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The Castles of Scotland: Part 7
The first impression of this lovely city is that it is both compact and built with classic Scottish thoroughness. Don't look for anything too modern or anything that is jerry-built. Edinburgh is all about tradition. Here we finally found our kilted bagpipe player. Immaculate and looking as if posing for a picture-postcard, he was playing on a street corner and, though the bagpipes always sound to me a little like a cat in heat (no letters on this one either, please), their music totally enthralls me.
Full marks also to the Edinburgh police. The British policeman have an enviable reputation for courtesy, but the ones in Edinburgh were even more helpful than those in London.
If you follow our footsteps to Scotland, buy yourself a copy of the British Automobile Association's, Explorer - Scotland. We used this book and found it splendid. On its advice we visited Edinburgh Castle which was already a stronghold in the dark ages, took the obligatory Edinburgh tour on the open-top of a cut-away double-decker bus, visited the National Portrait Gallery, lunched at Lanterna in Rose Street, walked the recommended Edinburgh walks and did all the other wonderful touristy things for which Edinburgh is famous. Needless to say, no visit to Scotland could be considered complete without a visit to the Scotch Whisky Heritage Center. Here I composed my ode to Scotch, which I will share with you (whether you like it or not) herewith:
You can drink it in the morning,
You can sip it in the night.
You can knock back half a bottle,
and then feel very tight!
Just as I was wondering if I could sell this to an advertising agency, my wife nudged me back to reality by reminding me it was almost time to take the train to London. We returned our car to Hertz and headed for the station. Here is a quick word about British Rail.
A few decades ago this was undoubtedly the worst railway system in Europe, with dirty trains, awful food, and schedules that bore no resemblance to the real time trains left and arrived. But the British have really lifted their game on nearly every front, and today anyone traveling the London/Edinburgh route by the fast, efficient and superbly comfortable train-service will join me in giving BritRail full marks. Should you decide to only see Scotland without wanting to stop off on the way, flying into London and taking the high-speed BritRail service to Edinburgh, then hiring your Hertz car there, is an excellent way to go. It's much faster than traveling by car, and a great deal more relaxed when you don't have to keep watching the road and wondering what the other motorists were about to do.
We arrived in London, ready to experience this superb city -- but that's another story, and it's not yet written.