We were again somewhat slow getting started, as David was still not getting a good night’s sleep. Our plan for the day was to grab a bit of lunch in New Town and then check out Edinburgh Castle before heading over to the conference. We took a meandering walk through the Meadows and chanced to pass Machina Espresso, a delightful little coffee shop where David was eager to get his jolt of high-quality espresso (which was lovely). We made our way up a bustling street, eventually passing the Castle and into New Town. It looked to be a very lively area, with loads of nice-looking restaurants, cafés and shops to choose from. After a few twists and turns, we finally found La P’tite Folie, a French bistro I’d earmarked to try out. We were cheerfully greeted by our French waiter, who David later conversed with a bit in French (and decided he needed to bone up on his French again). They had a nice deal for 2 choices for 11.50, so D went with mussels with cream and shallots along with breaded pork filet. I couldn’t resist some chicken liver mousse with pickled beets along with a filet of sole in a mushroom cream sauce with mashed potatoes. The food was scrumptious! As we chatted idly over our delicious meals, we decided that we didn’t really want to rush over to the castle and pay 16 GBP each when we’ve already been once before.
So we decided to take a wander down past the Castle, through Grassmarket, a bustling, pub-filled square, and up a familiar street that we’d visited 5 years prior. We stopped in an adorable print shop and perused the local art (I seriously considered finding something to take home with me) before stumbling across another coffee shop that had been recommended, Filament Coffee. It definitely was rocking the hipster shabby chic aesthetic, with rough-hewn plywood bar seating and an open-backed coffee preparation area that you can see into from one side of the shop. David happily had himself an aeropress coffee while I had my usual hot chocolate. After he’d had his fill (and his share of photo-taking opportunities), we moved on up to the Royal Mile.
The Royal Mile is the main thoroughfare in Old Town, stretching from the Castle down to Palace of Holyroodhouse. It’s also roughly one Scots mile long (which I wasn’t aware existed and is approximately 1.12 Imperial miles). The stretch is well-touristed, but it is populated by beautiful old buildings and tucked-away alleys. We made our way eastwards, stopping to admire the view across the bridge at New Town. We found an adorable little shortbread shop, Pinnies and Poppyseeds, run, funnily enough, by a lady from California. We munched on our delicious treats and took the long way back to the University. David headed back to the apartment for a couple of hours to get some work in, while I attended the opening public lecture by the famous psycholinguist, Pim Levelt.
The conference welcome reception was held in the Informatics Forum (a building we had visited on our first trip), which was also just across the street from the lecture hall. There was cheese and cured meats available as well as beer and wine. I had initially assumed they’d provide a complimentary beverage, but they just kept re-filling the glasses, much to everyone’s happiness. The Northwestern grads were briefly united before peeling off into our separate disciplines, in large part. David was talking shop with other syntacticians, while I chatted with my advisor and her colleagues. Several glasses of wine later (they were offering bubbly, how could I resist?), David and I joined my advisor, a couple of her colleagues and another grad student to find some dinner. We settled on a Thai restaurant across the street. The food, which took shockingly long to come out, was fine enough, not very interesting in the end, but we were pleased to finally be eating something at 10 pm. After finishing up and saying our goodbyes, we walked back to our apartment with one of Ann’s colleagues and settled in for the night.