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Trip Report 4 special meals, 2 GTGs, Benedict Cumberbatch and a Tattoo

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I've been back nearly 3 weeks and am late getting to my TR. Then last week took a 3 day jaunt over to the Mendocino coast w/ my cousin (another TR to be written) and now I'm trying to finalize bookings/details for a short trip to Japan in November.

If I'm ever going to do this I'd better start. This TR won't be as much a day-by-day/blow-by-blow as I usually do. Mostly just an overview of the highlights, w/ details of the main events.

As w/ most of my trips - this one began with a couple of 'must' events and then I planned around those. Event #1 at the beginning of the trip - the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Event #2 a week later - a date w/ Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet. Once those were booked I filled in the 'middle' w/ 2 GTGs, 3 or 4 terrific meals, a few museums and shopping

Aug. 24/25 California to Edinburgh: Flew AA Business SMF>LAX>LHR, then Virgin LHR > EDI. Arrived at EDI about 5PM on Tues and planned to take the tram to St Andrews Sq near my hotel then walk up to Grassmarket for a 6PM GTG with jane1144, Mr jane1144 and unclegus. Two snags -- the tram ticket machines at EDI don't take non-chip cc's and there was a stoppage on the tracks. Got the ticket situation sorted out and and ended up getting off at the bottom of Princes Street and hoofed it. Traveling w/ just a small carry on really helps w/ stuff like that. I stayed at the Travelodge in Meuse Lane just off Princes Street and near St Andrews Sq and Waverly station.

(Note: Sometimes people don't take us seriously when we warn how busy/expensive Edinburgh is in August. To give an idea - This property is usually available for £45 to £49. Aug 25 & 26 it £177 per night!)

Typical Travelodge - nothing special but fantastic location. Got to the hotel about 5:45 checked in and asked them to call me a cab in 20 minutes. Ran upstairs, unpacked just a bit and knocked off the worst of the 22 hours of travel grime. Back down the stairs to my waiting cab and up to the Last Drop. jane1144, Mr jane1144 and unclegus were settled in and a drink ahead of me but I caught up quickly :)

Had a really lovely visit and managed to stay awake/lucid. Had some (truly) delish haggis -- Honest ;) In fact maybe the best haggis I've ever had. jane1144 and Mr jane1144 left after a couple of hours -- and unclegus and I walked to another pub to try some single malts. Then I walked back down Cockburn Street (believe me -- would NOT have walked if it had been up :) ) wandered along Princes Street Gardens, rode the Ferris Wheel and stumbled back to the hotel and (finally) crashed about 11 PM.

Aug 26. Tonight is the Tattoo and I'm not pre-planning anything else for the day. Just wander around Old Town, have an early lunch, shopping at Ragamuffin, and maybe catch a free fringe show or two. I managed all of the above -- Lunch at the Whisky Centre, a beautiful jacket and long cardi at Ragamuffin, and sat in about 30 mins at one (really funny) comedy show and and maybe 30 mins at a 'performance art' installation - the 'art' part is used loosely >) Plus watch just tons of street performers.

Then the Tattoo -- I've been a couple of times before but it has been years and this time it was a 'bucket list' version. I got a special package through the Tattoo office that included a small/posh dinner up in the top of the castle next to St Margaret's Chapel, followed by entertainment, escort from the castle and up into the Royal Box. There were 35 at dinner -- about 1/3 Americans, most of the rest Scottish or from Northern England, 2 from Singapore and 3 from New Zealand. Lovely food, great wines and a piper. Then a fellow in a cutaway coat, top hat and carrying a silver rod on his shoulder walked us down out of the castle and across the esplanade to the far end and up to our seats. The grandstands were filling up so several of us practiced out 'Royal Waves' up to the 'plebs' while walking the length of the Espanade :D

The Tattoo was wonderful of course . . . And now it is actually comfortable since they installed seats from the London Olympic stadium -- back, Armrests and padding !!!! A HUGE improvement.

Tomorrow I'm heading to Glasgow -- for Mackintosh sites, the Kelvingrove, the River Museum and mainly for dinner at the Honours.

(Damn! It won't let me preview Grrrr! so here's hoping for the best :) )

OK -- 14th time's the charm -- been trying to post since last night. fingers crossed

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