Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Dear Mom,
Our flight from Newark to Edinburgh was pleasant and went quicker and easier than I 'd anticipated. I actually got some decent sleep on the plane and I will give credit here to the "J" pillow I purchased for the flight. Those round-the-back-of-the-neck pillows are not comfortable for me and after some online searching I stumbled upon and ordered my J Pillow.  I was very happy with it.
Once on the ground we threaded our way through a very efficient Customs process. "My" customs official was charming, pleasant, and patiently listened to me tell him that I'd been anticipating and planning my trip for 5 years, timed to follow taking my youngest off to college. He smiled and said, "Quite Right!" I was enchanted.
I sincerely appreciated that the Edinburgh airport quite thoughtfully has LOOK RIGHT with arrows painted on the street crossings for those of us trained to look LEFT before crossing. I never quite got the hang of which way to look before crossing and ended up looking both ways several times before taking my first steps. In this, my confidence was wobbly. I tried crossing with others, but restrained myself from holding someone's hand.
We spent our first three nights in Scotland in Edinburgh.  I quickly fell in love with Edinburgh and could easily envision going back and spending a full week (or two) there.
After checking into our rooms at the stately Hotel George, in New Town, we took a long, drizzly walk to the only yarn shop we would visit while in Scotland. Kathy's Knits. I'd read that it was the local shop for Lucy Hague, whose Celtic Shawls book is an inspiration. The shop owner was quite pleasant and we saw samples of all the shawls from Lucy's book. Bearing in mind the space available in my suitcase, I purchased just 2 balls of Rennie Yarn, which is made in Scotland- enough for Kyna, the second shawl in the Celtic Shawls book. With Kathy's help, I chose a warm denim-y blue color.
We left the shop to enjoy a late lunch at Nom de Plume. It was here I had my first (but not last) taste of a delicious Strawberry Lime cider. Maybe it is a good thing, but I am disappointed that this particular brand of what we call "hard" cider is not available in the US.
Walking back to our hotel, we tried to find our way into the Queen's Street gardens. All the gates were locked and we had to satisfy ourselves with peaks over the wall and hedges between the trees.

On our first full day, after an incredible breakfast in the hotel, we headed in sunshine (!) for the Royal Mile distracted on our way by many, many many delicious kilts!

 I took loads of kilt photos, but sadly I had a memory card failure and lost all the photos I took those first 4 days with my "real" camera. I've tried not to beat myself up, lose sleep, and "if only" myself about it. That was the worst that happened on the trip and nothing to complain or be sorry over. My traveling companions and I are sharing our photos, and I did take some with my phone, so all is not lost.

After touring Gladstones Land- a 17th century tenement house, which gave us insight into what life was like living on the Royal mile in the 1600's, we continued the uphill climb to Edinburgh Castle. We arrived at the castle in perfect time to witness (and set our watches to) the 1 o'clock cannon.

In the photo just above, the building just behind me is St Margaret's chapel. We were privileged to see a wedding party arrive! And just behind and below the chapel is this tender place.

We lunched at The Elephant House, where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter.
I liked this sign in The Elephant House!
We ended our first day on the Royal Mile with a tour of The Real St Mary's Close- another historical peek at the hardships and life for those living on the Royal Mile as the city and tenements were built up, around and over existing structures. Gardy Loo!

I came close- sort of- to finding Jamie Fraser on the Royal Mile. Probably good he wasn't the real thing. I would have made a blubbering fool of myself. 

We finished the Royal Mile with a tour of Holyrood Palace and Gardens. 

Holyrood Palace is still in use by the Queen. Had she been in residence we would not be able to tour the palace. On display were many of the dresses worn by Queen Elizabeth from a young girl to present day. Included in the display is a velvet tartan gown worn by Queen Victoria. The petite stature of both queens impressed me.  A highlight of our visit to Holyrood was the garden tour. These photos may be the ones I am most disappointed to lose.  Gorgeous borders.  I cannot imagine how glorious they must be at their peak, because what we saw was beautiful- even in mid September.
Holyrood sits at the foot of Arthur's Seat, an extinct volcano, and a popular hiking destination.

After much walking, two of us were desperate for some nourishment, and tea at Jenner's department store hit the mark. We sat at a window overlooking the Prince's Street Gardens on another sunny afternoon.

Next up- Inverness and driving on the Left!