(Note from Sherry: Apparently there is no Day 13 report for some reason. Just how things go sometimes!)
Monday 3rd October 2022
Well, this is the day that Betty and myself have been looking forward to since we booked this vacation: a trip into Edinburgh. Edinburgh is a beautiful city full of wonder, excitement, and history stretching back to the middle ages.
We had decided we didn’t want the ago of driving into Edinburgh in the car, trying to find somewhere to park and forking out big bucks to do so. We had heard that there was a modern day tram service that ran from Edinburgh to Edinburgh Airport, and it took about 45 minutes. However, we wondered if parking at Edinburgh Airport would attract the same expensive parking charge. We are not tightwads by any means but why pay out for stuff if you don’t have to? So a little bit of research showed us that if you drive to the tram stop before the airport, there was a park and ride there that was free. Yes please, we liked the sound of that so at about 9:30am we set off for the Inglestone Park & Ride center. Easily found it with the sat-nav. It was huge and plenty of places to park, and not a Pay Machine in sight. We wandered over to the ticket office and for the first time we saw an actual person dishing out tickets. He said that for an extra £1 each we could have access to all over the buses in Edinburgh City Centre. Yes please, we did that, just in case… of what I don’t know, but we took it anyway. All this, two round trip tickets to the city centre, plus free travel on all the buses all for £9. That’s pretty much $10. Excellent value. But we had to bear in mind that walking around places we only get about two hours or so before fatigue sets in and we have to either jump on some form of transport or drop into a cafe or restaurant to ease the fatigue. We are happy with either.
We walked over to the platforms where the trams ran from and arrived at, and waited a few minutes. Then two came at the same time; however they were going in different directions; one to the airport and one just come from it. We jumped on that one and off we went. Conductor came around, showed tickets and all was OK. Then a bunch of people all came on with luggage everywhere and making a racket. The “leader” of this crowd, a nice lady I got talking to. It transpired they had just got off a plane from Montana at the air port. We are from near Seattle, so the small world theories started to surface. Unfortunately, the airline had lost their main luggage and all they had was a bunch of carry-on to tide them over until their luggage arrives. I feel sympathy for them as it could easily have been us. Oh well, worse things happen at sea. The conductor advised them of where to get off and find their hotel and all seemed to be OK. We carried on to Edinburgh after they had departed. It was a pleasant ride too and we eventually got to Princes Street, once known as the widest shopping street in Europe. I had been there before in my trucking days and it was much the same. The tram stopped right in the middle of the street; nothing stopped that tram; no traffic or lights or anything. It just kept on going. We crossed the road and saw the biggest Marks and Spencer I had ever seen. It was on four floors and packed with people, and this was a Monday morning, too. We had a good old wander around and stopped by their cafeteria for a snack for half an hour. Betty’s head was swimming with all this shopping activity. I think she must have led a sheltered life. Back up on Princes Street again, and across the road to the Scottish Piper who was giving it his all. He was beautifully dressed as a sergeant in the Scots Regiment of somewhere. His playing was excellent too, I put some money in his cache and took some photos of him. One of the best photos of the trip was him playing and Edinburgh Castle soaring high behind him.
Took a good old walk around and then we saw the hop-on hop-off bus that goes to nearly everywhere. We thought that was a better way to see Edinburgh as we were getting tired already. Unfortunately, unless you had a ticket you couldn’t just jump on one. We saw on the side of the bus that they started at St. Andrews Square. We remembered that the tram actually terminated at St. Andrews Square, so we got to the middle of the street again and jumped on the first tram that came along as our tickets were for the day, so we could get on and off anywhere. We got off at St. Andrews Square and saw the hop-on hop-off buses were all parked across the street loading up with passengers. We jumped on the front one, had a laugh with the driver, paid £30 for both of us – turned out to be excellent value – and worked our way up to the open top deck. After while, a little Scottish fellow came up and sat in his seat right up front. His name was Gordon and he was to be our guide. We had a lot of fun with him and he was very good at what he did – giving a running commentary relating to where we were on the route.
The bus set off and the tour started. It was good fun with Gordon too. We found out half-way through the tour that King Charles III – UK’s new King was in Dunfermline this morning and we were staying there at the Holiday Inn. He was there to confer city hood on Dunfermline. It had been one of the oldest towns in Scotland going way back into the Middle Ages. It dated back to the Neolithic period, whenever that was, and the first recorded town documents were back in 11th century. So this place really had some history.
And King Charles was there today to confirm city hood to Dunfermline. A special day for them indeed. By the time we were hearing this the King was back in his Scottish Residence in Edinburgh: Holyrood Palace. The bus we just nearing the palace and we saw that the Royal Standard (flag) was flying above it, indicating that the Monarch was actually there at that time and had obviously come down from Dunfermline and arrived at Holyrood Palace. This happens within the UK if the monarch is in residence, or even just there for an hour or so. Whether it be Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Balmoral, Sandringham or wherever the monarch is at that time, the Royal Standard will fly above that building till he has left. So if you are visiting Buckingham Palace in London and see the Royal Standard (flag) flying, it will mean that King Charles is actually there right at that time.
OK, so back on the bus, we carried on listening to Gordon rabbiting on about Edinburgh and doing a fine job of it too. We saw a lot of places and gleaned a lot of information we would have enjoyed had we not got that bus. The bus finally pulled back into St. Andrews Square about an hour and a half later and we were back where we started. We were pretty tired by this time so we wandered over to the tram stop and jumped on the first one that came and enjoyed a pleasant 40 minute ride back to Inglestone Park and Ride. We found the car and headed back to Dunfermline and our hotel – for our last night there. We had a nice meal again washed down with a couple of pint of lager for me and Zinfandel Spritz for Betty.
This was an our last night in Scotland as we were heading south, back over the border into England again and down the east coast side. We enjoyed our tour of Scotland, even if the weather had not been too kind to us. We tried to ignore the weather and enjoy ourselves nonetheless.
This has been part 14 of a series of posts highlighting the trip of a British ex-pat in the US when he returns to the UK for a vacation. He shares the experiences with us here on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for the next few weeks. I hope you will enjoy reading them as much as I have, and seeing the areas he (and his lovely wife) visit, through my friend David’s eyes. ~ Sherry
David invites you to visit his eBay store while you’re in the neighborhood!