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Solo Trip Report Edinburgh and London Oct 2017

Illinois
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Solo Trip Report Edinburgh and London Oct 2017

I'm at least going to start this as an ongoing trip report. (I rarely make it through the whole trip as an ongoing report as I either get busy or tired at night.) I'm traveling solo to Edinburgh and then London. I've been to London multiple times, but this is my first time in Edinburgh. (I did have a day in Glasgow and a ltitle under a week in Orkney on a prior trip, but I've never been to the rest of Scotland.)

I usually post each day as a reply. The first night was at Heathrow, so I'll put that in the London forum and then do the Edinburgh days here. Here's a link to the London part of the trip.

https:/…86827160

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Illinois
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1. Re: Solo Trip Report Edinburgh and London Oct 2017

Day 2 – 9 Oct 2017

My flight was at 9:15, and I was figuring to be there 2 hours early. I’d recommend allowing at least that much time as security seemed pretty slow. BA had a sign up to go check in your hand luggage, which didn’t make much sense to me. There was no entrance into the line for the hand baggage check, so I got in the bag drop line and asked a staff person and he pulled me out of that line and sent me down to the desk for checking in hand baggage. I think she was supposed to check sizes and give me one of those yellow (?) tags that BA hands out so your bag is guaranteed to go in the cabin with you, but all she did was scan my boarding pass and ask me if I had bags to check. It seemed a little pointless to me.

Security was pretty crowded, and I think it probably took me at about 30-45 min to get through, a lot of which was standing there waiting for someone to check my liquids bag, which got pulled out to be checked by hand after it went through the scanner. I still had time though, so went into Giraffe to get some breakfast. It was pretty good for airport food. They were reasonably efficient too, and I manage to eat and pay in 30 min or so, and that was still before my gate was posted. I went into Boots to see if they had saline nasal spray or gel for the trip home, but I didn’t see any, only decongestant ones and allergy ones.

They did make me gate check my roller bag, but that was ok. I always take everything that *can’t* be checked (electronics, meds, etc) in my personal item, but both bags are right at the size limit for carry on. They didn’t actually have me put it in the sizer, they just said I had to check it (for free) and I could pick it up at baggage claim. I don’t know if they always do that or if it was just an unusually full flight. I saw them making quite a few other people do the same. Otherwise, the flight was uneventful, and we arrived pretty much on time. (Maybe 5 or 10 min late, but it seemed like people were slow getting off too.) My bag arrived without incident on the baggage carousel, and I took the tram into Edinburgh. It’s 5.50 GBP one way and the ticket machine took my Chase chip and sig card with no problems.

I’m staying at the Scott House B&B in Edinburgh, and it’s only a few minutes’ walk from the tram stop at York Pl. I arrived just before noon and my room was ready, so I could just check in and unpack and head out. I decided to splurge and get the room with a separate seating area, and it’s a really nice room, although I can hear quite a bit of traffic noise, presumably from Broughton Street. It looks like it’s on a quiet street, but it’s close enough to the corner that I can hear the noise even though it isn’t right on Broughton St.

I spent the afternoon at the Museum of Scotland. I thought that would be a good first day thing as I was hoping to get a review of Scottish history, but it was a little disappointing as the exhibits seemed to be arranged thematically (like the Medieval Church section), not chronologically. The museum itself is free, although I paid 10 GBP to get into the special exhibition on Bonnie Prince Charlie.

This exhibition was interesting as I’m reading the Outlander series, in which the Jacobite risings play a major role. I actually didn’t even know about the series until I started planning this trip, and then I saw that there are a bunch of Outlander tours and things, although I’m not sure how many of the people interested read the books or if they just saw the TV show. (I know a lot of people who were fans of the Harry Potter movies but never read any of the books.) I can’t decide if I think they’re good or not, but they are entertaining, although she does put in a few too many s*x scenes for my taste. I’m not 100% sure it was worth 10 GBP though. (You can pay 9 GBP if you don’t pay the gift aid donation.) I did spend about 2.5 hours there though. (You can go in and out for the whole day if you buy them early enough in the day, although I think it would still be easiest to just see the whole thing once.

After that, I started through the History of Scotland exhibits. I started to do the prehistory part in the basement but decided I didn’t have time, and Roman things look pretty much like Roman things either here or in France or in London. I got through most ot the Kingdom of the Scots, but didn’t have time for the Royal section or Scotland Transformed before they closed at 5. I suppose I could go back to see the rest as it’s free.

I was getting tired by then anyway, and my feet were hurting, so I decided to just get a quick dinner at Pizza Express and come back to the room, with plan to go to bed early-ish. According to my Charity Miles app, I walked 2.8 miles today, which doesn’t seem like very far to make my feet hurt. I think museums are hard on feet though. My fitbit apparently wasn’t working today, although I shook it a few times and now it seems to be working in the room. I'll see what happens tomorrow.

Illinois
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2. Re: Solo Trip Report Edinburgh and London Oct 2017

Just a note on pronunciation as I've heard a lot of people in the US pronounce Edinburgh wrong. It's not burgh like in iceberg. It doesn't really sound like burrow in American either. It's more of either burra or bruh (again in American) - I've heard both, so I'm guessing that depends on where the speaker is from. (I'm not especially good at UK regional accents...) I think all the places that end in burgh are pronounce like that (Jedburgh is the only one that comes to mind) as well as the word burgh itself (Which was a way that Scotland was divided up by (I think) David I.) I think they've now gotten rid of them though and the regions are called, well, regions, which is much less interesting, but apparently also less complex.

Feel free to correct me if I got that wrong!

glasgow scotland
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3. Re: Solo Trip Report Edinburgh and London Oct 2017

“burra” is about as close you’ll get to the Scottish pronunciation!

There are still a few “Royal Burghs” about!

Edinburgh, United...
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4. Re: Solo Trip Report Edinburgh and London Oct 2017

Or pronounce it all in one as Embra!

glasgow scotland
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5. Re: Solo Trip Report Edinburgh and London Oct 2017

S & A! Even with my thick Glasgow accent I don’t even say “Embra”!

I pronounce it as “Edinburra”!

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6. Re: Solo Trip Report Edinburgh and London Oct 2017

Would love to visit Edinburra ;) one day, so I am really enjoying your report. Thanks for starting it!

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7. Re: Solo Trip Report Edinburgh and London Oct 2017

Enjoying your report! Hoping we won't have to check our carryons. Not having to check is why we limit ourselves to carryons! No lost bags.

Edinburgh, United...
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8. Re: Solo Trip Report Edinburgh and London Oct 2017

They’d be doing pretty badly if they took your carry on case off you at the boarding gate to go in the hold and it didn’t make it off at the other end! They do this on particularly busy flights quite often because if everyone takes a wheeled case or bag of max hand luggage size on a full flight they don’t all fit in the lockers. It’s a problem the airlines have created by charging for hold bags!

Illinois
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9. Re: Solo Trip Report Edinburgh and London Oct 2017

I figure it's less likely to be lost gate checking than regular checking. I'm used to gate checking as they alway do it on the regional planes we fly from home. However, in that case, you get your bag back on the jetbridge, and BA sent it to the luggage carrousel instead, so it's good I asked them. The ones they let on were substantially smaller than the limits but some were still roller bags.

Day 3 – 10 Oct 2017

So I seem to have won the jackpot in the towel lottery this trip – another set of 2 giant bath towels at the B&B. And a great shower with good water pressure and plenty of hot water. The breakfast was good too. I asked for scrambled eggs and they must have used 4 or 5 eggs – I don’t think I’ve ever been served quite such a large serving of eggs. Good thing too, as I didn’t have time for lunch.

I had planned both Edinburgh Castle and Holyroodhouse for today. I wouldn’t normally do both in one day, but they were doing a tour about Bonnie Prince Charlie and his use of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, which I thought sounded interesting, so I had booked that ticket in advance, and I really wanted to see Edinburgh Castle, so I figured I’d see how much I could see.

As I plan to visit several Historic Scotland properties on this trip, I had purchased a membership online in advance. I had the card sent to the B&B as I wasn’t sure they’d get it to me in time in the US, and I also wanted the English Heritage benefits as I wasn’t sure if I’d be visiting some of those during the London part of the trip. Normally when you join online, you get an email that you can use for entry for the first 30 days while you are waiting for the card to come. However, I asked Historic Scotland if I could use it at English Heritage properties and they said that normally they’d accept it but they weren’t obligated to, so I thought it would be better to get the actual card.

I bought the membership instead of the Explorer card because it was only about 10 GBP more than a 7 day Explorer card but you can use it multiple times at a given property. You can only use the Explorer card once at each place. So I figured I could always go back if I didn’t get through all of Edinburgh Castle.

I had planned to head out at 9AM for the castle, but I ended up leaving late as I was having an interesting conversation with another woman staying here and the owner. It turns out the owner has ancestors that emigrated to near where I live in Illinois. She asked me if there was any mining there as they were miners in Scotland. I don’t know of any, but I guess I’ll have to look into the local history as I realized I don’t’ know that much about it.

It’s about a mile or so walk to the castle from here, although it’s all uphill. On our last trip to France, I had trouble with the hills. I do walk at home, but it’s so flat that there really aren’t any hills to walk on. So after the France trip I started doing stairs at home. I’m sure there’s something more boring than walking up and down the flight of steps in your house, but I can’t think of what it would be at the moment. However, I do think it helped, as I didn’t think the uphill was as bad today. (And don’t tell me that the hill might not have been as steep or remind me that my daughter wasn’t there to set the pace – it’s encouraging to think it’s working!)

I arrived just before 10, and there was somewhat of a line for tickets, but I didn’t have to wait for one as I had my membership card so could just walk in. The only problem is that I think they give out the maps at the ticket counter, so I never did get a map. You do have to pay for the audio guide, but you get a 20% discount, so it was 2.80 GBP (IIRC). I thought the information on the guide was good, although my guide itself was annoying as about 80% of the time I pushed the number 5 it would type a 6 instead and it kept randomly turning itself on. I tried using my own earbuds for it as I don’t like the ones they give out, but it was too staticky. It worked fine with their headphones though.

There was a guided tour about to start when I entered, so I decided to join that for an overview. It was an interesting tour, although not a must see, I don’t think. The best part was when he was telling us about Oliver Cromwell and how he banned Christmas for 2 years when he was in charge, and a young boy (maybe 10?) said “what” in the most shocked tone, like there wasn’t anything you could do that would be worse than that. I guess he would have been a royalist in the civil war…

From the castle, you can see across the Firth of Forth to Fife, and he said he’s been asked if that was Ireland, France, or the US. I’m questioning whether anyone could be dumb enough to think that was the US, so I sort of hope he made that up. That said, when my daughter and I went to see the opera Anna Bolena in Chicago, we did overhear the woman behind us in the line for the toilets quite seriously telling her friends how Mary Queen of Scots was Queen Elizabeth I’s daughter. So I guess I shouldn’t underestimate the lack of knowledge in the world.

I ended up visiting the castle backwards as the tour ended at the top of the hill and it seemed silly to go all the way back down just to start over. I started with the Crown Jewels. There was a bit of a wait, but it wasn’t even long enough for me to read all the signs in the waiting area. There are 2 ways to get in, one that goes through an exhibition about them and one that goes directly to the jewels. You know that a lot of people are rushing to get through when they have a sign at the beginning of the exhibition that it usually takes about 25 minutes to see the exhibition and that there’s another entrance if you don’t have time.

The Scots were smart enough to hide their crown jewels when Oliver Cromwell came around, so they didn’t end up getting melted down like the English ones did. They aren’t as old as the English ones (the melted ones I mean – they’re older than the current ones) though, apparently because it wasn’t until the 1300s when the pope said they could anoint their rulers. The Stone of Destiny (Stone of Scone) is also there, which was interesting for me as the last time I saw it was in 1991 when it was still in the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey. The guide said that Scotland has agreed to send it back to London for the next coronation, although I must say that the Queen seems likely to live forever…

From there I visited the Royal Apartments, which is where Mary Queen of Scots (who was *not* Elizabeth’s daughter) gave birth to James VI/I. Unfortunately, her bedroom is now just lined with portraits, and the smaller chamber where she actually gave birth is empty, so you don’t really feel like you’re in anyone’s living quarters. I did wonder if they used a birthing chair though, as the room where she supposedly gave birth didn’t look long enough for a bed. I always thought women gave birth in their beds at that point in time, but maybe I just assumed that. I guess if my bed were really expensive I’d rather use something else for the actual birth anyway, especially if I then had to be on display in the bed afterwards.

I did get through most of the castle today I think, although I didn’t see the Scottish War Museum. That’s the only thing in Historic Scotland’s list of top 10 things to see that I didn’t get to. I left about 10 min later than planned. I had to be at Holyroodhouse by 2PM, so I figured I’d leave at 1PM. I thought that would be easy enough as they fire a cannon at 1PM, but either they forgot today or you can’t hear it from the former POW cells, as when I finished with that exhibition I realized it was 1:10 and I was on the wrong side of the castle for leaving.

By walking down the Royal Mile without looking at anything, I did make it there on time. TBH, I’m not sure it was worth the effort. The talk was interesting, but wouldn’t have been a big deal to miss, as she really didn’t tell us much history that I didn’t already know. If I hadn’t gone I wouldn’t know that though and would wish I had gone. After the talk I went back to the entrance so I could do the audio guide in order. Possibly that would have worked better at Edinburgh Castle too, at least I would know what I hadn’t been to. The most interesting parts are at the end though, so I guess I’m glad I did those first.

For future reference, you can save 20% on the entrance to Holyroodhouse (which is pronounced Holly-rood, not like holy as in the church) with a Historic Scotland membership. I didn’t see that anywhere on the Holyroodhouse website though, and as the website said booking was ESSENTIAL for the talk, I had purchased my ticket ahead online. Oh well. I did find that I had enough time after the tour to see the palace. It took me about 2 hours listening to almost everything on the audio guide. (I might have skipped a few of those extra info sections, but I listened to most of them.)

The state rooms were pretty much the same as all state rooms, but it was interesting to see the apartments used by Mary Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley as I’ve read quite a bit about them. I’d be interested to know who actually killed him – it’s almost as good a mystery as the Princes in the Tower, but not quite. The garden and ruins of Holyrood Abbey were nice too – some nice fall (autumn) colors.

I decided to stop in the café for a cup of tea on my way out as it was cool (not quite cold) and damp, plus it’s a challenge to get good tea in the US, so I have to drink a lot of it when I’m here. And then of course I had to try Scottish Shortbread with it, which didn’t do so much for my appetite for dinner. After the tea, I walked past the Scottish Parliament building. It’s a very strange building, but I actually liked it more than I usually like strange buildings. (I was underwhelmed with the Stedelijk Museum, which looks like a giant bathtub or the Philharmonie de Paris, which looks like something from a bad 70s sci-fi TV show.) I’m not sure what the Parliament building is supposed to look like, but I’m sure there’s some message there. It’s just too weird to not have a message.

This took me down to Holyrood Park, so I decided to walk around there a little bit. I thought about climbing Arthur’s Seat, but I wasn’t sure what time it got dark and didn’t want to be in the middle of the park when it got dark, plus I didn’t have my boots on, just low cut walking shoes. (It didn’t look like you would necessarily need boots, but my shoes don’t have much tread either.) So instead I walked down to St Margaret’s Loch, which had the advantage of being flat and also having the way there be along a road that I could follow back even in the dark.

Holyrood Park is by far my favorite city park so far. It’s the first one where I felt like it really seemed like you were out of the city even though you weren’t really. I did wonder if there were flowers there in flower season – there were some in the Palace garden, but presumably they grow those in greenhouses and then stick them out there. I don’t know that they actually plant things in Holyrood Park – I think they might just grow naturally.

I still wasn’t all that hungry, so I decided to skip buying a restaurant dinner and bought some cheese at Tesco to go with the crackers and fruit I had left from the plane. (I had to throw out the cheese I didn’t eat as you can’t bring it through customs. You can bring crackers and fruit (up to 2 kg as long as it's not potatoes) though. Besides, I have this cool room for hanging out in, so I might as well get some use of it!

Charity Miles says 8.279 miles for today. The Fitbit was working and said 20,029 steps, 47 floors, and 8.37 miles. So the miles were pretty close I guess.

Nijmegen...
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10. Re: Solo Trip Report Edinburgh and London Oct 2017

What a lovely report, glad that you are having a nice trip. I always love your style of writing

I actually had to look up the Stedelijk Museum as I usually see it from the otherside(I have a museum card and often head to a new Rijksmuseum or Van Gogh museum exhibition when I’m in Amsterdam), bath tub indeed!

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