Back a week ago Friday and am finally caught up, ready to start the TR.
Background: Some you have read my trip report of last year's journey to scatter Mom and Dad's ashes at the Lake of Menteith, tour the Dales, visit Jersey, and attend the Jubilee festivities. This trip was a follow up of sorts. I have a timeshare at Lake Tahoe and last year I tried to trade for a place near Aberfoyle/the Lake of Menteith. No trade came through so I ended up renting one of the condos at the same resort for 3 days. . . Then this January I get a call from RCI that they found me a trade in central Scotland for late April. Huh?? I thought the search was over and done with. But what the Hell - OK which property is it? 'Kilconquhar Estate near Edinburgh' Oh boy (the place really isn't 'near' Edinburgh, it is in Fife near Anstruther/Pittenweem and about 10 miles from St Andrews. I have stayed there before and LOVE the area.
What to do? OK I can have a 'free' week at Kilconquhar so time to plan an unplanned trip to the UK. I called my cousin who was very close to my mother and asked if she'd like to see the Lake of Menteith, get a teensy taste of a small corner of Scotland, and spend a few days in London? DC has never traveled out of the country (except for a couple of trips to Canada) jumped at the chance - though this is very out of her comfort zone. Initially DC said 2 weeks was her limit being away from home/the grandkids. But after we started talking about what what we wanted to do she agreed to 20 days. So the planning began . . .
April 21: We flew SMF > LAX > LHR > EDI arriving in Edinburgh mid afternoon April 22. We had aisle/middle seats on the LAX/LHR flight. I figured we'd be up and down all night letting the man in the window seat out. But in the entire 10.5 hour flight he didn't get up - not once. Now, I tend to have iron kidneys - but that must be some sort of record
April 22: We took a cab from EDI to Fraser Suites in Old Town. I really liked this place. Got a pretty good discount for booking on line-pre-paying so we opted for a mini suite. Nice Bedroom, small living room, wet bat/fridge/microwave, and very nice bathroom. Lots of closet space, fluffy robes, etc. There was a mix up and we didn't get the two beds I thought was booked - but they made up the sofa sleeper in the living room. Somehow we broke the sofa sleeper (get your minds out of the gutter ) and it took two visits by engineering/housekeeping to get it sorted out. A gorgeous bath/shower combo but too clever by half. Took about 15 minutes to figure out the various valves/knobs/dials. The bathroom actually needs an owners manual - not an exaggeration - later we found instructions for the bathtub in the binder w/ hotel/area info. Gorgeous bathroom but too clever by half - especially when one is jetlagged and just wants a nice soak.
It was sunny but very Cold/WINDY. We were total zombies after SMF/LAX/LHR/EDI trek. Didn't see/do too much but unpack walk towards castle and back down the Royal mile a bit. Ate at a cafe
April 23: Still very cold/windy and intermittent showers. But no heavy rain so was OK. Had a nice buffet breakfast at the hotel. Our discounted rate didn't include breakfast but because of the bed mix up they threw it in. We walked up to the Castle first. Spent a couple of hours there. I've been many times so only planned on doing what/as much as DC wanted. She is an easy going 'tourist' and this is going to work out great. Then we walked back down the Royal Mile to St Giles Cathedral and especially to see the Montrose memorial.
Stopped for tea/pastries and then walked down to Holyrood. The showers stopped and it cleared up a lot - but still very blustery. DC enjoyed Holyrood Palace but really liked the Abbey more. Like everywhere else we visited in Scotland - due to the late/cold Spring virtually nothing was in bloom. DC has some health problems - not serious but she does have problems walking long distances. So after touring the Palace/Abbey, instead of trudging back up the Royal Mile or down to Princes Street we jumped on a a waiting hop-on-hop-off bus to give her a glimpse of other parts of Edinburgh. We only have two nights in the city so we really have one day to 'see' Edinburgh.
For dinner we wandered over to GrassMarket and found Bistro Bleu. They have an AMAZING early special. If one orders by 6:30 (we got there at 6:25 !) there is a £7.50 early set dinner (£5 one course, £7.50 two course). I had onion soup and a duck confit "shepherds pie" - for £7.50 - and it was very good. Glass of wine was (I think) £4 so an amazingly cheap dinner. Took a peek at the regular menu and the entrees were 2 to 3 times what we paid early-bird.
Apr 24 For the second straight night I got very little sleep. Not really jet lagged - more wired. DC didn't have any problems . . . But even w/ no sleep I felt pretty good. We had breakfast and the hotel called us a taxi for the trip out to EDI to collect our rental car. We got a VW Golf -nice car. For the first time ever I took out the full insurance (through AotoEurope) which would turn out to be a wise decision. I also prepaid a tank of petrol which I never do but because we're dropping it off so early in the morning I didn't want to be hunting for a petrol station.
Today was beautiful. Warm-ish and sunny. We thought we might stop at Stirling Castle but decided to put that off for a couple of days til we were enroute over to Fife. So we stopped at Doune which DC absolutely LOVED. Had a late lunch in Callander then drove over the Duke's Road through the park - one of my favorite drives in Scotland. This put us too late to go out to Inchmahome island in the Lake. Will do that tomorrow morning.
Drove to our B&B for the next two nights - Inchie Farm just off the Lake and about a mile from the Lake Hotel/pier for Inchmahome. Lovely place - not at all posh but very comfortable and wonderful full cooked breakfasts.
We had dinner in the pub at Lake Hotel - I had lamb casserole and DC fish&chips.
Next: Inchmahome, Falls of Dochart, Rob Roy and daffodils EVERYWHERE
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A bit of Scotland, wing mirror casualty, 7 days in London, and a Fodors GTG
Back a week ago Friday and am finally caught up, ready to start the TR.