Saturday, August 12, 2017

No “en suite” was the least of my worries

Note:  blog posting was nigh unto impossible as there was spotty wi-fi connections on Orkney Island and in most Guest Houses so these are being publish after my return.

Day one of my Scottish trip:

It all started out so well: for once I was early to the airport having taken a bus just in case the cement blocks had already gone up on the streets preparatory to the Geneva Festival.

Of course saying goodbye to my younger son – in the bus where we ran into a friend – was not a barrel of laughs, not knowing when or where I will next see him as he is off across the ocean before I return: an adventure without a return date. I did the same so I certainly wish him well, but a mother’s heart remains a mother’s heart.

The flight was easy – I even bought coffee in celebration. The main pursuer a delight with his flattery and jokes and we arrived within 10 minutes of “on time” – even the queuing to show our passports went fairly quickly, luggage came up right away and the bus into town was waiting.
luggage racks on the busses

So far so good.

The first glitch was major – I had received whilst at the airport in my e-mails notification that had been unable to process my credit card for the two nights at the end of the stay so first things first, try it to see in the Guard’s Hotel. 

Horror of horrors – refused, declined, not usable. Fortunately I had the cash to pay that room. Then I learned that my room didn’t have a bathroom – down the hall but for my usage only, nor did they do breakfasts any longer (under full renovation, but again am pretty sure that my booking said with breakfast – sigh). But back to the credit card problem: am pretty sure where it happened, but astonished that they hadn’t charged my card earlier as well as the fact that it worked later for my train ticket (I think – tomorrow we’ll see). Also totally flabbergasted that at no time did I receive anything from my provider to say that it had been blocked. Scramble, solution(s)? Having travelled back in the days when we had no credit cards and sometimes ran out of money I can at least think. Couldn’t simply go online and pay via e-banking as I hadn’t brought the card reader with me (for a week? Really!); wasn’t sure that I would have enough cash at the end (had foreseen enough for the B&B’s as figured some wouldn’t want credit cards) and was afraid of losing the reservation – right in the middle of the “Fringe” (a whole other story). Finally came up with a very good solution: called younger son who happened to be at home, had him go on my computer, pick up the e-mail in question and “change the credit card” to his! Now have a confirmation that that has been done. And turn about is fair play: many years ago I had to buy him a bus ticket on-line when his funds were inaccessible. My bill is much higher and so, yes, I will reimburse him. Nice to know that parents can be bailed out by kids not that it’s a one-way street!

Second glitch was more pride and hunger.
Chose to return to a restaurant that I had enjoyed years ago when my then housemate and I had travelled to meet her daughter who was studying in Edinburgh. Fairly full but there was a table for one. Waited 10 minutes to be given the menu (the waitress had seated me so she knew that I was there); another 20 for her to come and take my order then sat and sat and sat. Couldn’t see that she was overly busy and finally reminded her that I had ordered. “Oh yes”. Another interminable wait – and still not even my beer. Another reminder – it was all that I could do to remain polite – other tables had simply gotten up and gotten her. Oh dear, she had the order but had forgotten to put it in. Still on vacation mode and wanted my fish cakes and beer so waited some more. At the end of an hour though enough was enough and I simply left. Wonder if she even noticed? A word to those travelling to Edinburgh – be very pro-active should you decide to eat at the Haymarket in Haymarket.

And of course there was a third glitch (my favourite number is three and if I don’t have a third disaster I am always uneasy until it happens thus closing the circle until the next time). I had brought my convertor plug for the UK… but the top bit where my plugs should have gone was too loose. No that is a true disaster – not be able to re-charge my computer, my cell phone, my cameras?  My plugs were too heavy for the razor plug and I was only saved by the fact that under my bed on the floor there was a bar with one plug in it. Was able to re-charge all three items during the night and tomorrow is another day – another adventure.

The fact that my room was rather an old monastic cell and that my bathroom was three doors down was a very minor inconvenience.

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Spartan but functional

Good things: on-time plane; decent flight; good public transportation; wifi everywhere in Scotland
Less so: no bath in the room; no credit card; no plug; no service; noisy neighbors.

It would look as though the bad outweighed the good – not so: all was saved by the competence, friendliness and hospitality of Richard at the reception desk. He listened to my woes, was very thorough in his explanation of the quirks of the front door, the no “en suite” etc. then it turns out that he had spent 6 months traveling Canada and was, in fact, not from Scotland at all but from South Africa. A world traveler always makes a great person to have on the reception desk!

So, yet again, although the Guard’s Hotel is rather dated (but they are in the process of upgrading, everyone has changed except the owners), it is so ideally located next to the Haymarket train station with tons of public transportation possibilities and is within walking distance of Prince’s street that I will continue to use it and recommend it for anyone travelling to Edinburgh.

Bobbie Burns himself

Parliament above the town

one of the beauties in one of the parks


Another beauty