Europe Trip Day 2 @ 24-9 (cont')

24-09 Sat

We walked to the main street, and took a short bus ride to Princes Street. We bought the day trip bus ticket and got to take unlimited rides for the day. We got off the stop at the Princes Street Park. And my, the park was lovely! There were many people sitting on the grass and basking under the sun. The weather was just cool and sunny.

We got some directions from a guy, and then headed straight to the Edinbugh Castle. Eventhough the Castle was visible from the Park, but there were many streets leading towards it. The street towards the Castle was a little steep, as the Castle was situated on top of a hill. Finally, we reached the Royal Mile, and the Castle sits waiting for us. We even saw a man with painted face along the street, who was impersonating as "Braveheart".

Royal Mile is a long road with rich heritage and history of Scotland. The Edinburgh Castle sits at one end of the Royal Mile. The Castle architecture was nothing too grand, it looked old with it brown bricks and black mold. But still it was an imposing structure. Once we got the tickets, we waited for the guided tour near the entrance.

Our lady guide (*I forgot what her name was) was really good, she spoke eloquently and it was amazing how she memorised the chronology of the historical events. And not forgetting to add in some really good jokes. She brought us through various gates, showed us the canons, a chapel (it was a private chapel for the Queen back then), a grave for the dogs (!?), the royal residence and a host of other places in the castle. There was even a Scottish wedding going on in the chapel, and we managed to snap some quick photos of the newly weds and their "antique" cars.

After ending the castle tour, we walked down the Royal Mile and visited some shops selling tartan scarves, scottish kilts and scotch whiskies. Our next stop was the Camera Obscura. This building looks fairly common from the outside, but the true wonder was "obscured" in the building. Here we could see many of the optical illusions explained and showned. It was most interesting to say the least. Lastly, on the top floor, we were led into a dark room where all of us crowded over a big round table in the middle of the room. The guide explained to us that there is a obscured camera in this building, where it can be navigated to view most parts of Edinburgh city (kinda like a submarine, with the camera peeking out of the sea surface). The view of the city was reflected through strategically placed lenses and onto the round table. We could see people and buildings on the streets, all within the dark little room! It was definitely amazing to think that such idea was conceived. And hence the name of the building came from. Even the gift shop was interesting with lots of tricks and gimmicks to get for your own little magic acts.

Our next stop for the day was the Scotch Whisky Heritage Center opposite of Camera Obscura. We were ready for some whisky tasting! We were lucky to miss the last guided tour by minutes, and the lady was kind enough to let us join in. We were given a glass of whisky for tasting as the guide began explaining the steps of tasting and appreciating the whisky. I wasn't too keen on whisky, the taste was sweet with hints of vanilla, malt and chocolate. But it was a burning sensation in my throat and my stomach! Gosh, it was hard for a "beginner" like me to gulp down the rest of the whisky. Somehow I managed it but it left me a little tipsy. Next we were shown how the famous Scotch are produced and how to differentiate the colours of the aging whisky. All in all, it was an interesting tour too. And there was the whisky shop at the end of the tour to buy back some fine Scotch whisky. Oh, and we get to keep the nice glass, which we had used for the earlier tasting session.

It was late evening by the time we came out from the whisky center. The skies were looking dark, and most of the shops were closing. We took a stroll down the Royal Mile, taking in the view of the old cobbled streets, the closes (alleys), the old buildings, the cathedrals and the people around the place. All while we tried searching for a suitable place for dinner.

We finally settled into an Italian restaurant, Bella Italia, at the street's corner. It took a while waiting to be seated and ordering our pasta. The interior of the restaurant was nicely decorated where you get the cosy home feeling. The food was ok, but it was sad for me as my tooth suddenly started to ache tremendously. I couldn't enjoy my food. But still it was a nice place to have good Italian food. My tooth was still aching when we left the place. Little did I know that the ache was going to cause me tremendous suffering for the next few days...

The air was wet and chilling on the streets, with the wind blowing. I wasn't wearing enough to stand the chill and I was shivering all over while we waited for the bus to get back to the rest house. I swear I would wear the warmer jacket the next day. It was nerve racking to stand on the chilly streets. I realised how those poor people must have been, to be in hunger in the freezing night. I was glad when we finally reached the rest house, where I felt much warmer and my tooth ache subsided. It felt good to take a hot bath and settled into bed after a long day of travelling. But my misery wasn't to end yet, my tooth continue to torture me throughout the night. I couldn't get a good sleep, my nerves were like racking me up! I turned and fumbled in the bed, and rubbing my jaws to ease the pain. Even the painkillers didn't help....it was one of the worst nights I had....

...to be continued...

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