Monday, November 30, 2009

Scotland: Portee to Edinburgh thru Fort William and the Most Photographed Castle . . .

The drive from Portee to Fort William went well, although it down poured the whole way. I returned to Fort William a different way by crossing the Skye Bridge to get back to the mainland. It was 100 times better than taking the Ferry! No motion sickness.

The drive took about 3 ½ hours and I made one stop along the way to see the famous Eilean Donan Castle, which was used in the movie the “Highlander”. There was a very brief dry spell just as I got there and so I took several photos. It was closed but they allow you to cross the bridge and walk around the grounds of the castle. I can see why it is considered the “most” photographed castle in Europe. It’s not a very big castle but the setting is just gorgeous!

Next day after spending the night in Fort William I returned my car and caught an early train to Edinburgh, which would take almost 4 hours, with one stop (train change) in Glasgow. It was nice not to have to drive in the rain for a change and for the chance to be able to take in the scenery. Unfortunately, I immediately dosed off when the train started rolling, waking up now and then to look at the view. With only five minutes to catch my connecting train, I dashed out the door as soon as the train stopped. Luckily my next train was just one track away. Now I might have judged the Train systems here in the UK to hastily in an earlier post. I have since changed my mind. The trains here are pretty efficient as well. I like how they have a screen at the front of the car to tell you what the next stop is and they constantly keep you updated by announcing all the stops. They even have a refreshments cart for service throughout the journey. So Kudos to the UK trains system.

In less than an hour we are pulling into Waverly station and I immediately see the castle and the big Christmas Ferris Wheel near Princess Street. There are no escalators coming out of the Waverly Station (so be aware) and I’m standing at the bottom with my luggage staring at four flights up! Yikes! Just then this really nice guy offers to carry my luggage and all I had to do was hold his cup of coffee for him. Usually I get pretty embarrassed to accept the favor, but the thought of lifting my luggage four flights of stairs made me immediately say “yes, thank you so much”! The guy was really nice! What a great Samaritan!

So here I am in Edinburgh! Whoo hoo! My immediate thought was wow, this is really gorgeous. And my second thought was wow there’s a lot of people. A complete opposite of my experience in the Highlands! The pace of life here is “fast”. I had to pick up my walking pace.

I call Vincent my apartment rental contact person and he said the he will meet me at the apartment in 10 minutes, that’s how close I am from the station. I catch a Taxi and Vincent is already there. The apartment is just huge and gorgeous. He told me that this apartment is very popular and I got it for a really good price. He said even some celebrities have stayed here because of its location. It is such a short walk to St. Andrews Square, the Theatres, the shopping center, Princess Street and the Royal Mile. It’s a fabulous apartment and a great location. I think I’m going to really like it here. There are two bedrooms, so I used the small one for my luggage. There is also a tub and a shower! The décor is well done too, Very modern and tasteful.

So now, I’m off to go check things out. And by the way did I mention that it is sunny and beautiful. Surprisingly it is much colder here than in the highlands (without the wind factor). So much so that I finally pulled out my scarf and gloves and wore two layers of clothing and I still felt cold.

I walked along George Street, stopping to see St. Mary’s Church, then over to the Tourist Information Center on Princess street to pick up a map, then browsed around the Christmas Markets and Carnival they have set up for the Holidays. I see the famous Scott Monument which was a memorial to Writer Sir Walter Scott. Unfortunately with this street construction in front of it I couldn’t get a good photo of it, but I did what I could (They have since cleared the way so I will try to re-take my photo of the monument).

I ate some Crepes, then visited the National Gallery of Scotland (it was free). They have Raphael’s “The Virgin and Child”, Botticelli’s “The Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child” There were also some wonderful works by Titian, Poussin, Rembrandt and Cezanne and Velasquez.

Then I browsed around again at the Christmas venues, eating more from the vendors.  They even had an outdoor ice skating rink set up which was pretty cool. They also had this Hot Wine drink (which I got to warm me up—mainly) …. As soon as I got back home (to my apartment), I took a hot shower and crashed! I think I’m going to really enjoy it here!


  1. All sounds so good, Kathy. I am glad it is sunny(even though it is colder)for you. Can't wait to see more photos!

  2. Wow! Edinburgh sounds soooo interesting and vibrant -- and sunny! What a bonus.

    Your apartment also sounds fantastic. I hope you're still really enjoying the city.

  3. It sounds like so much fun. So glad you found a Good Samaritan (more good travel karma!). I drank a lot of hot mulled wine at the Xmas Market in Venice last year and it was delicious (and it really does warm you up).

    Have fun!

  4. What a good Samaritan indeed! Mom and I encountered such a man while changing trains in Foligno (we missed our direct train from Assisi to Rome, so the woman at the counter got us sorted out with another route and all was well!)

    I think it is wonderful that the museums in the UK are free. I wish North America was as proactive regarding people's cultural development. I find it sad that art is too often restricted to those who can afford to pay for admission.

    Your apartment sounds fabulous!!! Glad you arrived safe and sound :)

  5. Sounds like your train ride went well. A couple of the newest local trains in Italy now announce the next stop and have an electrical sign with the temperature, next stop, etc displayed on the sign. Were the trains new looking or older trains that you took? I am sure they were more on time than the ones in Italy though :) Yay for the good Samaritan!! Your apartment sounds like it was fabulous!


It's me Trekcapri (aka Kathy). Thanks so much for visiting and leaving a comment.