Thursday, August 13, 2015
While I was getting dressed, Tom went out to feed the parking meter outside our hotel. Edinburgh is a very old town and they didn’t plan on parking lots when they built it.
Their system is – you find a ticket box with confusing directions and put some amount of coins in it. If you’re local, you can get a mobile app. The machine spits out a voucher that goes on the car dash. We did it wrong the night before and ended up getting 2 vouchers to put on the car. The police woman was coming by and we explained to her why there were the 2 vouchers.
Then we went into the little restaurant there for breakfast – we’d paid for it when we checked in. At first, I thought the usual cereal/fruit/yogurt spread was it but then they came and asked about eggs and hot foods so we had quite a meal.
At check-out the hotel staff let us move our car into their tiny 6-car lot behind the building when we said we were touring Edinburgh for the day. That would save us some time and money running back to the meter.
As it turns out, Tom hadn’t quite put enough in the meter to cover breakfast, so we had a ticket when we went out. 🙁
It was for £60 or $92.57 at today’s exchange rate. We paid it that day to get the 50% discount rare for early payment. <sigh>
We walked back up toward the Castle to find our double decker bus and got all the way to the Royal Mile before we found it. We were able to sit on the top, although not together for a while.
- Palace of Holyroodhouse. This is at the end of the Royal Mile. We were lucky in that Queen Elizabeth was in residence – so we couldn’t go in 🙁 She was there for some ceremony that was taking place in a couple days.
- Scottish Parliament. This building is really strange looking. I have some pictures in my slideshow at the end of this post. The good thing is that it’s right across the street from the Palace but I doubt that the royals ever walk. They probably don’t hike up the Royal Mile, either.
- Sir Walter Scott Monument. The Scott Monument is a Victorian Gothic monument to Scottish author Sir Walter Scott. It is the largest monument to a writer in the world. It stands in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh, opposite the Jenners department store on Princes Street and near to Edinburgh Waverley Railway Station, which is named after Scott’s Waverley novels.The tower is 200 feet 6 inches high, and has a series of viewing platforms reached by a series of narrow spiral staircases giving panoramic views of central Edinburgh and its surroundings. The highest platform is reached by a total of 287 steps (those who climb the steps can obtain a certificate commemorating their achievement – we didn’t!).
- Old Town. The Old Town (Scots: Auld Toun) is the name popularly given to the oldest part of Scotland’s capital city o fEdinburgh. The area has preserved much of its medieval street plan and many Reformation-era buildings. Together with the 18th-century New Town, it forms part of a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.
- New Town. This is a central area of Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. It is often considered to be a masterpiece of city planning It was built in stages between 1767 and around 1850, and retains much of the original neo-classical and Georgian period architecture. Its most famous street is Princes Street, facing Edinburgh Castle and the Old Town across the geographical depression of the former Nor Loch.
- National Museum of Scotland
- Grassmarket. It’s a historic market place located directly below Edinburgh Castle and forms part of one of the main east-west vehicle arteries through the city centre. The view to the north, dominated by the castle, has long been a favorite subject of painters and photographers, making it one of the iconic views of the city.
- Edinburgh Castle. I loved how we could see the Castle from everywhere. Look down an alleyway or a close and there it is looming over the city.
- Greyfriars Bobby. I had never heard of this until this bus tour although we had walked by the statue 3 times already! On our 4th pass-by, we saw several people taking pictures of the statue. I guess they knew. Bobby was a Skye Terrier who became known in 19th-century Edinburgh for supposedly spending 14 years guarding the grave of his owner until he died himself on 14 January 1872. The story continues to be well known in Scotland, through several books and films, and a prominent commemorative statue and nearby graves act as a tourist attraction.
- The Elephant House. Opened in 1995, The Elephant House has established itself as one of the best tea and coffee houses in Edinburgh. Made famous as the place of inspiration to writers such as J.K. Rowling, who sat writing much of her early novels in the back room overlooking Edinburgh Castle. J.K. Rowling started to write parts of Harry Potter here. A huge sign on the entrance let’s you know the following: “This is the birthplace of Harry Potter”. To be fair to you, this isn’t 100% true!
Ian Rankin, author of the bestselling Rebus novels, and Alexander McCall-Smith, author of The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and other series of novels, have also frequented The Elephant House, as well as many others throughout the years.
- The house of Sir James Young Simpson, 1st Baronet (7 June 1811 – 6 May 1870) at 52 Queen Street.. He was a Scottish obstetrician and an important figure in the history of medicine. Simpson discovered the anesthetic properties of chloroform and successfully introduced it for general medical use.
- The house of Alexander Graham Bell. He lived from March 3, 1847 – August 2, 1922 and was a Scottish-born scientist, inventor, engineer and innovator who is credited with inventing the first practical telephone.
- Our driver also pointed out that Edinburgh was actually 2 cities, one above the other and we could see that when looking down all the bridges. We were usually on the top but there was more going on below.
This video pretty much covers what we saw on the bus tour:
After we’d been all the way around the bus tour, we got off at the Royal Mile and hiked up to the Castle. There was an ice cream truck on the esplanade that warranted a stop 🙂
I have to say that inside the castle, everything goes uphill. It takes about 20 minutes to make it to the top and I just couldn’t make it, thanks to Cushing’s energy issues and my leg biopsy. I felt so guilty. I had wanted to get to the top to see the Scottish National War Memorial. I know my grandfather’s name is inscribed in the Book of Remembrance there. I felt really terrible that we had gotten so close and I just couldn’t make it the final trek up the hill. Hopefully, I can be stronger another time and see this.
The ice cream truck doesn’t show in this video:
Rick Steves video on Edinburgh, including inside the castle.
After sitting and resting for a while, we headed back down the castle hill, the Royal Mile and down the street towards our hotel.
On the way back, a hoodie outside a store caught my eye. While we were looking at it, a guy asked if he could help find my size. He had just been walking up the street but he was the shop owner. We went in and found something even better, with a matching one for Tom. I ended up also buying a cap and some other stuff. While I was looking around, I realized this was the same store where we’d bought the junk food for dinner the night before. I had been so tired/hungry that night I hadn’t even noticed that they sold hoodies, tshirts and stuff.
The shopkeeper spent a lot of time with us, looking in the back for the matching sweatshirts in the correct sizes. When he was done, he threw in a package of Walker’s shortbread for free! I wish I could remember the name of this shop so I could give it a good review on Trip Advisor. We save all our receipts, so hopefully I can find that name.
We continued on our way and a guy with sequined gold dress came running out of a doorway. I sure hope he was part of the Fringe Festival!
We got back to the Edinburgh City Hotel to get our car and I found I’d become mayor. 🙂
So, that really made my day. LOL
The drive back was pretty uneventful. We had some of the shortbread and I have to say it wasn’t nearly as good as mine.
When we got back to our place, I found out why.
We saw those tent people by the side of the road again. Gypsies? I couldn’t get a picture again. I’ll have one more time to try this on Saturday. They’ve been there at least 5 days. Surely, the police have seen them.
Back to our place!
It turns out that Walker’s uses whole wheat flour and I use rice. They use sugar, I use confectioner’s sugar. Other than that, the ingredients are the same. The flour, butter, confectioner’s sugar and a bit of salt.
Walker’s is definitely not bad, just different.
Shortbread used to be my standard Christmas gift for local people but they mostly can’t eat shortbread anymore due to the butter, the sugar and the salt. <sigh>
When I was a kid, my dad’s congregation had a lot of Scottish members. One of the worst insults that could said was “She makes her shortbread with margarine“. What an epithet!
My slideshow for today
Sunday, August 9, 2015
What a difference a good sleep makes!
I slept well and work up 5:30 (1:30am at home). I took some beautiful sunrise pictures over the mountains. One was of fog rising off River Spey. I posted that on Facebook and one of my friends said that the water used in the making of her favorite whiskey came from that river. Hmmm…
The River Spey (Scottish Gaelic: Uisge Spè) is a river in the northeast of Scotland. It is the ninth longest river in the United Kingdom, as well as the third longest and fastest-flowing river in Scotland. It is important for salmon fishing and whisky production (MKO’Note: Looks like my FB friend was right!).
After taking the pictures, I napped a bit.
I went to get something out of the fridge and found the power was off – and to the microwave. That was the fuse we’d blown last night. Tom found a stepladder and the fusebox.
At 11:00 we went to the main building for a little talk about what to do here in Aviemore and the surrounding areas. We met Gina, the general manager, and Jean who has lived in Boat of Garten forever. When I mentioned we were going to the Edinburgh Tattoo on Wednesday, Jean said her partner’s father was Black Watch so he can wear the colors.
I asked about Strathspey Railway and CairnGorm Funicular. Jean said it was too foggy today for the funicular so we went to Strathspey Steam Railway. It goes from Aviemore to Broomhill by way of Boat of Garden.
The directions to the railway were to go past Tesco – where we’d shopped last night! – and it was on the left. We drove back into town and found that parking was at a premium. Tom parked by the Macdonald Aviemore Hotel since we figured we were family 🙂
We walked down hill from our parking spot to the train station and over a bridge. I got some good pictures of the train from that bridge – and some photos of the engineer backing the train up. We were able to get tickets for a train leaving in about 15 minutes. For the way up to Broomhill, we sat near the front of the train.
We’re “train people” and this trip didn’t disappoint. The steam train went through Boat of Garten and turned around at Broomhill.
It was interesting at Boat of Garten when a couple bike riders stopped and took pictures of us – while we were taking pictures of them.
It was a nice, relaxing trip and I slept most of the way back. We saw River Spey again, sheep, cows, old rolling stock, people on bikes.
Join us for a truly memorable trip through the heart of the Scottish Highlands, in the stunning surroundings of the Cairngorms National Park! Explore the areas along our line further and discover exactly why the Victorians brought a railway line to this unique area in the 1800s!
It’s roughly 15 minutes of train travel between each station, with a full return trip lasting between 90 minutes and 2 hours (depending on which Station you start your journey at).
You can split your journey up if you wish! Take the morning train in to Boat of Garten and explore its stunning surroundings and take the last train of the day back in to Aviemore!
The first departure point along our 9 and a half mile line is Aviemore (we’re at Platform 3 of Aviemore Station!) It’s located in the heart of the Monadhliath and Cairngorm Mountains and is the perfect base for those that love the outdoors and glorious sights! Once the train takes you past the modern architecture of the town, we steam you through heather-clad moores and woodland and alongside the majestic River Spey. 5 miles away lies our second station at Boat!
Boat of Garten
As you enter Boat of Garten (also known as The Osprey Village) you will see one of the area’s finest courses at Boat of Garten Golf Club, originally built by locals and railwaymen! The RSPB observation hide at the Osprey Centre lies just 3 miles from the village and it’s certainly worth a visit during summer, when these magnificent birds return from the warmer climates of Africa! There are also plenty of walk and cycle trails, perfect for families, couples or groups exploring the area! The newly opened 1896 Gallery and Cafe is also definitely worth a visit! Be sure to stop off and have a look!
5 miles of glorious steam travel from Boat heading north brings you to our Broomhill Station, the current terminus of our line. The Station originally served the nearby villages of Dulnain Bridge and Nethy Bridge on the original Great North of Scotland Railway line. The forests in this area offer real diversity – there’s plenty of wildlife and nature to explore here! And the views from Broomhill are AMAZING! Make sure you get off the train at the Station, get some fantastic scenic pics and meet your engine driver, fireman and get some photos on the footplate!Our unique heritage railway boasts an incredible history and our line was the first to come to the Scottish Highlands, back in the mid 1800s. The future of our Railway is also of great importance! We’re working very hard to realise the railway’s dream of returning steam trains to Grantown-on-Spey!
We went back up the hill to the MacDonald Hotel to gets something to eat but there was no open restaurant. A Trafalgar tour bus let some people off but they seemed to be the only ones in the hotel. We walked around complex. Nothing. Went in shopping center. No food. We did get a couple t-shirts so all was not lost.
We walked back down the hill and into town. We stopped at the Cairngorm Hotel for a nice lunch. Coffee americano (Normal with 2 shots of espressos), of course. The coffee came with a small bit of shortbread (I think mine is better! ).
I got the senior meal of roast lamb (I wondered if it was like the seafood restaurants where you can choose your lobster – if I could choose one of the sheep I saw from the train), new potatoes, potatoes which had been mashed, formed into an oval and lightly fried, puréed carrots (maybe senior meant can’t chew. I thought it was smaller portions). Gravy. And peas which I avoided. My meal came with dessert so I had sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce, ice cream and whipped cream.
Tom had an omelette with chips (french fries)…and peas. Ice cream for dessert came in a waffle cup with whipped cream and pirouette cookie.
The buffet on Thursday features haggis so we probably won’t be back!
Just a note here – sometimes, Cairngorm is spelled CairnGorm, sometimes Cairn Gorm, sometimes Cairngorm – all the same mountain as far as I can tell.
At this point, I realized I hadn’t put big bandage over butterflies and I’d been walking all day. Hooray!
We learned we couldn’t add a tip onto our charge bill for lunch. It had to be added before they ran the credit card. The waiter couldn’t take American money and the hotel staff couldn’t, either. They suggested changing money at the post office because it had a better rate than the banks.
We went across the street to find an adaptor since the ones we brought weren’t working. Got one and headed home.
Nap! I woke up about 7. Tom at 8. We found our new adaptor was for people going to the states from here.
I got one of our original adaptors working and started charging phones. This adaptor was only good for 2 pronged plugs so we used it for USB connections only.
We had another adaptor I’d bought specifically for this trip, as well as a 2-to-3 prong adaptor for the computers. I got very excited about this and set it up, plugging in an extension cord, then the 2-to-3, then plugged the adaptor into the wall. Too much – blew that out. <sigh> Now we can’t recharge the computers.
We went out for a little walk, then had spaghetti for dinner.
A Sinatra pretender on BBC Proms.
All today’s pictures: