Joined: 4 May 2001
From: Bristol Rhode Island USA
On 4/24/12 I boarded an Air Lingus flight to Edinburgh via Shannon. The flight was normal except for a rough landing in Shannon. My only problem with Air Lingus was the arm rest of the seats. They don’t go all the way up. I managed to get a row of 4 seats to myself, great.. until I saw the arms only went half way up so I could not lie down. I had a 5 hour layover in Shannon. Too long, though it had a decent duty free shop.
When I arrived in Edinburgh it was rainy and windy. I took a cab to hotel , checked in, found my rain gear and headed out. Found a pub in Grassmarket (there is no problem finding a pub in Edinburgh!) I could see the castle from there, but I did not know what I was looking at. I wondered around up toward Candlemaker Row and saw Gray Friars Kirk. Great old cemetery. I know that the bronze of Gray Friar Bobby had to be near, but I turned in the wrong direction.
By this time, I was wet and tired. I stopped and got a sandwich and fruit salad for dinner and slogged back to the hotel.
4/26 After sleeping 11 hours, I had breakfast than waiting for Ian to pick me up. It was cold and windy. I am so glad I packed my fleece jacket and gloves (should not have pass on the hat!). Ian took me on a whirlwind tour of the city, best of all he showed me the passage to get to the Royal Mile which we walked from end to end. We did a quick run into St. Giles, Scottish national museum, saw Bobby, Holyrood Palace, Prince St and the gardens, Old Town New Town. Who knows, he has longer legs than me; I was running. We stopped inside the Parliament and ended up watching a debate. That was interesting, though I really had no idea what they were talking about. The building is interesting, we scheduled a tour for Saturday. We arranged a place to meet the next day, than I went to find dinner. 9.6 miles for the day – I should lose lots of weight! Edinburgh is very Hilly.
4/27 Met Ian on steps leading to Waverly Station to get a train to Linlithgow. There we met up with Mary and went to explore the town. Its claim to fame is it is the birth place of Mary Queen of Scotts. Other than that, the town in not very impressive. There is a small loch near the palace and a canal that will take you to Edinburgh. As the canal museum was not open, I have no idea where it ran in the other direction. Mary uses a scooter, so we just walked around the loch, feed the many, many swans and ducks. We ate lunch at “The Four Marys” (4 women associated with Mary Queen of Scots). I ordered haggis, neeps and tatties. Haggis was good, kind of like meatloaf , but not as firm. I have no idea what kind of meat was in it (there is also a vegetarian version), the potatoes were mashed and so were the turnips (neeps). The turnips were awful. We walked over to the canal, sat around and talked until Mary’s bus came for her. Ian took the train home and I stayed on to view the palace.
The palace must have been impressive. 5 stories high. Only the ground floor was accessible. There is a beautiful fountain in the center court yard. From the courtyard you can look up and see fireplaces, some grand others simple. You can climb all 4 towers, but only one gives you access to the top. I did not figure this out until I climbed the third one.
The church was next door to the palace, but was closed at the time. I head back to station and caught the next train to Edinburgh (the train seems to run ever 20 minutes or so)
Of course I exited the station on the wrong side and it was now raining (no rain coat or umbrella). It took me nearly an hour of walking back and forth along Prince St to figure out where I was and where I wanted to be. As you can guess by now, I am directionally challenged! Found the Royal Mile, had dinner at a pub – Steak and Ale pie – very good, then back to hotel. Only 6.75 miles today.
4/28. Met Ian at Childhood Museum on Royal Mile. Nice little museum – free. From there we walked down to the Parliament building for our tour. No pictures allowed, The explanation of the building was interesting; the outside is very modern looking and a bit strange. The building was planned to be one with the earth. Layout is a tree with the buildings leaves. The roofs of the buildings resembled the hull of ships.
After the tour, Ian and I split up, he to climb Salisbury Craig. Me Arthur’s Seat. I should have stayed with Ian. I followed a road up hill that took me to the path to the top. There were many paths, so basically I just picked the one that looked the easiest. I got about ¾ of the way up. By that time my knees were killing me and I knew that going down was even harder on them. But from the height I was at, the views were beautiful. I followed a different path down, keeping Holyrood house in sight.
I had lunch at the café at Holyrood, then went into visit. Again, no pictures inside. No a big thrilled. I am not into manor houses, they all start to look the same to me. However the abbey was very nice. I just like ruins.
There was some kind of massive bike ride on the Royal Mile, all of the rides tooting their horns. Rested a bit at hotel than out again for dinner at a pub- cottage pie. 8.6 miles today.
5/2 I am skipping a few day to cover York separately. Ian and I were met at my hotel (back to the same Holiday Express) by Quenton and Clare (more internet friends). We headed south out of Edinburgh to the Borders. Our first stop was in Jedburgh. We toured the Jedburgh Abbey, which was quite nice, built around 1140.
We visited the castle / prison, then on to Mary Queen of Scotts house (she did get around!) She used the house when she attended court at the castle.
After a nice lunch in Jedburgh, we drove through lovely country side to the home of Quenton and Clare. We had a wonderful tea – with scotch eggs ( a new one for me – egg, wrapped in a pork mixture, coated with bread crumbs and deep fried). We took a walk near the property, down to a stream. From all the rain Scotland had been having, the slop was a bit muddy. I did a very graceful tumble and have to bruise to prove it.
The drive back was through beautiful, hilly country. I know that I am more a country person. Unfortunately, there is not a very good public transportation system in the borders, if so I would love to go and explore (yes, I should learn how to drive on the wrong side of the road.
5/3 My last day of vacation. The plan was to see the castle, view the National Museum and do some shopping. The castle is huge. I took a free guided tour, which was very helpful, than just wandered around. As I had plans for the rest of the day, I did not stay for the 1 o’clock gun (Why do they fire at 1 instead of 12? Save money, only need 1 shot.)
Right before the castle there is a Scottish Woolen Museum. You can buy tartans by the yard, have your picture taken in full regalia, and of course buy all kinds of tartan related products. It was the most interesting store that I went into. The Royal Mile has a Scottish, kilt, etc store every ten feet on both sides; all the same.
I headed over to the museum. It’s big and confusing. It covers much more than Scotland, so I stayed in the ancient section. After an hour there, I headed back by Grassmarket, down by the back of the castle and headed to the Royal mile (long way around). I did some last minute shopping, had a very late lunch, then back to hotel to pack. 7.3 miles
My overall impression of Edinburgh is good. That was confirmed on the sunny days. I would go again, to explore some more and maybe use it as a base to do some tours. There are plenty of companies that will take you into the Highlands, but I ran out of time.
4/29 Took a train from Waverly Station, Edinburgh, to York. I had now realized the train went along the North Sea, impressive. There was a lot of swollen streams and ponding in the fields due to all the heavy rain the past week. It was still raining when I got to York.
I walked in the rain from the station to my hotel, despite the rain there were plenty of people out and about. One small lost moment and backtracking, I found the hotel. View from my window was the town wall. After checking in, I headed back out to the center of town. I walked through the Shambles, but it really was raining too hard for more pictures. I knew there was a Whittard’s (tea shop) in town, that was my next destination. Of course I had no idea where it was, but after some difficulty found it and stocked up! The rain was coming down even harder by now. I stopped for an “Edinburgh Tea” – tea, fruit scone, butter & jam. My trousers were soaked (the only pair I brought), end of exploring. Thankfully the hotel room had a radiator that was turned on and my pants were soon dry.
I had enough of rain, made reservation for the early bird dinner at hotel – 2 courses £15 or 3 for £18 and a free glass of wine.
4/30 I woke up early to find the sun shinning brightly. I went to walk the wall starting at Monkbar. I reached a point where the wall ended and I could not find the next section. I gave up looking and went to the town center. There were no people about and I was able to get some good pictures. I went back to the hotel for breakfast- great spread, with really good sausages.
I went back to Monkbar and started the wall in the other direction. Went as far as the Minster and visited it. It is huge, truly impressive. Of course they were working on it, there was scaffolding on one end. Recheck Barry’s section of York for pictures
Went over to Clifford Tower, not really worth it. From there I went over to Merchants Hall – that was an interesting building.
I wondered around looking for a place for lunch. Ended out at the Refactory of Kings Manor. Good quiche and bottle of water for £3.60, best deal in town! Now fueled, I finished walking the wall. By 3pm my feet were killing me, so back to hotel for a rest. Went out later for dinner at Café Rouge. 12 miles today
5/1 My last day in York. I was told I had to see the National Railroad Museum. Truly the most boring museum I have ever seen. Okay, if you are into trains, I guess it is good; problem is I am not. I lasted about an hour. I walked around the town some more, visiting St Mary’s Abbey. I had to check out by 11, so I went back to hotel to pick up my bags and then lunch. As I now had one bag more than when I arrived, I went to station early. I tried to change my ticket but it would have cost me £50 to change. I had a book with me. Only 8.5 miles today.
York is a lovely area, though expensive. Most of the sites are expensive to enter. I had originally planned on spending a week there, then going to Edinburgh for a few days. So glad I changed my mind. Unless you plan on going slowly or into all exhibits, 2 to 3 days is plenty.
Sorry, no pictures. AB won't let me do it