About 1.5 hours north of Edinburgh lies St Andrews, home of golf. Here, we met up with Kate and Dennis, Brisbanites living in Dundee. Kate gave us an excellent walking tour of St Andrews, taking us past the Castle, Cathedral, beach and golf courses. Thanks again for a great night out.
Sadly, we didn’t take any photos of our meals here, but I wanted to mention the restaurant anyway. David Bann’s is actually a vegetarian restaurant, but don’t let that stop you! The food was absolutely divine. I had (another!) mushroom risotto, this time with leek and a huge hunk of a Scottish soft cheese (like a strong Brie or Camembert). The risotto was beautiful, and was cooked from scratch (we had to wait quite a while for our food!). I must confess to a bit of meal-envy though, because Julian had a delicious crepe, stuffed with roasted eggplant, capsicum, tomatoes, mushrooms and Dunlop cheese (from Ayrshire). The desserts looked delicious, but sadly we were out of time before our ghost tour. So if anyone goes there, try the chocolate soufflé for me!
The restaurant is not mentioned in the Michelin guide, but I think it should be! And they seem to have won just about every other commendation!
After our ghost tour, we were able to have dessert at Stac Polly’s, which is apparently a bit of an Edinburgh institution. The restaurant is know for its modern Scottish food. Julian had a brioche pudding for his dessert, but I went for a modern variation of the traditional Scottish dessert, cranachan. This was a parfait (like icecream) of cream, oats, honey and (maybe?) whisky. This was drizzled with a raspberry sauce and fresh raspberries. I’m not sure where the raspberries are sourced from at this time of year in the UK, but I have had them twice now and they are divine! I’ve never had raspberries that good before in my life!
After a very lazy sleep in (we earned it!) we strolled back into Edinburgh to be tourists. We bought our tickets for Mary King’s Close and checked out St Giles Cathedral before we went for lunch at the World’s End. Here Julian experienced haggis, neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes) for the first time. I wasn’t sure I could handle a whole dish of the stuff, so I just tried some of his and enjoyed my steak and ale pie instead! Although the haggis was nothing to write home about, it was quite alright and tasted like a peppery mince mix.
Mary King’s Close was fascinating. Legend goes that the street (or close) was sealed up when the bubonic plague hit Edinburgh, with live people still inside. Apparently the bodies were so stiff when the foul clangers came to collect them, limbs had to be hacked off to get the bodies through the narrow doorways. Unfortunately, this story is a myth. The street was sealed up, but no-one was still living in the area at the time. The one thing Julian and I did find was that it’s very hard to get a real sense of what was street and what was private residence. Everything is still below the foundations of existing buildings on the Royal Mile, so alleyways could easily be houses.
We booked a ghost tour for the evening, so we headed out for dinner. We enjoyed a delicious meal at David Bann’s, across from our hotel, but I’ll do a separate review about that (and our dessert at Stac Polly’s).
We did our ghost tour through the Black Hart tour company, which was recommended by the Lonely Planet. The tour started at St Giles Cathedral, where we were told some amusing stories about the city, and one of its most famous residents, Robert Louis Stevenson (of Treasure Island fame). We then headed down a back alley and onto Cowgate, stories all the while. Eventually you end up going into the vaults which exist beneath and within the South Bridge. The vaults are quite spooky in their own way, although we didn’t see any ghosts! Perhaps they were scared away by the thumping music from the adjoining nightclub…
We really enjoyed our time in Edinburgh, although we have seen some of our worst weather here. That being said, apparently the weather has actually been quite good!
Another smooth ferry trip (2 hours) from Northern Ireland saw us arrive in Stranraer, Scotland where we were informed the A77 road north was closed because of a traffic accident in the wet conditions. We changed our plans of visiting Glasgow via Ayr and headed for Dumfries (east) then Moffat to camp. This meant we would be 90 minutes from Edinburgh where we had accommodation booked the following night.
The caravan park at Moffat could be described as prestigious. It was the first Club site we had stayed at during the trip and our dirty, graffitied (is that a word?) campervan looked and felt out of place against the 30 or so gleaming white caravans and tourers. It was then a surprise to us that the next morning we had half the population of Scotland gathered around inspecting our tiny campervan. For all their mod-cons and gadgets aboard their tourers, the campervan was still a hit and the crowd congregated asking questions and taking photos. I’ve posted some photos of the campervan, so you too can have a sticky.
The drive to Edinburgh was through some attractive countryside of Scotland – rolling hills, the Clyde and trees with leaves for a change (pines).
Once we made it to Edinburgh we went for a stroll up the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle. We spent an hour or so touring the castle and admiring the view of the city and the Firth of Forth.
We checked into the hotel (we got cheap rooms at the Travelodge, booked months ago – Leah was very pleased to have a room!). Then we went hunting for a McDonalds, but it eluded us. We found ourselves in a Spanish tapas bar enjoying their free wifi!
For dinner we went to an Indian restaurant called Suruchi. The food was great, once we figured out the menu – check out the Scottish descriptions of the dishes!