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.
8:00 AM-7:00 PM
Dutch influence still lingers on this balmy Caribbean island, part of the former Netherlands Antilles until its independence in 1986. Aruba is a contrast: the island’s arid interior is dotted with cactus and windswept divi-divi trees while secluded coves and sandy beaches make up its coast. Aruba’s long and colorful heritage is reflected in its dialect. Called Papiamento, it is a tongue that combines elements of Spanish, French, Portuguese, Dutch, African and English.
Semi-Submarine, Shipwreck & Island Drive
Your tour begins when you board the ferry “Stingray” at Palm Pier, on one of Aruba’s best beaches. After a 20-minute transfer, you’ll board the semi-sub. This is a surface vessel where you sit five feet below the waterline, the perfect way to discover the fascinating sea life that lives in these crystal clear Caribbean waters. The semi-sub will head towards the wreck of the “Antilla,” a German freighter that was sunk off the coast of Aruba during World War II. The tour is narrated and you will learn about how this 440-foot-long freighter met its watery end. You will also be able to view coral and the plentiful sea life, before returning to dry land. Here you will board your air-conditioned transportation for the short yet scenic journey to the California Lighthouse for views of Aruba’s windward coast.
The lighthouse is named after the U.S. ship which sunk in 1893, years before the lighthouse was built. Your captivating day then continues as you drive to the Casibari rock formations, where you will have time to browse the gift shop and view the amazing landscape formed by diorite boulders the size of small houses. Energetic guests may wish to climb the 80 rustic steps to the formation’s summit for stunning views of the island. Finally, it’s time to head to Aruba’s rugged north coast, to view the breath-taking Baby Natural Bridge, carved by the surf from solid coral and limestone. You will also be able to view the collapsed original Natural Bridge, and visit the gift shop here. Your route back to the ship takes you past the fascinating ruins of a 19th-century gold mill at Boca Mahos, and at the end of the tour, you will have the option to independently explore Aruba’s capital city Oranjestad. You will then be responsible for your return to the ship, which is a mere five minute walk away.
Weather Forecast: Mostly Sunny High 82 / Low 79
Sunrise 6:52 am / Sunset 6:50 pm
From the Navigator: Overnight Coral Princess maintained a southeasterly course and this morning we will make our final approach to Aruba. A local pilot will assist in navigating the vessel to our berth in the capital city of Oranjestad. This afternoon, with all the passengers onboard, we will let go our lines and maneuver out of the harbor, before altering course to starboard and setting westerly courses toward our next port of call, Cartagena.
When we woke up, we could see that we were approaching port. I watched the process from the balcony, then we went down to deck 7 (Fiesta) to wait in line for disembarkation.
Off the ship, we went through the terminal and met our bus. Turned out, Rosie and Jim were on the same tour.
We rode in the bus for a while as our tour guide mentioned some Aruba facts and showed us some points of interest. One of the most interesting and pertinent facts for me was that all restrooms on Aruba cost $.50 to use except the Natural Bridge, which was $1.00. Yuck!
One of the first things we saw was a roundabout with a McDonalds, Wendy’s and other fast food. I also saw a store called Rat Land which I hope means something in Dutch than in English.
Their license plates say “One Happy Island” but people are more happy when it rains. They get very little rain there. The island is very desert-like with lots of cacti, like we saw in Phoenix, AZ.
Our first stop was the California Light House. There were some mini-Stonehenge rocks there. We couldn’t go in. This lighthouse was named for the steamship California, which wrecked nearby on September 23, 1891. It was formerly open to the public until a suicide occurred, which prompted authorities to restrict public access to the lighthouse.
In Aruba, they make piles of rocks, similar to those we saw in Iceland. In Aruba, tourists stack them up and make a wish on each rock they add to the pile.
Back on the bus, we went to DePalma beach. That was down a path next to the Riu hotel. All beaches here, like Barbados, are public. The Riu had a “garden” of big rocks, surrounded by hedges and flowers, complete with a gardner tending these rocks.
Lots of activity there like wind surfing, parasailing, etc. We walked past the little shops (they had Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins!) and got on a flat-topped ferry boat for our semi-submersible.
The semi-submersible didn’t submerge at all. The only “submersing” it did was when we walked down the stairs to take our seats by the portholes. In some of the photos below, you can see the bottom of our craft on the top of the water.
Even their own website says that they do not submerge at all:
The Seaworld Explorer Semi-Submarine is a state-of-the-art semi-submarine developed in Australia for use on the Great Barrier Reef. This unique vessel does not submerge. You step down into the hull of this cruising underwater observatory and sit in air-conditioned comfort just 5 feet below the water’s surface, viewing amazing Aruba sea life through large clear glass windows.
They should call in non-submersible instead. There must not have been a reef or anything because all we did was circle the shipwreck, the Antilla.
I was a bit upset by all the divers’ bubbles coming from underneath us. That couldn’t have been safe for them to be diving under a boat, whether it submerged or not.
From there, we drove to the Natural Bridge past Arashi Beach.
The Aruba Natural Bridge was a tourist attraction that was formed naturally out of coral limestone. The landmark collapsed on September 2, 2005. We saw the newer Natural “Baby” Arch at the northeast shore of Aruba at the same site.
I thought I had a video of this arch but it might be on my other camera. If/when I find it, I’ll put it here. 🙂
Everything where we were seemed so dry, so there was a lot of cactus. We also saw some brown doves (close relative of the North American Mourning Dove) and egrets (a type of heron).
The guide said that many of the beaches were made of coral. They have a volcano on Aruba called Hooiberg, a Dutch word meaning Haystack. It is actually a dormant volcano located close to the center of the island. The island of Aruba was formed as a result of volcanic activity.
Off to the Casibari rock formations. Geologists are uncertain about their origins, but think that a collision of the teutonic plates forced the massive slabs to the surface. The limestone steps surrounding them are signs of the changing water levels of the Caribbean throughout the ages.
Aruba is made of lava quartz diorite and limestone. There is also granite but it’s protected.
We didn’t get to see the gold mill or downtown Oranjestad but we were happy to head back to the ship. I was surprised and pleased when the crew gave us cold water and cold towels.
Back on board, we took a little nap, went to the library saw the singers and dancers do a show called Motor City, another excellent show.
After dinner in the buffet, we went to the Princess Theater to see Gravity with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.