retread#35: edinburgh

Our second day in Scotland with Danny was almost as enjoyable as our first. I say “almost” only because it was damp and rainy and we were no longer in the Highlands. We had another great day, regardless. Once again, Danny fetched us at the pier bright and early; this morning, kilt hose pulled high against the damp. For all its charm the Scot’s attire is altogether functional. ;=)

We continued our history lesson as we hit several points of interest in the vicinity of Edinburgh. Our first stop was Doune Castle, tucked into a quiet corner near Stirling. The structure was immediately familiar as Castle Leoch of the Outlander fame. I’ve enjoyed both the books and the series, so that was cool. We wandered the grounds in a misty drizzle, appreciating the architecture and landscape, trying not to slip on close-cut turf that quickly became muddy. We learned that Doune Castle has served multiple film sets, including Game of Thrones’ Winterfell and Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

We also visited Stirling Castle, not far away. Stirling was hopping with tourists and the castle seemed, well, formidable. Danny dropped us off for a quick tour and we decided to  drop into a pub instead!  It was a tasty lunch. We were grateful for a corner booth and opportunity to relax. Local brews and savory meat pies — just can’t get enough.

True to his word, Danny found us some hairy coos (highland cows). The Hubs fed one of these gentle giants a piece of potato apparently leftover from breakfast, neither of them much minding the rain, it would seem. We stopped at a scenic overlook of the three bridges crossing the Firth of Forth. Scots are proud of this architectural trio; the cantilevered Forth Bridge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Somewhere along the way, we drove by the magnificent kelpie sculptures. I managed a snapshot as Danny sped along, cognizant of our timeline. In that moment, I rather wished we’d included Helix Park on our itinerary. In Scottish lore, kelpies are mythical shape-changing spirits that rise from the water. They often appear as horses and can take on human form on land. These kelpies seemed to appear out of nowhere, rising like massive war horses from the gentle landscape. They are stunning works of art and architecture. Fortunately, at nearly 100 feet high, they are impossible to miss!

Our final destination on this day was Edinburgh. Danny dropped us very near the Inn Place on Cockburn Street.* It’s a little bit quirky (reception on second floor) but crystal clean and super convenient to the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle. We were just in time to check in, refresh, and make our “Taste of Scotland” Experience (highly recommended!) followed by the Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo. In a word: amazing! We knew we were in for a late night but oh, it was so worth it. What a way to end the day! Our 35th anniversary sail-abration was off to a great start. :=)

~ René Morley

*It might seem silly to pay for a room on shore when you have paid for a room on ship? Not in Edinburgh. I can assure you the Hubs made the right call. The tender process was a nightmare; cruise passengers stood in line for hours. Some did not get back to their rooms until early the next morning. Meanwhile, we were enjoying a restful sleep and rose refreshed for Old Town Edinburgh, bright and early! 🙂

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