the sunshine until the cold urged us to start moving again. photographing whatever we wished, we slowly made our way to one of the five university campuses near the city–people watching the students who passed us.
after a restful and ridiculous afternoon, we settled on a place for dinner called under the stairs–after reading my friend robyn’s edinburgh city guide. it was after seven o’ clock when we made our way down the tiny stone steps to enter the restaurant. as we waited to be seated, i glanced around. students rested on gray tweed couches, their mugs of beer [half empty and frothy] placed nearby on low wood tables. two tables in the back sat larger groups, all with a drink in their hand, laughter filling the room. the room was dimly lit by the small amount of sunlight peeking through the basement windows with the street above us.
our waitress bounced over to ask, here for drinks or food, girls? she seated us at a circular wooden table near the front of the restaurant and i admired her simple style. a colourful bandana twisted into a headband, her short blonde hair pulled back into a bun. a graphic t-shirt paired with beige cords that stopped two inches above the ankle, revealing white keds. we ordered water to start–and she began listing the evening specials, straining to see the board across the room. on the tip of her keds, she moved her head left and right, trying to see around the other tables. in her soft accent, she apologized for not knowing with a sincere laugh and left to get a closer look.
under the stairs, as i can best think to describe it, is a pub, restaurant, coffee house combination. it feels like all three–and the business does all three excellently. it’s a small kitchen and the two larger groups made for a slow meal. we were warned in advance and enjoyed the hour before our meal with coffee. a “white” for kristen and two decaf black coffees for me. i need to note that the water pitcher came with cucumbers. i love cucumber water.
our waitress was so, so helpful and easy-going when it came to my allergies and modifying the menu: which honestly, i did not expect at a pub. my quarter chicken with pan-fried potatoes and sauteed kale was beautiful, kristen’s beef burger and sweet potato fries equally enjoyed by her. seven thirty turned to nine thirty after much conversation, people-watching and delightful eating. we paid our bill and left the restaurant for our guest house–wishing we could bring under the stairs home.