Drive By Edinburgh Castle

One of the many things I love about Edinburgh is the castle. Oh, that castle! You can see it from so many vantage points because of it’s perch on the rock overlooking the city.

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Day 2 Scotland

Day two in Edinburgh was met with mist & drizzle, but we didn’t let that stop us. After a quick bite to eat at the hotel we took a taxi over to Leith to view the Royal Yacht BRITANNIA.

The Britannia was in service as the Queen’s yacht for 43 years, from 1954 until 1997 and it’s a bit of a time capsule from the 1950’s and 1960’s with simple furnishings and mechanical fixtures and navigation that was never really modernized.

The audio tour and the tour process itself was fantastic and the folks this attraction employs were friendly, helpful, and very informative. Dave and I give the whole experience five stars! My mom would have LOVED this!

We were able view the queens private study, bedroom, and sitting room as well as Prince Philip’s rooms. Very simple, but lovely. Then we viewed the crew quarters, laundry, and engine rooms. I was particularly fascinated by the very old communication system they apparently were still using when the ship was decommissioned in the 90’s. It must have felt foreign to any young guests who visited. Having to flip an actual switch to contact another room and deck. VERY 1950’s.

Paying guests are also invited to partake of tea and/lunch in the tea room, which Dave and I did. The weather was still overcast and quite foggy, but it was nice to enjoy a meal out on the covered deck.

I ordered the Cream Tea for One that included tea, a fruit scone with jam and cream, and a glass of sparkling Rosé. The scone was fabulous, as was the jam and the Rosé. And of course the tour ends at the gift shop and I then picked up my first two souvenirs of the trip: a beautifully ornate mug and a thistle shortbread mold.

We then took a taxi to the Water of Leith Walkway, which is a highly-maintained footpath through several lovely areas. One of the locations was one I’ve been admiring on Twitter & Facebook — Dean Village.

What a wonderful, peaceful and serene walk this is. Tree-lined paths meander along side the river called the Water of Leith. There are lovely bridges, waterfalls, ivy plants dripping from trees and ledges and beautiful mossed-covered stone walls. What a lovely oasis for people to visit. We met many out for a stroll, even on this overcast, coolish day.

Fortunately, the sun DID come out, but unfortunately, not until we had left the path and walked back into the city. Figures.

Dave and I continued into the city on foot making a few shopping stops along the way before settling in on a wooden bench at Princess Street gardens where we were able to view the castle on last time and enjoy this suddenly, sun-filled afternoon.

We stopped at the hotel for a brief break, then wandered back to the Royal Mile where we visited St. Giles Cathedral. We stopped here in 2013 and really enjoyed it. We enjoyed it this time as well, although we were highly disappointed the Thistle Chapel was closed. Apparently, people had been stealing when they were simply letting people wander in on their own. Dave and I were truly saddened that such a remarkable landmark had to succumb to such measures. Now only small groups are allowed in at a time and with a guide.

Our dinner tonight was at Whisky Bar where I indulged AGAIN in fish n’ chips and a Guinness and Dave had a haggis tower, which he said was very good. My fish fry was much better than last nights, but still not the best I’ve had. Then it all came back to haunt my poor acid reflux and hiatal hernia and I was left in a lot of discomfort for some time. Perhaps I need to stick to salad for dinner tomorrow, night.

Tomorrow morning we meet up with Helen for further adventures in Scotland, so we need to pack and get some sleep. Thank you again Edinburgh for your beauty, charm, history, and zest for living!

Day 2 Scotland

Day 1 Scotland the Great!

Finally in Edinburgh after a couple of long flights. The fog banked that greeted us, quickly cleared revealing the beautiful history, architecture, and gardens of the city.

The weather felt much like Maine this time of year. Stay in the sun, and it’s flip flops & shorty-shorts weather. Move to the shade and the fleece and socks are more appropriate.

Our first stop was an early check-in (thank you Dave) at our hotel near the Royal Mile. The Ibis is a funky, modern spot where we will rest our weary heads for two nights. It’s a great, centrally located spot to walk the Royal Mile and other areas. The rooms are wee and a little odd (took us awhile to figure out how to turn the lights on!) but it’s a good location and the price was right. Certainly geared towards the younger modern set.

Because the weather was so stunning, we decided to venture up to visit Edinburgh Castle. We didn’t pay to do the tour as we did five years ago, but just walked in the main gates. It rain when we visit last time, so this as very nice.

Duncan keeping watch

We then headed out on the hop-on hop-off bus tour and got the tour of the city again with guided narration by a live person. We actually visited a few spots we hadn’t picked up last time. It was also a good way to rest and not exert ourselves to much as we were both pretty tired, but excited.

Our stop for lunch was at The Dome. A former bank, it now consists of several restaurants, bars, and event rooms. However, the Grill Room is by far the most outstanding. An amazing domed ceiling, huge columns, a round bar, spectacular flower arrangements (although they may have been artificial), and beautiful chandeliers. You entered another era in this building and our fleece jackets and sneakers felt very out of place, but the staff treated us wonderfully and we enjoyed some sandwiches and a drink.

Afterwards, Dave and I walked to the Sir Walter Scot Monument. Stunning architecture honoring this famous Scottish literary giant. You CAN walk up to the top, but with over 200 cement spiral steps, I declined!

Then we hopped on the tour bus again and visited the National Museum of Scotland. We chose to limit the exhibits we visited to Scottish history and REALLY enjoyed some of the amazing historical artifacts displayed there and there is a stunning atrium with a glass ceiling.

There is also a lovely terrace garden on the roof with spectacular views of the city. It was then that the dreaded jet lag hit us…and hit us hard! After a slow walk back to the hotel, we both promptly collapsed and napped for a good two hours.

After the refreshing nap, we walked down to The Royal Mile Tavern for a good pub meal. Fish n’Chips and Guinness were in order. We were disappointed they didn’t carry Belhaven ale, our favorite Scottish ale, and the fish was not that great. We’ll do better next time.

With daylight still going strong near 9 p.m., we continued to walk around the Royal Mile, window shop, and took more photos.

We saw and heard several bagpipers today and everyone we met couldn’t have been nicer. Glad to be back Scotland!

Dave and I have a taken MANY photos and if get enough energy to post them all, I will try to while we’re here, but it may not happen until we’re home from the trip itself.

Day 0 – Travel Day

I always count the day/night we fly over to Europe as day zero because we basically lose a good chunk of a day. Thankfully, the weather gods were smiling and our two bus trips and two flights went off without a hitch.

This was our first time flying with Aer Lingus. We had to wait at Logan Airport in Boston for almost an hour and a half on the outer fringes of the airport because there were no Aer Lingus employees there to staff the check in. Interesting they always tell you to get there two-to-three hours early to avoid delays. Frustrating to say the least. We weren’t able sit down and rest with our luggage comfortably and get a bite to eat because we weren’t in the actual airport where all the good stuff lived…like food and better seating.

Once that got straightened out, everything else went very smoothly. Other than not being able to understand the head flight attendant on the loudspeaker (think of the teacher on The Peanuts cartoons) and the sheer audacity of an Irish airlines to not have tea on board, we were happy with the experience. The meals were actually terrific. One drink option, then a beef meal and a yummy blueberry muffin with orange juice about an hour before landing.

Neither one of us slept on the flight. Oh, joy!

Our flight landed in Dublin at the lovely hour of 4:30 a.m. Dublin time. Our body clocks said it was about 11:00. We had a brief stay here then headed out to our walk-on prop plane to fly to Edinburgh. Although the plane looked scary, it was actually great with some incredible views over Scotland. Sadly, as we descended, the fog bank took over and we weren’t sure we’d actually SEE much of Edinburgh, but it turned out great.

We’re both so happy to be in Scotland again!