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. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Mile

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.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Scots_Dragoon_Guards_Museum

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.

http://gaukartifact.com/2013/03/19/what-is-a-sporran/

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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