Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chapter 5:Kilts and Klingons

This morning was another sleep-in morning, which was good given that we stayed our one night in the George with its' king-size bed and Sky Sports on the television. We did have some problems with the computer, requiring Martin (and his kilt) to come up to the room to get things working. He was a little put off by my Alienware keyboard, asking if the keys were in Klingon. You haven't lived until you've had a man in a kilt and a thick Scottish accent say the word "Klingon" to you.

We went downstairs to have breakfast, and I was able to have my first "proper" British hot breakfast. In this case, "proper" means "complimentary," as we're hemmoraging cash as it is. Poached eggs on toast, bacon (which, in the UK, is way more Canadian bacon than Hormel), tomatoes, baked beans, pork sausage, and porridge. For the most part, it was good to have once, but I will stick with my Weetabix.

We got some help from Vanessa, quite possibly the friendliest person I've ever encountered, and made some plans for the day. We walked a few blocks (and past about eight statues or monuments -- stuff like that happens in a city that's 1300 years old) to St. James Center. No culture or history here, we just shopped for souvenirs and gifts. The best part of the trip was going into the official club store for the Hearts of Midlothian Football Club, a Scottish soccer team that isn't Celtic or Rangers, so even fewer people have heard of them. Of course, now they're my adopted SPL side, particularly after listening to the clerk and a patron attempt to explain the difference between a "kit" and a "uniform." I'm still not sure I understand, and I knew before they started talking.

Once we got done at St. James Center, we did more shopping along Princes Street, including me looking in some of the other sports stores (JJB Sports and JD Sports) for more gear. We stopped in one of the tourist shops, bought a few knick-knacks and learned about Greyfriars Bobbie, and looked around for a while, ultimately going upstairs to their tea room for lunch. (Hey, you can't turn down free tea with any purchase -- very Scottish of us!)

It was a small room, filled with grey-haired ladies wearing cashmere sweaters of every color. Evidently it was the place to be seen for the over-60 Scottish women crowd. We ordered tea, Mary Beth had a scone, and I had shortbread. Both were incredibly good, and held us the rest of the day.

After lunch, we meandered through Edinburgh back to the hotel to get our luggage and send postcards. We left the George and headed to the bus station. At least we thought we were heading to the bus station, until the bus we needed to take us to the airport sped right by. We stopped someone who looked local, who informed us we were heading in the wrong direction and put us right.

Thankfully, we left plenty of goof-up time, and still made the bus (including a stop to enjoy a busking bagpiper) comfortably. We got back to Edinburgh Airport, got through security without quite the drama we had arriving (although we both did get the "TSA treatment" this time). We ended up getting on an earlier flight and got back to London over an hour ahead of schedule.

We took the Underground back to the Phoenix, made a quick stop at Boots Pharmacy for athletes foot ointment for yours truly (that could be a developing situation) and got our new room. After the large and luxurious George, the convenient but closet-like rooms at the Phoenix were put in starker relief. I mean, for heaven's sake, our new room even has a tube television instead of a flat screen. Savages!

We spruced up a little and went for dinner at the inauspiciously-named Ristorante Italiano. The simplicity of the name belied the quality of the meal. I had an incredible pasta carbonara, and Mary Beth had an exquisite chicken and asparagus dish. Throw in the fact that Mary Beth was convinced one of the waiters was my Italian doppelganger, and the evening was both delicious and a little peculiar.

We got back to the room and hit the sack. Tomorrow we get up at 4:30 a.m. to catch the chunnel to Paris. If you'd care to help us get ready for the trip, please feel free to be condescending and arrogant in your comments.

More photos from Edinburgh can be found here.


Anonymous said...

Too bad your phone doesn't work, or I'd call you. You can get bfast on the train. - Dave

Joe Runge said...

All we needed was a photo of you both in kilts. Have fun on the chunnel and good luck with Parisian wifi!

Lori Safranek said...

Keep a sharp eye for Mary Beth's doppelganger. If you find her, your trip will be worth every penny.

And to get your ready for France I say "How like you ugly Americans to bring such a disgusting disease as athlete's foot into our beautiful country. Merde!"

Have fun you silly English K-nig-it.