Tag Archives: Edinburgh

Aviemore to Pitlochry to Edinburgh, Scotland

August 23 – This morning, after another lovely breakfast, we put our big packs on our backs and walked to the Inverness bus station. Our arranged tour is over and no one will be transporting our packs for us anymore. Rather than spend a long travel day getting back to Edinburgh, Jim booked us one night each in two small towns on the way.

Aviemore Railway

Aviemore is in Cairngorms National Park, best known for winter skiing, but also for biking, climbing and hiking the Speyside Way, which runs parallel to the Great Glen Way.

Our guesthouse is right across the street from the local Church of Scotland, with the cross of St. Andrew in the window. The cross looks like the letter X because that was the shape of the cross that Andrew was crucified on. Andrew never visited Scotland, and I was unable to find why he is the patron saint of this country. This is the view from our window. See the rainbow?

We took a short walk down part of the Speyside Way. We met some horses disguised as zebras.

A different kind of trail marker

Back in our room, we spied another rainbow!

I liked the architecture and stone walls:

Ravenscraig- some of the house names sound like they should be in Harry Potter

Aviemore also has its very own standing stone circle, over 4000 years old, right in the middle of a residential neighborhood. The stones have been mostly buried to protect them.

Do you hear the stones singing?
Jamie, here I come!

In one of our hotels, I found a copy of a Diana Gabaldon book I had never seen. Hadn’t I read them all? Turns out that Cross Stitch was the original name of the first book in the UK, before it was changed to Outlander. Now you know.

Original title of Outlander
Aviemore has nattily attired train conductors…
…and helpful bus drivers – this is our double decker bus

You won’t believe this, but as we were leaving for supper, a third rainbow!

August 24 – Back on the bus this morning for the 75 minute ride to Pitlochry. Seen from the bus window:

Pretty mountains
I wonder what castle that is?

Pitlochry has several golf courses – an important sport here – a hydroelectric dam, and is home to Blair Castle. I got excited when I found out about the castle, as my family is connected to Clan Blair. Too bad for me, the castle has been owned by the Atholl family for 750 years. Blár is the Gaelic word for meadow, so I guess it just means the castle on the meadow. It was a ways out of town, and we did not visit.

More pretty buildings:

Pitlochry Church

There are lots of shops and restaurants in town, and tons of visitors. We did our souvenir shopping today – a plate for our wall and trinkets for the grands. The older they get, the harder it is to find something we think they will like.

Pretty Main Street
A hairy coo bakery

In the evening, we walked to the hydroelectric dam., which is a tourist spot with a visitor center and a lively bar. The dam was not spewing (do they turn it off in the evening?), but we got to see the fish ladder and a stunning sunset.

Suspension bridge
Look Lexi – a horse sculpture!
Some locks of love on this boat
Fish ladder – no fish jumping at the moment
Gorgeous sunset

August 25 – After breakfast, we walked through town one more time. Saw a sculpture that made us cross the street to get a closer look. Obviously a woman, but what is she doing? Hitting her children with a stick? Playing an invisible violin? Turns out she is holding a golf club – worst stance ever.

Then back on the bus to Edinburgh, with one transfer that got us to within a block of our hotel. Kudos once again to a transportation system that gets you where you want to go!

August 26 – Up at 3:15am to get to the airport for our 6am flight to Amsterdam. Layover at Schiphol Airport is always a pleasure, including a mini Rijks Museum display and shop.

Porcelain elephants for sale at the Rijks Museum shop

Then on to Atlanta, and by 11pm we are home. Up for 26 hours – who can sleep on a plane anymore – all in the same day. A little worse for wear, but very happy to be here. ‘Til next time!

More from Edinburgh

When true friends meet in adverse hour; ‘Tis like a sunbeam through a shower. – Sir Walter Scott

July 27 – Another sunny day! What else can we see in town?

Our giraffe count increased today by 7. I’m a long way from that free ice cream.

We walked this morning through the Princes Street Gardens, where lots of roses were in bloom.

We stopped in at St. Cuthbert’s – very pretty:

Louis Tiffany window of David and his slingshot

Here is the Sir Walter Scott monument, below on the left. Scott, a native son, is best known as the author of Ivanhoe, written in the early 1800s, and for saying, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!”

We saw the memorial to Greyfriar’s Bobby, the little pup who faithfully guarded his master’s grave for fourteen years. The patina has worn off his nose, as so many people touch him for luck.

We visited the Scottish National Gallery, jam packed with classic European art. To avoid being overwhelmed by so many paintings, I like to focus on one thing. Today my focus was on babies. Enjoy:

This one goes into my album of odd-looking Jesuses
This is baby Moses after his rescue from the river
Jesus and his cousin John

The one below is technically not a baby, but is supposed to be twelve year old Jesus speaking with the rabbis at the temple. Does he look 12 to you?

Jesus at the Temple

We also visited a Camera Obscura that had lots of optical illusions:

A thermal Karen and Jim

The buskers were out, entertaining the masses:

We visited the Museum of Edinburgh, which displayed some quirky ceramics:

The Museum on the Mound told about the history of Scottish banking. Would you like to see what a million pounds looks like? You’re welcome!

Finally, what would an adventure be without some wall art? There wasn’t a lot, but here’s one political and one pastoral. Not sure what Paddington is doing chained in Rwanda?

We had dinner at a lovely Nepalese restaurant, where Jim spoke with the owner about old times in Nepal. Then it was back to our apartment to pack up and get a good nights rest. Tomorrow, we’re off to Glasgow!

A Sunny Day in Edinburgh

July 26 – Boy, did we sleep last night! Still a bit groggy this morning, but feeling human again. Today is a recovery day, with no itinerary planned. After a breakfast of oatmeal (Scots call it porridge and prefer it salted, not sweet), coffee and hot crossed buns, we’re feeling almost energetic! As the weather promises to be lovely – mid 60s with no precipitation – we put on our boots and set out to see some Edinburgh.

Our place is not far from The Royal Mile, home to Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace and a mile of shops, restaurants and tourist madness in between.

As we walked toward the city, I spotted a colorful giraffe, and stopped to grab a photo. A local mom explained that there were 70 uniquely painted giraffes all around Edinburgh, and if I found every one, I’d get a free ice cream! A nice person of Scotland, stopping to share with strangers. Here’s all I found today:

(Remember that you can click or touch any photo to make it larger)

For some reason, there were also a couple of cows. Do you think I can count them toward my prize?

Lovely architecture:


Churches and buildings that used to be churches:

St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral
The Hub, formerly Tolbooth Kirk

We went into St. Giles Cathedral:

Entrance to St. Giles Cathedral
Thistles on the ceiling of the Thistle Chapel

We and many others stood outside and gazed at Edinburgh Castle, but tickets for the entire week were sold out. It is built on an old volcano called Castle Rock, and served as a royal residence from the reign of King David in the 1100s to the 1600s. It is one of the most often attacked castles in the world. We’ll just have to imagine what the Scottish Crown Jewels inside must look like.

Edinburgh Castle
The Castle Rock

The national flower of Scotland is the thistle. This tourist shop captures the spirit:

Lots of statues, of course:

Who’s that handsome statue? It’s Jim!

Below is the statue commemorating Wojtek, a brown bear that served with the Polish troops who fought alongside the Brits in WWII, carrying 100 pound boxes of ammunition. After the war he was brought to Scotland, where he lived the rest of his life at the Edinburgh Zoo.

Corporal Wojtek

At the end of the Royal Mile stands the Palace of Holyroodhouse, which is the Queen’s official residence when she visits Scotland. It’s most famous inhabitant was Mary, Queen of Scots.

Holyrood Palace

A little history, and lots of walking. A great day. More tomorrow!

Flying to Edinburgh

July 25 – We’ve heard so much on the news about nightmare travel experiences; flights delayed or canceled, baggage lost for days or never recovered, that we approached our flights to Boston and then overnight to Edinburgh with some trepidation and more preparation. We packed a full change of clothes in our carry-on, just in case.

So although one flight was canceled and our new flight gave us an eight hour layover, and although our second flight was delayed due to lack of baggage handlers, and although my movie thingy didn’t work, you’ll hear no complaints from us. We’re here!

We landed at 9am, cruised through self-serve passport control (who needs passport stamps?) and customs (nothing to declare? Just walk through!) and we’re soon out on the cool and misty street. A modern tram with stations clearly marked got us to our Haymarket neighborhood in seven stops, and a five minute walk got us to our apartment.

Check in time isn’t until 3pm, so we dropped off our packs and ventured back out into the gray drizzle to find something to do for five hours. Imagine us, jet-lagged and sleep deprived, stumbling down the street in a surreal state.

Thanks to Google, we found the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art just up the road and popped in. The drizzle was now pouring rain, so this was a great place to spend some time and have lunch.

Everything is going to be alright
Picasso’s Nude Woman lying on the Beach in the Sun
A really big robot statue in the cafe

After a warm, fortifying lunch of squash soup, we walked back home via the Water of Leith.

Our apartment is a fourth floor walk up with a tiny modern kitchen – so modern that we can’t figure out how to work the stove! I sacked out immediately, but Jim went back out in the rain to get some provisions.

So we are here, warm and dry, full of salad, spicy edamame soup and toasted tattie scones (sort of thick potato pancake-like bread). A good first day!