Scotland August 4, 2022: Blue Bus/Green Bus/Red Bus
Another day, another breakfast at the hotel and Lawn Bowling.
(BTW – the day I started writing this was exactly one week from when we saw the Edinburgh Tattoo 2022 and I bought tickets for the Edinburgh Tattoo 2023. I guess we’re going back)
We had decided to give the Hop-On/Hop-Off busses a try so we walked over to the Ocean Terminal to get the Blue Bus. It arrived the same time as we did so we got on, got our headphones and started to listen to narration about buildings and historical events around us.
While riding, we decided to get off at Saint Andrews Square and switch to a Green Bus to see what else was available.
The Green Bus had a live running commentary which got pretty annoying so we got off at stop 6 (the John Knox House) and walked down the Royal Mile to Canongate Kirk (Stop 5) to resume the Blue Bus
Walking downhill in Edinburgh whenever possible is a really good idea. The Royal Mile is actually built on the top of a volcano with the Castle at the top and Holyrood Palace at the other. The route runs from an elevation of 42 metres (138 ft) above sea level at the palace to 109 metres (358 ft) at the castle, giving an average gradient of 4.1%.
Besides being hilly, it’s all cobblestones.
We waited a bit at Canongate Kirk – The Kirk (Church) of the Canongate, or Canongate Kirk, serves the Parish of Canongate in Edinburgh’s Old Town, in Scotland. It is a congregation of the Church of Scotland. The parish includes the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Scottish Parliament. It is also the parish church of Edinburgh Castle, even though the castle is detached from the rest of the parish.
The Canongate is a street and associated district in central Edinburgh. The street forms the main eastern length of the Royal Mile while the district is the main eastern section of Edinburgh’s Old Town.
It began when David I of Scotland, by the Great Charter of Holyrood Abbey c.1143, authorised the Abbey to found a burgh separate from Edinburgh between the Abbey and Edinburgh. The burgh of Canongate that developed was controlled by the Abbey until the Scottish Reformation when it came under secular control. In 1636 the adjacent city of Edinburgh bought the feudal superiority of the Canongate but it remained a semi-autonomous burgh under its own administration until its formal incorporation into the city in 1856.
The burgh gained its name from the route that the canons of Holyrood Abbey took to Edinburgh – the canons’ way or the canons’ gait, from the Scots word gait meaning “way”. In more modern times, the eastern end is sometimes referred to as part of the Holyrood area of the city.
The Blue Bus for the first one back to the stop so we hopped on. While we were on the dotted section of the map above our narrator mentioned Market Street and the Edinburgh Dungeon. Although we didn’t go in to the dungeon, I noted that where we wanted to be was nearly across the street at 1 Cockburn aka the Edinburgh Military Tattoo Office. We had been there before but had always walked down the hill from the Royal Mile and I knew it was near the Waverly Train station but hadn’t related it to the bus route.
The bus went down a bit of a hill so I knew we didn’t want to get off and walk back up to get to the Tattoo Office so we saved that errand for another trip.
Info about the dungeon for the curious. At 0:45, to the left of the video, there’s a rounded building on the corner- that’s where we needed to be.
So, we rode around on the Blue Bus for until we got back to Saint Andrews Square. Since all busses start and end there, we assumed (remember from the travel day?) we needed to get off but the helpful person from the bus company said to get back on. So, we did!
A view of the Castle from Princes Street. Looking closely, you can see some of the viewing stands for the Tattoo.
More photos from the bus
When we got to the Royal Botanic Garden, we got off. First order of business was having a lunch, which was wonderful. We sat out on a deck overlooking the gardens. The photos below are from the garden and lunch.
Back on the bus, we could see a cruise ship docked outside the Ocean Terminal
After we got back to the hotel, I had a cunning plan for tomorrow night. I thought we could get back on a Blue Bus and get to our hotel after the Tattoo. I actually, contacted the bus company and they responded with a personal note!! Sadly, like Blackadder’s Cunning Plans, mine didn’t work out.
Map and times for to take a regular bus.
I’ll have another plan tomorrow, which also won’t work out.
Scotland August 2, 2022: The Royal Yacht Britannia
Our hotel had a free hot breakfast each morning from 7-10. Most mornings, we got there just about 9:59 or so. Today was no exception. The breakfast was pretty good – most days it had baked beans, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, cereals, toast, juices. They may have had more offerings but not at the time we arrived.
The coffee machine was most impressive. In addition to black coffee, they had tea, latte, cappuccinos, mocha, hot chocolate, latte macchiato, espresso and some other drinks too numerous to mention. Out of curiosity, I tried the latte macchiato and found it wasn’t for me. Turns out, it’s mostly hot, steamed, frothy milk with a shot of espresso in it. Now I know!
Every breakfast the tv showed the Commonwealth Games Lawn Bowling. I’d never heard of Lawn Bowling before so I looked it up.
Bocce and Lawn Bowling are cousins but have some distinct differences. The Bocce Ball is round whereas the Lawn Bowl is round in only one direction and elliptical in the other, giving it a bias and causing it to curve. Second, the Bocce Ball is thrown underhand, like softball, and the Lawn Bowl is rolled.
This is a sample of what we saw every morning sans sound:
After breakfast we decided to walk across the street to the Ocean Terminal. It was a bit hard to remember that traffic was coming at us from the wrong direction and with the construction AND a roundabout right outside, crossing the street was taking our lives in our hands.
Although the map shows a 2 minute walk, it was a bit longer than that because of the construction, which turned out to be an extension of the tram.
The tram extension will be a good thing – eventually. I asked a few people and got varying estimates from 3 to 5 years. Right now, the tram goes from the airport to St. Andrews Square in Edinburgh but someday it will go all the way out to our hotel. How convenient that will be.
The Ocean Terminal Mall is pretty standard except that the stores and restaurants close pretty early – mostly by 8pm. One thing that I thought was pretty cool was that they had an “Indoor Beach” on the first level overlooking the water. When seen from above, it looked pretty much like a large sandbox in a mall. Kids seemed to be having fun, though. They also have a rollerskating rink and cinema. They also had a music and bookstore. We got 2 books for only £7 or $8.55. I got an interesting-looking book by David Attenborough (Adventures of a Young Naturalist: The Zoo Quest Expeditions) which currently sells on amazon for $13.74 and Tom got 1000 Years of Art which I haven’t found on amazon…yet. Tom was most unhappy with the music playing and we left the store quite quickly with Tom sharing his views with the sales clerk.
We looked at a bit of each of the three levels (lots of empty storefronts) until we got to the ticket office for the Royal Yacht Britannia.
A Royal residence for over 40 years, The Royal Yacht Britannia sailed over 1,000,000 nautical miles on 968 state visits with the Royal Family.
Britannia was launched from the John Brown & Company shipyard in Clydebank, Scotland, on 16 April, 1953. For over 44 years the Royal Yacht served the Royal Family, travelling more than a million nautical miles to become one of the most famous ships in the world. To Her Majesty The Queen, Britannia provided the perfect Royal residence for glittering state visits, official receptions, Royal honeymoons and relaxing family holidays. For Great Britain, she was a majestic symbol of the Commonwealth and a proud ambassador generating billions of pounds in trade deals. For the Royal Family and 220 dedicated crew of Royal Yachtsmen, she was home.
Some of our photos from the Britannia (we have hundreds more which will be shared in a giant album at the end of this trip)
After we left the ship, I was astounded to see that someone had used pianos as artwork.
We stopped for smoothies at a small restaurant (that was still open!) and sat on the open deck overlooking the water – a fine end to a great start to the vacation.
On the way out, we noticed a bus stop – including the blue line for Hop on/Hop off busses. Hmmm
After the smallest of naps (I’m still adjusting to this timezone which is 5 hours later than home (4pm in Fairfax is 9 pm in Scotland) we went to dinner. LIke breakfast, we just got in under the 9pm closure. if you noticed the menu from yesterday, some items like pizza and ice cream are available 24/7. I ended up having what they called a “chicken burger”. In reality, it’s 2 pieces of marinated, grilled chicken breast on leafy stuff with a sauce hamburg bun. Like the other meals here it came with fries.
The dinner tv each night was Commonwealth Games without the Lawn Bowling (HOORAY!)
Tomorrow will be an early day because we’re going to take a 12-hour bus tour to the Highlands and we need to be at 6 Waterloo Street by 7:45 am.