Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Stylin' Edinburgh

So I've been here for a few days and have had a chance to settle in. Like you, when we book our trips, we check for the best deals on a number of sites. To our surprise, this time Expedia said, Congratulations, we not only have a hotel for you in Edinburgh , we have one for your entire trip... and it's free. Yes, free! I don't have a clue how this happened but we were awarded a room at the Northumberland Hotel . We typically like to stay at some place with "style" like the W Hotel but were looking for some alternatives this time. We quickly went to the site online and saw the Hotel. Not quite the W but we decided to check it out. It didn't look that bad...really. We've been here now for 3 days and it's really working out well. We really don't need creature comforts that much as we don't spend but a few hours in the hotel but let me give you the run down. There's no grand lobby nor fantastic dining room. You know what? We don't care.
They do have a breakfast set up if you want it and they will make a traditional Scottish breakfast for you if you ask. No elevator but we don't care. The corridors are narrow like an older building and that's fine as well. Our room size is fine, about 21 x 11 feet with a small bathroom/shower and closet. The aesthetics are "OK" but it works. There are two beds, a twin and a full but it works. They are serviced daily and are clean. There is a small desk and 2 chairs as well as a 15" TV with a maybe 20 stations and Wifi. If you are looking for a party room to invite over your friends or need a cool vibe, you're not going to like this. But if you want a warm, clean place to sleep and brush your teeth...take a shower, this may be your bag. Works for me. I'm here for the city...not the hotel. On the bright side, the Lothian (bus) is literally across the street. The first day we walked pretty much to the other side of Edinburgh and it is very doable from here if you are mobile (not physically hindered). Again, wearing  Merrell all weather hiking boots, Carhartt fleece lined jeans (which makes it real nice when the weather is in the 30's or 40's and windy but not so warm to smoke you out) and throwing on a Ermenegildo Zegna  cotton ribbed pullover and my   Ride jacket and I'm ready to go. I want to say again, it's not about brand names, it's about style and comfort. I've provided links and photos so you can see where I'm going. Don't forget your backpack (or bag of your choice). I like to be able to take off a layer and dump it into my pack when the weather changes. It's also cool to stuff in the occasional purchase to keep our hands free.

Here's a list of some of the places that I've visited and a few of my impressions:

Bars/Restaurants/ Coffee Shops

Advocate  was a very cool little sports bar. Went there for lunch and had a real good burger. The guy who helped us was extremely friendly and had lived in Canada for a few years. We are trying to sample local beers while we're here and he recommended Innis and Gunn and Brewdog Punk . Both were really nice beers and we really like the bar... even for a lunch place.

Southpour is a cool restaurant bar with good service and good beer. I had pork loin which was outstanding and Joker IPA , another Scotland brew which was quite memorable.

Whistle Stop was possibly my favorite of the pubs so far with really good pizza with exceptional dough. I drank Caesar Augustus Lager which was quite a tasty brew. This bar was quite like the bars I go to I'm the states. They consider themselves a dive bar but I'd say contemporary neighborhood bar. What I mean by that is they play multigenerational music but it's all good. It isn't a hit juke box but mostly music with some edge. I think that most every person in the place spoke with us recommending places that we should try. Very cool!

Starbucks Yes...there's Starbucks here too! It is totally Starbucks wherever you go.

The Redcoat Cafe This is a cool little stopping place when you visit Edinburgh Castle. It is located right on grounds and the food is hot and ready to go.

CafĂ© Vivo  We stopped here for a quick breakfast. It seems for the most part, over easy means fried eggs of any kind. I also had a berry scone that was decent.

Also, by the way and nothing against this restaurant or the tradition, it appears that the Scottish only toast one side of their bread. We had thought that we were doing something wrong at the hotel when we toasted our own toast at the hotel but now's on purpose!

McDonalds I don't often eat at McDonalds but I needed grub fast and a lot of places close before 10. The burgers were hard and the milkshake machine was not working. So much for McDonalds is McDonalds.

Shops and Sites
Royal Museum of Scotland
This is a museum that has a little something for everyone. There are primitives like African and Pre Columbian art as well as Mummys and costumes. You can walk around this place with your family and find something to pique everyone's interest. My favorite was the motor area where they had motorcycles, bicycles and Formula 1 cars. Yes, we had a pitiful go at driving a Formula 1 car on the simulator.
Calton Hill/Cemetery This is quite a cool place and well attended. This is a high point (in elevation) in the region that gives you great opportunities to see in all directions. It is also home of the massive, Athenian acropolis, Robert Burns Monument and Nelson's monument.

Edinburgh Castle This is a massive castle with a great opportunity to tour. You are provided with a free electronic tour guide upon arrival and provides substantial narrative on the Queen's (of England) summer home and the nature of her relationship with Scotland. Queens Gallery at Holyrood This is a really cool space with intelligent contemporary architectural details. Check out the art but check out the structural details.

One thing that really surprised me was the volume of small charitable thrift shops along Clerk on the walk into Edinburgh. There must be 15 or so 1000-1500 charitable shops representing Dogs, Cats, Women, Children, heart disease to name a few. One misconception is that thrift shops are for poor people. In fact they benefit needy people by the funds they bring in. I purchased a red plaid fleece lined hoodie for $5 to benefit the British Heart Foundation . It is a well know fact that many style setting celebrities frequent thrift shops to compliment their wardrobes. Give it a shot. Sometimes that old vintage shirt is much cooler than what you have now! Just don't go in and buy stuff because it's cheap. Then you just look cheap...unless that is your style of course!

One last place that I visited that really caught my eye was W. Armstrong & Son , Britain's largest vintage clothing emporium established in 1840. This shop had the goods. I was tempted by one black motorcycle jacket. It looked like it could have been worn by Marlon Brando as Johnny Strabler in the film The Wild One. I mean, this thing was 50's old and cool.

There was no unnecessary fluff and the elbows were double padded in leather. If the jacket had been slightly larger, the lining wasn't worn and the zippers still seemed new, I would own it. But my style is not to buy stuff to fix. It would have been an impulse buy and one I really don't need. But it was a beaut!

So there is a intro to Edinburgh. I still have a few days here. I'm anxious to explore!

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