Saturday, June 9, 2012

Day 933: Edinburgh, Stirling & Pitlochry!

A beautiful day in beautiful Scotland!

After a super heavy Scottish breakfast of sausage, bacon, egg, fries, cornflakes, breads and a lovely cup of tea prepared by our hostess at Acelyn B&B, we took a bus to the Edinburgh city centre to see a bit more of the city than what we could yesterday. The rains that were bothering us yesterday had completely stopped, so it was a perfect morning! Our hostess told us that parking would be an issue at the city centre, so we took the local bus instead and I thoroughly enjoyed that short but lovely ride! 

Once we got to the city centre, we started to walk randomly towards the castle which we had caught a glimpse of, during our bus ride. Soon we found ourselves in the happening Princess street which had all kinda shops selling Scottish souveniers, whiskey, kilts etc. and we spent a considerable amount of time window shopping there. After walking a bit more, we caught sight of a open bus tour and decided that it would probably be the best way to see the whole city in the shortest possible time. 

So we hopped onto the open bus and the next one hour was gorgeous! We saw all that is there to see in Edinburgh and I loved every bit of it! The castle, monuments, parks in the middle of the city, old stone houses, Old Town, New Town, West End etc. etc. etc. - all of them were just lovely. They may not be as expansive or magnificent as Paris but were definitely as charming! Loved it! 

Beautiful Edinburgh

Post the tour, we decided to grab some lunch and came across this super cute garden cafe at a restaurant called Dome. Over some hot chocolate and sandwiches, we enjoyed the sun in the Scottish summer. Our timing was just nice because just as we finished our lunch, it started to drizzle and there was mayhem inside the cafe as the waiters ran around getting the huge overhead shelters and umbrellas up. 

We walked for a bit in the rain under our new umbrella (our only purchase from Princess Street from all that it had to offer - we are horrible shoppers, really), until we were at an elevated point from where we could see all the way until the sea very, very far away! I had caught a glimpse of it during the bus tour and wanted to go back there to take a better look. And a better look I did get! 

View of the sea at a distance!

Then we took a bus back to our B&B, picked up our car and was soon on our way to Stirling. 

Stirling is a quaint, old, little town with a beautiful castle and surrounding gardens, right on top of a hill, and overlooking the landscape all around. We walked around the grounds and spotted several fascinating things like a monument in appreciation of the fall of Delhi & Agra by the Brits all those years ago, a wedding procession where the bride, groom and their families arrived in stretch limousines with the guys wearing kilts (loved that!), a beautiful cemetery, magnificent views of the surrounding villages, so on and so forth!  

Views of the surrounding villages from Stirling Castle

Then we took a shuttle bus to go to the city centre. The city centre in Stirling is nothing like that of Edinburgh and was about 1/100th the size of the latter. And I loved it! We walked around aimlessly for a while, came across a farmer's market, bought some olives with anchovies (absolutely YUM!) and turkish apple candies (again, super YUM!), had a cup of coffee each and enjoyed the ambience of the quiet place. Oh, I must also add that it was here that we first heard the thick Scottish accent which we found a bit hard to follow at first and which was significantly different from what we've been hearing in Edinburgh so far. So that was fun too! 

We took the shuttle bus back to the castle, picked up our car from the parking lot, and then made our way to Pitlochry, where we were to stop that night. 

And we were in for a big surprise. We didn't know that the route from Stirling to Pitlochry is one of those scenic drives or "tourist routes" as they call them in Scotland! So it was super duper gorgeous throughout the way! 

We stopped on the way at a small convenience shop to buy water and moisturiser, and was most fascinated to see that their most well stocked item was Indian curry powders! We also stopped once to grab a bite as we passed through one of the sleepy villages. A restaurant called Birk's who claimed that their speciality is their awesome Fish & Chips, seemed to be the only one that's open, so we walked in there expecting authentic Scottish cuisine. Instead it was run by all Indians and they were even playing the Hindi song "Chura Liya". Facepalm. But the food was decent enough, so that was good!

Upon reaching Pitlochry, we checked in at the Atholl Villa. This one was a much larger establishment and not just someone's home, but our room was much smaller than the one in Edinburgh. Nevertheless, it was nice and warm and cosy, so we settled in well enough. Before dinner, we walked a short bit down the main road of Pitlochry which probably had a grand total of 10 people and 3 cars on the road. Awesomeness! Dinner was at a Greek place and the food there was really good too - I had ordered just a couple of starters (but huge enough to be two main courses in Singapore) while the hubby ordered kebabs, all of which were delicious! 

Quiet Pitlochry

By the time we got done with our dinner, it started to drizzle. Once again our timing seemed to be perfect as the rains had stayed away just until it was time for us to tuck in! So thanking the weather gods for that, we called it a day! 

67 more to go. 

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