Edinburgh and then some


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February 23rd 2009
Published: February 23rd 2009
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So much has happened since my last entry that this one is probably going to be pretty lengthy. Amazingly, I have kept more busy than I thought and am paying for it now in this entry.

The Malt Whiskey Society had it's first tasting of the term this past Wednesday. All I can say is, wow!

The society rents out the upper room of the Chaplaincy Center, which I thought was interesting and ironic at the same time. It's nice because it is on campus so the walk home isn't too bad. (wink,wink)

I went with a friend and neither of us had any idea of what to suspect. When we arrived, their were about 6 tables set up with about 8 spots on each table. Each place setting had 6 drams on a place mat that told you what everything on the table was. There was wheat bread on a platter in the middle, cut into fine little triangles. It looked VERY fancy!

We had a presenter that works for the Ardmore Distillery here in Scotland and he came and gave a presentation about how whiskey is made and what we were about to taste and he had some funny stories along with it. Probably one of highlights was that he gave the whole presentation in a kilt, because here, a kilt is the equivalent to a suite or a tux. (I keep forgetting I am in Scotland until that happens😊

The evening started out very professional like and most certainly did not end that way; for a couple of reasons. First off, not everyone showed up who bought a ticket, so at the end of the night, they raffled off, glass by glass, the extra whiskey that had been poured.
I think right now it would be a good thing to bring up what exactly we tasted that night. The first two were spirit, not yet whiskey, which means that about a shot of it is at 67.7% pure alcohol. Two other kinds were almost whiskey, but not yet and then the final two are the whiskeys that you can buy in stores.
Let me just say that when one would drink all 6 of their whiskeys as well as about 4 others, that the end result is NOT going to be pleasant.
The second reason that the night did not end so well is that along with drams of left-over whiskey, the also raffled off bottles of whiskey, one of which I happened to win😊 Other things raffled off were sweaters and 6 person tour of the Ardmore Distillery, which would be amazing because they are not open for tours to the public.
At the end of the night, we had to clean up and wash all the glasses, which proved to be quite a challenge when EVERYONE present is intoxicated. It was even more of a challenge just because we "rented" the glasses from a local store with a $600 pound deposit, and anything broken we had to pay for. I volunteered not to wash glasses and save the group from going bankrupt.

At the end of the night, 2-3 people had to go the hospital because they were so sick. At the beginning of the meeting Mark, the president of the group, stated that we are "a high-risk society" and now do I truly believe him!

I also want to add that Mark is Scottish, but his wife is from South Dakota. When he heard that I was from WI, he asked if I ever heard of Leinenkugel's beer. Obviously, I said of course and that it is amazing. Apparently, they bring it back from the states whenever they go over and that's all he drinks. Way to go WI!

Nothing else really happened until about 13 international students decided to go to Edinburgh for the weekend. We all left sometime on Friday to take the 3 hour bus ride to Edinburgh. We had to get off in Dundee and then get on the bus to Edinburgh, so that broke up the trip quite nicely.

We all booked a hostel for the 2 nights we would be there. Hostels are nice because usually you can get anywhere from 8-16 people in one room. That didn't happen because the hostel screwed up, so we were split up, which was ok too. The hostels were close together too, so it wasn't a big deal. The wonderful thing was that the hostel that I stayed in was on the Royal Mile which made it pretty easy to find.

When we all had arrived, it was around 8pm and by the time we got settled, I think it was a little after 9 or 9:30, which gave us plenty of time to go out and explore the city!

Nightlife in Edinburgh ranges drastically, from the very mellow, 2 glasses of wine establishments, to the loud and 4 pitchers places. We ended up at a place called "The Kings Arms" which was HUGE and packed full of people. Nightlife is also different because they close pubs at either 12 or 1 am instead of the usual 2am. It was a fun night😊

The next day we found breakfast and STARBUCKS, and went to Edinburgh Castle. Which, by the way, is quite amazing! I will upload pictures soon! The weather was decent, so it made the day even better. The weather here is in the 40 and 50's, which just makes me smile😊

We ate lunch at "the elephant house" were J.K. Rowling is said to have written Harry Potter. The food was delicious and the place is just overall cool.

Afterwords, we decided to split up and get some shopping done. Alex and I realized that our backpacks were too small to "adventure" in properly, so we went out on a mission to get some bigger hiking packs for our 3 week spring break trip. We each ended up buying the same pack, at only 30 pounds a piece, which is amazing, compared to how much some of the stuff costs in the states.

We all met up later to go on a tour of the tunnels underneath Edinburgh that are said to be haunted. It cost about 7.50 to get in on the tour...not quite worth that much, but it was fun. Our tour guide took us to the vaults underneath and some alleyways and tried to scare us with some paranormal stuff; it worked on some people, but I didn't buy it. She was good at her job though, because I almost bought it😊

Again, we went out that night, but decided to take it easier than the first night. NOTHING is really open for food that late at night, (which only happens to be 12), so we found a place that serves great "drunk" food, and by that I mean greasy and just plain junk. It was amazing. We ended back up in one of the hostels, sitting in a circle, and just talking till around 2:30am.

The next morning we had to check out at 10:30 and then we wanted to hike up to Arthur's Seat, which is this hill-like-mountain. I don't think it would have been that horribly bad, but we had to carry all our stuff with us because we checked out of the hostel. The view was amazing and definitely worth while. That took up a good majority of the morning and early afternoon. At this point we split up again because some wanted to hike higher and some wanted to get some shopping done. I went with the shopping group, (go figure), and got some much needed "touristy" souvenirs. If you need any sort of souvenir, Edinburgh is the place to go. Aberdeen has NO shops like that at all, so naturally I was in heaven and bought a bunch of stuff.

We all met up at cafe, had lunch/dinner and then wandered around until it was time to catch the bus at 5:25pm. The bus ride seemed long and we were all exhausted, but the trip was a definite success. Although we were there for the weekend, I don't think we even scratched the surface of this marvelous city.

Next Saturday a couple of us are joining the International Society and we are going to visit a couple of castles and take a distillery tour. It should be great fun! Time to stock up on whiskey!

Although I am having a great time, I miss everyone back home and truly wish you could be here with me!
Take care!

CHEERS!



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