Sunday, August 14th–Tim's birthday, Edinburgh, Lothian

Good weather and lovely roads between Glasgow & Edinburgh; the Falkirk Wheel; looking for Kelpies; returning the car in the bowels of the Waverley Station parking structure; Royal Edinburgh ticket; busy times in Edinburgh; lunch at Wetherspoon's Booking Office; a hop on, hop off bus tour; dinner at Wagamama's; around the corner and down the street to try and take pictures of the Castle at night; losing Chris's cane

Citryroomz Edinburgh

Hyundai Santa Fe



I got off to a fairly early start this morning and was at the Enterprise rental location in Glasgow Centre just about 10 AM. It's an absurdly busy place with the office on the street level on the corner of the building and the cars downstairs. The guy who helped me out also very kindly carried my heavier bags downstairs for me, and also backed the car out of the rather narrow parking space so I could leave. My car for today was a very comfy Hyundai Santa Fe which had a working in dash GPS system which was quite nice because it meant I didn't have to try and get my "universal" car mount for either of my smart phones to stick to the dashboard.

The weather was perfect for driving–lightly overcast with no rain at all. The road between Glasgow and Edinburgh is the M8, a lovely bit of major two lane highway.

I took two detours, both to see two attractions in the Falkirk area a bit outside of Edinburgh. The first place I stopped was the Falkirk Wheel, an amazing bit of engineering that connects the upper and lower canals. Take a look at the pictures on their web site, they'll make a lot more sense than my trying to describe it. It's also a rather attractive bit of giant machinery, in a very lovely setting. I also wanted to see, and tried to get to, the famous kelpies statute but although at one point I could see them from the road while driving to the parking lot, once I got to it there were no free spaces in the rather small lot.

I got to Edinburgh a little before 1 PM and had a little trouble finding the Enterprise car return area at Waverley Station, which is huge. I had to drive down one side and around the corner and up another side before I saw the signs showing where to turn into the parking lot, and then had to make turn after turn into the bowels of the parking structure before I got to the Enterprise rental return area a couple of floors below ground level. When I went upstairs to try and find a luggage cart to load all my stuff onto to carry it all out to where the taxi rank is in front of the station I decided to just go back downstairs and ask them to call a cab to come and pick me up there, and I'm glad I did. I'd have had to cross a large parking lot, go through the station taking a couple of elevators and exit the building on the far side from where I would have started. I got here to my hotel, the Cityroomz just after 2 PM.

It's a rather basic but serviceable room, a little on the small size but not much smaller than most European hotel rooms are rumored to be, with a nicely sized desk, an end table with drawers to put clothes in, and a rack to hang stuff on, as well as my own en suite facilities. One feature I like quite a bit is that there are actually two windows, an inner one and an outer one with a very nice ledge in between. This solves a problem I've had every night on my trip–where to put my somewhat smelly at close range knee and ankle braces when I take them off at the end of the day.

The hotel is in quite a good location, rather analogous to where I usually stay in St Augustine–not quite in the central historical district but right on the edge of it. One of the main roads to the Castle is a couple of blocks away, Princes Street which runs alongside the gardens of the same name begins at that same corner, and the Royal Mile is on the other side of the gardens and over a couple of blocks.

I unpacked a bit, mostly my electronics first, then went out to hike on over to the Waverley Bridge where all the hop on, hop off Edinburgh bus tours are based. I wasn't quite oriented yet, and headed the wrong direction for several blocks until I saw a couple of policemen. When I stopped them to make sure I was actually heading towards the bridge they kindly pointed me back the other way.

I eventually got to the Bridge and discovered that all four of Edinburgh's bus tours, which are theoretically different companies, seem to be all run by the same company. I bought the Royal Edinburgh ticket, which includes a 48 hour pass on all of the four different buses as well as entrance to the Castle, the Royal Yacht Britannia, and the Palace at Holyroodhouse. I then went to try and find somewhere for lunch.

This is the busiest time of year in Edinburgh. There's the Festival, the International Book Festival, the Festival Fringe, and the Military Tattoo, so it will probably often be difficult finding an open table at lots of places. I eventually found a table outside at the Wetherspoon Booking Office across the street from where the buses leave.

Although it was a pretty nice day I was still very glad I was wearing my sweatshirt up on the open top deck of the bus when I rode all the way around. I then hiked back here to the hotel, stopping for a few minutes to listen to some musicians playing on the street.

I unpacked the rest of my stuff after I got back here to the hotel, and hung out until around 7:30 PM. I'd been looking at the map, both in print and on Google Maps, and noticed that there's a Wagamama a few blocks away. I've eaten at other branches in the chain and have always liked it, so that's where I went for dinner and had a very nice seafood ramen.

As I was walking on over to the restaurant, I realized I really knew where I was. That's the corner where two of my favorite churches are, St Cuthbert's and St John's. I think St Cuthbert's is supposed to be one of the most haunted graveyards in the city, and even in bright day light you can see why it might have that reputation.

I wandered around for a little while afterwards, taking pictures of the Castle lit up at night. I went down the side street the restaurant is on, then back around the corner and along Princes Street to take some more pictures from that side of the Castle. It was some place along here that I hung Chris's cane on the fence to have both hands free, and headed back to the hotel on one of the few flat streets here in the city and left Chris's cane there and didn't realize it until after I was back here in my room.

I'm rather sorry to lose it, but when I consider how many different far away places I've taken it to on several different trips since I got it after Mom died, and how many times I've almost left it behind before, I'm not quite as depressed as I might be. I just hope someone who really needs it finds it. On a practical note, losing Chris's cane means I don't have to ship one home before I fly to London, since Mom's folds up and I can carry the one I bought in Fort William on the plane.

I have the first of my Festival & Fringe events tomorrow at 1:45 PM, so I need to head on over to the Fringe box office in the morning to get my tickets.

Most of the rest of the places I want to go to here in Edinburgh are free, such as the National Museum, the National Gallery and the Portrait Gallery, and so are the churches. I did buy a ticket to the Queen's Gallery for Thursday morning.

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