Bank holiday weekend in Edinburgh

Scotland, at last.
Three main take-aways from a long weekend in Edinburgh and surrounding:
1. Scotland is beautiful!
2. Confirmed that I do not enjoy scotch whiskey
3. There is such a thing as hitting a haggis wall

We took a very scenic train from London Kings Cross to Edinburgh Waverly Station.  Upon arrival, we decided to walk to our Airbnb flat, near Holyrood Park.  It took a bit longer than expected, 30 mins or so, but we quickly learned how small and pleasant Edinburgh is.  When we arrived at the flat, we were greeted by a large rusty metal door and a dark stairwell.  As is always the case with Airbnb bookings, dreadful thoughts of kidnap or murder filled our minds as we climbed up the stairs.  But we were greeted by a lovely flat and a nice french guy.  Hooray!

The next morning, we realized that this thing of beauty was right outside the front door.

The first stop was of course a good breakfast to fuel the day.  We went to a Spoon Cafe after reading some good reviews about the breakfast sandwiches.  The cafe occupies a big open floor with hipsterlike mis-matched furniture and old photos.
We went full steam ahead with a black pudding sandwich and a full scottish breakfast.  The sandwich bun was unbelievably soft and buttery, but flavor-wise it was a little bland.
Black pudding and fried egg
Full breakfast with egg, beans, bacon, sausage, black pudding, haggis, chips and toast. 
I'm not sure if the black pudding sandwich AND the full breakfast with black pudding was entirely a good idea.  I'm also not sure why anyone thinks this is an appropriate amount and type of food to consume for breakfast, but I really appreciate the novelty.  The sausage was excellent, and the haggis was surprisingly good.  With a good meat-hangover, we next headed off to the Museum of Scotland.

We spent some time strolling around historical old town, taking a peak at the Edinburgh Castle, and making an obligatory stop at the Scotch Whiskey Experience.

Probably the cooler things about the Scotch Whiskey Experience is viewing the extensive collection.  The tastings are good but you can get the same exact thing at many bars.  Also the tasting room/bar does have a lovely view so it's pleasant to relax there.

We walked to Leith at night for dinner at The Ship on the Shore where we had our fill of seafood.  I can often judge how much I enjoy a restaurant by the number of good pictures taken.  It's an inverse relationship, when the food is so good I am too distracted to snap good photos.  The one below of the smokehouse platter is a far cry from the real thing.  It was a big platter of smoked scallops, halibut, salmon, mussels, oysters and a great scottish discovery...the arbroath smokie.
And though I won't document it, we also ordered a whole sea bass AND sticky toffee pudding.  It was way too much seafood for two people but absolutely worth it.

In desperate need of a long walk, the next day we took a train out to North Berwick and Tantallon Castle.  North Berwick is a short 30 min train ride from Waverly so it was well worth a day, or even half day, trip.  Shortly after arriving, I had overused the word "cute" and Matt had proclaimed his eventual retirement there.  It's an idyllic town stretched along the North Sea with walking trails, castles, and golf courses.  Despite my general dislike of golf, I'd play for this.

Tantallon Castle is a complete contrast from Edinburgh Castle and I loved it.  It is partially in ruins and is perched on a peninsula with sea views from 3 out of 4 sides.  There are very few tourists and those who do visit are invited to relax on the grounds, soak in the air, maybe have a little picnic.

Perhaps a perfect place to tuck into some haggis potato chips?

We've heard alot about the Indian food in Scotland, and since I have developed a dependency on a weekly curry from living in the UK, we decided to try out Mother India Cafe.  There are zero pictures from this one because it was so damn good!  I'm very sad it wasn't captured.  Mother India Cafe serves dishes in small portions, which allowed us to try several things.  Upon turning the corner to the restaurant, the sweet aromas wafted through my nose and I felt like I was in.......well......Islin, NJ.

Anyways, before hopping on a train back to London, we had a more traditional lunch at Whiski Rooms.  We started off with delicious smoked salmon, asparagus, and hollandaise sauce.  It's a combination I've greatly enjoyed before and always wonder why I don't eat more often.
A second starter was a courgette gratin with a surprise poached egg.  Nothing at all to fault here, this was pure comfort food.  The gratin was very rich, thankfully it was a very small portion.  Some may critique this for being overcooked a little, but I prefer it.

Of course we had to have a final traditional haggis dish with mashed potatos and 'neeps'.  I like saying neeps because it's more fun than turnip or swede.  This is when we hit the haggis wall... it very suddenly became too much and indigestible.  There was a rather interesting whisky sauce which I can't say is to my taste, but praise the effort to incorporate whisky in everything.

I couldn't have asked for a more fitting introduction to Scotland, one that combined many hearty meals with beautiful country walks.  Next time to the Highlands!

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