My Thoughts · Scotland

My Face Hit Edinburgh—Literally!

Lin and I with the bagpiper at Ghillie Dhu. Notice my face!
Lin and I with the bagpiper at Ghillie Dhu. Notice my face!

An unlikely event—my face hit the sidewalk in Edinburgh, Scotland, on May 13, 2023, and it wasn’t pretty. But it didn’t stop me from seeing the sights! Here’s the first three days of our official Insight Vacations tour, “The Country Roads of Scotland.”

May 13, 2023 – Edinburgh Continues

We thoroughly enjoyed our first three days in Edinburgh, and now the official tour began. We started our day with breakfast at a nearby café, “Scottish Indian Infusion,” and Lin had haggis with his meal. I sampled it and it wasn’t too bad.

Lin and his serving of haggis - my face
Lin and his first serving of haggis

Then we had to move from our present hotel to the Malmaison Hotel for a couple of days. Because we so enjoyed our taxi driver from the airport, we hired Paulo to move us.

Again, we had an engaging dialogue during our trip. We arrived, and he helped us with our bags. So we started our registration process in the hotel, but I wanted a picture of him, so I ran out to the taxi and caught him before he drove off. I took a selfie with Paulo and ran back inside to show my traveling companions.

The picture with Paulo that caused my fall on my face!
The picture with Paulo that caused my fall on my face!

Before I knew, I felt myself sailing through the air—no stopping or controlling it! I hit full force on my chin, skidded on my nose, hit on my left side and scratched my glasses! Blood flowed! In shock, I couldn’t imagine what happened, but a couple on bikes stopped and gasped at me! I knew it was bad.

Quickly, a nurse from our tour came running and assisted me. She told me she saw the cyclists’ response and knew something bad had happened. Just as quickly, someone from the hotel came with a first aid kit and the nurse bandaged my nose. She also wiggled it vigorously and stated, “It’s not broken! But it might be fractured!”

She also assured me it was better that I landed on my face and not my wrists because, in her words, “You could be on your way to the hospital with a broken wrist.”

As I came out of the initial fog, I assured her I would rest before doing anything, but she demanded, “Do not go to sleep. We don’t know if you have a concussion.”

So, I went upstairs, and first washed the blood off of my t-shirt and jeans. When I looked in the mirror, my heart sank. I looked like I had lost a fight for sure! Then I rested for forty-five minutes, but we had plans—we had tickets for the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus. We had an orientation meeting for the tour and then a welcome dinner back at our hotel, so we needed to get going. Three were waiting on me, and deeply I kept hearing my ole cowboy dad’s voice whisper, “You get bucked off. You get back on.”

So, I got up. We caught the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus and rode it to the Waterloo station. Then we wandered around downtown Edinburgh shopping. We found a place to grab a snack, then we were late back to the Orientation meeting because of bus connections. We met our tour guide, John Gillespie, and what a guide he was!

That night we had a delightful get acquainted dinner and met a couple we became very attached to, Ernie and Charlotte.

I felt the brunt of the fall when I got back to the room, but I slept well.

May 14, 2023–More of Edinburgh

Our group at the Edinburgh castle - my face
Our group at the Edinburgh Castle

We spent the first part of the day at the Edinburgh Castle. Our group didn’t go there during our first three days in Edinburgh, knowing we would be on this tour. Lin and I had been there for a short time in 2019, but I loved being back there. Built up on the hill above Edinburgh. What breathtaking fort! We wandered through the halls and rooms, oohing and ahhing at the tapestries on the walls and the massive size of everything.

My favorite part of the castle this time—St. Margaret’s Chapel is the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh, dating back to the 12th century, but I can’t find my pictures. This was the day after my fall, so that may be why!

During the afternoon, we took an optional excursion. At the other end of the Royal Mile, we drove to the Palace of Holyrood house, the official Scottish residence of the King. Again tapestries, statues and gigantic rooms! Lin had fun in the garden talking to the gardener.

Ghillie-Dhu - my face
Ghillie Dhu

That evening, we took off on another optional excursion, Ceilidh Dinner and evening at the Ghillie Dhu. A Scot, dressed in his colorful tartan kilt, met us at the door and piped us in with his bagpipe. Two young ladies danced for us, and Lin and I got up and danced a jig. What a wonderful end to a full day.

May 15, 2023–St. Andrews and the Highland Capital of Inverness

This day began our time of having our large luggage outside our door early to be put on the bus. This day was 6:55 am, so we had to plan accordingly.

It was north out of Edinburgh to St. Andrews and the Highland Capital of Inverness. We traveled alongside three bridges that crossing the River Forth.

 I’m embarrassed to say I hadn’t looked at the itinerary closely and missed the fact our first stop was, St. Andrews. When I heard, I gasped! How exciting!

The Old Course—St. Andrew's Links - my face

Coming into the city, I noticed how manicured it looked. We immediately went to The Old Course—St. Andrew’s Links. Golfers lined up ready to play this famous course and have their dreams come true! What a scenic, beautiful course with the beach so near.

After seeing the course, we wandered the streets, peeking in the University of St. Andrews and found The Northpoint Café, the place where Kate met William for their first coffee, and we ate there. Not feeling great, I didn’t join Lin and Linda taking pictures of the ruins of the St. Andrews Cathedral.

Blair Castle
Blair Castle

From there, we continued north and stopped at Blair Castle. “It is the ancestral home of the Clan Murray, and was historically the seat of their chief, the Duke of Atholl.“

The Duke apparently liked to hunt because the place overflowed with stag’s antlers and guns and stuffed animals!

The hairy coo - my face

Here, we had our first sightings of “hairy coo,” the reddish colored long-haired cattle of Scotland. They fascinated this ranch girl. How did they see? I have many more great pictures of them later!

We continued to Inverness for the night after a full busy day! My face continued to hurt, but I kept moving. What else could I do?

I have ever been to this part of Scotland? Have you ever had an accident affect a trip? Like my face plant?

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My Thoughts · Scotland · Travel

Day 3 – On Our Own in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle front
Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh was our first stop in Scotland! When we were making our excursion plans at home, Lin and I decided to do Edinburgh on our own. We mainly wanted to see the Edinburgh Castle. He found some information that said they sold limited amounts of tickets each day, so that was our focus—also the Royal Mile.

The Royal Mile is a succession of streets forming the main thoroughfare of the Old Town of the city of Edinburgh in Scotland. The term was first used descriptively in W M Gilbert’s Edinburgh in the Nineteenth Century (1901), “…with its Castle and Palace and the royal mile between”, and was further popularised as the title of a guidebook, published in 1920.[1]

From the Castle gates to the Palace gates the street is almost exactly a mile (1.6 km) long and runs downhill between two significant locations in the royal history of Scotland, namely Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace, hence its name.

When I woke up the third day of our cruise, I was so excited–my first time to Scotland. The ship anchored away from the shore, so, we had to ride a tender to get to Newhaven to catch a bus to Edinburgh. Our tender was scheduled to leave at 11:15 am, but we were lucky and left earlier. On the tender, we enjoyed a friendly exchange with a couple from San Diego who were adventuresome, too and doing the city on their own. We rode bus #15 to go into Edinburgh and had a delightful tour guide, Barbara, but she wasn’t much help until we asked for it. She warned us that we needed to be back to the bus by 6:15 pm because the ship was leaving at 6:30 pm.

We had some concerns because on ship we were told the last tender would leave Newhaven at 6:30 pm. Because of our late departure from Southampton, the first couple day’s itinerary had been adjusted, but apparently our tour guide didn’t get the news. Everyone on the bus seemed worried.

Barbara did hand out maps, so away we walked searching for the Royal Mile and the castle.

Bagpiper on the Royal Mile!

The Royal Mile is quite distinctive with quaint shops selling kilts, tartans and souvenirs. Bagpipers dressed in bright tartans played and entertained us!

I needed a restroom, so we stopped at one place that was like a chamber of commerce. They steered us up to the castle where I found one downstairs in a café. Waiting in line was hot, and I felt faint, so we took a break and had water. Lin had a sweet treat, and I had a banana. That helped.

St. Margaret's Chapel in Edinburgh Castle
St. Margarets Chapel

We toured the castle—a massive structure on the hill with St. Margaret’s Chapel dating back to 1130 being one of the sights we visited. Down in the bowels of the castle, we saw the prison where prisoners slept on hammocks. We went through the Royal Scots Dragoon Museum.

The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum is a regimental museum displaying the collections of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and its predecessor regiments. It is based in the New Barracks (built between 1796 and 1799) at Edinburgh Castle in Scotland.

View of our ship from Edinburgh Castle

There was absolutely too much to see in a day, but we thoroughly enjoyed the view from the castle. One attraction I hated missing was the Royal Jewels, but the line was way too long to wait with our limited time.

From there we wandering down the Royal Mile, stopping at several shops to buy souvenirs. I spied a Starbucks, so we took another break and had a Latte and Frappuccino and enjoyed a high-speed Internet connection. I bought one of my favorite souvenirs there—a coffee travel mug with the Edinburgh castle on it.

From there we continued shopping, and I found a store that sold a variety of handbags in a wide range of Scottish tartan colors—reds, blues, and purples! A young Scottish man, Liam, adopted us and told us that the red tartan I like was the Lowland tartan. 

While I bought my bag, Lin took Liam next door to shop for a kilt! Lin liked the navy blue and green tartan which is the Highland tartan, so Lin ended up buying a kilt and sporran.

A sporran which is Gaelic for purse, is a pouch worn with the male traditional Highland dress. The kilt has no pockets and so the sporran was designed for that function.

Lin and Liam, our host in Edinburgh!

Lin and I so enjoyed Liam and his hospitality—a true ambassador for Scotland. We exchanged our Facebook information and are now friends. Any time I think of our Edinburgh experience, I think of Liam and his smile!

Lin proudly wore his kilt the rest of the afternoon, enjoying comments made by passersby. We laughed about what Liam and the sales’ clerk told him about what’s traditionally worn under a kilt–NOTHING!

Lin and I walked back to the bus early which my idea. Lin always has to be right down to the wire, but I like to be back early. I was also still wondering if our tour guide had given us the correct time to return. He couldn’t stand being early, so we took off up the hill, enjoying the walk and the scenery. I turned around before Lin did and went back to the bus and visited with Barbara, our tour guide. Lin made it back at 6:10—I was already on the bus and nervous!

When we left the bus and started down the walk towards the tenders, Lin walked in front of me, and one of the workers at gate grabbed me and whispered in my ear, “Tell him to go traditionally when he wears a kilt!” I laughed and shared this bit of advice with Lin.

On our tender ride back to the ship, we saw a seal on a buoy! I so enjoy the ocean and its serendipities! We made it back in time. Exhausted, we ate up on Deck 12 at Raffles, the buffet. We saw the evening entertainment at the Star Dust and headed straight to bed. What a day we had in Edinburgh and Lin had a kilt!

This cruise differed so much from previous ones. Usually we have sea days in-between ports, but on this cruise, we had one sea day, and then it was port-after-port-after-port which for Lin and I was either an excursion or outing each day! Whew!!

Have you visited Edinburgh? What was your experience? Do you own a kilt?

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