Our second day in Edinburgh was also our first day of the entire journey with no precipitation, to which we say jolly good. It was a day of business, wandering, happenstance, and, of course, discovery. We’d spent an aggravating evening making reservations for York, our next destination. We proceeded via public bus with surly driver (the one the day before was super) to Waverly station to purchase train tickets to same as well as to Bath, the destination after that.
The wandering began with a stroll across the park and different views of the city’s incredible skyline, perhaps even more impressive from below the bluffs than above them. And if you want honors to literature, you can’t beat this monument to Sir Walter Scott (after whose novels Waverly Station is named). From the distance, we’d thought it a cathedral, which we suppose was the intended effect. On to a rather expensive museum lunch during which I tried one of the national dishes–Haggis with neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes). I can perhaps most politely describe Haggis as a combination of ovine sweetbreads and chitterlings. Or, to put it more plainly, The first morning here,we were warned that Haggis is disgusting. We had cappuccinos in a little Italian cafe where the very Italian owner said they are made of sheep’s brains and intestines. How good is that?
Well, the dish was nicely done up with portobello mushrooms. The potatoes were deep fried, and the turnips were pickled. I guess it’s enough to say that the turnips were the best part of the dish and that I drowned the thing in ketchup after the first bite. But I’m proud to say I sallied forth with courage, unlike one other of us who enjoyed her leek and potato soup with a cowardly smile (not pictured).
We took in the national gallery, which had an entertaining Reubens (“Feast of Herod,” with Salome presenting J the B’s head on a platter to Herod’s consternation and the laughter of others in the crowd. Also this iconic ice skating minister as well as a ghostly picture by a Scotch impressionist named William McTaggart.
Then it was back up to the Royal Mile, where we failed in an attempt to buy tickets to the famous Military Tattoo (not horribly disappointed) and succeeded in finding a fringe show that fit our time schedule. In true street theater fashion, the casts were out there performing excerpts from the show and passing out fliers, in this case slips of paper snipped from a book of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales with the show’s location scribbled thereon. [No picture of them, unfortunately] Deciding on this show among the many choices available, we made our way to a blackbox theater tucked away behind a restaurant on North Bridge Street (North Bridge and South Bridge are real bridges across the avenues running through the deep gullies beneath them) and saw the entire Canterbury Tales condensed into an hour. The young and talented group gave us everything you’d expect from Fringe theater–music, shadow theater, energy, sincerity and intelligence packed into this unpolished but thoroughly entertaining piece.
Making our way from improvisation to elegance, we ended our evening with a sumptuous dinner in a restaurant called Rhubarb, a place in Ashleigh’s neighborhood that is set amid elegant grounds in a 17th century mansion, gorgeously appointed. “Would you care for a drink in one of our drawing rooms before going to your table?” And that sort of thing–surrounded by cushioned furniture upholstered in satin and velvet, drapes of similar fabrics, and flocked wallpaper–went on all evening. We were there for nearly four hours, which all passed as pleasantly as the breezes of the clement sunshine of he rest of the day. An evening that takes its place among our top ten. Thus endeth the second day in Edenburgh. On the morrow, it’s on to the Highlands.