Here's a rollup of all the updates Bonnie wrote during our two-week trip to London and Scotland, plus some extras. You can find all of the photos we took at our Flickr collection.
April 11, 2012:
Departed from Seattle around 7:30pm. Arrived at Heathrow just past noon the next day.
April 12, 2012:
Shared a sampler of 5 pies (each about size of a fist - flaky crust stuffed w/ meat, veggies) at The Jugged Hare then took the tube to Westminster bridge: Big Ben/Parliament, eye of London, Westminster Abbey, #10 Downey and St James Park. Found Trafalgar Square but it was too dark for pictures by then so tubed 'home'.
April 13, 2012:
ate a fried egg and rashers - scooted the baked beans outta the way :p plus earned our free t-shirts at the London Fat Tire bike tour (which also added Buckingham Palace & Hyde Park to our seen-it list) then Sweeney Todd at Adelphi Theatre - it was a bloody good show ;)
April 14, 2012:
Slept in, ate lunch at a French fusion place (cozy, not fancy), taught ourselves to play Chinese Ten at St. George's Tavern, visited Churchill's War Room, went back to George's and had pub grub, packed. Edinburgh tomorrow.
April 15, 2012:
Arrived in Edinburgh, our apartment is awesome/gorgeous, visited Cafe Royal (a pubby-looking pub that was in Chariots of Fire) and had oysters, mussels and asparagus risotto, saw some New Town sites, pub crawl down Rose Street - it's actually hard to get drunk here bc the beer is low octane. One of the waiters was telling his co-worker about a bachelor party's scavenger list - he was sup...posed to obtain a pair of female underwear. I joked to Ship that I'd do it for money but i'd be sure to bacon strip them up first. I think the bartender overheard me because we looked a little shocked and started giggling. We got distracted by awesome Indian food (waiter kept asking Ship if he knew that the Vindaloo is spicy (guess they don't do stars here) Ship's smiling answer every time: "yep!" He loved it - tho he said it was prolly a 5 star when he normally gets 4), there were a couple of French gentleman doing the same pub crawl. They passed us but we found them at the last pub we went to. They drunkenly said 'Eating is cheating!' I said, 'Manger est bon.' People were nice in England but it seemed a little more out of politeness. So far, people in Scotland are warmer :)
April 16, 2012:
slept in and made Tribute Via, eggs & toast at the completely awesome apartment, walked to Waverley Station to sort out our train to Pitlochry tomorrow, checked out a sister pub of London's St. George's on our way to the National Museum of Scotland, checked out a couple more pubs ending in a couple of whiskey tastings, then had a couple of fancy bites at Wedgewood Restaurant followed by more whiskey at The (gorgeous) Dome Restaurant. Actually *I* wanted coffee and dessert but they stopped serving so settled for a Coke. Great day though! :)
April 17, 2012:
Took a train to Pitlochry and visited Blair Atholl Distillery. We had the tour to ourselves and our (very Scottish) guide had a low gravelly voice and was very silly and cheery. Afterward, we trekked uphill past a waterfall, pastures complete w/ sheep, low craggy walls green with moss and forest floors spotted in daffodils to Edradour Distillery where a spunky old woman (also very Scottish) explai...ned that she uses whisky to wash down her pills. We celebrated our 7 year anniversary at Karen's Unicorn - best Chinese food in Edinburgh. We had Veuve Clicquot, duck w/ paper-thin potato pancakes, spicy Kung Pao shrimp, sweet and sour chicken and orange sorbet that was presented inside a hollowed orange upon a plate decorated w/ chocolate drizzle, whipped cream and berries. fancy! ;)
April 18, 2012:
bought supplies to try to get Ship's growing whisky collection home, had a wonderful lunch at an awesome coffee shop (summery beach themed inside and best cappuccino of my life), Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile, oysters and steak & ale pie at Cafe Royal (liked it so much we went back) - today we're picking up a car and driving on the wrong side of the road to Oban
April 19, 2012:
We made it to Oban - 'twas quite the adventure. Shippy drove 60 mph on the left-hand side of super skinny roads while I snapped blurry pictures of sheep. He's a fast learner - only ran over a curb and tried to climb in the passenger side one time.
April 20, 2012:
Drove north to Ft William - kind of an adventure finding the Ben Nevis Distillery (mainly bc there was construction and we needed to turn right but hesitated and passed it bc of the whole driving on the left side of the road discombobulation). Arrived at 4pm but last tour was at 3pm - probably doing a repeat with an earlier start today. We also stopped to scare some sheep (not on purpose... - we really wanted to gawk, bleat at them and take some pictures but it turns out that sheep have a fairly keen survival instinct). Then we tried a Glenlivet 18 and I detected caramel which Ship modified to caramel-covered green apple and it was so spot-on that we couldn't shut up about it. We also tried a Badahaddich (something like that) 12 but I don't remember much about it (including how to spell it) other than it seemed smokey even though it wasn't supposed to be. (It was Bunnahabhain 12, Ed.)
April 21, 2012:
Made it on the Ben Nevis Distillery tour - it was kind of hokey but we had a good time. Then we drove a scenic loop from Glencoe to Dalmally and back to Oban. Ship made a funny joke: What do you call a hairy coo dressed up as Harry Potter? Found a rowdy bar w/ a ridiculous scotch collection - not sure how many Ship ended up trying in the end. I settled on a Jameson & Ginger. I guess it was the second to last ginger ale and the guy that ordered one after me split it into two drinks and gave me one. He tried to explain and then the bartender tried to explain. Ship and I were still a little wary so I lifted the glass to inspect it clos...ely. The guy saw me do it and said "no, honest to God, there's no ruffies in it or anything! I just appreciate that you like the same drink but it's better with lime, isn' t'it?" I relaxed and he was right about the lime. Then we decided to return the favor and settled on buying 3 lemon drop shots. The bartender had no idea what I was doing but we eventually managed to get 3 shots of Smirnoff, 3 lemon slices, 3 packets of sugar and a plate. I thought my shot was delicious but Ian, the Scottish Jameson & Ginger fan, made lots of faces and said "it was like drinking a sticky beer".
Side note: weird foods Ship has eaten on this trip: pigeon, haggis, wild boar. I must admit that I tried the pigeon after heavy coaxing. all I remember is that the texture was kind of mushy with a touch of remorse.
April 22, 2012:
we're driving to Glasgow today (really just the airport). we have a packed box of whisky marked Fragile - sure hope the airport peeps are kind to it! Flying to London today - 2 more full days in London and then we are homeward bound. I had tried a Fyne Ales Earra in Oban and it tasted like home (PacNW IPA). British beers are rarely hoppy. So we visited the Fyne Ales Brewery on the way to Glasgow and met their shopkeeper/brewery underling whom I'm going to call Fred. We did a tasting in their chilly barn shop and talked beer until Fred showed us their operation. Then we had lunch at a place nearby that Fred suggested so that we could also try their black IPA (black as the boot he's wearing but tastes just like a regular IPA). After flying from Glasgow, now at our last home away from home.
April 23, 2012:
Visited the Crown Jewels, Tower of London and the British Museum. Also stopped for a pint and meat pie. We were told by our Lemon Drop victim from Oban to visit Ye Olde Cock on Fleet Street.
April 24, 2012:
Spent hours yesterday at the Natural History Museum and did a whirlwind historical pubs tour: The Old Bank of England, Ye Olde Cock Tavern, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese and The Black Friar. Mainly half pints - we were just there to gawk
April 25, 2012:
Had a simple breakfast at a cafe, did a quick hop over to The Black Friar for a half pint since we had just closed when we popped inside. Headed to the airport and flew back home!