Category Archives: Scotland 2014

Scotland – Day 2

I slept pretty well most of the night, only waking up for a while around 1:30 am local time. Jaeger did worse though possibly because he got more sleep on the plane. The alarm woke us up at 9:00am. We got ready and went down to breakfast. Not surprisingly, there wasn’t a huge number of vegetarian options but there were enough.

After breakfast we headed out. Our plan was to visit Edinburgh castle but we first needed to run a couple of errands. We wanted to get local SIM cards for our phones and Calvin needed a fleece to replace the one we lost at security. I saw a promising looking department store and headed that direction with Calvin while Jaeger went to procure SIM cards.

The department store turned out to only have adult clothes but a tourist shop a couple of doors down had a navy hoodie proclaiming “Scotland” in white letters that fit Calvin. Jaeger also had moderate success. The SIM card worked well in his phone but mine wouldn’t work. We’re not sure why yet. I was hoping we could both get local cards so we could communicate in case Calvin required a playground break and we didn’t want to tie down both adults.

We started walking again and meandered into Old Town and hiked up the streets to the castle. The hill it’s on definitely adds to the grandeur of the look. The ticket line was long (though I bet much worse in true summer) so Jaeger stood in line while I took Calvin to the restroom. Then Calvin drew a bit while we waited for Jaeger to get through the line.

Calvin adored the castle. He spent most of the time dragging us around or running ahead. There is a lot in the castle complex and we spent several hours there. Calvin really enjoyed looking over the wall which provided a spectacular view of everything around. He took a lot more interest in many parts of the castle than we expected. For instance, when we visited the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum Calvin insisted that we read almost every plaque. Rather than getting bored and making us leave early, he spent more time than we would have chosen to look at everything. When we went to the great hall they had some weapons on exhibit so Jaeger got a picture of Calvin holding a broadsword that was bigger than he was. We ate lunch at a castle cafe and wandered around a bit more before going back down to new town.

On the way up to the castle we had noticed an odd neo-gothic spire sticking up. Jaeger looked it up and found that it was a memorial to Sir Walter Scot. We decided to take a closer look at it. It turns our that you can climb up within the spires for a fee. The first staircase was fairly normal. It wasn’t overly wide but does allow people to pass with caution. We got up to the landing and looked around. It was a decent view. Then Calvin found another set of stairs, stairs that were narrower and didn’t have a railing. Passing on these stairs was a bit tricky and required one person to hug the outside while the other person clung carefully to the central spiral. But we made it to another viewing platform. Then another set of stairs that stated out as wide as the original but fairly quickly narrowed to the second set. We initially passed up the third viewing platform in order to make it to the top. At the very top the stairs became so narrow that Jaeger was almost too wide for it. The last platform was extremely narrow, no wider than a person. I think it might have been my favorite experience of the day.

After the climb we sat for a bit and admired the scenery. Edinburgh has a lot of benches in this area and the weather was very pleasant. The climb had made me hungry so we stopped by a cafe. Calvin and I got hot chocolate with [whipped] cream and marshmallows and we split a “Belgium Chocolate Jaffa” (something like this) which was very good and rich.

Refreshed, we wandered by St. Andrew Square which does not have a statue of St. Andrew and instead has the Melville Monument. However, Calvin found the most exciting feature to be a shallow waster feature that he amused himself by splashing with his hands. After prying him away from that we headed toward Princes Street Gardens which is a lovely stretch of paths, lawns, trees, and flowers that divides new town from old town (I adore how green Scotland is, very Wahington-like). More importantly, it was rumored to have a playground.

I was a bit disheartened when the officially posted map of the gardens didn’t list a playground but we tried anyway. The walk was nice with quite a few flowers, including rhododendrons which were blooming. Also there were benches lining both sides of the path which allowed Calvin to frequently stop and “rest”. Eventually we reached the end and discovered there was the promised playground. It was quite nice. I took pictures so once I get back I’ll do a more detailed playground review.

After the playground we started walking to supper. We ate at Henderson’s which is a vegetarian restaurant. I got a stacked polenta dish with all sorts of grilled vegetables and pineapple. It was very good. We also got vegetarian haggis which appears to be a thing in Edinburgh. I’ve lost count of the restaurants, even non-veg ones, that I’ve seen offering it. Possibly because it’s innately less disgusting than the real thing. I got one of the kid meal selections based on the waiters suggestion which was a mistake. I should have gone with my original inclination of pasta and tofu, even if it was adult portions and price. At that point Calvin was obviously tired and didn’t feel like exerting much effort to eat.

Since we were the farthest we’d been all day from the hotel and it was already 8:30 we decided to take a taxi back. Now Calvin is sleeping peacefully beside me as I write this out.

For a parallel account of our second day in Scotland, see Edinburgh Castle.

Jaeger’s Pictures from May 16.

Scotland – Day 1

May ended up being a very busy month. The previous week I had been in Detroit for my library conference. This week I was suppose to have full day training on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and on Wednesday night we planned to leave for Scotland. Unfortunately for the project, our database server died right before it was suppose to be shipped to us which delayed our training. However, canceling training provided more time for packing 🙂

We left for the airport a bit after 5pm which would have allowed plenty of time if the plane had been on time. As it was, our plane was delayed about 1 1/2 hrs so we spent a fair amount of time waiting. While waiting, Calvin found another boy to play with. At one point they seemed to be competing with who could jump up and down exclaiming, “I’m so excited! I’m so excited!” There was also some shrieking involved which we tried to suppress, not always successfully.

Once we actually took off the flight was pretty standard. We stayed awake till supper was served and then dozed most of the rest of the trip. Calvin slept pretty well. Once we got down on the ground we had to wait quite a while for another plane at our assigned gate to finally leave. Then, once we were at the gate, we had to wait some more for someone to actually move the jetway to the plane so we could get off. The pilot claims he had to open a window and gesticulate wildly before anyone bothered to help.

Once we got off the plane we had less than an hour to make it through immigration and try to catch our next flight which was due to leave in less than an hour (we would have missed it completely if Jaeger had chosen the original connection BA offered when he first booked the tickets). Because of the short connection we were fast tracked through immigration, though not security. While UK security does not require taking off shoes it turns out that my shoes have metal on them. Oddly enough the metal detector didn’t go off when I went to Detroit. At some point during the process we also misplaced Calvin’s fleece.

We speed walked (Calvin ran) to our gate and got there 7 minutes before departure time only to discover that flight had also been delayed. So, we got to board in a relatively leisurely fashion. We landed in Edinburgh and procured a taxi to take us to the hotel.

Jaeger booked a room with a queen bed and a fold out twin bed right next to it. The room isn’t large but is adequate (it probably is extravagantly large for a European hotel).

After we got settled in we walked a mile to a local vegetarian restaurant called Bindi. Both Jaeger and I got the main thali plate and two appetizers: samosas and chaat. Calvin ended up eating rice, roti, and most of a samosa. One of the curries was particularly interesting as it contained kidney beans and corn. It reminded me of a combo between a regular curry and chilli. Jaeger liked it more than me. I liked the dal soup better.

Calvin fell asleep toward the end of the meal so Jaeger and I took turns carrying him back to the hotel. I fell asleep almost immediately after we got back.

For a parallel account of our first day in Scotland, see On Holiday.

Jaeger’s Pictures from May 14 and May 15.