Mar 24, 2011

Fairman Siblings in the UK

My three younger siblings Bert, Rachel, and Anna arrived in Newcastle on St. Paddy's Day last week.  I met them at Newcastle International Airport and I was so excited to see them as they came through the arrivals door.  They have now been in the UK almost a week and it has been non-stop fun since the moment they arrived.  I think I'm going to have to make a few posts on their week here because we have done soooo much and they haven't even left yet!

I thought they might be exhausted Thursday night after almost 24 hours of traveling, but they were ready to hit the UK ground running.  We ate dinner and headed to Osbourne Road with our friends Julie and Kevin for a little St. Patrick's Day drinking at one of our favorite bars, Blanc.  We weren't out too late, but we had a good time drinking and talking about their day of traveling.


Yes..the hubby got to go too.

On Friday morning, the sibs and I got up bright and early, 5:30 AM to be exact, which is about 5+ hours earlier than I normally get up these days.  We made our way to Central Station where we took the train to Edinburgh, Scotland.  The train ride to Edinburgh is only about an hour and a half, and we arrived in Scotland by about 9:30AM. 

At Central Station getting ready to board the train.
We made our way up to the Royal Mile which is the area of the city that is most known for tourism.  At the very top of the street is Edinburgh Castle, but the rest of the mile is filled with shops, St. Giles Cathedral, pubs, and much more.

The first stop on the Royal Mile was St. Giles Cathedral.  It is a stunning cathedral both on the inside and out, but unfortunately it was under construction on the inside.  They still allowed us to go in and look around, but it took away from the natural beauty by having ladders, crains, and workers inside.  Oh well, we still got some great pictures.
St. Giles Cathedral
As we walked out of the cathedral, we decided our next stop would be Edinburgh Castle.  However, as we began to walk up the Royal Mile, we were confronted by a couple.  I almost brushed them aside thinking to myself,  Oh man, what are these two trying to sell us now.  The woman first asked us if we were in the tourist group, to which we replied no.  She then asked if we had 15-20 minutes of our time to spare because what they were going to ask us to do could be "rather significant."  At this point, I was really thinking, get on with what you want to ask us, because I'm anxious to tell you NO and get on with my day!  To our surprise, the woman said, "We are wanting to get married today, and we don't have any witnesses.  Would two of you please come be the witnesses to our wedding?"  I have to say I think our mouths dropped to the floor.  We were not expecting that to be the question, but we quickly decided...sure...why not?!  So the six of us rounded the corner to the registrars office where Bert, Rachel, Anna, and I witnessed the marriage of Sisi and Andrew.  We signed the marriage papers and everything.  What a way to spend our first hour in Scotland!!!
Us at the Registrar's Office after the wedding ceremony.
After that slight deviation of the plan, it was time to make our way up to Edinburgh Castle. 

Side Note:  Can I just say that the weather in the UK has been absolutely spectacular since the arrival of my sibs and they are beginning to think that I have been lying all these months about how rainy and dreary it usually is.... not that I'm complaining that the sun was shining.

Edinburgh Castle is huge.  I mean seriously, you could spend the entire day at the castle if you wanted to.  We didn't, as we had lots to see and only a day to see it.  But we did have a great time in the couple hours that we did spend there.  Highlights of the castle included panoramic views of the city of Edinburgh, going through the museums, playing royal guard, and having a little too much fun with a red telephone booth.

Edinburgh Castle
View From The Top

And as I mentioned before...the Red Telephone Booth.

And here's a few more from the castle...just cause.

Have I mentioned before that my brother is kind of a ham?
On our way out of the castle, we met William Wallace....aka Brave Heart.....aka....Rachel's new boyfriend. Notice the hand holding.
Next up on the list of things to do in Edinburgh was the Scottish Whiskey Experience.  I am not a big drinker, and especially not a whiskey drinker, but the girls and I decided to humor our brother and sign up for the tour which included a whiskey tasting at the end.  The tour was actually quite interesting.  It started with a disneyland like ride that showed you how whiskey is made, and then they told us about the four main areas in Scotland where whiskey comes from.  Certain areas are known for whiskies with specific qualities, tastes, smells, etc.  They even had a scratch-and-sniff card for each area so that you could decide what kind of whiskey you would like to taste.  I choose to taste the whiskey from "Speyside."  It's known for "fruiter" whiskeys, and the scratch-and-sniff card smelled like a banana.  Can I just say, that whiskey tasted and smelled NOTHING like bananas. Yuck!  Bert got to have most of mine, and Rachel's, and Anna's.  Four for the price of one. Lucky. Him.

They also have the largest whiskey collection in the world.  We were able to see bottles upon bottles of whiskey.  Surprisingly, these bottles come in all shapes and sizes.  Some are worth thousands of dollars.
After getting a little whiskey courage running through our blood (I guess we had a little, Bert had a lot), we decided we felt brave enough to go on the famous Edinburgh Underground Vault Tours.  The vaults underground were used centuries ago for merchants and then after that as shelter for people who were too poor to live "above ground."  Supposedly, there was lots of murder, rape, disease, etc. that went on underground and over time, the vaults have been believed to be haunted and filled with paranormal activity.  I don't exactly know why we thought that this would be fun, if you have problems with claustrophobia, panic attacks, anexity, or heart problems I would highly suggest staying away from this tour if you ever make your way to Edinburgh.  If you like a good fright, being underground, complete darkness, and paying for an anxiety attack..then perhaps this is the pefect tour for you! 

However, we did pay to go on this tour and so we knew we needed to follow through.  It was 45 minutes of fear.  I think that every person on the tour could not wait to get out of those vaults.  The stories sound real, and though I'm not a big believer in witchcraft, ghosts, and the paranormal, I AM a believer in the fact that the mind is a very powerful thing and that people could definitely work themselves up enough to faint, vomit, scream, and even hear or feel things down there.  All of us, Bert included, thought at one point we might pass out.  Our prize for making it to the end of the tour, MORE WHISKEY, at the Banshee Labrinyth, Scotland's Most Haunted PUB.


If any of my sibs were feeling jet-lagged prior to this tour, they were definitely wide awake from an adrenaline rush after.  We all said we were glad we did the tour, because it will be a story we always remember, but none of us would EVER do it again!

At this point in the day, the sun was beginning to set, and our bellies were beginning to rumble.  It was time to find some food and a place to rest our feet.  We headed to Greyfriar's Bobby's Bar.  Greyfriar's Bobby is somewhat of a hero in Edinburgh.  He was a Skye Terrier who when his master died, layed by the gravestone protecting it for 14 years until the dog's death in 1872.  The dog is a symbol of loyalty and love and a statue was erected of Bobby soon after it's death.  Now there is also a pub you can visit in Edinburgh in honor of Mr. Bobby.  As an avid dog lover myself, I decided going to that pub would be extra special.

By 9:00PM it was time to head back to the train station and call it a day.  It was a long and exciting day in Edinburgh and a great way to start off the Fairman sibling tour of the UK.  We got home late, and we were exhausted, but we have lots of memories and this was only day 1!

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