Thursday, March 23, 2017

March 8th: Are You Suggesting That Coconuts Migrate?

Some sleep definitely helped! We felt a bit more functional the next day, so it was time for some exploring.

The cafe we found for lunch the day before was so good that we went back for breakfast. They had all sorts of neat Italian pastries, so I tried a couple. The one that looks like a seashell was my favorite; the crust was a long, thin, crunchy spiral wrapped around on itself, and the whole thing was filled with an orangey ricotta. Mmm, coffee and pastries...   :)

We went for a short walk after breakfast and managed to find an overlook we'd seen the day before. It had a neat view of the skyline. We spent a few more minutes wandering around before picking up the car, checking out of the hotel, and saying goodbye to Glasgow.

We had about an hour drive to our first stop, and along the way we saw this rainbow. Normally you never really see the end of these, but this time it was right in front of us! It was pretty neat. We drove a bit more, then arrived at our first stop...

...Doune Castle! This is the castle they used in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and when we found out we'd be so close, we knew we had to go.   :)

It turns out they had a really cool self-guided audio tour, so we grabbed our headsets and went inside. (Bonus: the audio tour was narrated by Terry Jones.)

This was the fanciest room in the castle (and by fancy, I mean most modern). With just a couple exceptions you get total free run of the entire castle. We went up those steep spiraling steps on the left and wound up in a winding maze of sleeping chambers and latrines and such. It was cold and drafty and dark and awesome.

Looking out onto the courtyard from one of the rooms.

This was one of the bigger rooms, and I believe it was where the lady of the house mostly hung out. I think it used to be two stories; you could see where there were spots for beams to be put into the walls that could have created a floor. If I remember correctly, the window that the guy in the blue jacket is looking out of is the same one where they shot the scene in Holy Grail with the son who doesn't want the kingdom, but just wants to...sing!

This room is where they would have big feasts. That basket-looking thing in the middle used to contain a big fire that would warm and light the room, and the VIPs would sit up on the platform where the fancy bench is.

This was the kitchen, complete with windows where the servers could pick up the food. The slashes on the wall are how the cooks would sharpen their knives. There was also a huuuuge fireplace on the other side of the kitchen where they could roast whole animals on spits. They shot a few scenes of Holy Grail in here, too.

We eventually finished wandering around inside, turned in our headsets, and walked around a bit outside. It was pretty muddy so we didn't go very far, but it was still really cool to see the castle up close after seeing it in Holy Grail. This was definitely worth the side trip - having an awesome audio tour and getting to wander around a castle for as long as you'd like isn't something you get to do every day!

We left the castle just as a bunch of other people showed up (perfect timing!), and drove into town. We found lunch at a small cafe, shared a sandwich in the car, then hit the road again for a short drive to our next stop...

...Deanston Distillery. Time for a distillery tour!

This wound up being a really cool tour. It's a smaller distillery, so it was very low key and we could take pictures almost anywhere we wanted.

We got to see some pretty cool parts of the process, too. This mash tun was open and we could see the hot water slowly draining out. The hot water is eventually turned into whisky, and the grain left behind is turned into cattle food.

We also got to see some of the fermentation process. This room was full of giant tanks and smelled the way our house smells when we make wine and it's undergoing primary fermentation: warm and yeasty. We got to see their stills, too, but you're not allowed to take pictures in there because of possible alcohol vapors in the air.

This is their warehouse. The building used to be a cotton mill, and I think the guide said that this is the room where they'd turn the cotton into fabric on giant looms. Now it's full of whisky barrels.  :)  Overall, the tour was really neat and our guide was great. I wound up buying Mark his bottle of birthday whisky here; Deanston sells a lot of their whisky to be used in blended whiskies, so it's not often you can find a bottle of their single malt, especially in the US.

We eventually finished up at the distillery, then got back on the road. Time for our last stop of the day!

Hello, Edinburgh!

We found our hotel just fine, checked in, hung out for a little while enjoying our fancy room, then decided to wander around a bit. The above picture is the Edinburgh Castle; it sits up on a hill right in the middle of everything and there's a really cool park/garden area below it.

We passed the Scott Monument as we wandered around. It's a monument to Sir Walter Scott, and it's the largest monument to a writer in the world. I think you can go into it, but we just enjoyed the view from the outside and kept going.

This was a random intersection we passed along the way. I loved all the old stone buildings.   :)

We wandered a bit through the old town area, went into a giant whisky store with the most impressive collection of mini bottles I've ever seen, then wandered a bit further...

...up to the Edinburgh Castle. There was a pretty nice view from the top of the hill!

The entrance to the castle. It was too late in the day for any of the tours, but it was still neat from the outside. We wandered around for a little while, then went back down the hill and walked around the castle on the other side. By then we were getting pretty hungry... it was time for some dinner. We wound up at a random Indian restaurant we passed. We were a little worried because we were the only people in there, but the food was delicious! The owners and the chef were great, and I'm really glad we wound up there. I was stuffed by the time we left.

We started to wander back toward the hotel. The castle was lit up for the evening, which looked awesome.

We stopped in the Mathers Bar on the way back to the hotel for some whisky. Mark tried a few different things (and I sipped at them, too), then we went back to the hotel. We grabbed one last drink at the hotel bar, then went up to our room and watched some weird British game shows (one of my favorite things about traveling in the UK) until we fell asleep. It had been a fun day, and we had more fun things planned for the next day!

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