Edinburgh, Inverness, and Edradour Whisky
From Dublin, quite early in the morning, Brian and I flew into Edinburgh. It was only about a 40 minute flight, and we arrived without any problems. Navigating your way in a new city with a sub-par map can be difficult, but we eventually found our way to the hostel. It was about 10am and we were not able to check in until around 2pm, so we dropped off our luggage and explored the city. We grabbed some food and some coffee and walked around. 2pm came, we checked in, and Brian took a nap while I continued to explore.
Edinburgh is a marvelous city – so much history and culture. On a dormant volcano in the middle of the city sits Edinburgh Castle. The castle is quite large and imposing, but provides a nice backdrop for the skyline of the city. It became a landmark with which I was able to orient myself when I got lost. The Scottish people have a long history of warfare and struggle, there are many castles scattered around the country – remnants of a long and bloody past.
We went on a tour of Edinburgh the next day and learned a lot about Scotland, Edinburgh, the clans, and the war for Scottish independence. We even visited the graveyard in old town Edinburgh, where J. K. Rowling got many of her names for the Harry Potter books. We saw McGonagall’s grave, and Tom Riddle’s wasn’t too far away. Our guide was not a fan of the movie Braveheart; he said it was terrible history. Apparently William Wallace was a terrible military leader and the term ‘braveheart’ better applies to Robert the Bruce, whose heart was preserved and paraded around the country.
After the tour, we stopped by one of the many whisky shops and purchased several small, interesting sampler bottles. That night we went to a bar in town with a New Zealander we met at our hostel, had a couple drinks and met a Canadian couple honeymooning. Overall, a full and fun day.
The next morning, we rented a car and headed up north to Inverness. We had gotten the name of a small distillery that was on the way up and we stopped by. The distillery’s name was Edradour, and they were proud of being the smallest distillery in all of Scotland. There are only three men producing the whisky, and they only produce 15 barrels of whisky each week. It was a small, personal tour, and we learned quite a bit about the distillation process. We sampled two of their malts, which were both impressive. Then we visited the shop. For such a small distillery, they have a surprisingly wide range of whiskys. They’ve recently released a number of whiskys that were aged in various types of wine casks. Everything from port, to a burgundy, to a chardonnay, as well as several German wines. Brian picked up a bottle of the burgundy-aged whisky, while I picked up a cask-strength bottle aged in a more typical sherry cask. The whole experience was a lot of fun.
We arrived in Inverness that night, checked in to our hostel, dropped our bags, and went out for drinks. The employee at the front desk of the hostel recommended a local pub, apparently they were playing reggae music that night. We dropped by, Brian talked our way past the cover charge (he has invested most of his stat points into Charisma, thus he is great at bartering and often gets additional dialog options) and we grabbed drinks and a table. The reggae music turned out to just be a DJ playing some reggae tracks layered over electronica drum beats, but after a while he began to rap over them, so it got a bit better. We made some new bar friends, bought each other drinks, and they gave us a tour of the city and local cemetery. We had a great night and went back and slept soundly.
The next day, we stopped by Loch Ness on our way back down to Edinburgh. Loch Ness is a large lake just south of Inverness. We toured Urquhart Castle, a ruined castle on the shore of the loch. It was fascinating standing in the tower, learning the history, and gazing out over the water. There was so much history there.
We sorted out the whole issue of the monster. Turns out all he wanted was tree-fiddy.
We eventually arrived back in Edinburgh and had a relatively quiet night, before leaving on the train the next morning to head to London. I definitely want to come back to Scotland someday.
#edinburgh #inverness #scotland #traveling #europe2013