love with old town Edinburgh, I can't handle another tourist shop. Every other store or so, they are becoming a bit monotonous as they all selling the same thing! Foolishly I went into a few, hoping to find something worthy of spending my money on, but was sadly disappointed. And there's 100's of these! Cheap kilts, sporrans, clan scarves, cashmere gloves and a plethora of ridiculous items. It's so sad to think that some people's memories of a country could come from a plaid pen, thistle magnet, or kilt-shaped coffee cozy. And the streams of people paying 5 times for packages of shortbread when the grocer is just around the corner...
As you can see, I needed a little change for today. So I headed towards 'Arthur's Seat'. Opposite the castle on the Royal Mile this huge park lies beside Holyrood Palace. An old
volcano, this is the highest peak in Edinburgh. Imposing from the road, I prayed that the rain would hold off as long as I was hiking. Starting off, I decided the best route was the 'Radical Trail' (as opposed to the fluffy-bunny trail). I started my way up and quickly realized that although imposing looking from the road, the terrain wasn't so steep at all. The more I climbed the more amazing the views became. The old town, then the new town, the Pentland Hills, the Firth of Forth, and finally Fife (Futh? Fofe? Froth?). Walking past the towering Salisbury Crags I saw the trail descent only to rise to new
heights. The true peak was revealed - unseen from the road by the initial rise and crags. All stairs set into the volcanic rock to make climbing easier. I was momentarily daunted until I saw come crazy fitness freaks running up and down! They were the only ones I encountered on that part of the climb. Supposedly, coming to the seat from the opposite direction gives a gradual grassy slope to the top. I liked my approach better. The wind was tremendous as I got to the top and i was very thankful that the direction was blowing me into the hill, not off of it as it caused me to loose my footing several times. But as always, summiting is a great feeling, so I sat and soaked in the views before descending.
After my little respire, I was better able to cope with the bustling crowds of tourists shuffling
down the street trying to read their maps. I had some important business to attend to: Whiskey and Cheese. Into Smellie Mellie's for some wonderful samples and difficult decisions, and onto the Whiskey Shop for some more hard choices. I've actually found a whiskey that my palate can tolerate. It's a liqueur where a single malt whiskey is blended with honey and sloe berries. It softens the harshness of the whiskey a bit and makes for a pleasant sip (although Brian and Pete found it too sweet!). My other item on the agenda was the infamous deep fried Mars Bar. I decided that after my hike I deserved it; however, it was not to be found. Supposedly it was a rather short-lived fad and isn't as readily available now (which was OK with me).
Then during the last 1/2 hr of wandering of the day I was drawn by the sound of drums and a
growing crowd. Getting closer, I saw a whole group of burly tattooed men with long hair flying and kilts swaying while they danced and drummed - my kinda show! And their music was amazing too ;) I'd been hoping to pick up some good Scottish music with pipes, but so far all I'd found that appealed was a bagpipe version of Thunderstruck. This was much better! Since I didn't have a video camera, here's a few poor quality videos others have posted. Take a look if you're interested!
For my day 'in town' today, I decided that I needed to get 'out of town'. As much as I've fallen