Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Friday, August 10, 2018 – S. Queensferry, Scotland – Mostly Cloudy – 61F

Our second day in Edinburgh, Scotland.

We are on tour today – “Panoramic Edinburgh” (one escort) – in the afternoon so the morning is not going to be a rush.  I am a big fan of the afternoon tour.

The morning still went by pretty quickly and after a second, late breakfast (bagels, lox, and cream cheese), we hopped on our tender and headed to short.  We went about an hour early so we could walk through the 17th Century streets of South Queensferry. 

The town is very quaint with coffee shops, retail stores, and touristic stuff.  There are plaques throughout the town indicating the early to mid 1600s for the buildings.  The town has set up a traffic flow system that permits traffic to go in only one direction (West to East) on the main street.  This reduces your chance of getting run over by 50 percent.  We walked as far as we could taking into account the time required to get back.

Near the tender pier, there is an interesting statue of a seal - didn't see any seals on this voyage except for this stone one.

Across the street from the harbor, we came across a statue of a colorful serpent of some kind.  The inscription indicated that the serpent was the guardian of the harbor.  It's a pretty big installation (see Ellen in the picture). There might also be a bit of a Nessie influence.

A sign outside a little cafe summed up the perfect philosophy for this or any day.

 The length and breadth of S. Queensferry summed in two photos.  

One particular building stood out from all the others in that it was painted black - the "Black Castle" is just that except that the windows were trimmed in while.  

We also got a chance to see what happens at low tide (above).  This will not be an issue today as we are not docked.

Today, there are lots of folks going out on afternoon tours.  Our bus, #27, is running late so we waited with the rest of the guests (Eclipse is still the only ship here although a schedule we found indicated that other major cruise ships do stop here throughout the season). 

Fortunately, South Queensferry does have free loos (one at the tender port and at least one on the main street) that are in pretty good shape for public facilities.  This makes the wait for a late bus a doable thing.

Our bus did come about 10 minutes late and we were off.  We took the streets from South Queensferry into Endiburgh.  We drove through a neighborhood called “Bungalow Row”, where all of the homes were essentially the same bungalow style.  This type of home comes from the houses built in Colonial India – bungalow being an Indian word.

Edinburgh is home to several festivals this week, including the famous “Edinburgh Military Tatoo” so the town is crawling with people. Along the "Royal Mile" it is a sea of people - some dressed in costumes.  Is that an Imperial Storm Trooper taking pictures of the crowd?

It’s a little like Carnival but not as crazy.  We could have taken a shuttle into the city but then we would have been in this sea of humanity.  It was much easier to deal with it from the bus.

While most of the city sites were not documented - the bus drove quickly and the guide spoke even more rapidly, we were treated to some iconic locations in Edinburgh.  The first of these was The Elephant House,  the coffee shop where JK Rowling created the now legendary "Harry Potter" books.  I wonder if that is somehow noted in the coffee shop itself.  Imagine sitting when this all started.  Nothing like that is going to happen at my neighborhood Dunkins. 

In keeping with the Harry Potter theme, the bus also took us by a castle like building that was the inspiration for Hogwarts School for Wizards (below).

The bus continued to make its way along the crowded streets.  Lots of pubs and restaurants and one familiar name - ROTI - I'm pretty sure it's not the same Mediterranean fast food place we have back home.

There were people everywhere.  I have to commend the driver for his ability not to run over some of these folks.  Check out the crowd density below.

The Royal Mile was saturated with people – people in costume and tourists.  When we walked through the area some years ago, the streets were sparse with visitors.  We have caught Edinburgh at just the right time.  The pictures below show the two ends of the Royal Mile.  We walked this the last time we were here and it is on a hill.

There was a street performance in progress as we made our way through the downtown area.

Two famous individuals had statues displayed along our route - the first was Scottish Physicist James Clerk Maxwell of Electromagnetism Fame.  The second was Lord Wellington, while Irish, did defeat Napoleon at Waterloo (making it possible for ABBA to score another hit).

We passed by the famous Grassmarket Area of Edinburgh - home of pubs, stores, and revelrie.

The following are pictures along along our tour - scenic but not identified quickly enough by our guide to be documented.

We made two stops:  The first was at Holyrood Palace, the official residence of the Queen when she ventures out to Scotland.  I took a great shot through the fence.  We did visit the gift shop, which offers all things QE II.  

Across the street from Hollyrood sits the new Scottish Parliament Building.  Designed by a Catalan architect, the building, completed with pick up sticks roof, is generally reviled by the population as it does not fit in with the architecture of the area and the city.  It is a spooky looking building.  You can just see the spikes of the building at the right of the photo below.

The famed Edinburgh Castle was not a stop on this tour - our only pictures of the iconic structure were from the bus - a bit of the grandstand and one of the walls.

Our last stop was at an overlook near Arthur’s Seat (a volcanic remnant connected by some to the city of Camelot and King Arthur).  On the way up to the viewpoint, we were able spot several climbers ready to scale the walls of the hill. 

There is also a man-made lake in the park area at the foot of Arthur's Seat.

At the top, we could see most of Edinburgh as well as some of the suburbs.  Just below us was one of Scotland’s 800 golf courses.  A great photo op.

We headed back to the port through the city traffic.  The tender queue was long but it moved rather quickly and, after a little wait in the water, we were back on the ship.  This photo from the tender shows how calm the water was.

Just the right kind of tour for today.

We had dinner in the Oceanview Café.  Tried something new tonight – Asian Noodles and Asian Fried Rice – they were OK.  Oh, and yes, it was Apple Strudel night.

Also a good place to watch the sail away.

The Headliner tonight is a clear favorite of Giuseppe – based on the number of times he has hyped her upcoming show – and a favorite of ours as well:  Jayne Curry, funny lady, pro-golf widow, and terrific singer.  

We haven’t seen Jayne since we saw her on the Adventure of the Seas about five years ago.  Her show was a little different and had a little more funny chat than songs.  But she can still belt out a tune and her stage movement is really good.  She went all the way into the balcony to get some guy to sing with her – a camera followed her and we saw it on the screen.  After the show, we chatted with her (she’s on with her mom) (she remembered Ellen) and bought her brand new CD.

My second lecture has been scheduled for the Eclipse Theater tomorrow – hope someone shows up.

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