As Mary, Queen of Scots reminded us today at Edinburgh Castle, it is still Christmas (the fourth day by my count) – so merry Christmas! I’m taking some vacation with Twenty-Two-Year-Old and right now we’re in Edinburgh, Scotland. We left the U.S. On Saturday and arrived yesterday morning, so we’re still a bit jet-lagged but we’ve still been busy, so I’ll give you my impressions so far.
Day 1: We landed at Heathrow, which is a terribly efficient airport. Customs is divided up depending on not only what type of passport you hold (as in the U.S.), but also whether you’re traveling on to another destination in the U.K, or Ireland, or to another destination outside the U.K, or whether you’re leaving the airport in London. However, even with this division, the person we came to looked at our tickets and determined that we wouldn’t make our connection (this might have had something to do with the person who left his passport behind when we started and then they had to get all his luggage off the plane and so we were 45 minutes late in taking off – but anyway). No worries – there’s a rescheduling desk right there. We got on the next flight to Edinurgh, and we each got a five-pound voucher for our troubles and the extra wait in the airport.
We did eventually get to Edinburgh – just a bit later in the morning than we had expected. We checked into our hotel – a lovely place that I highly recomend – The Kildonan Lodge Hotel. The proprietor is very friendly and helpful. As we’d arrived on the Sunday after Christmas, and hadn’t thought to change any money at the airport (thinking that I’d be able to do that in town – but Sunday – oops) – he loaned us some money for the bus and other necessities. The hotel is quite lovely. We’re staying in the lodge – a small house in the rear of the main hotel. We have sherry and shortbread biscuits (cookies) in our room every night. There are several common sitting rooms with fireplaces and a conservatory. Our room looks out over a little garden -but it’s a bit chilly for that right now.
After a short nap and freshening up, we headed into the old part of the city and visited the Christmas Market. This is modeled on the Christmas Markets of Germany, apparently. It’s fairly well-known and rather huge. There are all sorts of rides, and lots of stalls that sell all sorts of crafts and foods. And there’s music and it’s all lit up. So that was quite a lot of fun. We were fairly wiped out after that, so we made an early night of it.
Day Two: Today we began with breakfast at the hotel. Twenty-Two-Year-Old had the full Scottish breakfast with haggis. I had kippers. She liked hers. I liked the kippers – reminded me of smoked whitefish- but it was a fair bit of work because of the bones.
After breakfast we headed to the old city again. Well, after changing some money. First we climbed Calton Hill and had a great view of the city. It’s really impressive.
Then we headed back down the hill and to the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle. The Castle also has an impressive view of the city. The oldest building there is St. Margaret’s Chapel and dates from the 12th century and is the oldest standing building in Edinburgh. It’s small and quite lovely.
In the great hall, we met Mary Queen of Scots, celebrating Christmas as in 1566. Which was fun. We also saw the Scottish Crown Jewels.
We also visited the castle prisons. In the military prison, there are some prisoners (manikins) in some of the cells with information about their offenses and sentences, which was interesting.
After the castle, we visited a tartan weaving mill on the Royal Mile. It was fascinating to watch the looms at work – especially as the tartans are so complex.
We ate in a pub where Twenty-Two-Year-old had venison and I was able to get vegetarian haggis with neeps and tatties. So that was yummie. Even though it wasn’t very late, we were worn out, so it was back to the hotel.
Tomorrow, the plan is to visit the Scottish Museum and possibly the coffee house where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter.
That’s all I’ve got. That’ my mite. I need a nap.