Sunday, March 25, 2007

February 2007 - Edinburgh, Scotland - Simon & Tina

After 3 weeks in Bologna, we headed out to Edinburgh to meet up with Simon and Tina. There's nothing like visiting a city with a local. Simon did a wonderful job of showing us all around his hometown. We were absolutely charmed by Edinburgh's beauty and by Simon's friends and family.
Simon showed us around some really touristy sites like Edinburgh Castle below and some not so touristy sites like the ski slopes in the highlands.

We had a wonderful time exploring this castle and there will be a later blog entry dedicated to it and the spectacular views of the city from the castle as well as the views of the castle from the city.
I think we all agreed this is Edinburgh's number one tourist attraction and although it has not been in use since the days of Mary Queen of Scotts, it offers an interesting lesson on the history of Scotland.
The castle also provides amazing views of the city as it sits high atop Edinburgh in a fortified position. That is the New Town of Edinburgh behind Tina and Simon.
Notice the geek wearing the audio guide headphones around her neck. Casandra was fascinated by Scottish history and everything having to do with the royals and their kingdoms. Here we squeezed into a viewing booth in one of the Castle's towers.
Kenny was particularly impressed with the old cannons of the armory.

There's Casandra with a tiara from the children's section of the gift shop. I think she's read one too many fairytales.
Okay, so Casandra isn't the only one that likes the children's section of the gift shop. While Tina shopped for her girls, Casandra and Kenny entertained themselves in the tower shaped multi-level toy department.

Finally, we headed out of the gift shop through the castle's main gate.

I think the gift shop employees were happy to see us go. And we were in need of some pub food.

Simon took us to Deacon Brodie's for some Scottish specialties and beer. Kenny had bangers (boiled pork sausage with onion gravy) and mash (potatoes) and Casandra had haggis (sheep's blood and meat ground and stuffed into the sheep's stomach) and chips (french fries). Surprisingly, we really enjoyed Scottish food.

Now for the not so touristy sites . . .
Simon and his friends Graham and Graham drove us out to the Lecht for some Scottish skiing. The snow wasn't great but the company was and while we didn't do much skiing, we left pretty sore from laughing.
Here is an optimistic group of expert skiers ready to hit the mountain. That's Simon and Tina behind us, in case you didn't recognize them under the heavy gear.

There they are again in a much better ski bunny pose.

There's Tina asking Kenny for some tips. Did she mention this is her first time on skis. Don't worry we'll start with the bunny slope.

There go the expert skiers (Tina, Simon and Casandra) up the escalator to the bunny slope.
Oh no, what is Tina doing!?!?!? Is she taking tips from Casandra . . . This isn't going to be pretty. So Kenny set the camera to record and we now have Tina's first moments as a skier on video.

There goes Tina down the mountain. Watch as she teaches all the Scottish children to curse in Spanish.
On our way home, Kenny and Simon spotted a stag on the hilltop. They asked Graham to stop the car so they could run out and chase the stag. Once on the hill they found not 1 but 4 stags looking like deer in the headlight. Simon and Kenny snapped away but the mixture of the twilight and their excitement made capturing a clear pic of the stags very difficult. After chasing the stags over the hill, Kenny and Simon discovered a herd of at least 50 stags. No one has ever seen a clear picture to prove it but between the 2 of them there are about 40 pictures of blurry grass with brown splotches.
After all that hard work skiing we all deserved a fun night out. So Simon and his friends took us out for some bar hopping, Scottish style. The Scottish don't really bar hop, they just drink a lot of beer (beers are sold 5 at a time) at one bar until it closes and then they run out and find another bar. . .

Here we are at a fun latin-themed bar with more than just beer (cocktails are quite upscale by Scottish standards).
Our Miami girls were really enjoying their vodka cocktails.
I wonder what the girls are scheming about . . .
It was a wonderful sight to see . . . Simon back in Edinburgh with all his mates in party mode, he even got his full brogue back!!
Tina picked up a bachelorette and her entourage. Apparently Edinburgh is a hot spot for hen parties from all over the UK. These girls proved to be fun for the rest of the night. Good job Tina!
Bachelorettes are required to wear silly and scandalous outfits. Our new friend was in fish net stockings, full garters and had all kinds of learner's permit signs posted on her back.

We moved the party to a club called Two Sisters and we kicked off the dancing with Sambuca shots for everyone (PUKE!!!).
Here's Casandra getting friendly with Kenny.
Here's Simon getting friendly with Graham and Jillian.
Here's Tina getting friendly with Graham. Casandra's still stuck on Kenny.There's Simon getting friendly with Jillian. Don't miss the bachelorette party booty dancing behind them.Here's Casandra getting friendly with Graham.
But wait, who is that getting friendly with all the bachelorettes at once? It's Graham singing "New York, New York" and doing the high kick.
And there's Graham getting friendly with yet another hen party. Wow, he's on a roll.
There's a bunch of us, all looking pretty friendly. No doubt the alcohol kicked in.

And finally, after all those vodka cocktails, Tina and Casandra are ready to challenge those bachelorettes to a dance off. Unfortunately, the boys were all starved for middle of the night kebab. So off we went after a fabulous night out in Edinburgh.

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