Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Scotland Day 8 & 9 - RAIN, RAIN and MORE RAIN (and Edinburgh)

Here we come to our final day of vacation (I'm not really counting the last half day we had in Edinburgh before catching the train back to London). Thankfully the prior days were more gracious, weather-wise, as this day managed to depress us all slightly with its dreariness.

The drive from Dunkeld to St. Andrews was a steady slate-gray view, and I did experience some reluctance to get out of the car once we were parked. Our umbrellas struggled with the rain and wind as we walked to St. Andrews Cathedral, which is unfortunately a ruin with no sheltered spaces, as you can see below.

A photo cannot capture the misery of this day
A and C were so fed up with trying to keep their umbrellas from blowing inside out that they headed immediately for a cafe. My parents and I attempted to take some pictures at the cathedral and then at St. Andrews Castle, but we ended up crying uncle as well and soon all of us were in the cafe, trying to get warm again.

While St. Andrews was a bit of a disaster (though I'm sure it has many redeeming qualities when you aren't being soaked), we were looking forward to Anstruther, home to some very famous fish and chips.

I found chips at a fish and chip shop that I actually like!
Anstruther Fish Bar was noted on our itinerary as being the best fish and chips in the UK. I was a bit dubious about this as my experience with chippies has not been that extraordinary, but it seemed worth a stop just to check. An order of traditional battered cod and then some haddock in breadcrumbs arrived quite quickly - they were happy for the five of us to share and brought us extra plates to make it easier. Surprisingly, I loved the traditional batter more than the breadcrumbs - it was light and greaseless, and the chips were fried so well that they were actually crisp on the outside and full of potato-ey flavor on the inside.

Our next destination was Dunfermline Abbey, but A the politics geek noticed that Kirkcaldy, Gordon Brown's patch, was on the way, so he insisted that we drive through it. All I can say is that I don't recommend this journey to anyone else. Perhaps the route we took through Kirkcaldy was particularly industrial, but as far as I could tell there was nothing to see.

Again, the rain scuppered most of our hopes of touring Dunfermline - we basically went into the Abbey, took some pictures, and then decided to head off to Edinburgh to make sure we could return the rental car before closing time.

At least we are somewhere dry
After dropping off the parents and the luggage at Abcorn Guest House, A and I had a traffic-jam-filled journey to the rental car drop off, then took a train back into the center of town. By the time we got back to the B&B, my parents were heading out for a walk, so we decided to grab C and head to a local pub with a great whisky list. Leslie's Bar was just around the corner from where we were staying, which made it a perfect place to hide from the rain. It was lovely and cozy inside, with wooden panelling and red velvet upholstery everywhere, and A was delighted by his whisky options.

My parents were pretty excited about more Chinese food, and the street that Leslie's Bar was on happened to be home to Huaxing Chinese Supermarket, as well as two Chinese restaurants. After grabbing some snacks at the market, we chose Good Year for a celebratory last meal. The salt and pepper chicken wings that came as our starter were enormous, meaty, crispy and spicy and boded well for the rest of the meal. As dishes poured out of the kitchen, my parents were absolutely delighted - there was no way we could finish that meal but we did give it a valiant try, and they kindly boxed up the leftovers so my parents could enjoy a second dinner the next night. Another big bonus point - the restaurant is BYOB and doesn't charge corkage, and there is a wine shop just a few doors down called Vino where we picked out a great Riesling and Rioja.

Holy cow, Chinese feast

We waddled back to the B&B for a good night's sleep, and when we woke up we had our last full breakfast (sadly the least appetizing of them all, though that was partially because it was the eighth full breakfast we'd had). A wander around drizzly Edinburgh found us looking at the Olympic rings and the National Gallery of Scotland to duck away from the wetness. Luckily all of us like the Impressionist painters so we spent a bit of time in there, before trodding around in the drizzle a bit more. Our taxi driver had pointed out the Elephant House cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote her Harry Potter books so we popped in there for a coffee break as well. And then, it was time to leave...

Doesn't this make you excited for the Olympics?
Goodbye Scotland. It was good knowing you. You may be grey, wizened and a bit damp, but your redeeming qualities are many as well. 

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