Grassmarket Market, HOHO, and Whisky!

On Saturdays, there is a small market that pops up across the street from our hotel next to all the restaurants we’ve been eating at. We had fun meeting some locals, trying some great food, and doing a bit of shopping!
Today was our " free" and last day in Edinburgh. We were given tickets to the Hop On, Hop Off bus which goes to many different places. Our first two choices,the Royal Yacht Britannia and the Holyrood Palace were both closed. So we started our touring at St. Giles church which was where Queen Elizabeth II had just finished lying in state. It was finally open to the general public.
Quite beautiful, and truly awe inspiring, especially the nave, we admired the artwork, organ, small side chapels and the beautiful interior. The tours were all booked up, and we left after about ½ hour, after admiring the Thistle Chapel, the main alter where the Queens casket was positioned just a few days ago, and the statue of John Knox, leader of the first Protestant uprising.
Took the HOHO bus through New Town, Old Town, and out to St. Andrews Square. Although a nice area, nothing seemed compelling to make us get off the bus, so we took it all the way back to Grassmarket and our hotel,stopping at the market for some street food.
We walked over to New Town for our afternoon experience- a whisky tasting at Johnny Walker’s showroom and tasting center. We booked a Whisky Explorer experience featuring a tasting of five whiskies from different regions of Scotland.
To be classified as Scotch, a whisky must consist of three ingredients: water, barley, and yeast; it must be aged at least three years in aged oak barrels (most typically old bourbon barrels from America are used); it must be made in Scotland.
We sampled three single malts: Caol Ila 12 from Islay, Clynelish 14 from the Highlands, and Cardhu 12 from Speyside. We then tried an unusual "single grain" whisky Port Dundas 2009 from the Lowlands - a single grain seems to be a misnomer as it contains other grains (in this case corn and wheat) in addition to barley. Finally we finished with a blended whisky, the iconic Johnnie Walker Black.
The flavor profiles were very different among the samples. The Caol ILa (on of Jim’s favorites) had the smoky (peaty) taste typical of Islay scotches, the Cardhu (Wendy’s favorite) was very smooth. We both chose the blended JW Black as our second favorite. We finished with a purchase of Cardhu in the show room.

Our dinner tonight was one we planned ahead— The Devil’s Advocate in the old town. We walked with Cindy and Dale, new friends, down the steep stairs of a close—a small alleyway between buildings. Food and drink was delicious (including this crispy black haggis with mango cherry chutney)!
On the way home, we enjoyed an impromptu rock concert on the Grassmarket Square. Many students, and young and old alike were dancing, singing and just enjoying a wonderful Saturday night. Home to pack, we leave tomorrow for Inverness on the train. Good night and goodbye Edinburgh. What a wonderful town!