What started out as a quest to get a new leather riding jacket ended up turning into a 3-day family vacation! You see, I have a motorcycle jacket ala racing-style from when I rode on crotch-rockets back in the day (going on 15 years now!). I’ve just been looking for a more classic look without the name “Harley” written all over it. I found a custom leather company up in Scotland that was 4 hours away from us and started working with them to procure the ultimate classic riding jacket.
Then I told Pam about it; she was insulted that I was planning a solo ride to someplace 45 miles south of Edinburgh (pronounced “Edinborough” using the proper English) to get measured and fit for the [stupid] jacket… the [brackets] entail more or less what came out of Pam’s mouth. I made it up to her by answering “Yes, Dear” during the ensuing hostage interrogation session: Do you know how much I want to see Scotland after reading the Outlander series?! (“Yes, Dear”), Don’t you think we oughta come with you?! (“Yes, Dear”), I’m going to book a place in Edinburgh for the weekend! (“Yes, Dear”). Thankfully, that strategy allowed me to make it without getting waterboarded.
So bellow out a “freeeeeedom” and hoist your kilts, ’cause Scotland-bound we were.
As everyone local I’ve met so far can attest, England has had a very fortunate streak of weather this summer with the majority of it being sun. This weekend was no different (thank God!). The ride up was very enjoyable – especially once we crossed over into Scotland with the rolling hills and twists in the roads. Of course, I got measured up (a shout out to Aero Leathers who stayed well after closing to measure and humor me for an hour or two) and then joined everyone in Edinburgh. It also proved a nice excursion with the company we had in town (Pam’s Aunt, Ana & Tori).
Edinburgh doesn’t seem too city-like (at least in the terms of London, Rome, or NYC). It’s small and quaint (for a semi-large city). It seems like it was just built upon itself in vertical levels: you think you’re on the ground level walking around, and then you walk over a road-bridge with an entire city block 300 feet below you! Edinburgh Castle dominates the city. It was built atop a burnt-out volcano; the sheer stone drop from the castle was impressive. Even cooler, statues of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace scowl down at you from either side of the entry portcullis. Edinburgh is exactly what I would imagine a Scottish town to be: not one building was built from anything else besides giant stone blocks. Unlike English or Italian buildings of similar time, Scottish buildings are just immoveable stone fortresses with straight, clean lines and none of the Renaissance clutter and over-detail. Simple and effective… I think “barbaric” could sum up that style. I like this architecture… it’s very “arts and crafts-esque” (in the woodworking sense).
We also completely just happened to be there while they had this Fringe Festival going on. It’s a festival of performing artists, mainly bleeding-heart theatre actors and comedians. You can go see quality shows (it can be hit and miss though) on the cheap… highly recommended. Apparently this festival is in more cities than just Edinburgh. Street performers were amassed on every corner, and entertainment was available 24/7 (even for the kids – we took them to this kid’s play that I fell asleep during… but they liked it…I guess it’s a win). In the evenings, Aunt Mary would watch the kids so Pam and I could go to some live stand-up comedy… this guy was especially hysterical.
As we continued to explore the town, Pam and I noticed something that just blew our minds. Take a look at these pictures and tell me your thoughts. In fact, click on them for a closer look if needed:
They are gutted out churches with beautiful stone architecture that have been turned into booze-it-up, score-some-ass nightclubs!!! Are you serious?!?! Pam and I just had to see what it was like inside one of them. Pam grabbed her lightning rod (me), and we risked the wrath of God by venturing inside. The situation did not improve. There was an old umpteenth-century pulpit behind the bar… that was being used as a DJ stand! What they really need to do is put confession booths next to all the exits of the place! I can’t fathom how this all came about, but you’ll notice that it just wasn’t one church data point, but three! And that’s only where we ventured. I’m sure the Saints of Scotland are rolling in their graves over these aberrations… (but the Chapel’s beer was still that good Scottish brewed cask ale! Ach, I’m going to Hell for just admitting that…). That’s why, in the panorama of the city above, I put *real* cathedral… at least that one was actually used for worship… of God… not Gluttony.
Of course, what Scottish trip isn’t complete without eating their national dishes: black pudding (congealed blood, or “eating scabs” as Pam puts it) and haggis (minced sheep heart, liver, lungs and stomach). Yep, I ate both multiple times and liked it. I even had haggis for breakfast my last morning there.
All of us wanted to stay when it came time to leave… of all the European cities I’ve visited, Edinburgh truly takes the #1 spot (with the Salzburg/Augustiner combo a close #2). Oh well, back to re-invade England…
I had to stop at the Scottish/English border for a hero shot and final salute. Every man dies, but not every man truly lives… I am now one step closer! (to truly living… not the other part)