June 28, 2004
I found my second wind after the train ride from London last night, and went out walking — and discovered that, unlike in London, it’s very HARD to get lost in Edinburgh. Without my backpack, the walk from Bruntsfield to Princes Street takes no time at all, and I ran across several places I want to take a closer look at (Princes Street Gardens, St Andrews cemetary, the Royal Lyceum Theatre, the Traverse, ahhhhhh!). On my way back, I found a true “chippy”, got some fish cakes and chips with brown sauce — whatever it is, it’s GOOD — ate it (wolfed it, rather) in the Meadows, just over from Bruntsfield Links (it’s not a golf course…exactly.) When I got back to the hostel, an appallingly boring Euro 2004 soccer game was on between the Czech Republic and Denmark (when it finally got going, the Czechs won 3-0).
This morning I had an apple, bread, and excellent cheese, then marched out to take in the Royal Mile. I got sidetracked to Nelson’s Monument overlooking the city and the Firth (amazing) before picking my way down the hill and ending up in a beautiful graveyard, whose lower gate was locked. Bummer. Went back up, out, and onto a truly astonishing path that zigzagged all the way down the hill (overhung with lilacs I’ve never seen the like of before, plus holly and other leaves), before coming out on Calton Road, right before Holyrood Palace and Canongate. It’s indescribable, how…real it is.
I ducked into several closes (not nearly all of them, mostly on the north side of the street). One, which was actually the second courtyard in, and just down from Castlehill, was maybe 8′ X 8′, had no doors leading to it (apart from the arched entryway I came through), and the buildings (medieval) enclosing it were six storeys high. My skin was prickling in there.
On the way up the Mile, I decided I needed lunch. Nothing really jumped out at me until I reached a pub called Tass, on High Street (now closed, it seems. Sigh). On Mondays, all their entrees, including Haggis, neeps and tatties, were £5. Well. If I was gonna try it, now looked like a good time. The staff inside seemed disinterested — maybe they’d already dealt with too many tourists that day. But after I’d chowed down on that entire plate full of haggis, mashed potatoes and turnips, AND a pint of Stella, in less than 15 minutes, the one server gasped.
“You liked it!”
Partly, I was hungry, yes, but it was also really good! I was astounded at how tasty it in fact was.
After going past the Bedlam Theatre (hee hee!) and going down a part of Candlemaker Row I probably shouldn’t have (I walked by a church transformed into a street clinic, and right into Trainspotting), I quite by accident found myself on the far side of the Meadows, that is, the far side of Bruntsfield, which isn’t that far to my hostel at all. Is this truly an easily navigable city, or am I just taking to it really well?