We set our clocks back one hour last night so at least I got an extra hour of sleep. Was up at 5:00 so I could be dressed and ready by the time room service breakfast arrived. The announcement came at 7:45 that Immigration was ready to start reviewing passports. Once you had your passport reviewed, you were free to leave the ship. Our group number was called at 8:10. The line moved pretty quickly. Two bored people at the table glanced at the passports, glanced up at us, and told us to have a nice day. Didn’t even get a passport stamp. Very anticlimactic. Wonder if we’ll have to do the same thing for Ireland.
As the port of Rosyth is a working port, we had to wait for a bus to take us to the Inverkeithing train station. There were several people waiting for the bus so I felt better that we would be able to know what to do when we got there. Turns out we were all new to the process so we would all fail or succeed together. Got to the train station at about 8:40, walked in and bought 2 round-trip tickets to Edinburgh. Had to cross over the small bridge and wait at the platform. The train was on time but it was crowded as it was full of commuters going to work in Edinburgh. I was able to sit next to a very nice man from Inverness who told me just to ask at one of the Information Desks about which exit to use to be closest to the Castle. He was happy to hear that I was from Georgia as he said that his bucket list included playing golf at The Masters course in Augusta. Go figure. We arrived at the Waverly Station at 9:30 and found an information desk. She pointed us in the right direction.
Outside, it was drizzly and cool so I was glad we had our rain gear. We could see the Castle in the distance but it was shrouded in fog and clouds so it looked eerie. Even though we could see it, I turned on the phone GPS so we could have step by step directions up to the Castle. And it was an uphill climb so I didn’t want to make more steps than necessary. We arrived at the Castle gates at 9:45. The signage was confusing as it wasn’t clear about getting tickets. I knew I had to scan our paperwork for the tickets to print but I wasn’t sure about where they would collect the tickets. After a couple of missteps, we finally passed by William Wallace and Robert the Bruce guarding the gates and were inside the Castle walls.
We decided to wait 10 minutes for the next guided tour of the Castle instead of waiting in line for the audio headsets. Our guide was a very nice woman and she took us all around the inside perimeter of the Castle explaining the history of the Castle and how many times it had been under siege between Scotland and England. The Castle sits on Castle Rock which is an extinct volcano. She said the volcano last erupted 340 million years ago so I felt pretty safe (although how do they know for sure?) The fog never lifted so we could not see the town clearly at all but it definitely gave it a sense of olden days.
We were able to go inside the Great Hall, St. Margaret’s Chapel, the National War Museum, and the Royal Palace. We were not allowed to take pictures in the National War Museum or the Royal Palace. I wish I could have as the crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny (large sandstone rock that is used in coronations) were really amazing to see. We were also not allowed to go into New Barracks as it still houses an active military which still officially runs the Castle. Every day at 1:00, they fire the cannon. We looked at Mons Meg, a cannon that could fire 300 lb cannon balls and the dog cemetery where the military dogs are buried.
It was very crowded at the Castle but the lines went quickly while we were inside. When we finished up about 1:00, I bought a crown Christmas ornament at the gift store. I was glad we came early as we did because crowds were still coming in at 1:00. We started walking down the Royal Mile through the Old Town. We went into a couple of stores, looked at the different Closes (narrow alleys) and passed by St. Giles Cathedral with the national animal of Scotland – the Unicorn. We stopped at a pub for a beer and a hamburger. We could have walked all the way to the end of the Royal Mile to the Hollyrood Castle but decided to take the Scotland Steps (each step is a different color marble) at the halfway point and go back to Waverly. Saw a couple from the ship that had taken the same train that morning and they were also headed back so we followed them to the platform. The train going back was not as full as the one that morning. Once we were back at the station, the bus was waiting to take us back to the ship. All in all – a very smooth process all day.
We left Royth at 6:00 and were going back down the Firth of Forth (estuary of several Scottish rivers including the River Forth) under the three bridges. We barely cleared the bridges much like going under the Sunshine bridge in Tampa. I would have stayed out longer taking pictures but the wind was really cold and it had started to rain again.
After some time spent in the Ocean’s Bar, we went to dinner. I had the coconut shrimp salad and Chuck had the pork tenderloin. I was beat so I went to the room to read but Chuck went to hear the comedian/singer – Jo Little and then spend some time in the Casino. The laundry was back so I got it put up. I tried to read several chapters but didn’t make it past one.
Tonight’s towel animal is a lobster. Tomorrow is Invergordon.
Edinburgh was the first city in the world to have its own fire service in 1703.
About 13 million tourists visit Edinburgh every year.
Scotland has the highest proportion of redheads in the world. Around 13 per cent of the population has red hair.
The title of Duke of Edinburgh was first created for Prince Frederick, son of George I, in 1726.
Edinburgh replaced Scone as the capital of Scotland in 1437.
Edinburgh has 112 parks and more trees per head of population than any other city in the UK.