After a long night of being wide awake (curse you jet lag!), we began where Edinburgh began: at the castle. The guides will tell you that Edinburgh Castle has never been taken by force, but they seem to be playing fast and loose with the definition of “force,” since the castle has been taken by siege, and it has been taken by guys climbing over the walls and surprising the guards. Sounds like force to me, but hey, I’m not Scottish.
Our guide was definitely Scottish, though (complete with kilt), and he gave us a very entertaining tour. He explained that the castle has a tradition of firing a 1 o’clock gun every day to help sailors keep time. Why 1 o’clock when the standard in the rest of the world is 12 o’clock? Because Scotsmen are cheap. Why use 12 rounds of ammunition every day when you can wait an hour and only use one?
Chris has always loved his Scotch, so we had to do the Scotch Whisky Experience. If you overlook the fact that the experience begins with a cheesy barrel ride through the distillery (think Disneyland for liquor lovers), it was actually kind of interesting. They gave us scratch n sniff cards that illustrated the aromas of whiskies from different regions of Scotland, and then we got to try a sample of our favorite. I did try it, but Chris had to finish it. God, that stuff burns.
And finally, we toured a labyrinth of buried streets and passageways beneath the city and saw where people lived, worked and died hundreds of years ago. Some of the plaster in the walls has actually been found to contain cremation ash. “An early form of recycling,” as our guide put it. Gruesome, but cool.
Here’s hoping a good night’s sleep awaits…