My Thoughts · Scotland · Travel

Our Scottish Adventure Begins

Our Scottish adventure began on May 9, 2023, with a later departure, so we didn’t have to get up at 0-dark-30! Here are our first three days of the trip.

May 9-10, 2023

Lin and I left our house around noon to drop Lin’s African Violet collection off with a friend to take of them. Then we drove to Jerry and Mary Beth Gilbreath’s house, dropped off our vehicle and drove to Jerry’s business and their daughter drove us to the airport!

We arrived a couple hours early and had time to start our cribbage game competition for the trip—it was Lin and Mary Beth against Jerry and me. After boarding our plane, we had a delay and wondered if this depicted how our next two connections were to go. It wasn’t!

Because we had paid a little extra, we got “Priority Economy” seating and had really nice seating for our flight to Heathrow. For the first time, I spent almost the entire way curled up in a little ball and slept.

At Heathrow, we had to go through security, so we didn’t have as much time as we thought. When we got to the airport in Edinburgh, I had pre-paid for a taxi, but I did not know how to find him. I had my phone on airplane mode, and he kept calling me. Finally, I walked out of the building and passed a tall man and, by chance, asked him if he was a taxi driver.

He said, “Yes, for Horner-Miller.” One of those God-incidences. Paulo, our newfound taxi-driver, gently rebuked me for not having my phone on because he had called twice. We got our bags and away we went, but he turned out to be more than a taxi driver.

First, we connected because he was Portuguese—Lin and I had been to Portugal in November/December, and that broke the ice. So, as we drove to our hotel, he gave us a tour of Edinburgh.

When he dropped us off at the Yotel Hotel, I told him we needed a transfer to the Malmaison Hotel on Saturday when our tour started, so he said, “Connect with me.”

The Yotel Hotel turned out to be a brilliant spot. At first glance, the room looked great, but the adjustable bed sat in a sitting up position. When it went down to a flat bed, the room suddenly lost over a foot. We loved the central location and the staff, though.

Brown's restaurant

For dinner that night, we walked to Brown’s restaurant and had a leisurely delicious European meal. I enjoyed sitting in the front window, watching people walking by. I had fish and chips!

May 11, 2023

We slept in after our long flight day. We ate breakfast at an outside restaurant. Then we caught the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus and rode the entire line, enjoying the beautiful weather. We stopped at the Grass Market for ice cream and shopping. Mary Beth and I each bought a beautiful sweater at the Bill Baber shop.

Bill Baber at knitting machine - Scottish
Bill Baber at knitting machine

From there, we jumped back on the bus and went to the Royal Mile to shop. In our souvenir shopping, we visited with a Scot shop owner. We found out that fifty-three shops on the Royal Mile have been bought up by two Indians, threatening to put the traditional Scot shop owner out of business!

Lin bought a kilt in 2019 in Edinburgh and we tried to find where he bought his but couldn’t. Jerry wanted to buy one, and several helpful shop owners sent us to a couple of kilt makers on the Royal Mile, but they were too expensive. Finally, someone headed us down an alley to the Celtic Craft Center Kiltmaker and Jerry took the plunge. He bought the whole outfit—jacket, vest and kilt, getting his family tartan.

Jerry in the vest and jacket & sample kilt - Scottish
Jerry in the vest and jacket & sample kilt

That evening we ate at Alexander Graham Bell/Wetherspoon, having a hamburger and fries. When we walked home, the fog rolled in—it felt so Scottish! When we got back to our hotel, we found a table in the back corner of the bar and played three games of cribbage.

We had another couple we were meeting up with, so I texted her to plan on how to meet the next day. They were flying in from Maine.

When we got back to our room, I connected with Paulo to move us on

May 12, 2023

Our day started with a walk to breakfast—cold and misty, not like the day before! Because I was warm the day before, I didn’t dress right. I only had on my Italian jacket with no wool sweater underneath, Capri jeans and a long sleeve thermos shirt! I suffered all day with the cold.

For breakfast, Lin and I split a Full Scottish Breakfast: sausage, ham, poached eggs, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, black pudding, toast, orange juice and coffee! So much food!

After breakfast, we walked to Waterloo station for the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus to meet Linda and John, the other couple. We communicated with them through WhatsApp, a great app for traveling. I tried to understand one of the Hop-On, Hop-Off workers in orange vests, but I couldn’t! We were both speaking English, but I couldn’t understand his Scottish brogue. Finally, we got it settled.  

Linda and John were on the #16 City Bus, and one worker helped us tremendously. We could see where the buses were coming onto the busy street, so Lin walked in their direction and found them easily. So, we jumped on the bus to tour the city and head towards the Britannia Yacht.

Because of my poor choice in warm clothes, I sat downstairs and everyone else sat upstairs touring the city, but we had done it the day before.

The Britannia Yacht - Scottish
The Britannia Yacht - Scottish

We all enjoyed the tour of the Britannia, breaking the tour up with tea and scones in the tearoom where Queen Elizabeth II had sat drinking tea too. The living quarters had family pictures and felt “homey.” The large dining room felt regal. As we wove our way around and through the yacht, I kept saying to myself, “the Queen was here! OMG!”

The clock stopped - Scottish

Every clock onboard ship stopped at 3:01 PM when Queen Elizabeth II left the Britannia for the last time—how poignant!

When we finished there, John and Linda went to their hotel, and we rode the bus back to St. Andrew’s square. We walked along George Street and finally ate at the Hard Rock Café, after looking at menus at several other restaurants. Afterwards, we came back to our hotel and wanted to play cribbage again. We couldn’t find a table in the bar, so we slipped into the breakfast room and played.

So, the next day we had to move to the Malmaison Hotel, but that night I crashed after a busy full day!

Finally,

From the very beginning of our trip, we enjoyed the Scots, their friendly manners and helpfulness. Have you ever been to Scotland? Do you have any stories about the Scots?


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