Saturday, August 24, 2019

Scottish adventure 1, Cape Town to Edinburgh

This is the first of several quick catch up stories of our 5 week British adventure. Our flight left Cape Town at 1pm, so, after taking an Uber from home, we had a quick sandwich at the airport before boarding; ham cheese and tomato with a Windhoek Draught for John
and smoked salmon for Lynne
The bill
and so, onto an Emirates Boeing 777 en route to our first stop
at Dubai, 
where the shopping was still very active at 11.30 pm SA time, which is 1 am Dubai time
Then, the inevitable wait in polyglot Dubai for our connection to Gatwick
on the upper floor of an Airbus A380
huge and with much more space than the Boeing; so much more comfortable
By train from Gatwick to King's Cross

with an anxious wait for the last minute info about from which platform to board the train to Edinburgh - on which only one carriage (H) had empty unbooked seats (we tried to reserve them from SA, but it was impossible), so we had a scramble and were able to bag the last two empty places for the 5 hour ride. Standing after the 24 hours it took to reach the train would have been horrible
English cottonwool clouds
The Yorkshire countryside near Darlington
Serenely bucolic
and then the Tweed estuary at Berwick, marking the approach to the Scottish border
The Royal Border Bridge spans the River Tweed between Berwick-upon-Tweed and Tweedmouth in Northumberland, England. It is a Grade I listed railway viaduct built between 1847 and 1850, when it was opened by Queen Victoria. It was designed by Robert Stephenson for the York, Newcastle and Berwick Railway and remains in regular use as part of the East Coast Main Line. Despite its name, the bridge does not span the border between England and Scotland, which is approximately 3 miles (5 km) further north
The Scots flag to welcome us, atop St John's Church on Prince's Street
Lynne had booked a flat in Edinburgh, beautifully central
and just below the Castle
It is a lovely flat, beautifully appointed
with all mod cons - we didn't have time to watch the TV
and a well-equipped kitchen

Next morning, we wandered through Edinburgh
The Walter Scott monument with David Livingstone guarding it. Maybe he should give it a wash
Sir Walter Scott wearing an unaccustomed hat
It started to rain, quite hard, while we were in Prince's Street, so we bought ponchos, expecting to need them at the Tattoo that evening but, as soon as we opened one the rain stopped, never to return
Festival time, so there were many buskers
and all sorts of strange acts in the streets as part of the Fringe

Lovely flowers as decorations everywhere
And so, a pleasant 20 minute walk from our flat to the Castle's Esplanade
for the Tattoo. Wonderful international acts,
brilliant drilling and music
and fireworks to close
a spectacular show
and a mass exit at the end, clogging The Royal Mile
Next day, a walk to Greyfriars Kirk
famous for the story of Greyfriars Bobby, a West Highland terrier who accompanied his master's body to its grave in Greyfriars Churchyard in 1858 and guarded the grave until he died in 1872. Read the full, touching story here. We have a similar story about the Mulderbosch Faithful Hound in Stellenbosch
Thistles in the churchyard
and children touching Bobby's statue's nose for good luck
which keeps it permanently shiny
Then off down Queen Victoria Street
famous for being a scene in the Harry Potter films
and home to the Little Magician shop; a mecca for Harry Potter devotees
A ticket on a "magic" broom
Then a pilgrimage to The Whisky Shop which sells a huge range of whiskies, not only Scotch, and we even saw some bottles of Bain's from Wellington. They sell small bottles, decanted from these casks. Don't ask the price, good single malts are less expensive at home. A 30 year old Macallan in the shop was £3950 per bottle, but that is an extreme. It costs less at the distillery but that is part of a later story
An attractive display of The Loch Fyne whiskies 
We were recommended this pub, The Last Drop, and assumed that the name meant that you don't leave anything in your glass
and enjoyed a pint of this for John and a half of Tennent's Lager for Lynne
and then saw the real, macabre, meaning of the name
It was the site of the Gallows, where heretics, thieves and murderers experienced The Last Drop
The pub is on the Grass Market
from where we walked home before joining Lynne's friends for supper
and then home to catch the closing sounds
and fireworks of the Tattoo
This was a brief synopsis; we'll have more detailed stories after we come home

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