We headed north, just past Edinburgh across the Forth River Bridge to the Queensferry Hotel, just next to the north end of the bridge in the Kingdom of Fife, where we would stay for the next four nights, and where we had come to see the Blessing of the wedding we’d attended in Seattle. The hotel wasn’t particularly close to much, but we used the Internet to find Ashiq’s, an interesting Indian restaurant about seven miles away in Dunfermline, one of the major towns in Fife. One of Ray’s ancestors was born in Dunfermline.
On Friday, after a morning spent in Dunfermline doing laundry and having coffee, we explored Edinburgh. We probably should have left the car at the hotel and taken the train (or cheaper, at the free park and ride at the airport and taken the tram), because after our first 56-minute walk around we returned to the car to find a parking attendant who had finished writing a ticket (we’d paid for 44 minutes) and was about to put it on his car. I told him that this was the primary memory we would have of Edinburgh; to the extent he was “just doing his job”, his employer, the Council of Edinburgh, can take the blame for ruining his experience there. I really hope to dissuade enough people from visiting Edinburgh, depriving the Council of enough tourist tax income to offset the amount I had to pay for the parking ticket, about $50. I created a “email@example.com” email address to use to tell them where to send the receipt. After this incident we visited two lackluster galleries, and returned to Fife for a delightful dinner with Katie and Andrew, the bride and groom, and Steve and Lorraine, the bride’s parents, at The Wee Restaurant in North Queensferry, in the tiny community near the hotel.
Saturday we woke up somewhat early so we could give Steve and Lorraine a ride to Leven, the town on the Fife coast where the blessing was to take place later in the day. They had much setting up to do. We whiled away the hours by driving up to St. Andrew’s, which has always had important churches, and is now known as the “home of golf”, with an international golf club which has authority of rules in most of the world (not the US) and several popular courses. We walked around downtown, buying some delicious cheese and tasting some “velvet” chocolate. St. Andrew’s Cathedral turns out to be a ruin, reminding us of the missions we visited in Paraguay, with a few stone walls still standing in a well-manicured green lawn. There were many gravestones on the lawn as well, including one from the nineteenth century featuring a man swinging a golf club. We walked to the St. Andrew’s Castle, which looked similar, a few stone walls on a lawn, and didn’t go inside. We returned to Leven via the popular Anstruther Fish Bar, and had haddock and chips (hold the chips), with the haddock having been caught that morning just offshore.
The blessing was an opportunity for Katie and Andrew to celebrate with their friends. Katie has been out here for ten years, and Andrew grew up here. And they have a lot of friends: there were probably 300 people in the “afternoon tea” after the blessing, and 200 at the party at the hotel. The blessing referred heavily to the wedding in Seattle; though only a few of us had actually been there, many people had watched the live video stream. The “tea” featured egg salad sandwiches (and other varieties) and lots of sweets. We went to a little homemade banquet dinner at a nearby church, then back to the Queensferry Hotel for the reception. There was an excellent trio who played guitar, violin, saxophone, and occasionally bagpipes. There were lots of dances which clearly were the historical basis for American “square dancing”. There was a table full of bad American candy, just in time for Halloween. And five hours of frivolity, with Scottish beer and whiskey.
Sunday we said goodbye to the party guests who’d stayed at the hotel, and drove west towards Glasgow. First we saw The Kelpies, enormous statues of two mythical demons taking the form of horses. Apparently they get lit up at night. From there we went to the Falkirk Wheel, an interesting modern attraction which swaps boats between the Forth and Clyde Canal, and the Union Canal. Perhaps there are some actual private boats which need to be transferred between the two canals, which run very near each other but are 24 meters apart in elevation. Most of the traffic functions as a ferris wheel, with visitors lifted or lowered from one canal to the other. If this had been made in the nineteenth century, or were actually useful today, it would have been a bit more impressive. Nearby was another Roman wall, which we took a quick walk along. We went to Ubiquitous Chip, a recommended restaurant in Glasgow. Apparently it is often recommended to tourists, since none of the people within earshot spoke Scottish; everyone was American or perhaps Spanish. Even the sommelier was from Kentucky. Everybody is from Kentucky this trip. The food was all very nice.
Monday we filled up the car with gas, the first time since we’d gotten it, on the way to return it at the Edinburgh airport. We carefully weighed all our luggage to make sure it was within the Ryanair limits, and checked the bag. We eventually boarded and sat down in the plane, sardine-style, for the 50 minute flight to Dublin.