Tag Archives: Scotland

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.

Current tram map

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.

Scotland Travel Day: Days 0 and 1, July 31-August 1, 2022

Sunday, July 31, 2022 was an early day since I was playing with my Recorder Consort at church. Since it’s the summer, we hadn’t practiced for quite a while, so we got together quite early to decide what to play and to put it all together. In the end, we played offertory, final hymn and postlude.

After church, we came home and I took a nap while Tom packed. Finally, I decided I should pack – something warm and waterproof.

My mom noticed a flurry of activity and asked what we were doing. She claimed she didn’t know we were going to Scotland. I guess at almost-99, she can claim a bit of memory loss. I reassured her that we had someone checking on her and bringing in the mail, that there was enough food, jigsaw puzzles and Tivo shows to carry her through the week.

Finally, all the sweatshirts, fleece-lined jeans and such were packed and the Uber called. Dulles Airport wasn’t too crowded, at least the Icelandair area so we were on our way fairly easily.

I had gone back and forth about taking my growth hormone with me – it’s always an issue with travel. This time I had bought a new thing that had a USB-cable to keep the HGH cold. I actually used it with an external powerpack when our power went out last month and it worked well.

  • ✔️ [Innovative Medical cooler] –>This new 4ALLFAMILY medical cooler is masterfully designed to keep your expensive supplies SAFE. The new USB lid can deliver an outstanding maximum temperature drop of 50 Fahrenheit compared with outside temperature.
  • ✔️[ANTI FREEZE SECURITY]–>You CANNOT RISK FREEZING YOUR MEDICATION. The 4ALLFAMILY Cooler is built with some high tech features that allow it to safely detect temperature fluctuations, and thanks to the auto shut off / on option, it automatically adjust the power so internal temperature stays in 36-45F range all the time.
  • ✔️[TEMPERATURE DISPLAY]–>Not only does the cooler works in silence to maintain the safe range, but also it is equipped with a display that shows the inner temperature in real time.
  • ✔️[ High Capacity]–>Performance is not the only aspect this cooler shines. The inner tube has a large refrigerated space that has enough capacity to fit 7 insulin pens and other medications as well.
  • ✔️[ Ensures a safe experience transporting medications]–>4ALLFAMILY COOLER is so practical and easy to use for long trips. It`s usb feature can be used in cars, planes, trains, car lighters, and powerbanks.

In the end, I decided not to take the HGH/cooler because I’ve had issues with security before and I wasn’t sure that there would be a USB port on the planes This turned out to be a good idea (see later).

After gathering all our stuff post-security, we found our gate. They started boarding the plane from the back (except, of course, for the small children and the people who had paid extra for “Saga class” aka business class). I had paid extra for more legroom, which was between steerage and the Saga people so we were almost last boarding. We were across from the restroom so there was a lot of activity nearby.

It turned out that these seats have the tv and tray built into the armrest and they were very hard to access. Tom tried the tv but couldn’t get it to be stable so he gave up – I didn’t even bother. I had also paid extra for 3-course hot meals. When they came, I found that my tray table, which folded in half, didn’t stay open so I was balancing it on my knee, not unlike a banjo. The meal wasn’t bad – lasagna, some kind of thing with cheese balls and fish(?) and tiramisu.

I was very cold and used 2 blankets – I had bought an interesting thing from amazon but, of course, it was in the suitcase above my head and too hard to get out.

Eventually, we got to Iceland and immediately got in line for the next flight. It turned out the line was actually for a bus to the next flight. We had to climb quite a few stairs, hauling our carry on luggage. I found our row and, of course, there was a woman sitting in the aisle seat. She asked me if I wanted her to move.

We got in our seats and actually had tvs and tray tables that worked. But no meal.

Leaving Reykjavik, Iceland:

Arriving in Glasgow, Scotland:

At Glasgow airport we found our luggage fairly easily and off to find the car rental place. Even though the website said it was “in the airport terminal”, that was kind of sketchy.

I had assumed being in the airport terminal meant it was inside the building but no! We walked outside (with our luggage, of course), then under a covered walkway to another building that housed some car rental places. Of course, ours was closed that day. So we walked further to a little outside shack-type structure where there was a person who held the key to our car. YAY

Because this is Scotland, the car was quite small – we got my medium size suitcase in the boot (trunk) and the rest in the back seat. A tight fit but we made it work.

Because this is Scotland, the car was a 5-speed manual transmission – and you drive on the left side. The roundabouts go around to the left. After a few false starts, we were out of the airport and on our way.

Our hotel had given us directions which read “Join M8 motorway heading east following signs for Edinburgh. On the outskirts of Edinburgh follow signs for Leith and Ocean Terminal. Hotel is situated opposite Ocean Terminal.”

That was a little bit optimistic. See the little circles on the map? Those are roundabouts where it was possible to take the wrong exit (while going the wrong way).

When we got to the roundabout in front of our hotel, the road was torn up for construction. We finally pulled into the Holiday Inn Express Waterfront. Hooray!

ASIDE: I am surprised that I didn’t write about this before but I guess that I was so angry that I couldn’t put it into words. Last time we were in Scotland we had arrived tired/exhausted/in a rental car driving on the left to an Edinburgh Airbnb only to find it locked with no one to let us in. We called the owner and he said “sorry, I changed my mind” or something to that effect. We found a nearby restaurant (with a bathroom!) and got something to eat – and started making calls to Airbnb. They couldn’t/wouldn’t help us. Not their problem. No refunds. The restaurant people told us there was a nearby hotel that might have openings. And they did. Because it was August – Tattoo and Fringe Festival month, the offerings were very limited but the Holiday Inn Express Waterfront gave us a place to stay for the night and I’ve been grateful ever since, which is why I chose them again. That, and they actually had parking. In 2015 we had been at a hotel with mostly on-street parking – and expensive parking tickets.

Back to the story: We got checked in and hauled our luggage up to the room only to find that there were no drawers or bureaus. Weird. Luckily, I pack in packing cubes so I was able to keep those intact on a shelf. When we had been here before there was no room for our luggage at all and it had to go to a luggage room. There had also been one door which closed either the bathroom OR the closet, which was weird. But we had a closet. Trade Offs! I was much happier with this year’s room, even if they had started charging for parking. The whole week’s parking was still cheaper than the ticket we got in 2015.

After a much needed nap, we had dinner at the hotel. When we left, we found that the lights go off automatically if there’s no key in a slot by the door – just like a cruise ship, but you couldn’t use any old key-shaped card. It had to be a room key. So, my growth hormone container would have stopped cooling every time we left the room – a good thing I didn’t bring it after all.

The hotel has a small range of dinner options. I had the bacon cheeseburger without the bacon or cheese. Tom had the cottage pie with “mixed green vegetables” which turned out to be peas. I guess they were mixed when put on the plate.

After dinner, I was flipping through the channels when we came across a show called Naked Attraction. This being a non-US show, it involved really naked people. Really. REALLY.

From that fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia: “Naked Attraction is a British television dating game show, broadcast on Channel 4. A clothed person is faced with six naked people who are initially hidden in booths. Their bodies and faces are gradually revealed through successive rounds, from the feet up. At each round, the chooser eliminates one naked person until only two are left, when the chooser also takes off their clothes to make the final choice. The chooser then decides which person they wish to go out with, and the two (or, occasionally, three) then go for a fully clothed date. The programme then presents their feedback after the date. It premiered on 25 July 2016 and is presented by Anna Richardson.

Numerous complaints about the programme were made by viewers to the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom due to the full-frontal nudity that is featured in the programme. Ofcom chose not to investigate as there was nothing that breached their rules: the show was purely a dating show and did not contain any sexual activity, and was shown after the watershed.”

Scrolling through tv and seeing 4 naked men (we got to the show late) was quite an eye opener. When the ones weren’t chosen walked away, the cameras focused on the <ahem> rear view.

Youtube has some samples which have been carefully edited to meet Google standards.

And so ended Day 1.

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