I am certain I’ve written about this concept before but international travel = time travel. I got on a plane in Los Angeles at 3:30 pm on Saturday, April 28. Technically 24 hours later, I was strolling through the streets of Edinburgh. But was it 24 hours? The flight to London was 10 hours, then another 1 1/2 hour to Scotland, maybe half an hour in the transfer to the hotel. But those time zones, man, they freak me out!
Anyway, the flight to London was fine. Double decker plane (wow), but cool amenities like a little locker by the window which perfectly fit my purse, the blanket, the neck pillow, while my machine went under the seat. The flight left late though we were boarded on time. Some discrepancy with the luggage count. Where I sat, there was the window (my seat) and an aisle seat. The woman next to me was quiet and kept to herself. Perfect! I always forget that long flights have entertainment. I watched “Call Me By Your Name,” and I have to say that I kind of hated it, which surprised me. I thought it was disjointed, and it wasn’t until toward the end that I actually believed either one of them (Elio and Oliver). And the ending was just odd. Maybe on the big screen, the cinematography would have added something more. Anyway, I watched that, pausing it to read (finished one book) while I ate dinner: spinach lasagna. After dinner and the movie, there were about 5 hours left in the flight so I decided it was time to sleep, which I did. Probably about 3 1/2 hours. Then they turned on the lights and served us breakfast (turkey & egg wrap). London was cloudy but dry. It took a long time to get off the plane, and then I needed to figure out where my connection gate was.
Heathrow is a monster. First, the connecting flight board only showed flights for B & C gates and none of them said Edinburgh. After walking with the flow of traffic a while, another board indicated to go to A gates for my flight (but no gate or other info). So take the train to A gates, then, it makes sense, but I hadn’t thought about it, but passport control happened there (I was thinking it would happen in Edinburgh). Anyway, that took some time, then I had to go through security again. They tagged my machine bag to be inspected and there was a long line of people waiting b/c some woman thought she could bring every beauty supply in her carry-on. When they finally got to me and told me my distilled water bottles were okay, I still didn’t know where my gate was. I walked very briskly through throngs of people, finally finding a board that said A6 and that it was boarding! Thankfully, A6 was closer to the beginning of the gate area, but I had no time to get water or pee or compose myself. I was sweating when I got on board and in my seat (smaller plane, 3 seats per side, I was the window again). I used the time to read (nearly finished another book). Snoozed a little bit. When we landed and phones were working, I was greeted with a text to say my bag hadn’t made the flight from London. Boo! I went to baggage service and was assured it would be delivered later today. Next dilemma was finding my ride, but when I looked over from the baggage desk there was a guy with a sign with my name on it. Yay! He was very cool and gave me a lot of great advice and told a couple stories. I was very pleased with the ride, but the opposite side driving is hard to get used to!
At my hotel, The Place, the check-in guy had trouble finding my reservation 😦 so I sat in the bar for a minute but he got it squared away (or at least he told me I didn’t to worry about it). Great thing: my room has an amazing view – top floor! Bad thing: no elevator! I was huffing and puffing when I reached my room. I took some time to relax. Ate the rest of the Cajun nut mix I had bought in LA. Texted my mom & sister. (By the way, so glad I got the iPad. My iPhone still hasn’t updated to local time so I think something is off with my coverage through work, so thankfully I have the iPad to use for just about everything. I use the iPhone for photos, then update to Google photos. Kind of a pain, and I still will probably get a big bill from work for using the data plan on my work phone).
Although I was still in my traveling clothes, since I didn’t have any other options, and since it was quite a lovely sunshiny day, I decided to go on a walk. The taxi guy and the check-in guy had given me some options so I checked out the map, got a bit of a sense of where I wanted to go and headed out.
This city is bustling! There were so many people out and about. I have a feeling the sunshine brought them out, plus that it’s Sunday. My first stop was the Scott (Sir Walter) Monument. They say it’s the largest monument to a writer in the world. It’s impressive. It’s at the top of the Princes Street Gardens which were filled with people on benches, walking around, or lolling about on the grass. Suddenly I heard bagpipes and drums and followed the music. Out in front of the National Gallery of Scotland was a three piece band with a large crowd watching. There was a drummer, an electric guitarist and by golly, a kilted bagpiper rocking out. They were entertaining. From there, I walked through the gardens some more then headed up (sorry I can’t be more specific – I really didn’t know where I was going). But then I happened upon The Writer’s Museum! It was contained in a remarkable, old house (built in 1622) and had rooms dedicated to famous Scottish writers, most notably, the aforementioned Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, and the poet Robert Burns. I bought a magnet 🙂 From there, I walked through a “close” which is what they call like a little alley/hallway out on to the Royal Mile where a merchant had an owl! It was trippy to look at. The majority of shops on the Royal Mile are one of two things: whisky or cashmere. At the top of the Royal Mile is Edinburgh Castle and lovely views. I didn’t go in the castle because it had just closed, but maybe tomorrow.
I took a moment to check the map then headed off again. Many of the buildings here are HUGE and obviously very old. Different architecture than what I have seen in Barcelona, but still impressive, lovely. I took a photo of a cool monument to Scotland’s national animal, the unicorn (come on, how awesome is that?) I made my way (my map skills and sense of direction didn’t fail me!) toward Calton Hill, but first I passed a gate and when I looked in, what’s that? A spectacular old cemetery? Why yes, thank you. I didn’t spend much time there because I wanted to go to Calton Hill and I was getting tired. Calton Hill was created from a volcano a long, long time ago. There are some more neat monuments up there and amazing views of the city. I came down and headed back toward my hotel with my mind on a specific place to stop for dinner nearby, The Conan Doyle aka Nicholson’s. I got a cute table by the window and ordered fish ‘n’ chips. They were pretty darn near perfect. Also, a thing here is mushy peas. I gave them a try, but I don’t have a taste for them yet. For dessert, I had a ‘typical Scottish dessert’ called cranachan made of whipped cream, honey, raspberries, oats, and a touch of whisky. I like all those things! Together they were quite delicious.
After dinner, I walked back to the hotel where, hooray, my suitcase had been delivered. I lugged it up all the stairs and got myself more settled in. After a lovely hot shower, I sat down to catch all the happenings here as my memory is not great unless I write shit down. Haha.
So day 0-1 is complete. Another day by myself in Edinburgh tomorrow! Link to photos below (my narrative follows the order of photos). Thanks for reading!
By the way, I know I owe, I think, 12 poems. I’ll get to them!