Alex Salmond, Scotland’s first minister has been trying to persuade anyone prepared to listen that, in the future when the good people of Scotland have voted to separate from the United Kingdom, his administration will seek greater contact and possibly an international accord with Scotland’s natural allies and soul mates, er Scandinavia.
Leaving aside the generally accepted view that if Scotland has any particular natural allies and soul mates it is with those to the west, not the east, on the other side of the Irish Sea, one thing you can say about the Scots is that, like the Scandinavians, our northern friends and neighbours do embrace winter time with rather more gusto than we English do.
This is nowhere more apparent than Edinburgh at Christmas when the entire city centre is bathed in sparkle from a million Christmas lights, in the trees, in the shops and the Christmas Market is in full swing.
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You may have formed the impression as I certainly did that Christmas in Scotland is a somewhat muted affair before the real fun starts at Hogmanay. Not a bit of it. The canny and fun loving Scots have the best of both worlds and they don’t wait for New Year. I’ll go as far as to say you won’t see a better Christmas city than Edinburgh with it’s fun fair and general sense of seasonal bonhomie.
I’ll go as far as to say as well you’ll be hard pressed to find a better selection of pubs than Edinburgh and sitting regally, appropriately enough, on the top of the pile is the Café Royal. This is not a café in the accepted sense of the word but, boy is it royal. Expensively appointed and decorated exquisitely with ceramic tiles in the form of large framed paintings this bar is the epitome of civilised society and the beer selection is unsurpassed and, as you’d expect, impeccably kept. This is a pub experience par excellence. Through the bar, if you’re lucky enough to secure a table, is a small restaurant. As if that’s not enough, in the corner is the very table used in the film “Chariots of Fire” for the scene where Harold and Sybil have dinner. Yep. We got that table.
Needless to say the meal was excellent but we resisted the temptation to run round any quadrangles afterwards although there was a bit of a rush for the bus out on Princes Street after our meal. In an Olympic year this was the perfect curtain closer to our visits to Scotland until 2013.
|You'll never drink in a grander bar than this.|