May 9 and 10, 2011
Jeannie drove us to the airport Monday evening which was really great. I had been trying to figure out the logistics of dropping mom off at curbside with the luggage, parking the car in the lot and getting back to the terminal after leaving her to sit by herself for 15 minutes. Jeannie solved all of this. Excellent!
The flight was uneventful but after almost 7 hours, we were both ready to get off. I took a little blue pill (Advil PM) but Mom didn’t. Needless to say, I slept a little, Mom didn’t. We are both pretty tired.
They had a wheelchair ready for Mom when we got off the plane and we got through Customs really quickly. As a matter of fact, we cut ahead of everyone on all lines. I felt a little guilty but hey, we were tired so I went along with it.
Everyone is so nice here, I keep telling the people that we talk to that there are only nice people in Scotland. They find this pretty amusing. We checked into our hotel, which is very pretty and feels very British. The room is small but nicely appointed.
After re-grouping and unpacking, we left to go see the Edinburgh Castle, the main attraction of the city. First we had a quick lunch in the hotel in a lovely wood paneled room with big high windows. They served a proper British lunch and a wonderful little pot of decaf tea.
The hotel lent us a wheelchair and we took a taxi, with a really nice driver, over to the castle. They were really great about letting the cab bring us all the way to the top as the old streets leading up to the castle proper are long, windy and cobblestone. I never would have been able to push the wheelchair up them.
It had been raining and overcast when we first got to the castle and it was very blustery but after about 45 minutes, the sun came out and the sky was a beautiful blue with billowing white clouds scudding by.
We saw the Crown Jewels of Scotland, which were not much compared to the Crown Jewels of England but the scepter, crown and the sword were impressive. These had been hidden for over 100 years and forgotten about until Sir Walter Scott opened up an old chest and re-discovered them. Needless to say they were overjoyed to find them in 1818.
We visited the other rooms and outbuildings of the castle. It is similar to the Tower of London, which has multiple buildings built at different times over the ages. Everyone was very accommodating for us with the wheelchair, putting up ramps and letting us go in through back entrances. At one point, I was pulling Mom down a ramp backwards and the wheelchair tipped sideways. She didn’t fall out, but she could have. I’m no expert with this thing so I was very happy that someone was there helping me get her back on the tracks. It shook us both up a bit.
Since James V, there hasn’t been a specific monarch of Scotland but instead the English monarch presides over both countries. The Scots have a convoluted and confusing history when it comes to Britain. It’s a history that is well over 1000 years old.
After seeing all that there was to see, we took the route down from the top of the castle hill with Mom walking at some points and riding at others. Going down was alot easier than going up but I had to be really careful not to slip on the cobblestones and have Mom go careening down the hill out of control. I promised her I wouldn’t let that happen!
We walked out of the castle grounds and down the Royal Mile, a famous old street which is the site of lots of things that I don’t remember because I am so tired. We went in and out of a few stores but didn’t buy anything except a little something in a store called “Ness”.
Mom and I shared some great fish and chips at a local place recommended by one of the staff at the castle. We sat outside, watching the people go by and enjoying this U.K. specialty. I hadn’t had this since visiting Alixandria and Sean in England and it was tasty!
The streets were pretty busy, lots of school children and tourists plus working people walking by. It was touristy but you could also see the history contained in the old stone buildings, sandwiched in between the newer ones. A combination of new and old, very reminiscent of London.
We went inside St. Giles Cathedral which was really beautiful. I love old cathedrals and this one had some fantastic stained glass and architecture. It was very impressive and I was happy to have seen it. It is located right in the middle of the Royal Mile together with markets and hotels and stores. This very old cathedral was right on the main street two blocks up from a Starbucks.
We took a cab back to the hotel, showered and got in our pajamas. We are both exhausted. The plan is to TRY to stay awake until 8pm Scotland time so we can get acclimated to the time zone. Our tour guide Paul, will be meeting us at 8:30am tomorrow morning for our tour of Edinburgh. I know we’ll be able to find him in the hotel lobby because he’ll be wearing a kilt!
Mom is trying desperately to find some decent TV to watch but it’s slim pickings. I told her not to expect to find Wheel of Fortune in Scotland! Actually, I think she’s already asleep….