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EDINBURGH BLOG TIME

Time to write a blog while absolutely crushed into an airplane seat wooooo

We’re on the flight to London, if you’re curious.

BUT NEVERMIND THAT LET’S GET TO EDINBURGH

When last we left our heroes they had just uh (checks notes) watched the wonderful Spider-Man: Far from Home and eaten dinner way too late. Which brings us to…

DAY 15 – EDINBURGH

We woke up and immediately regretted how late we’d been up the night before. We had to be on a tour bus by 7:45, so it was breakfast at 7am for us. Yawn!

Our tour was a 12 hour tour of the Scottish highlands and Loch Ness with The Hairy Coo tour company. It took me about 5 hours to realize Coo was an affectionate calling out of the way Scottish people say cow, and not a filthy slang term.

Adam: Is that also literally the joke? That might literally be the joke but I’m not even entirely sure.

Noémi: The first stop was a Whiskey Distillery. I feel like most tours in Canada would probably not opt to bring you for liquor at 9 in the god damn morning but here we are in Scotland and that’s just what’s done. We’d already gotten most of the “how to make whiskey” talk and also, unlike the previous distillery we visited, this one was VERY LOUD so even shouting over the tour group our guide was indistinguishable from the sounds of boiling, frothing, and distilling. The real appeal of this one was the fact that it was built into an old cotton mill and looked like a dank hellscape. Which this iPad just corrected to “Hell’s ape” – yeah, that’s totally what I meant to type, thanks iPad.

Seriously though how were people ever allowed to work in cotton mills. I mean – I guess we needed cotton – but did we seriously lock 500 people up in a borderline airtight room filled with steam? Sounds GREAT. But also this nightmarish room is now great for storing casks, and also looks real dramatic. It has been featured on many TV shows, including Ootlandar, which is the only way I will ever pronounce Outlander.

Adam: I absolutely adored this distillery. The ones we went to in Ireland felt very touristy, produced, polished. Glass barriers, professional signage everywhere, very clean cut. Here they just took us outside and went “yup here’s the parking lot where we throw all the barrels” and lo & behold there indeed were hundreds of barrels stacked in a random parking lot in the rain and the cold. And they were like “yeah we find the dampness makes it turn out better actually”. These people were MY SPEED.

Noémi: Oh man also my notes remind me that the tour walked us across so many open grates over a height, and bro, that is like – the thing I like least in the world. Open grates freak me the heck out.

Then we tasted some whiskeys. It was fine? It seemed smoother than the Irish whiskey as much as they insisted that Irish whiskey was definitely the smoothest because of the triple-distilling they do.

Our next stop was not on the official tour itinerary but it was possibly the highlight of the ENTIRE HONEYMOON. WE GOT TO FEED AND PET SOME HIGHLAND COWS. Their names were Hamish, Honey, and… let’s say Baby because I did not catch the baby cow’s name. We fed them carrots and potatoes and turnips. The baby did not like turnips and would spit them out in disdain. I LOVED HIM. Hamish kept trying to break down the fence by butting into it and sniffed a lady’s hair very aggressively and then sneezed into it. WHAT A JERK. I LOVE HIM.

Seriously oh my God I loved those cows. That was like a 5 minute stop. But I LOVED IT. I am so easy to please. Just gimme some cute stupid animals. I’m in.

Then we drove for a while through some ridiculously scenic locations, including right near the house that served as James Bond’s family home in Skyfall. We stopped for a photo op in the Glencoe… valley? You can google it. It was G O R G E O U S. Unfortunately all the most scenic lookouts were already full of tourists so we drove down to the bottom of the Valley, but the view there was still pretty magnificent.

Also a bunch of people died there! Cheery. There was a big massacre there and a bunch of people died and it’s very famous. I guess if you need to die in a horrible massacre it’s at least a beautiful place to die.

Then we drove for a looooooooong time and got to Fort Augustus, better known as the town on the banks of Loch Ness. Adam had been one of those kids who loved the idea of the Loch Ness monster (SO ON BRAND) so it was one of his childhood dreams to be there. We grabbed an order of fish and chips in a rush and ate them in the line for the Loch Ness boat tour. Man, thinking about those fish and chips makes me very hungry. They were good.

Adam: I’ve seen so many movies, documentaries, photos etc of the place that it was all staggeringly familiar. It was so surreal to be there in person I actually got a tear in my eye when we were out on the water. I don’t think Noémi saw it though. Don’t say anything.

Noémi: We didn’t see any plesiosaurs on the boat ride but it was a very nice tour around the lake. Loch Ness is bigger than I expected! Also it doesn’t look like I expected at all. It’s one of those places I’ve spent most of my life picturing, but somehow I ended up with the mental image of some foggy moor, not a bright and sunny hilly area.

Speaking of, as we were driving through the forest, we were like “geez, this looks so much like home, what the heck” and it turns out it’s because they completely deforested the entire area and all the native trees take so long to grow they can’t use it for lumber, so they imported a ton of Douglas Firs. WELL THAT EXPLAINS IT.

Anyway back to Fort Augustus. We decided to get some ice cream. And – oh man. Wow. Getting ice cream was more of an experience than we expected.

So we walk into the ice cream shop, right, and there are these two teenagers and a woman who’s walking back and forth setting up a candy display. She is obviously in charge but also paying less than 0 attention to these teens. Which is … hm. A good thing? Or maybe not?

…So the menu said they offered milkshakes, right? And I love milkshakes. So we both ordered one. They both worked together to make the milkshake – one of them held the blender while the other scooped ice cream in. Or at least he tried, because actually the first thing he did was SLAM a full scoop of ice cream straight onto the floor, because it missed the blender entirely.

So then the other kid picks up he ice cream off the floor and chucks it in the sink. But then his boss is walking around so he panics and picks it up again and tosses it into the garbage.

…Okay?

Okay, then they finally got two scoops of ice cream into the blender, and they put it on the base, and they turned it on, and… I mean it was two full scoops of ice cream, it wasn’t blending worth a damn.

And they just…

…stared at the blender

…and then at each other

…and then tilted their heads confusedly

…and turned off the blender

…and turned on the blender

…and stared at the blender

…and turned off the blender

…and turned on the blender

…and stared at the blender

…and stared at each other

…and only then did they think to put some milk in the blender.

And Adam and I looked at each other like “are we the first people to ever ask these poor kids to make a milkshake”

It may surprise you to know it was a bad milkshake.

And the real kicker, here, is that they put the ice cream in without milk for my milkshake too, and somehow still looked confused.

Adam: They had to wash the blender in between, they only had one. This task, like all the others, for some reason took the both of them together to accomplish. Every step of each task required took a lot of thinking and deliberating what should be done next. I was baffled as to how a milkshake was such an alien thing. I had a very hard time not laughing at them as I watched all this unfold which makes me feel & sound a bit of a terrible person in retrospect.

Noémi: We hurried out of that ice cream shop as fast as humanly possible and then just stood outside and laughed until our faces hurt.

Listen it’s not their fault, someone should teach those kids how to use a damn blender. But oh my God. Oh my God. It was very funny.

Then we watched them let some boats through those uh… boat dams that let water slowly rise up so people can boat upstream. It was cool!

We got back on the bus and headed for this war memorial which was in the middle of yet another beautiful scenic valley. The memorial itself wasn’t particularly interesting when compared to its surroundings, but lots of people visited it and left flowers. I imagine it would be a lovely place to visit if you had family members or friends you’d lost in a war. Lots of space to sit and ponder. Lots of sheep to keep you company. I like the sheep the most.

We drove most of the way back to Edinburgh then (it’s a long drive) and stopped in a town called Pitlochry, which I worry I spelled completely incorrectly. It was a cute town which apparently had a really good whiskey ice cream, but neither of us had it because they also had soft serve ice cream and damn it soft serve’s clarion call is too strong. Although it was just okay, so maybe we made the wrong call.

Then we drove the rest of the way back to Edinburgh. I slept most of the way. To be honest I slept a lot on the bus that day. Not enough sleep. Zzzzz.

We got back at like 9pm and because everything in the UK stops serving food at 10pm (WHAT THE HELL) we hurried to Wagamama because it was nearby and could serve us quickly. Wagamama remains a B+ choice for casual dining style food. Adam ordered the spiciest thing on the menu and looked like he was going to die. Sometimes I don’t understand this man I married.

Then we went back to the hotel and I wrote some of the Belfast blog I posted what feels like way too long ago… and slept!

DAY 16 – EDINBURGH

We slept in. Thank God. Sometimes you need sleep to survive.

We went for lunch at Yo Sushi because god damn it I will never tired of conveyor belt sushi even if the sushi is profoundly mediocre and at Yo Sushi it really, really is. We actually mostly ordered the hot food because the sushi was bad. But the meal was fine overall. I ain’t mad about it.

From there we walked to the board game cafe we’d seen after we went to Spider-Man. We played games for most of the afternoon – Micro Brew and Ticket to Ride: Europe (twice). We just wanted a chill afternoon after having such a busy night the day before.

While we were playing games a friend of mine let me know via Instagram that there was a Harry Potter escape room in Edinburgh that was really fun, so we decided to see if there was room there. There was… at 9pm! But that wasn’t too terrible of a wait, so we booked it and walked up the hill.

Dinner was the first stop. Makars Mash Bar is super popular, as any mashed potato themed restaurant should be. Seriously, yum. We had a really nice meal there, and then walked to the bar which serves as the waiting room for the escape room. Which – holy heck, what a GENIUS IDEA. Is that illegal in Vancouver or something? Because wow, a themed bar combined with an escape room is an absolute stroke of brilliance.

While you wait for the room you can do “potion brewing”, which basically means they give you all the ingredients for fancy cocktails in beakers and pipettes and the like and then you need to combine and stir them based on kind of obtuse instructions. Our drinks were filled with edible glitter and looked incredibly cool when they were prepared. Plus there was dry ice. Fun!

We played a game of Dino World (an excellent board game Adam will totally play with you if you ask) and then our host came to greet us. He’d been working for like 16 hours and was hilariously tired, and potentially stoned? Or maybe he was just that tired. Either way, he was the best. His opening schpiel was like “As you know, the Dark Lord is returning, and that is bad, because he does bad stuff. Like, for example, genocide. Genocide is bad. Let’s go stop a genocide.” He also casually recognized their hilariously off-brand houses. Wisdom Bear ftw.

This escape room was a bit different from ones we’d done before. The host entered with us and kind of acted as a GM. If we weren’t making the right logic leaps, or were hesitating to move on to the right thing, he would give us a subtle hint about what to do next. He never helped us with the actual solving, just helped us get past some of the more obtuse clues, reassure us when solutions were working, and made sure all the machines in the room fired correctly. It meant that some of the puzzles we could solve were a little more esoteric (like brewing a potion from a dozen ingredients), there were no padlocks or combination locks, and we were never stopped by something we knew the solution to, but it wasn’t working right. I really liked this style of puzzle and I hope I see it again somewhere.

After that, it was back to the hotel and sleep, because we planned to go to the zoo the next day!

DAY 17 – EDINBURGH

It was raining. It was raining soooooooo much.

SIGH. We miss the zoo this time. Figures we’d do all the indoor activities the day before and then we can’t go to the zoo!

I admit, dear reader, I was… extremely bummed out by this. I needed some time to mope. So I finished the Belfast blog and posted it. Adam played a lottt of Mario Maker 2. I think this might have been the day he posted the level he made? You should go play it.

That took us into the afternoon, but we were determined to do something with our day, so we went to the Edinburgh Dungeon, a cheesy horror-themed tourist trap. I’d actually been there before. I absolutely recommend reading the blog for that on my old account because I was in a group with a classroom full of third-graders and their teacher and it was…one of the greatest times in my life. But – because I’ve already told the story of this tourist trap, I will leave it to Adam!

Adam: Hey, it’s me again.

The Edinburgh Dungeon is actually less of a haunted house and more theatre. The place is broken up into 15 or so rooms, which twist on and on down further and further into the basement, deeper down than you’d expect. There are different actors in each room, telling some of the old scary stories of the area. They really go for it, hammy but very self serious acting, the lights frequently turning off completely so they can “teleport” around the room and jumpscare visitors as they tell their stories. The production value of this attraction is also significant.

For instance there’s one story about a cannibalistic monster of a man with an army of children that help him hunt. They tell you the story, first, and it’s like okay, creepy, not bad. But then you walk into like, their lair, and there’s an actor as one of the tiny children threatening to eat people. And it’s like cool, alright. You put some work into this.

Then you turn a corner and enter a boat ride and sail through a cave, and the boat stops in the pitch black and there is an incredibly loud scene where you get murdered on the boat. I don’t know how else to describe this – there’s the sound of hacking, slashing, bloodsplatter and screaming all around you and there’s water splashing you and the boat rocks around as the children climb aboard to kill you. It’s actually pretty messed up even for a haunted house, like I would not want to take children in here (again, see Noémi’s previous story about this).

There was also a simulated haunting where a ghost (still another actor, but to much poltergeist-y pomp and circumstance) wrecked a room and attacked people, a witch that shook the entire room and flew around, and a bunch of other theatrical nonsense of the best sort. In general the production was all incredibly solid and was super enjoyable to me, a lover of Dumb & Spooky Things. I can’t say enough good things about the sound also, constantly creepy/unsettling ambient noise during every second of the place.

Noémi: After the Dungeon we went on yet another of those cheesy bus tours! The one in Edinburgh is… actually surprisingly mediocre? Maybe it’s because I’m already so familiar with the town at this point, but it didn’t feel like they talked about anything exciting or went very far. It felt so short! Also, because it was raining we didn’t really get a good angle on all the cool architecture. Ah well!

From there we went to a seafood place near our hotel. They didn’t have seats in their main dining room so we ended up being sat in a side room with the bar. It was funny, because people kept coming to the bar to talk to the manager about things going on in the dining room so they could get advise on how to deal with it. It was gossip central – we basically were sitting there witnessing their HR process. It seemed a little unprofessional but also – hey, I love the hot goss.

Then we went to bed because we had to be up at like 5am to get on a plane on time (GROSS) which I guess brings this blog to a close – because WOW the next day was busy. My lord it was busy. It was so busy.

But you’ll hear about that next time! Which will probably be in like 8 hours because I plan to write it on the plane home. Context: I wrote this blog on the plane to London and then the plane to Reykjavik which will then connect to the flight to home.

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