Thu 8 Aug - Edinburgh, Scotland

On the road, no rail, again...

We had reserved seats on 10am train from Kings Cross station in London to Edinburgh, Scottland, a trip estimated to take 4 hours and 22 minutes. We packed and Di headed out for one last trip to our local shop to top up our Oyster cards and buy some sandwiches for our trip. All good.

By 7.30am we were eating a leisurely breakfast downstairs. It has been a good breakfast for us at London Visitors Hotel with small hot bread rolls, orange juice, cheese, hot salami and boiled eggs each morning. Better than the USA version of continental breakfast where we mostly got cake and sweet stuff.

We arrived at our local bus stop before 8.30am for the number 10 bus to Kings Cross. No problems on the bus with luggage...Hans did eventually have a seat too.

The bus trip took a bit longer than we expected. More than an hour later we reached Kings Cross station, arriving at 9.40am to find that our 10am train had just started to board. Perfect.

Our carriage was the first of the very long train and it took a while to reach it. As we strolled up the platform, helpful staff asked our destination and when we said Edinburgh they grabbed our bags and checked in our luggage into the cargo carriage. Fine by us.

We had some time spare even for the usual self portrait at Kings Cross Station.

A passing passenger offered to take our photo when he saw our self portrait - we usually politely accept - but the problem is that they nearly always turn out to terrible photographers. Our faces are always in the centre of the picture meaning a lot of sky, ceiling etc and that our feet are usually missing! Oh well...

The East Coast train was in good condition with comfortable seats but we can't understand their reservation system which reserves seats in a sequential order or plonking in people where they can. In our case it meant that our seats 40 and 41 were diagonally opposite each other in a pod of 4 with a table in between. One family of 5 said their seats were scattered including one seat allocated within our pod. Lots of musical chairs and grumbling there for a while...

The train ride itself was fast and comfortable...

We were sitting next to each other for the first part of our trip as a passenger sitting next to us was not getting on until York.

The scenery outside the train looking out reminded Hans of the 1980s video to the song "Smalltown Boy" by Bronski Beat. Of course, he had to put the earphones on and listen to it...

We had company for quite a while from a young lad from Virginia, USA, the lad in orange. On the left hand side of the train were a Scottish dad with his son and the 2 youngsters played and discussed video games for the majority of the trip. Of course, we chatted to them too...

Along the way, we passed Newcastle. Looked nice enough from the train with its bridges.

We arrived at Waverley Station in Edinburgh pretty much on the dot at 14.22 hours. We had booked an apartment via Airbnb and the owner's housekeeper, Yvonne, waited for us outside the station at the Balmoral Hotel, which is the building with the clocktower below.

We then walked around the corner for perhaps 4 minutes before we arrived at our apartment located at 35 Leith Street. It was in the block just to the left of the bus stop with the 3 windows to the right on the 3rd floor being living room, kitchen and bedroom. Great spot.
Old building means no lift, 4 set of stairs instead. We knew this beforehand so no issue. Of course, we walked up 2 1/2 set of stairs at home in Manly and 3 set of stairs in the apartment that we had in New York City and the same for the last 10 days in London.
A bit of red coloring on the handlebar to glam up the grey. Note also how one of the bikes is literally suspended off the railing.

We were very pleasantly surprised with the apartment. Apart from a great location, it had everything that a traveller can wish for if being prepared to pay just a moderate price. Here is the living room.

But Di's favorite of course was the kitchen. She could do some stormcooking here. We also liked that there was a washing machine too.

The view from the apartment. Across the street is a shopping centre, but unfortunately without a grocery store except for, we understand, a Poundland, the Travellers Friend.

After a bit of unpacking but not too much, we hit the streets for a bit of orientation.
This pic is taken off Princes Street looking south. Below there are the traintracks of Waverley Station.
Of course, Edinburgh Castle is visible from there too and probably from a lot of positions around Edinburgh.

This is Scotts Monument. Scott with 2 t:s as in Walter Scott. We liked it.

Looking east outside the Scottish National Gallery.

Hey, what's that? Assembly, sponsored by... Fosters beer....?

We went there to investigate and of course, the Assembly is one of the key venues for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and who is coming if not Adam Hills. We were not in luck here as his first performance is the same day as we leave Edinburgh, next Thursday 15 August. Oh well, we have seen him live in Sydney and we saw Wil Anderson very much live on a segway in Montreal. The Fosters link clearly meant an Australian connection and we also spoke to 2 young Australian spruikers outside the venue.

And what a program they offer at the Assembly. The proceedings start at 11am... on a Thursday.

Inside the Assembly, with a mandatory refreshment offering...

We continued walking south just a little bit further to High Street, to what is refered to as "The Royal Mile". It was a circus. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is apparently, if you believe the spiel, the "largest and greatest art show in the world". They may be right. There were people and buskers and performers and spruikers everywhere.

We had already encountered a few bagpipe players and Hans reckoned that we will get very sick of them by the end of our week in Edinburgh. Di was not so sure as she likes a man in a kilt.

And this... We had tried to get tickets to the Fawlty Towers dinner and show but had problems with their website. And here they were, on The Royal Mile promoting the show. Even the coppers were in for the photo opportunity. We spoke to one of the spruikers, a Kiwi, to sort things out. Later, when we got back to our apartment, we managed to book for Tuesday night's dinner and show. Should be fun.

PS Hans thought that Basil Fawlty looked more like Borat... Manuel even walked like Manuel...

Sell, sell, sell...

This guy with his somewhat unconventional guitar (yep those are holes) played flamenco very well. He did draw a large crowd hence the constricted view.

We wandered back towards our apartment, but went into St James Shopping Centre across the road. We felt like a cuppa even though the time now was around 6pm and found a Costa. Hmm... the saucer is a bit different from normal...

We then walked out the other end of the shopping centre to find a Tesco Express where we picked up dinner and breakfast items and then walked back home.

Again, the apartment is in a fantastic location and we can not recall ever stayed so central. If the weather is behaving itself, we will have a great time in Edinburgh.

Di cooked Tortellini pasta with bacon and mushroom and we had a nice glass of wine while looking down on Leith Street and the neverending cavalcade of people and vehicles. Hans did a load of washing, which took almost 2 hours, but made the clothes smell really nice so we accepted that.

Unfortunately, Di received some unpleasant news from Australia about her sister and the evening mellowed out significantly. Hopefully, things will improve very soon.

Hans is blogging this at almost 10pm and there is still a fair bit of daylight out there. That is nice. Good night.


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