This One’s for my Clan

…the Elliot clan. Scotland is almost too beautiful for words.

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Thanks to my Uncle William and Aunt Lauri Lynn’s excellent restaurant and sight-seeing recommendations, I arrived in Edinburgh ready to conquer the city in four days.

Lauren and I began our first day in Edinburgh with a visit to the Edinburgh Castle. We beat the long lines by buying tickets online, and spent the morning exploring the castle’s many museums. After being squished in a long line to see the crown jewels, we decided to make our way to The Elephant House (where J.K. Rowling started writing the Harry Potter books) for a light lunch and cup of coffee before hiking to Arthur’s Seat.  Even though I had only been in Edinburgh for a day, I could already see where J.K. Rowling got her inspiration for the Harry Potter series.

Climbing to Arthur’s Seat was quite the feat. On our way up what we thought was the right path to Arthur’s Seat (it actually ended up taking us up a cliff for 20 minutes and then back down) we met two other girls, a Dane and an Australian. We decided to stick together while climbing our way up. As we began walking up, we started to pass hikers on their way down. I asked one passerby, “How was it?” searching for encouragement. His response: “Okay.”

I ended up leading us to the top (partially because if I stopped, I wouldn’t start again, and partially because the Danish girl was quite the complainer and I wanted to distance myself). Needless to say, the views at the top are stunning.

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After a long day of sightseeing, we treated ourselves with a meal at David Bann, a vegetarian restaurant my uncle recommended to us. We both couldn’t pass up the tartlet of caramelised onion, smoked cheese and slow dried tomato. After much debate, I chose the risotto of asparagus, celery and lemon, and Lauren (a vegetarian) had the stir fried vegetables with udon noodles and smoked tofu. We weren’t disappointed. Since Lauren and I have been traveling together a lot, I’ve actually eaten at several vegetarian restaurants while abroad. I used to think that most vegetarian food was boring, but now I’ve learned that when cooked in creative ways with delicious flavors, it can be better than meat!

Tartlet of caramelised onion, smoked cheese and slow dried tomato

Sunday was an early day, as we were bound for a full day journey out into the Highlands. Although we spent most of our time on the bus, we saw many sights and made a few stops along the way. While driving through the Highlands we saw: Rob Roy Country, Glencoe, Loch Linnhe, Ben Nevis, Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle, Inverness, and the Firth of Forth Bridge on our way back into Edinburgh.

After retuning to Edinburgh around 8:30 pm, we decided to try a restaurant called The Devil’s Advocate which was recommended to me by my friend Caroline who is studying in London. Let me tell you, I will never be uneasy about trying fish soup again. My soup was called Cullen skink (Cullen skink is a thick Scottish soup made of smoked haddock, potatoes and onions) and it was topped with buttery cheddar crumb. I could literally eat it everyday.  I also tried a very unusual whisky cocktail called the Run B.H.C. made with Bruichladdich “The Classic Laddie” whisky, Cherry Heering, Yellow Chartreuse, early grey syrup, lemon juice, bitters, and egg white.

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On Monday, we decided to take it easy. We began our day with a walk up to Calton Hill, a hill that is part of Edinburgh’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are fantastic views from the top and with weather as beautiful as we had, it was a great place to relax in the sun. It was hard to pull me away from Calton Hill, but we ended up spending the afternoon walking up and down the Royal Mile, going into souvenir shops. Since it was such a nice day, I thought it would be fun if we bought some cheese, crackers, and wine to bring back to Calton Hill for dinner. I found a local cheese shop called I.J. Mellis and we decided to invest in my idea. While we were looking around the shop, multiple local restaurant chefs came in picking up their daily orders of cheese. One customer picked up his order for about 10 pounds of Gorgonzola. With lots of help from the cheesemonger, we settled on four cheeses Clava Brie, Pyrenees Chèvre, Loch Arthur Cheddar, and Coolea Irish Gouda. With our cheese, crackers, wine, and quince paste in hand, we headed for Calton Hill (again). For those of you who are cheese lovers, we thought the Coolea Irish Gouda and the Clava Brie were the best.

On my final day in beautiful Edinburgh, I chatted with the other guests in my Airbnb, did a final walk around the city, and grabbed a cup of hot chocolate from Mary’s Milk Bar.  It wasn’t your ordinary cup of hot chocolate. It was milk chocolate orange cinnamon hot chocolate with a scoop of almond rhubarb ripple gelato dropped in. The most unusual flavor at Mary’s Milk Bar was white chocolate gelato with black olives.

Edinburgh I’ll be back soon!

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