I take the bus along Leith Walk and get off early so that I can take photos of the shops that I’ve been passing by on the bus for the last few days. Some of the shop names are intriguing: Elvis Shakespeare – sells vintage vinyl and books; The World of Gas; Polski Smak and Macbet – an off track betting shop.
On the McCall Smith trail, I go to Valvona & Crolla, 19 Elm Row – purveyors of continental produce since 1934. The front of the shop is deceptively small and narrow. There is a network of rooms stemming out from it, including a Café at the back. A team of staff is restocking the shelves and fridges, presumably after the Christmas rush. I buy a few postcards; regrettably I cannot buy any gourmet treats to take home with me.
I meet Jess at St Paul’s and St George’s church for the 11 am service; it lasts a scant half hour, and leaves me missing the lively services at Keele Street Christian Church.
We walk across the North and South Bridges, past the University of Edinburgh to Monster Mash at 44 Forrest Road. This retro diner dishes up mounds of traditional and funky mashed potatoes with your choice of bangers (sausages) and gravy. We read British comics – The Broons, Oor Wullie, and the Beano while we wait for our lunches. Our server hails from Cincinnati and is in Scotland with her boyfriend who’s doing his masters degree at the Uni. The Monster Mash Motto is “Top nosh at half the cost!”, and they’re not kidding. Two generous servings plus hot chocolate cost £17.70.
On our way to the National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street, I stop to photograph the memorial to Greyfriars Bobby. Legend has it that this terrier kept vigil over his master’s grave in Greyfriars Kirkyard until his own death, many years later.
At the museum, we go up to the fourth and fifth levels to see the “Industry and Empire (1707-1914)” exhibit. These galleries pay homage to the resourcefulness and ingenuity of the Scottish people highlighting their contributions in the fields of engineering, papermaking, shipbuilding, printing, textile weaving and more.
Next we stop at St Giles Cathedral, a landmark on the Royal Mile. Its stained glass windows and Thistle Chapel are most impressive.
Jess orders her “usual” at Tea Tree Tea where she is somewhat of a regular. I order the Honey Rooibos which is made from loose tea, honey and steamed milk and a bakewell slice– delectable. This anti-Starbucks non-chain shop has comfy seating and free wifi.
We play cribbage, watch Blackadder’s Christmas and have dinner at Jess’ flat. It’s about 9 o’clock when I get back to my room and start organizing my stuff for check out in the morning.