After a very very leisurely breakfast, Eggert came over to let Bel get her parents settled in, and most of us formed an uber cultural team, and headed for Rosslyn Chapel. This is a particularly ornately carved stone chapel, just outside Edinburgh, someone had heard about. Apparently it was in The Da Vinci Code though I don't remember that bit myself. It was particularly beautiful, and a nice bus ride out of town.
Walking to the bus stop showed us just how scottish golf is. Pretty much right in town is Bruntsfield Links, a par 3 course. (I'm told that's the term, it has "dozens" of greens scattered all over the place, and people turn up with an iron and a putter, and a picnic lunch and some drinks and try and avoid the people sunbathing all over the place) We got to see the rather delightful sight of rough looking 19yo's, with a sixpack of Stella, strolling down a city street with golf clubs in hand. Looking for all the world like up and coming debt collectors, but actually, just on their way for a friendly round of golf. Go Scotland!
Rosslyn Chapel, like many small, decorative, dimly lit chunks of carved stone is rather hard to take pictures of, and they at least technically banned photography inside anyway, so no photos from me. We did enjoy the fields of poppies nearby, and a nice walk down to the ruins of the old Rosslyn castle itself. This was a properly wooded little valley, lush green, with a small stream and a bridge. Very very unicelandic.
Back into town, we met up with Eva and Bel, who'd stayed in town, and split off for some very tasty dinner at Joseph Pearce's. It really was tasty, though we were all super hungry, having run for a bus in Roslin, rather than staying for food there. Bjöggi, Oli and I all had the same dish, which also happened to be one of the smaller dishes on the menu, we later found it. Tasty, but it would require a top up later on!
With the night still young, and the sun still warm and lovely, we thought about going on one of the ghost tours, exploring the underground vaults and old passages of Edinburgh. It wasn't until 9pm, so, failing to convince the others it was worthwhile, Bjöggi, Steph and I climbed up Calton hill, to have a look at the monuments, and maybe get a view in the evening sun.
This was spectacular! The disgrace, or the National Monument to the Fallen in the Napoleonic Wars, is stunning, even if they never finished it. We sat on top and relaxed in the sun for a bit, but had to rush off to meet the others for our ghost tour. We decided that we should definitely have a picnic here tomorrow afternoon, if the weather held, before the stag/hen nights!
The ghost tour was.. well scripted. I really enjoyed getting to see some of the older underground streets, and the two guides were well rehearsed, well dressed, and smooth. The bumps and noises were expertly timed, and it was a good time. The only bit I felt was a bit lacking in subtlety was when one of the two guides, "went off to check the door" then a few minutes later ran past the front of the room screaming. It was a good scream, to be sure, but it was clearly the same girl. It's a pity more of the old underground isn't open, it'd be fun to see more of it, and some of it with better lights to see old graffiti and so on.
The tour included free, "shortbread and whiskey" afterwards, where it ended up in a rather odd bar called Banshee's Labyrinth. We had come into some extra tickets from an american family that were heading home with the kids, but, surprisingly, the whiskey was so bad, we actually left some on our table. That says a lot for our group! I think someone even said, "Don't dip your shortbread in the whiskey! You'll ruin the shortbread!"
The bar deserves a mention though. It was pretty empty really, but it was positively enormous! It had a 30 person movie theatre, three bars, pool tables, some quiet sitting areas with booths, an probably 30 person fully padded room with a dance pole in the middle, and a sign saying, "your dancing, your injuries" or some such. It really was a bit of a labyrinth. Still, it was not really doing much for most of us that night, so we went elsewhere for one, before sending some people home to bed.
Their loss :) The stayers, some of whom were also starting to feel a bit worn out, moved on to Deacon Brodie's, a bar, based on a character who allegedly inspired Doctor Jekkyl and Mr Hyde. It was just about to close, though we got to taste some more new and delicious cask ales from the Scotland and further afield. However, the barman there, fully earning the title of "consummate professional" by very politely suggesting a few possible later alternatives for us.
The Jazz Bar won, hands down. At least two shifts a day of jazz, blues, funk, and all things in that vein, open til late, every day of the week. We arrived late, to a pleasantly full, but not crowded bar, managed to wangle some great seats up the front, just in time for the second band to start. I had been thinking of going home too, but after the first song, the four of us who remained, Oli and Steph, Bjöggi and I, were firmly entrenched in our seats. You can hear some of The Mike Kearney Ka-Tet over on their web site. They were very excellent.