Shortbread, Whisky, Plaid and Pipes

A city view and the Firth from Edinburgh Castle

A city view and the Firth from Edinburgh Castle

Scottish influences are everywhere around us in our culture in the U.S. from butterscotch candy to Scotch whisky, from Tartan plaid cloth to shortbread cookies. However, full immersion in Scottish culture is never more obvious than when walking down the busy sidewalks of Edinburgh and hearing a piper play a tune. There is the piper we heard outside St. Giles Cathedral on the Royal Mile, and the piper we heard near Waverly Station, the central train station second only to London’s Waterloo Station as the largest train station in the UK. They must limit the pipers to avoid a cacophony of competing songs.

A piper clad in traditional plaid plays near Waverly Station.

A piper clad in traditional plaid plays near Waverly Station.

Every corner of every street in the Old Town District of Edinburgh has a restaurant or shop serving the varied needs of the seven million tourists that visit here every year. It is probably a good thing we are not here in August for the Edinburgh Festival because we probably would not have found lodging, and if we had lodging it would be costly. Nevertheless, I am eager for us to attend the Scottish Military Tattoo outside of Edinburgh Castle during the festival. Imagine a formal military pass-in-review ceremony in which the various regiments march and drill with every soldier either a drummer or a piper. We will be back for that show once we obtain tickets.

A view of Arthur's Seat from our sightseeing bus

A view of Arthur’s Seat from our sightseeing bus

Unlike our desire to get off the beaten path, we are currently in full tourist mode. We had to visit Edinburgh Castle, which towers over the city. We took the hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus around town to get a feel for what Edinburgh had in store for us. We walked along the Royal Mile of shops and restaurants on High Street just to say we did, or more likely so we would not have to say that we didn’t. I still want to hike up Arthur’s Seat, the 823 foot tall hill in Holyrood Park, one of the largest parks in the UK with castle ruins dating back 2,000 years. Holyrood Palace near the base of the hill is the Queen’s official residence in Scotland, and is open to the public when the Royal Family is not in attendance.

Scott's Tower in Princes Park is a tribute to author/poet Sir Walter Scott.

Scott’s Tower in Princes Park is a tribute to author/poet Sir Walter Scott.

We have a couple of cathedrals to see on the ABC tour (Another Blessed Church), which I became accustomed to after more than a year touring through much of Latin America. I do not know if we will fit in the Edinburgh Zoo or the Royal Botanical Gardens. However, I do expect us to tour the HMS Britannica, once the royal family yacht. I have done my best to keep up the pace while fighting off a cold. It is a good thing, too, because we are headed to Glasgow this weekend. Clearly, we will need to return to Edinburgh to discover more of its plentiful delights. Right now we are off for a spot of tea.


17 comments on “Shortbread, Whisky, Plaid and Pipes

  1. jayantadeepa says:

    Hope you enjoy your visit … Scotland is an amazing place. We had some of the best food & entertainment on the Royal Mile. You must visit Calton Hill at Edinburgh, the place is awesome – view is great

    • Mike Lince says:

      If we do not make it to Carlton Hill on this trip, we will be back next month when we attend the Royal Military Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle. Thank you for your suggestion. – Mike

  2. Wrenfoe says:


    You probably get dozens of these sorts of Blog nominations (- so feel free to ignore me) but I was asked to nominate Blogs for a “Best Moment Award”. As spam goes this seemed like one of the friendliest forms and I was more than happy to have my ego massaged.

    Here are the rules for the acceptance of the award:
    1. Display the award logo:
    2. Link back to the person who nominated you:
    3. State 7 things about yourself:
    4. Nominate 15 (or however many you can) other bloggers for this award:
    Anyway, thank you for letting me enjoy your blog  (Wrenfoe)

    (P.S. Aberdeenshire has lovely countryside but the city is a bit grotty)

    • Mike Lince says:

      You are too kind, and I appreciate the honor of your recognition. I will follow up appropriately as time allows. And BTW, I am loving your blog writing a great deal, which makes this award all the more meaningful to me. Cheers! – Mike

  3. You are such a good writer Mike! I really feel like I’m with you and Florence touring Edinburg Castle, the Royal Mile of Shops and such. It sounds like you guys are still in pure tourist mode, which is great. You’ve got to see all the “must see” sites. Sorry to hear that you’re still fighting a cold – that’s a bummer. And I’m still waiting for the photo of you in a kilt (Paul’s looking forward to seeing that too!). Celeste 🙂

    • Mike Lince says:

      Thank you for the kind words, Celeste. I think it is just a matter of time before Florence captures a photo of me in a kilt. Her fans are demanding it so who am I to disappoint them.
      The weather has been quite warm and that has helped my cold clear up. Also, you will be pleased to know that Florence has been true to the plant-based diet. Me, not so much, but only because we do not yet have a kitchen of our own. Eighteen days and counting until our apartment is available! – Mike

      • Give Florence a ‘high five’ for me! It’s hard, as you know, to stay plant-based when you’re not settled. Once you guys are settled in your apartment and cooking I’m sure you’ll be eating healthier too Mike. Celeste 🙂

  4. More good stuff from Scotland… loving it! It is indeed strange to see you guys playing tourists, but all the better for us! Talk about lucking out with the weather too… Like you, I’ve been fighting a nasty summer cold for nearly 5 days. Bummer. So happy you guys are enjoying the new home port and I for one, am really enjoying your settling in process. Fun! (From the title, I thought I might finally see that kilt shot 😉 )

    • Mike Lince says:

      I can see I am swimming against the current on the kilt photo. I give in. It will happen in the near future. I feel better today after a warm, sunny day to visit Inchcolm Abbey, a well-preserved ruin from the 12th Century. Feel better soon, Dawn! – Mike

  5. Sounds like you’re having a great time doing the tourist thing for a bit. As a fellow American living in Scotland I feel duty bound to point out that over here there is no “e” in whisky. The Scots (and whisky drinkers worldwide it should be said) are a passionate lot when it comes to the national libation and I’ve seen many an online forum get ridiculously heated over that little “e.” Just a little heads-up to keep you in the good graces of the locals 🙂

  6. reocochran says:

    I am so glad that you have the bagpipers and the pictures of your sights! I feel that adds a great dimension to your posts. I have half Scottish and half English on my Dad’s side of the family. (So, 1/4 S., 1/4 E. and then 1/4 German and 1/4 Swedish on Mom’s side. Did I mention this while you were choosing to go this direction? We are therefore 1/4 way to King Bruce of Scotland and 1/4 way to King Phillip of England, facts that some family members are all proud of the family tree… Dad always said we are Americans and to be most proud of that!) Anyway, when you show some of the sights, I study them well. I would like to see Edinburgh. I am like you, I would not have paid money to see the HMS Brittanica. Sometimes when I am traveling and the price is high, I pick up postcards that feature things that are often better shown in good lighting. Are you putting all these photos into an album or saving them onto hard drive?

    • Mike Lince says:

      Florence gets credit for the photos. I purposely let the pictures tell part of the story. I agree that it adds a new dimension to the story. I now have a template in my mind’s eye of how I want my posts to look.
      BTW- All of our photos are on the cloud with Google+. Selected photos can be viewed on our “6 Monthers” Facebook page where you can see and add comments. Thank you for sharing a bit of your personal story along with your comments. – Mike

  7. Scotland is such a lovely country.

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