Sunday, August 13, 2017

Always have a brolley in one's bag as...

Edinburgh and Scotland are known for their “mists”.

Day two of the Scottish adventure.
It was very amusing this morning when I stepped out in search of breakfast. One minute nothing, next rain, three minutes later yet again nothing. I must have opened and shut my umbrella a half a dozen times in the short hour that I was out and about.

So today is going to be a GREAT DAY –  first of all it would be hard to beat yesterday’s challenges and secondly it’s my birthday (remember the “it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to” – almost did several times yesterday).

Also whilst looking around the neighbourhood last night I had seen that one of my favourite dining experiences – MILK – was still in existence! So since the hotel currently isn’t offering breakfast what better excuse to check it out. Had a lovely plate of scrambled eggs on Farmer’s bread with a spinach salad and one of the best cappuccinos that I have had in a long time. Great for those more discerning people who don’t mind rudimentary seating and deco (there are several, the one I went to is on Morrison Rd. near Haymarket)– the food is well worth it!
Breakfast at MILK

Upon my return to the hotel Richard was on duty so I could get addresses for a convertor plug and exchange my latest adventures. He was surprised that I hadn’t been awoken by the noise at 4 a.m. but that is probably about the time that I was finally soundly asleep. I gave him the MILK brochure as he didn’t know about it then off I went to try and solve at least some of my “problems” (interestingly he thought that a non-valid credit card was more of a problem than a convertor plug, but my theory that without the convertor plug I couldn’t even begin to solve other problems might have had convinced him – not!).  Walking up to the electronics store had me passing a post office so on the way back I tried getting funds that way – no go, so I am not sure why the Post thinks that it is possible but maybe as it was a small shop… she suggested that I try outside as well, but that too didn’t work. Nevertheless I was able to exchange some of the Swiss francs that I had left in my stash (and was going to take out at home so did I have a premonition that they might come in handy?) so not desperate yet: I do vaguely remember that I wanted to cut back on the food this trip – hmmmm the gods that be are enforcing that perhaps?

Then it was back to the hotel to deal with the credit card, pack and get to the station. Not impressed by the after sales service of Postfinance: three calls, dropped twice, but finally got someone competent on-line (wish that I remember her name as I would certainly write a thank you) who ordered a new one, but also managed to release my current one to a signature-only credit card. Of course now I need to try and use it to make sure it works and certainly before I hit the Orkney Islands where facilities may be few and far between – Inverness will be my proofing ground.

By then time was getting way too short for comfort so rushed down and had Richard order me a cab whilst he was printing my receipt. Had to go the back way around the hill (rather like trying to access the train station in Geneva) so it might have been the same time by tram. On the other hand it certainly was more comfortable and he dropped me off right at the entrance.  There my fortune was looking up. There was a machine just inside the door – instructions were easy and miracle of miracles my card actually worked for ID (leaving me to truly wonder when my credit card went belly up as that purchase was after Wengen) and I had my tickets in hand within minutes. Finding the track was a wee bit stressful, but in the end I was on the train 5 minutes before departure. Minor, very minor, snag (note that I won’t even qualify it as a glitch), no seat reservations honored on this particular train. But the personnel on the key told me that the last couple of wagons hadn’t a soul in them – turned out to be true. Interesting to note that one accesses trains via gates now that are manned by personnel checking tickets. Security is tighter – I sigh for the long-gone days when one didn’t need it.

Beautiful train ride north through the Scottish countryside – every changing skies, shores and pastures made for a pleasant ride.

difficult to make out the torrents of rain as I was boarding the train

One river after the other

mostly bays and water always in sight

Derricks in the North Sea

Hillsides were lush

The sun popped in and out highlighting glorious scenery, small villages and more water

A sight that we were to see hundreds of times

On the arrival tracks in Inverness

Arrived on time and caved to the luxury of a cab to the guest house. I had been able to pull up the address and it looked to be about 25 minutes of walking. With the iffy weather and two pieces of luggage simply didn’t want to do that and couldn’t quite figure out the busses (nor did I see any later along that route). Checked in to yet another wee room with no “en suite”. This time though there is at least a separate toilet just out the door and a shower and large room to the left.

Park Guest House in Inverness
Dumped my luggage at this lovely B&B ( and headed back out in search of coffee and cake as I hadn’t had any lunch and also in celebration. Ended up walking along the river, across the footbridge and back to the shopping center next to the train station. Coffee and cake in Marc’s and Spencer’s followed by a bit of retail therapy. The excuse of course was that I needed to see if I could use my credit card with signature instead of a nip code.
Yes – hallelujah.

Along the River Ness right in town

Birthday celebration cake and coffee

Walked up to the “castle” as well then headed back footsore and tired. Was almost there when my friends texted that they had arrived. A short reunion and we headed back down and across the river to one of the restaurants that I had seen earlier. Had a lovely celebration at the Waterside Restaurant.
A castle which is not a castle

The "castle" at Edinburgh

What better meal for a first night than fish 'n chips
Truly a fine birthday.

After filling in our breakfast orders we agreed to meet at 8. Tomorrow we head yet farther north – friends exploring the Orkney Islands together.