Christmas Weekend – Part 3 – Edinburgh

Due to the train crisis, we wasted one day in transit. We had only one precious day to explore Edinburgh. Thankfully, the weather was perfect! Sunny blue sky! It was supposed to be rainy and cloudy.

The locality of our hotel was perfect for newcomers like us. It was situated just a few hundred meters to most of Edinburgh’s attractions. We mapped out our journey for the day. I figured out we can only cover 3-4 main attractions.

Our first stop – the iconic Edinburgh Castle. This is one of the most popular castles in Europe. Sitting 130m high on the Castle Rock (an extinct volcanic rock), the fortress dominates the skyline of Edinburgh. On photo, the Edinburgh looks big and majestic on top of the hill. In actual, it is smaller than I have expected. The museum inside the castle revealed the history of the Scottish armies and the regiments’ sacrifices during the old British Empire. It was here where I learnt that the Scottish was an important part of the British Empire. Without the Scottish’s contribution, England wouldn’t have survived those bloody wars.

Our next stop “The Scotch Whisky Experience” is just 200m downhill from the Castle. Here, we went in for a 50min-Whisky-Appreciation Tour. We sat in a 15min- barrel-multimedia-ride that took us on a journey of Whisky-making. From malting to mashing to fermentation to distillation and finally to maturation, we learnt the simple 5-step process of Scotch Whisky-making through animated illustrations and videos. The presentation was simple and easy to comprehend.

Next, we were brought into a tasting room where we learnt about the 4 key Scottish Whisky regions. We were each given a scent card and the Whisky Expert got us to smell the different flavors and aromas of each region. At the end of the session, we got to taste a glass of whisky from one of the regions that we have selected.

At the final stop of our tour, we visited the World’s Largest Scotch Whisky Collection Gallery where there was an impressive collection of 3,384 bottles of vintage, unopened whiskies. This collection was gathered by a Brazilian connoisseur Claive Vidiz over 35 years. And it was impressive!

On our way to dinner, we stopped by the St Giles’ Cathedral. Built in 1124, this is the principal place of worship of the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh. For ₤2, I got a sticker on my jacket that allowed me to take photography freely inside the Cathedral and chapel. This was a good stop for us to get some warmth and nice soothing choir.

The next morning, we packed our bags and made our way to London. Our 16-day tour was coming to an end. On our way to the Edinburgh train station, we stopped by to take photos and did some last-minute shopping. Thankfully, the train services to London had resumed and there was no delay.

Here am I on the train typing this final blog of our long tour. Indeed, it has been a long long journey for all of us. We had an eventful trip with many “first-in-life” experiences! Plus a priceless bonding time with my family and friends and so many beautiful moments captured!

This is it! A great sign-off to 2013 and looking forward for a happier and wonderful 2014! Time to head back to Hong Kong. For those who have been following my travel stories, thanks for all your good words and encouragement! Wishing all of you a great 2014! Cheers!

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