Hello Scotland

Trip Start Jul 20, 2014
Trip End Aug 05, 2014

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Flag of United Kingdom  , Scotland,
Thursday, July 24, 2014

We were up at 6:00, bags in the hall by 6:30.  Then off to breakfast and on the motor coach to King's Cross Station at 7:40.  We arrived at the station in good time and wheeled our luggage into the train station.  We were supposed to be able to stay in the First Class Lounge for free but when we got there we were told it would cost 5 pounds each.  So after 41 people waiting on elevators to get up to the lounge we were asked to leave again.  While we were waiting back in the main terminal we noticed that we were standing by Platform 9 3/4, the one for catching the Hogwart's Express in Harry Potter.  They had a luggage cart and neck scarf that young people were putting on and pretending to be pushing it through the brick wall just like in the films.  Finally a porter came and took us to our platform and we wheeled our luggage to the luggage car.  Then we got on the East Coast First Class Car.  It was set up with tables for four and tables for two.  Larry and I took a table for two on the east side of the train.

We were seven minutes late leaving the station due to a security issue with the train.  This is most unusual and they kept apologizing for it.  In first class we had free WiFi, food and drinks.  I finished my blog for yesterday and added pictures to it.  I checked email and responded to a few.  In the meantime we were quickly out of London going through many tunnels at high speed that caused such a rapid pressure change in hurt our ears.  Most of the journey we saw harvested fields of wheat and small villages and farms.  We made several stops along the way. We started seeing the North Sea after passing Alnmouth.  After going through Berwick-upon-Tweed we crossed into Scotland and it wasn't long before we were pulling into Waverly Station in Edinburgh (ed-inn-bruh).  Our journey took us five hours getting us in at 2:30.  We quickly departed the train and collected our luggage.  We got up to street level by using elevators or just carrying our luggage up two flights.  We carried ours.  We crossed the street and entered the Carlton Hotel by the back door which was just 1/2 block away and on level -4.  But again more steps and waiting for elevators to get us to Reception.  Once we had our room keys we went to the 3rd floor and found our room which is quite a change from the Royal Horseguards.  This hotel is more run down, our room is tiny but we have two windows in a turret which gives us a panoramic view.  There is no air conditioning and only one window would open about 6".  Larry propped the other one open with a tea mug.  Even though it is much cooler here in the 70s, it was still stuffy.

We had a couple of hours until we had to be at supper at the hotel, so we took off to find the Hard Rock Cafe.  On the way we came upon The Scott Monument, yes, Sir Walter Scott.  It looks like the spire of a gothic cathedral, cut off and placed in Princes Park.  We found out you could climb the four tiers of 287 steps, so we paid our 4 pounds and started climbing the spiral stairs which got narrower and narrower.  We stopped at each tier to look and take pictures.  The view was great.  We could see the castle, Arthur's Seat (a mountain south of the city), our hotel, North Bridge, and the Firth of Forth to the north.  On the way to the Hard Rock we went down a street that was pedestrian only, turned two corners and there it was.  We went in and Larry got a pin with a bagpiper on it.  He got a shot glass for Sonia, our sister-in-law and we got Derek a t-shirt.  Then we walked to St. Andrew's Park and sat for a few minutes and then headed back to the hotel.  I laid down for a few minutes.

We went down to supper and Larry got Deuchars IPA from the Caledonian Brewery in Edinburgh.  When Mark called us into supper we sat with Karen, who is the Chief Operating Officer for WOSU, her mother Connie from Seattle, and John and John and Mary Beth.  WOSU approached Mark and asked him to put this tour together.  We talked a lot about the British shows that have been on WOSU over the years.  Larry had chicken liver pate as a starter, chicken entree with potatoes, carrots and green beans, and sticky toffee cake with butterscotch sauce.  I had tomato, feta and basil salad, encrusted seabass with potatoes, carrots and green beans, and lemon tart with berries.

After supper we went for a walk.  It was much chillier but the sun was still shining until the fog started rolling in.  We walked up the street toward the castle for a little way, stopped in a shop where I bought a tin of vanilla fudge with Birds of Britain on it.  I bought it for the tin.  We ran into Pam and Ann who told us not to miss St. Giles Cathedral which we will see tomorrow during our free time.  We watched the fog get thicker and the temperature dropped so we headed back to the hotel.  I wrote the blog and then went to bed.
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