Tag Archives: Whisky

Lovely Last Day Together

Monday was my folks’ last day with us in Dublin. As I write this on Tuesday morning, Reed is headed with them to the airport for their flight back home. It was great to have them share time with us here. Since we live nearly 2000 miles apart and don’t share day-to-day life, packing quality time into trips like this is something we really love.

Mom and Dad came over to our apartment mid-morning, our typical routine by now as the kids enjoy sleeping in. Now you may think we would have coffee or tea together, but not this morning – it was whisky time! Don’t worry…it was just a little tasting, which is far different than actually drinking…and, it was after 11:00, which is the time whiskey can be served here. (You may have noticed the different spellings of whiskey…the “e” is in Irish [& American] whiskey whereas it’s not in Scottish whisky, i.e., Scotch.) Dad and I had to sample the special whisky Reed bottled for us in Scotland at Cadenhead’s. We admired the color, swirled it, and then mixed in a little water, as we had learned to do with this strong stuff (112 proof!). Then we tasted it…and…it wasn’t too bad! I think my Dad likes it a bit more than me…not so much the taste but the warmth after it’s down the hatch. (I think I’ll always be more of a tequila girl; sorry Scotch lovers.) It was fun.

On the River Liffey
On the River Liffey

After lunch together on campus at “The Buttery” (all 6 of us; yes, Jackson is still here, just avoiding the camera), I took my folks back to Temple Bar and its quaint cobblestone streets. I wanted to get them to the old Ha Penny bridge (mentioned in my first Dublin post), as well as the new Millennium Bridge. I really enjoyed strolling along the River Liffey with them. As we couldn’t find gelato in Temple Bar, we headed back up Grafton Street for one last “tub” as they call it here. It was delicious, and we are thankful for all of the walking we do so we can manage our gelato indulgences! (Side note…we have sampled both Irish and Scottish ice cream and find it doesn’t compare to the Italian stuff.)

Later in the afternoon, my parents and I walked up Dame Street toward St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The plan was for all six of us to take in the 5:30pm evensong service, but Abbie now has Reed’s cold so he stayed back with the kids. It is about a mile walk, and we left in time to visit Christ Church Cathedral along the way (the four of us went there before my folks arrived so it was mentioned in a previous post).

St. Patricks’s is larger than Christ Church; in fact, it is the longest medieval church in Ireland. It is known as “the people’s cathedral,” and it is the national Protestant Church of Ireland. It stands on an early Christian site where St. Patrick baptized converts in a well in 450 AD. There is a park adjacent to the cathedral where the fountain marks this place. The original church was wood, and the stone structure was built in 1192 and then expanded to make it a cathedral between 1220-1270. It’s still hard to wrap our heads around this history sometimes! You can read more about St. Patrick here – there’s good reason why he’s such a big deal to the Irish!

The evensong service was beautiful. A choir dressed in purple robes, a gowned woman with a scepter, and three ministers processed in. The organ played throughout and there were several songs, prayers, and scripture readings. We said the Apostle’s Creed and prayer of grace together. It was a good reminder to me of how long people have been relying on faith to get through life.

After the service, we walked around the nave a bit, looking at the graves and other ornamentation. Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels) and his wife, Stella, are buried here. The area in the front where the choir sits is adorned with swords, banners, and helmets, which is a bit surprising. They represent the knights of St. Patrick. We departed very content with what we had experienced; I hope to attend again this week with Reed and the kids.

Campanile, nearing dusk, Trinity College
Campanile, nearing dusk, Trinity College

We walked back toward Trinity and met Reed at a nice pub he had located for our last meal together. We enjoyed the beautiful setting in the old Ulster Bank, and we had some delicious food. Upon re-entering Trinity, we were greeted by a wonderful view of the campanile (detail on the architecture here or here). We then visited for awhile in our apartment,  finished off our Irish shortbread, and then my folks said goodbye to the kids. It was a lovely last day together.

Goodbye Edinburgh, Hello Dublin

Sunday was our last day in Edinburgh. We booked a “silver tour” (recommended for families) at the Scotch Whisky Experience. It is quite touristy, but since Reed got a wee bit of the real deal by going to Cadenhead’s, I thought we should take it in. The Whisky Experience is located right next to the castle, so we walked up the Royal Mile one more time amongst the crowds and raindrops. In this tour, you are educated about how whisky is made while riding along in a whisky barrel. There is a ghost that takes you through the steps, and you are immersed in the sights, sounds, and even smells (smoky peat!) of the process. It was well done and sort of like a slow ride at Disneyland.

After you depart your barrel, you enter a room with a guide (ours was very cheerful and animated) where you continue your education about the whisky regions in Scotland. You are given a scratch-n-sniff sort of card where you can smell scents in the whisky from each region. One of them smelled fresh like citrus, another kind of like bubble gum, and of course one was very smoky. Then it was time to decide which one you wanted to taste. The four grown-ups chose one of each so we got to try them all; the kids got a glass of Irn Bru, Scotland’s soft drink (an orange soda).

Next we entered another room where we were surrounded by the world’s largest Scotch whisky collection. Here we were told how to tip the glass, swirl it around, sniff, and then sip. I sure didn’t taste any of that citrus or bubble gum, but it was fun and informative. The one I disliked the least was from the Speyside region…I’m not going so far as to say I liked it, but I could appreciate it a wee bit. My dad liked the one from the lowland region; Reed loved them all but especially the Islay. My mom didn’t like any, and the kids downed their Irn Brus like good Scottish children. As part of the tour, you get to keep your sipping glass (Glencairn), which will make us a nice set at home (so come on over for a dram!). :)

We watched a little Commonwealth Games “lawn bowls,” packed up our stuff, and took a bus to the airport (even the bus seats are Tartan plaid!). The airport is surprisingly small, and we navigated the process much easier than when we left Dublin. We enjoyed a nice dinner while waiting for our plane; I had a pint of Caledonia, a Scottish beer, and Reed got ready to return to Ireland with a Guinness. Our flight was just 40 minutes or so, and our bags arrived safe and sound (no broken glasses or bottles!). Another bus dropped us right off at Trinity, and I got my folks checked into their room. They depart Tuesday, so we will share one more day together in Dublin.

A Scottish Saturday

We took it a bit easy today, trying to get Reed on the mend through forcing him to rest. He was able to go across the street to Cadenhead’s Whisky Shop, Scotland’s oldest independent bottler, which was definitely a highlight for him. :)

Mom, Dad, Abbie, and I set out after lunch to explore Greyfriar’s Kirkyard (graveyard) in search of Greyfriar Bobby’s tombstone. We easily found it, but we weren’t as lucky with finding Tom Riddell’s or a good view of the castle. Oh well. I still enjoyed walking on the old town streets of Cowgate, Candlemaker, and Grassmarket.

Next we headed up the hill toward the castle to visit the Tartan Weaving Mill. The looms weren’t running which was kind of a bummer, but still we saw them and were impressed. You are fed through a bunch of shops at the mill so that is kind of lame, but again, oh well. The crowds on the streets are bonkers today…a jazz and blues festival is in town, and the Commonwealth Games are being held in Glasgow, which also brings a lot of people to Edinburgh (they are kind of like the summer Olympics, only just within the British commonwealth).

We strolled back down the Royal Mile, getting ice cream and a few souvenirs on the way. Dinner was next door to our flat at the Tolbooth Tavern, established in 1820 (building dates to 1591). We sampled a couple of whiskies (not my thing, sorry Reed!), and we enjoyed some Scottish cuisine. Mom and I had vegetarian haggis (made of kidney beans, lentils, oats, and seasonings rather than sheep innards), neeps (turnips), and tatties (potatoes). Yum. Reed enjoyed a steak and ale pie. Yum. Then we went back to our flat to watch more of the Commonwealth Games – I’m not sure whether to root for Scotland or South Africa!