First time ever to Scotland!

First time ever to Scotland!
Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Edinburgh Apartment:
Sunday 11/3

Sun 9am London: Our last morning in London as we head to Edinburgh at 10am.

We are both still waking way too early. I got up and did a bit of writing and then noticed that it was going to be a nice morning as the sun started to make an appearance. It was actually turning into a beautiful morning and was a fairly mild 8 degrees. We usually start the day with a walk, both when away or at home, but our schedule and the weather here hadn’t allowed for this so far. There was some time to spare before we left for our flight today though so we headed out for a walk by about 7am.

We have been surprised how few people get out early here though. Even at home, in the depths of winter, you will find people out and about heading to cafes or walking and exercising etc. The weather here must be a real deterrent for this kind of lifestyle though. We set out down towards Trafalgar Square which is only a 10 min walk from our apartment. We continued down towards the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben but soon noticed a fair bit of mayhem and that Whitehall was sectioned off near the Cameron’s place at Downing St. There were police, ambulance, buses, flashing lights and people galore. It turns out that they were filming part of the latest James Bond movie so Daniel Craig was tucked in there, amongst all of the goings on, somewhere. We skirted around via the Thames and came around to Big Ben to see more action unfold. It was difficult to tell the real police from the action ones but some posed for a photo anyway. It was amazing to see just how many extras and crew were involved in the filming of just one short scene.

We eventually got around all of the film set area and headed back up through Trafalgar Square and on towards the apartment. We hadn’t got very far along the way when we interrupted by another movie being filmed as a scene unfolded abruptly in front of our path.. This one was just as bizarre with a ‘Lady Godiva’ type of naked blonde straddled across a horse that was being led down one of the cobbled lanes. This was a scene from ‘The King of Soho’ apparently but I just felt very sorry for the poor young girl as she would have been very cold! Sadly, we weren’t quick enough to get a photo of this scene!

We are quite sad to be leaving Soho and London. This has been a wonderful apartment to explore around London; very comfortable and ideally located. We have previously stayed out at Kensington and near Paddington Station but, never again; it will be this apartment in Soho from now on!

On to Scotland!

We finally got away from our Soho apartment at about 10am and headed down to Berwick St to try and catch a cab to Victoria St Station for the Gatwick Express train. Our Cabbie was a friendly chap and he gave us some further updates about the Olympics. Like everyone else he was complaining about how hard it was for Londoners to access tickets. He also elaborated on how every London Cabbie is heading out of town for the Games given the ‘raw deal’ they’ve been given. Cabbies won’t be allowed to do ‘pick ups’ from any of the main venues nor will they be allowed to use the bus lanes as they currently have the rights to do so. So, like our cabbie today, look for the rest of them holidaying in the south of Spain or somewhere during the Olympics!

The Gatwick express took 30 min and cost 20 GBP each! Our flight was fairly routine and took just under 1 hr so we were in at Edinburgh by 2pm. The Cabbie for the trip into the city was also complaining about the Olympics. It doesn’t auger at all well for these Games at all. He was complaining that his mate living in Germany had better access to tickets than he did. He also explained how much Edinburgh had suffered through the GFC, especially due to the collapse of the banks here. He did mention though that straight after the collapse of the Bank of Scotland and the massive layoffs at RBS that Sainsbury and Tesco (both like a Woolworths) and Ric************ all stepped straight in and opened up their own banks. They employed many of the people who had just lost their jobs through the other banks. Now that’s diversification!

This Cabbie though, like the lady beside me on the plane, both commented on how much we would ‘love’ Edinburgh. I have to admit though that on the way into the city from the airport I kept thinking, ‘Good Lord, I hope it gets better than this’. It is one fairly drab and ugly outer metropolis and the city, with both ‘old’ and ‘new’ town areas, isn’t that much better. Maybe it’s the lack of sun though clouding my viewpoint! Mark commented that the whole place looks like it needs a good clean.

Anyway, we got into the Grassmarket apartment and we were met by the owner, Vivienne, a lovely lady who has owned the apartment for about 6 years. We had struck lucky, yet again, in finding this great little apartment. It was better than the web site described and in a most perfect location for exploring around Edinburgh. No sooner had Vivienne left than we set out the door to go and pick up an Open Top Bus Tour. We usually take these on our first-time visit into any main city as they are a great way to get your bearings and to get a feeling for where all the main sites are that you may want to visit later on. We finished this tour by about 5pm and so we headed back to a pub to try and find the rugby that our Edinburgh Cabbie had boasted about.

We stopped off in at St Giles Cathedral on our way back to the Grassmarket area. We were most fortunate whilst there to be able to hear some Edinburgh University students rehearsing their final vocals before giving a free, public concert later on at 6pm. There was a bunch of young Gen Y girls and boys taking turns at performing the most amazing and spine tingling Operatic pieces that one could ever imagine. I couldn’t see Dame Joan or Dame Kiri performing any better than these young kids. Like the Bond movie moment from this morning, you just couldn’t plan for something like this!

We dragged ourselves away from this magic moment and back down to the Grassmarket area where we stopped off at ‘The Last Drop’ pub for a drink before dinner. So named, not for the opportunity for one last drink but, for the grizzly fact, that this was the site of the former gallows where one would have their literal last drop, that is, from a rope! Sadly, as well, our Cabbie was well out of touch with his Rugby schedule as there was no Scottish team playing tonight.

We survived that pub drink and headed the short walk across the road to a restaurant called ‘Mussels and Steak’ where, surprise surprise, one could feast on seafood and meat galore. Vivienne had suggested this venue and it was a great dining option for sure. We were back at the apartment by about 7.30 pm though and this gave us time to do some more blogging and research for events for the next few days.

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