Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Scotland Part I- Kilts and Scotch

For this year's Oddyssey trip, Shane and I headed to Scotland to meet the boat. We were both curious to see how colder weather and not being able to jump in the water without insulation would affect the trip. It was difficult getting gear as winter clothing lines were not due out for a few more weeks. It  felt odd buying hats and down jackets when we still had -hopefully-6 weeks of summer.  I had never owned a wetsuit before but there is no way anyone would go in without one.  So we ordered one and after the first suiting up I was so hot, sweaty, and claustraphobic I was afraid I might cut it off just to get out. But I kept practicing and getting slippery underthings to wear and by the time we left I could get it on, and off, all by myself. With my hood, booties, and gloves, - and the nice mask I finally found-I was ready and looking forward to finding the basking sharks.

But before we flew up to meet Discovery, we planned a few days in Edinburgh which was a great time. August is festival month there. We had wondered about planning any special excursions and considered renting a car to tour the countryside. But we were so busy and entertained by what was just outside out hotel I am glad we didn't.

One day we hiked up to Arthur's seat, which was very windy and had a beautiful view of the Firth of Forth. (I just like saying that.

Everywhere you went  there were artists, musicians, and any kind of street entertainment you could think of. Walking down the street you would start to see a small crowd gathering. so you slow down and try to get a peek. Now the crowd is bigger and you have to strain to get a view of the next 15 min performance: A man juggling knives at the top of a 10 foot ladder. Others juggling chainsaws. A woman keeping hula hoops spinning on four different body parts simultaneously. While balancing on a small platform.

Our favorite performance was a smaller affair. And we ended up with front row seats. We had just walked out of a Starbuck's with coffees in hand and saw a young man lighting  little fires on the road. It was dark and the flickering piles soon gathered a small crowd. All curious to see what kind of show it was going to be.

After lighting the fires, the performer took a long baton- I am sure there is a proper name for it- and lit the ends. He turned on his music and proceeded to amaze the audience with his mesmerizing, fiery, acrobatics.

We both agreed the boy from Spain had the best act of the festival and I felt lucky to have been there.

 IN the evenings, you could find all kinds of comedy shows. Some were better advertised and sold tickets. Others, you read about on the flyers everyone seemed to be shoving at you. We followed up on one at  a place called The Speakeasy. It didn't start until 11:30- or rather half eleven-so after dinner we headed there for drinks and the show. It was so nice to finally sit down and the comedians were pretty good.

 We decided to take the Scotch Whiskey tour, where we were educated in the making of scotch and the differences in the four categories. I can't remember the names. I do remember the tastes. We sat down after the cozy moving half-barrel video tour to try the different kinds of scotch. The first one tasted a little soapy. The second a little like a soapy banana. I was interested in the third as it smelled very smoky. Ever smoked a soapy banana? The fourth one confirmed my suspicions. I don't like scotch. But I am glad we did the tour.

Next on our agenda was lunch at the Witchery,

 A tour of the Castle,
 A little more shopping, where Shane did buy a kilt.

 And finally back to the hotel.

After three days we felt we had gotten a good taste of Edinburgh, were mostly adjusted to the time change, and ready to head off to Stromness to meet the boat.