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Trip Report Scotch, Pastries, Canal Boats, and Segways -- Nukesafe’s Trip Report.

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We just got back from a really nice 19 day trip to Scotland and France and, because much of the trip’s success was because of Fodorite advice, I thought I would file a brief trip report. It will be much briefer than my first trip report about last year’s Croatia trip – that one got out of hand.

The main purpose of the trip was to get our travelling companion, Nancy’s, husband, Dick, who had never been out of the States, to Europe. He said he would go if he could go to a Scotch distillery. We, my wife Tammy and I, agreed so long as we could spend some time in France.

I booked a British Air, open-jaw, non-stop, flight from Seattle to Heathrow, with a connection to Edinburgh for Tammy and me. Return flight was out of Charles de Gaulle to LHR, and then direct back to Seattle. Fare was $856. We closed the gap in the open-jaw from Edinburgh to Paris with a flight on British Midland, as there did not appear to be any cheapo airlines operating directly to CDG out of EDI, unless one wanted to make connections through Shannon, or fly into Beauvais Airport far outside of Paris. The other couple wanted to use up a bunch of frequent flier miles, so they had to settle for a flight on Alaska from Seattle to Phoenix, a long delay in Phoenix, then to LHR via British Air, and a BMI flight into EDI. But, “Hey, it was free”. They left SEA about six hours before us, and were scheduled to arrive forty minutes after us in Edinurgh.

Our flight took off around 6:00 pm and, having been warned about the lousy chow on BA, I stocked up on emergency rations in my carry on. No need, as the food turned out to be really quite superior, as coach food goes. The snack before arrival was a bit yucky, small cheese sandwich, mostly bread. Oh, well.

We got to EDI, picked up our bags and waited for our friends to arrive. They didn’t. Their flight arrived, baggage spilled off the carousel, but they didn’t appear. Now a bit worried, I went to the airline information desk to see if they had been on the flight. He could not give me that information, he said. He added, with a wink, that I might be advised to wait for a bit, however. We did so, but after the last flight from LHR had arrived for the day we gave up, caught the bus to Waverly Station and a cab to our B&B.

Luckily I had bought two of the MOBAL phones you inhabitants of Fodorland had recommended, and given one of them to Dick. I activated mine, and started calling the number of the other phone from our room. After a couple of hours the phone was answered. Dick & Nancy were sitting in the lounge of the Balmoral Hotel just across from Waverly station having a much needed drink. We hopped the #33 bus and joined them to hear their sad story. Their bags had not arrived in Heathrow. While they tried to locate them, their flight to EDI left. The only way they could get to EDI that day was to take a flight to Manchester or someplace and then another to Edinburgh.

Alaska Airlines had sent their bags to Los Angeles. Dick got his the next day, but Nancy’s was two days in getting there. Sigh-- Well, at least we could start sampling the Scotch whisky.

In spite of the shortage of wardrobe, we had a wonderful time in Edinburgh for three days. Did all of the usual things, The Castle, Princes Street, Bus Tour, Royal Mile, Holyrood Palace, The Britannia, People’s Museum, galleries, art museums, etc., etc.

Our B&B, Kenvie Guest House, was quiet, clean, and comfortable, as well as close to frequent bus lines that got us to the city center within ten minutes or so. The owner was friendly and helpful and the breakfast good. Cost was £30 per person.

We found that our decision not to rent a car while in Edinburgh was a good one. When we left Edinburgh, we rented from the one rental agency Nancy found who would rent to folks over 70 (up to 75). I was the only one of our party that was over 70 but none of the others had driven on the left, and since I had lived in England years ago they wanted me to start them off. We took a cab to the car rental firm near the airport and away we went to Sterling. It was a lovely sunny day and we were truly impressed by that historic castle.

We stayed that night in Ft. Henry and started touring distilleries the next morning. We toured, sampled, toured, sampled, and sampled (did I mention the sampling?) – all of us slipping most of the samples to Dick, since this was his part of the trip. The rest of that week is a bit hazy, as the ladies, who hate Scotch, slipped Dick and I most of their drams. . I clearly remember staying in Dufftown, though. I exaggerate, of course, to make a better story, and I know this sounds like a drunken binge, but in actuality no one overindulged and no one ever drove that had even one drink.

Scotland was simply lovely. The heather was out on the hills, and we had spectacular weather with only the briefest of showers. Nothing stands out in the food department as we ate pub food mostly. I did get into the shops to get my favorite Scottish things – Scotch Eggs, and Pork Pies for picnics and snacks. Surefire artery cloggers, but delicious, IMO.

I ran into the DCC scam in Dufftown. I paid the bill at our B&B with a Master Card and saw the total in USD on the bill. I told the owner that I would not accept that as it was not to my advantage. She seemed truly surprised and puzzled, saying it was a new machine and she had no idea. I stood right beside her as we voided the charge, she handed me the void slip and I watched as she reentered the charge. I pointed out the screen where I was to be given a choice. She entered “NO”, and the proper charge went through. Makes me believe that the company selling this scam also scams their customers by not clearly explaining about the “CHOICE” part.

At the end of the week we returned to Edinburgh to stay for a night at the Craigmoss Guest house B&B, as the Kenvie was booked for that night. We felt the Craigmoss was a ripoff at £40 per person; The highest price we paid during the Scotland portion of our trip: really not worth the price as it was shabby, inconvenient to public transport, and the reception not very friendly.

The next morning we were off to the airport by cab to fly British Midland to Paris, with a long layover at Heathrow. We needed to go to CDG, as I had picked up Prem tickets on the TGV out of the station in Charles de Gaulle. Since there is only one evening TGV to Dijon, we got into the Gare at around 9:30 on a rainy evening and came out of the station to see the sign for our hotel shining just a block away.

I’ll continue this report on Dijon pastries, Canal boat on the Saone, Segways in Paris, etc., as soon as I can.

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