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Trip Report Trains, planes, and libraries: solo trip, open-jaw EDI/LHR

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Left home noontime Friday, April 17th and arrived at the apartment in Edinburgh 5 pm there, noontime Saturday, April 18th back to home. That was a long time, start to finish, so something to learn right from the beginning of my travels. I guess that is a focus of my trip report, not just what I saw and did, but what I learned and can put toward planning a next trip.

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    Apartment

    Decided I wanted to try staying at an apartment this trip, instead of a b&b/guest house. Found 25 Waverley Park and booked it with the owner, Lesley Riddoch, http://www.aboutscotland.co.uk/edin/waverley.html. She charged £300 because I was alone. It would have been nice to have a travel partner for my April vacation trip and split £350, but I could not convince anyone to come along this year. I keep my hopes alive for future trips.

    The pictures are exactly what you will see. Also, you will find that the apartment has a nice friendly, welcoming ambience. I was very comfortable there for the week, and my delight was echoed in all the other comments in the guest book by others who stayed at 25 Waverley Park.

    It is a second floor apartment (3rd floor to US), with 40 steps up to the door. The bus stops were about a quarter of a mile, at the top of Abbey Lane and just to the left on London Road. You could shop at the Sainsbury's (top of Abbey Lane and look right for shopping plaza), also an Iceland Foods and a Scotmid Co-operative on Easter Road. Right at the top of Waverley Park on Spring Gardens was a little shop with snacks, milk, papers, etc.

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    Trip Theme

    Googling 25 Waverley Park Edinburgh, searching for reviews of the apartment, I came across references to a train crash on 22 May 1915, at Quintinshill, near Gretna Green in Scotland. Two (I assume brothers) men with this address were in the list at http://www.1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/lofiversion/index.php/t79887.html. James Carlin was injured, Richard Carlin was killed.

    I wanted to try some train trips, I had not seen an aviation museum last year (http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/trip-solo-report-one-short-week-in-edinburgh-also-hadrians-wall-and-st-andrews.cfm), and I have a lot of years working and volunteering for libraries (the "lib" in scotlib :-D So, as I set up my itinerary, I deliberately researched things that would fit the theme.

    I think you will find a thread or two on Fodor's asking about the idea of a trip theme, so that plus what I was starting to find, put me right onto filling out my list this way.

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    Beautiful view from your flat. Having only spent about 3 days in Edinburgh (not including business trips), I'm very interested in your report. Have you ever read Kate Atkinson's books--one is set in Edinburgh during the festival and another involves a fictitious (I think) train wreck near Edinburgh? Possibly the same book--I tend to read too fast.

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    Packing

    I keep trying to take less, but like last year, I ended up coming home than what I took over. I just cannot pass up a book or two and the numerous brochures and flyers from sights to visit!

    I was going to take a Tom Bihn Western Flyer (WF), but I could not fit quite everything (it's a small-sized bag), so I did a quick midnight order for some packing cubes and instead took my Quickload Duffel from L.L. Bean. Like the WF it is a convertible soft pack. I wish it were just a bit shorter (listed at 21 3/4" long) and I would like enough without casting my eye on other bags. Instead, my eye keeps roving, looking for the "perfect" bag.

    Including the plane ride over, I had two pairs pants (wore heavier pair), a t-shirt, tank shirt, and four shirts. I could have done without the fourth shirt, in part because it had no pocket, and I found that extremely irritating. It would have saved a few ounces, also. (no troubles with weight going over, but I was very conscious of VA's 13 pound limit for coming back). A set of pj bottoms and top. Three sets of underclothes: bra, sock pairs, undies. I used the Tom Bihn Snake Charmer for non-liquid toiletries and other assorted items. My 3-1-1 bag had a bit of Febreeze, shampoo, and moisturizer with sunscreen.

    I did laundry once (oy, that took a long time to cycle!) and a bit of sink washing for undies and a squirt with Febreeze to freshen anything as needed. Yes, I was sick of wearing much the same clothes, but I did not meet any one who could think, "Did she wear that shirt yesterday?" :-)

    Last year I took a fleece vest, hat, gloves, scarf, and umbrella .. never used them. I debated long and hard, took just the gloves (never wore them), scarf (nada), and umbrella (15 minutes, but a very grateful for having it 15 minutes, I will grant you!).

    I haven't unpacked yet. I will do that this weekend and make a list, to share if you like, and remind myself of all the bits I lugged.

    My day pack/personal item was a Medium Cafe Bag, another Tom Bihn bag. Since discovering the joys of Bihn bags, I have accumulated a number of the company's offerings, it seems.

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    Ticket

    Remember last year that there were a lot of dire predictions for air fare and number of flights for the fall and beyond? Well, I book my ticket using Orbitz just before fall. I continued to check the prices and they never went down, though I would have had a chance to travel via Heathrow on British Air for about the same amount ($950 + $10 for Orbitz) if I had waited until after Christmas. Unfortunately, with air fare, if you only travel now and then you haven't many opportunities to climb the learning curve, so it takes longer, I think to learn firsthand about buying tickets.

    Note to self, just wait!

    What I purchased was a multi-airline ticket, KLM going over and Virgin Atlantic coming back. The KLM from Boston to Amsterdam was a Northwest aircraft, then a KLM from Amsterdam to Edinburgh.

    I bussed down to Logan Airport in Boston and when I finally found the Northwest counter (Terminal A, way at the end of the line, away from the many, many Delta check-in counters), I was told that I need to call Orbitz, I did not have a ticket .. picture look of disbelief!

    Apparently, some time after my purchase the ticket number was changed from an e-ticket to a paper ticket. Well, I certainly never had received anything from Orbitz to indicate "paper." The e-mail just before my trip with all the important numbers did not mention a paper ticket, not at all.

    What the e-mail, that I dutifully printed, also did not have was any phone number to call Orbitz. If you have purchased a ticket through Orbitz, I suggest putting it in your cell phone list. When (if!) I buy through Orbitz again, I will certainly do so.

    I did mention to the check-in agent that Northwest had called me just the day before to confirm my flight. That had the agent (Angelika .. many thanks to Angelika!) calling someone who found the Correct e-ticket number easy-peasy (many thanks to that person, too!).

    With heart beat resuming, I had boarding pass for both Logan and Schiphol in hand.

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    Very happy to know a few readers will be on board with my re-visit to my trip. Do ask if you have any question about anything.

    @ Cathinjoetown .. no, I have not read any Kate Atkinson. I will add her to my "some day" list. I have a class starting this weekend, so I need to do text book reading more than pleasure at the moment, also need to finish the trip report before a report is due, lol.

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    Day one: Get Underway

    Essentials mentioned in preparatory paragraphs mostly .. family drove me to the bus station, bus to Logan, practically stop breathing while trying to check in, get through security, and then wait.

    My flight was not until 9:30 pm. When I purchased the ticket, I thought we had to work a full day, did not imagine that I would have opportunity to leave at noon. So, it was not much fun to see the 7-something pm flight leave for AMS, but I had to wait for the 9:30 pm. That flight looked very full, so was mine. NW tried to tempt someone to take a flight the next day, business class, but I just wanted to leave and not lose any vacation time!

    The flight was comfortable enough. I think we only had the down from the ceiling, one every so many seats, video. I seem to remember a lot of CBS (Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, etc.). My headphones would not work and I could not sleep much, but other than that, it was a standard flight.

    My travel journal (Moleskine cahier, blank pages) does not have any notes from the flight. I will have to check a little notebook that was carried in my pocket for quick jots if I wrote anything.

    A group of 15 of so adult travelers going to Venice and then a Greece cruise gathered in seats near mine. It made me wish a bit that I could be part of a group, too. Pros and cons, yes, I know, to go solo or not.

    I was happy to pass on information that I had figured out by that time, even though we took off from Terminal A, a Northwest flight would arrive in Terminal E to go through customs, etc. With Northwest's joining Delta, the signage at Logan is terrible to find out where you need to go.

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    Ah, another memory of Day 1, a couple at the bus station. They had huge bags. Said they were headed for their first trip to Europe (many people at the station had luggage tags marked for Terminal E-the usual terminal for trips out of the country).

    No, no, not everyone has to lug just a duffel and day pack, but I could not help just wondering, a tiny bit, an eensy-weensy bit, if they came home thinking they had too much stuff (just a tiny bit of wondering :-)

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    A few hours ago I followed your link and started reading your report from last year. Then I came back from work and started reading what you've added to this one. I've decided that trying to read two trip reports from the same person at the same time may be too much for my pea brain to handle! But I'm enjoying them both.

    I'm glad the mix-up with your ticket was fairly quickly and easily handled. But I can certainly understand the heart stoppage in the meantime!

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    Scotland09 packing list

    Medical pouch
    This was another Clear Organizer Pouch from Tom Bihn, a small .. a Wet Ones handiwipe, selection of Band Aids, roll of Tums, travel size Tylenol, PeptoBismal in tablet form, and a couple of Dramanine tablets. The pouch fit in my coat pocket and I just left it there. I used the Tylenol one day and one of the Dramamines, took a half-tablet on two occasions (loved riding the trains, but had to get used to the motion).


    Hidden wallet
    BritRail pass, 4 consecutive day
    first choice credit card and ATM card when not expecting to use them
    extra credit card
    extra ATM card
    passport (when not needed out)
    return ticket for bus from Logan
    $400 US for backup funds, not used fortunately, so back to bank it goes :-)
    card with various emergency numbers


    Cafe bag
    some $ for Logan
    Euro notes for Schiphol from a previous trip
    Pound notes left from last year
    Moleskine, cahier, for travel journal
    small watch (when you dutifully turn off your cell phone, you still need to know the time, eh?)
    prescript. med.
    EarPlanes
    glue stick
    mini scissors
    last 1/4" of toilet paper, roll removed, took in case the apartment was short before I could get to the store; it wasn't but I left it in my day pack and did use it one day a stall had no t.p.
    mini Kleenex
    some homemade contact cards (you can buy blank business cards to run through a laser or ink jet printer), name & e-mail
    3 pens
    couple of granola bars
    confirmation sheets for reservations
    printout of helpful info. about the apartment in Edinburgh
    AA Street by Street Edinburgh
    also the pocket map of Edinburgh by AA Street by Street (concentrates on the Old Town, some of New Town)
    Itinerary sheets, my homemade sheets of where/what/when of things to see and find
    Orbitz e-mail
    water bottle, half-liter, empty before security
    3-1-1 bag, until past security
    cell phone
    camera, digital point-and-shoot, 1 Gig card (enough memory for me)
    baggie of menthol cough drops and Halls fruit breezers and vitamin C drops .. menthol to help keep sinuses open on the flights and other drops to keep throat from feeling tickle-y
    little flash light
    Mini Clear Organizer Pouch (from Tom Bihn) for coin purse
    package of safety pins
    couple of glasses wipes
    couple more Wet Ones


    Duffel
    travel clock
    extra zip lock bags
    some sheets I printed out with timetable information for train trips and bus times
    deodorant
    comb
    floss
    toothbrush
    tooth powder
    pedometer
    neti pot
    purchased packs of salt/bakng soda for neti pot (I make up a salt/b.s. mix for home, but take a loose white powder through security, uhm, went with the prepared packs that came with the neti pot)
    ear plugs
    adapter for electric items
    cell phone charger
    camera charger
    clothes, only thing forgot to already mention was a pair of hiking Smart Wool socks .. very thick and comfy soles, also warm, so use as evening socks around the apartment
    package of Icy Hot Patches for my back, just in case, fortunately did not need
    umbrella
    Shop Bag from Tom Bihn, used when grocery shopping, packs small and has lovely padded handles for the treks home from the store
    two pairs of Dr. Scholl's plain cushion insoles, swapped them daily in my shoes (only wore one pair, New Balance 811 Country Walkers)
    package of feminine napkins (just easier to take the ones I like than buy)
    in hidden pocket section: copy of passport and emergency numbers


    I think that is the complete list (also now saved for the next trip planning). I did not skip using much, and even if mostly skipped (like the little pouch of med. items, I probably would still take it next time).

    I have seen the tip for frequent travelers to keep a full deodorant and toothpaste/powder packed. As an infrequent traveler, I did the opposite. I used what I had until I felt like there was about 10-days worth left, put then in the bag, and bought new ones to use. The ounces saved add up.

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    Day 2: Schiphol and EDI, 18 April

    The plane arrived at Schiphol about 10:30 am local time. It took another 10 minutes to taxi to the gate and then wait to de-plane.

    I walked off the plane and voila, I was in Schiphol, no security once inside; the traveler can roam freely. The second security happens when getting to your gate. Every gate has a mini-security and you stay in a glass-walled, fish bowl, waiting area. Toilet included, I was glad to see after getting into to my fish bowl.

    Felt a bit queasy and searched around all the shops for something with ginger, only saw a gingercake about a foot-long brick size.

    Finally found a drug store to get some motion sickness pills. I thought the chemist (I assumed the lady behind the counter was a chemist/pharmacist said me name. Freaked me out a bit. She questioned me before making the sale. That did make me feel looked after. Now, I think I was just tired and could have used more to eat, at the time I was thinking motion sickness and did not remember the Dramamine I had with me.

    At each sale in any store I had to give my flight number. Sampling where the shoppers were from or checking up on us? I don't know.

    Found the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Schiphol on the Holland Boulevard (lots of shops and casino bar too). Saw a few lovely 16th and 17th century paintings and an exhibit of items from Japan, demonstrating the Dutch-Japanese connection of that time period. I loved the brilliant blue in some of the paintings, for example, the blue ribbon in Abraham Mignon's Still Life with Flowers and Watch.

    When boarding for AMS to EDI, I finally found my seat in the very back row. A mom and her son were already in the middle and window seats, I had aisle. The poor lad had had a terrible first leg from Tel Aviv to AMS, upchucking all the way, his mom said. She was all set with more bags and the FA gave her a bigger bag to put under him to help protect the seat, if necessary. Fortunately, he made it all the way to EDI. I would have been upchucking in sympathy if in close quarters, I am sure.

    It did not take long for the flight and with the time difference (you set clocks back an hour between the two cities) it was funny to note that we landed about the same time as we took off, about 3:30 p.m.

    I have read online a few complaints of nonresidents having a longer time through immigration. Yes, the few non-UK and non-EU were done pretty much last. I did not mind too much, though I liked how Boston's set up has bathrooms to use if you are stuck in that situation, unlike at EDI where you can see the bathroom sign just out of reach beyond the immigration officers, should you need to use them.

    I was the last person through, everyone UK and EU was gone from sight, as well as the other non-UK, non-EU so when I tried to figure out where to go for nothing to declare (none of the prohibited items with me, meat, fresh veg, etc.), I could not figure where to go. The immigration officer who checked me through motioned me toward the door, and that's when I found out it was not a dead end but a door waiting for me to get close enough to open automatically.

    If there are other ATMs, let me know. I finally found some by going up to the departures level, up the escalator.

    I took the Airlink bus to Waverley Bridge (adult single, £3.50) and then a taxi to the apartment (about £7.00). The Airlink ticket has a £5 off coupon to go to the Edinburgh Dungeon, if you need that fyi.

    Lesley's neighbor met me and showed me around the flat; then I started walking. Walked up to Easter Road and found a church I wanted. I had typed in the flat's post code into Google maps and then did a "get directions" search for church, picked one I wanted from the list, and did the same for food, so I had an idea of locations of shops.

    I shopped at the Iceland Foods on Easter Road after finding St. Margaret's, which was further along. The Scotmid store had a line in it a mile long, but Iceland didn't.

    Also stopped at the Sea Breeze on London Road and ordered fish and chips for supper, £6.70 for fish/chips and a Ribena juice box. Very tasty is Ribena juice.

    Unpacked and settled in. End of day 2.

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    Day 3: 19 April

    Made breakfast with oatmeal and scrambled eggs. No, I would not go to Scotland and skip having some oats :-)

    Google maps let me know where to find St. Margaret of Scotland Church, an Episcopal church, www.StMegs.co.uk. I enjoyed the service and had a great time chatting with the the church members at coffee hour.

    On the way home I shopped at the Sainsbury's. The labeling of the yogurts made me smile: children's yogurts, everyday yogurts, or healthier yogurts were my options.

    After lunch I went back to Easter Road to an internet cafe to do some searching of train times and other details I had forgotten to include on my itinerary sheets. Had supper again from Sea Breeze, a Milano pizza and a cup of mushy peas (cannot get them over here).

    Then I walked up part of the hillside around Arthur's Seat. I wanted to go higher, but did had thoughts of "I am going up. How am I getting down?!" I took my time very carefully with the down part and stopped by the remains St. Anthony's Chapel. Continuing down, I enjoyed the view around St. Margaret's Loch with all the ducks and swans.

    The length of the day while in Edinburgh was amazing. It did not start to get dark until almost 8:30 pm. The early evenings were great for walking around Holyrood Park. Many people would be out walking dogs, and many people were out playing, soccer or flying kites (huge kites! like parasails).

    I wore the pedometer this day, went almost 5 miles.

    End of day 3.

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    Day 4: Monday, 20 April

    I was up by 6:30 to leave a little after 8 for the 8:35 X6 bus to Haddington, where I would get the 121 bus that stops at the Museum of Flight in East Fortune. I had fruit cup and leftover pizza for breakfast (I love cold pizza).

    I was up almost to the bus stop by 8:28 and the X6 was already going through the lights, going, gone. Bummers.

    I stood by the bus stop for a bit, probably hoping another X6 would wondrously appear, and then a bit more realistically asked the driver of an X5 bus for advice (the X5 would go to North Berwick and I knew the 121 ran between North Berwick and Haddington).

    I was not always sure of what he said but it would definitely get me to the museum to take that route, so I took the X5 to North Berwick and then waited for the 121. I purchased a multi-zone, 3-5 zone, day ticket for the ride out and back, £8.50, you pay the driver.

    The ride was oftentimes scenic, getting to North Berwick. The route sometimes was right against the sea shore.

    It took about an hour to get to North Berwick and then I waited until 10:30 for a 121 that would stop at the museum. I walked around town, found the Tourist Information office and town library. Had to wait until 10 for the library to open and then enjoyed a quick peak inside, a nicely organized community library.

    The 121 was a few minutes late but finally came and dropped me off right inside the museum's grounds, http://www.nms.ac.uk/our_museums/museum_of_flight.aspx

    I was expecting a cost of £8.50 from reading the web site, but was charged £7.65 to enter. Nope, did not ask about the difference. I toured the Concorde first and then walked around the various hangers.

    After you get off the Concorde you can sit in a sample Concorde seat. Not very comfortable, they were.

    East Fortune was used for both WW1 and WW2. During WW1 it had air ships and early air planes. The air ships would fly around looking for oil slicks indicating German submarines, radio the ships on the water that came over to bomb the subs.

    R34, an air ship, had 19 hydrogen-filled gas bags, using 600,000 ox gut skins to create the bags. It was also the first air craft to cross the Atlantic .. hmm, thought I had written the date .. R34 was built in 1918 and scrap by 1921 after a crash. Of course, it was very big, so it had a nickname of "Tiny."

    R24 was another air ship, an earlier one, described in the displays. It looked a bit like 3 Vienna sausages put together. The R34 was more like the Zeppelin shape we know from Hiddenburg films.

    Ladies worked at East Fortune in both wars. Pinafores and dresses for WW1, trousers for WW2. A lot easier working around air craft in trousers I would think!

    The Fortunes of War is a new display just opened and it was one I really liked because after walking around looking at the airplanes I also wondered about the base itself and Fortunes of War has models and information about the base: How it was set up, what daily life was like, etc.

    An interactive hanger has lots of things to do to explore flight including a video game where you try and land the R34 within a certain window of time. Very fun!

    The Museum has a nice cafe, from which I got a juice and cookie (plane shaped, of course!). Then I also had a sandwich I had packed from the apartment. The day was all glorious sunshine and warm, great for eating outdoors.

    The 121 bus was a bit late arriving but he did get me to Haddington in time to get the next bus back to Edinburgh. The speed of those 121 drivers, wow. It could also be the closeness of the hedges make the speed feel faster than it was, perhaps.

    Always while driving around, I enjoyed the beautiful scenery. So green. On the ride back to Edinburgh I saw a big John Deere tractor with plow tootling along the A1! I don't think that would be allowed here. Maybe it wasn't allowed there, either!

    I worked on my journal, planning the days to come, and relaxing for the evening.

    End of Day 4.

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    scotlib

    I am enjoying your report very much. I live in Scotland and ashamed to say that I haven't (yet) visited the Museum of Flight. It's now on MY list.

    We take for granted our much longer days and shorter nights in spring/summer. We shouldn't.

    Regards,

    Bill

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    Hi billbarr,
    The Museum of Flight was great fun! The Fortunes of War is a new exhibit and a very excellent one that I am sure future visitors will enjoy. The interactive building is great for kids (all ages!). And you just walk around looking at famous plane types: Spitfire, Harrier, MiG, etc. You can tour a number of aircraft: the Concorde, a BAC 1-11, etc. I think it was walking through the Comet that had me looking at the provided leg space and thinking we really have nothing to complain these days. Yes, the seat was a smidgen wider, but there was no room for knees at all.

    A couple of times I could hear military planes screaming by. You have to look ahead of the noise, of course, to try and see them. In conversation with a Museum worker I was told they are Tornados from RAF Leuchars.

    Hi sheila,
    Yes, I was reading up a a bit on Lesley before contacting her. I communicated with her a bit by e-mail and then a phone call and she was very friendly, a great experience for a first time apartment rental.

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    Day 5: Around about Edinburgh, 21 April

    Already up to day 5. The time sure flies when on vacation!

    I had purchased a 4-day consecutive BritRail pass so the plan was to train around from Wednesday to Saturday. Monday and Tuesday were for the Museum of Flight and visiting sights around Edinburgh.

    Today I let myself take it easy in the morning, no exact bus to try and catch. I walked across Holyrood Park to get the #36 by the Palace to go up to the Waverley Bridge area.

    I walked to the National Gallery and revisited some favorite pictures. I really like William Bell Scott's The Nativity with its Ayrshire setting. The posted description notes the "strange choice" of summer but I have heard some theories that spring/summer was a more likely time for the shepherds to be out with the sheep anyway. One detail I would bring up in an art discussion: the donkey has the stripe across the shoulders and I think I have heard one myth that the stripe showed on donkeys after carrying Jesus into Jerusalem, so maybe a non-striped donkey could be called "accurate" :-)

    The first picture I faced almost upon entering the Gallery was a "I know that place" picture: Frederick Church's Niagra Falls from American Side."

    Somehow I had a thought that cauliflower is a new vegetable? Not so, I would guess if Richard Waitt could paint one in 1724.

    I went back to Waverley Bridge to catch another #36 to go to Stockbridge and visit the library. It was closed for a renovation project last year and nice to see the final result.

    I picked up a juice and banana from the Scotmid store and walked to the park on Logan Street for lunch (had packed another sandwich).

    The rain started as I left the park and while walking up Broughton Road that was the only 15 minutes I used my umbrella. The rain was not heavy, but it sure was a driving rain.

    The rain was done by the time I arrived at Rosebank Cemetery. The entrance is on Pilrig Street, just off Broughton Road. I did not know for sure where the memorial was for the 1915 train crash victims but found it easily by just walking around and it was a large cross in a space of green.

    The Wikipedia article about the crash has an animated graphic demonstrating how all the trains involved hit one another, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quintinshill

    I had forgotten the name of the fellow from 25 Waverley Park so I took time to read the entire list. It was sad to see the same last name shared about 15 times, and 3 or 4 times you would see the same last name for 3 men. Some may have been just coincidental same last names, but some were surely brothers and cousins. Very sad.

    Another #36 picked me up on Broughton Road to go back to the Royal Mile area (very handy, the #36). I visited the Museum of Edinburgh to see the display about Greyfriars Bobby and then walked across the street to visit the People's Story (though I was disappointed that the video room in the very top was closed that day). Then I walked up to the Greyfriars Kirkyard area to visit the Bobby statue and headstone.

    It made me smile to see the list of very famous politicians, historians, poets, etc. buried at Greyfriars, but the headstone you see entering the gates is for Bobby.

    A walk back down to get the #36 (probably could have just kept going downhill, but I used the bus) to get to Holyrood Palace and then walk across the Park to the apartment and some supper.

    End of day 5.

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    Day 6: Wednesday, 22 April, Time for Trains

    I walked 6+ miles on Tuesday, after that I figured I was not so interested in tracking mileage and stopped wearing the pedometer. It was just a minor hassle to make sure I had not lost it while walking around. I know I went several miles each day, anyway :-)

    Today I tried the #45 from the bus stop on London Road to Waverley Bridge, saw some new streets between Waverley Park and the Bridge (new for me, lol).

    I validated my RailPass and learned a lesson that I think was mentioned by sallyky in her trip report. When you look for the train and platform, you need to know the final destination. When you get to the platform you can then make sure your stop is on the list of planned stops, but when inside and looking at the list of trains, it is final destination that matters.

    My first train was a Virgin train and oh, that was nice!

    If not mentioned earlier, I had purchased a first class rail pass. I will not likely get to experience a first class air ticket, but the $120 or so difference between first class and standard I could afford. The trip budget can only be spent once, but it was my deliberate choice to put more on that line than some other place.

    When going to the food counter to ask for a complimentary water (no trolley service that trip), up came a whole little bag with a panini, muffin, cookie, and the requested water! Other trains gave water and a cookie, but Virgin was the best, I think. It has me studying the Virgin route maps wondering if that will be how I decide an itinerary for next year, lol!

    I went down to Carlisle for the day, visited the Cathedral, the public library, and the Tullie House Museum (between £5 and £6 for an adult).

    I was in time for the noon Eucharist at the Cathedral. I thought one other woman was in attendance, turned out she was the wife of the priest doing the service so that was why he spoke more directly just to me in welcoming anyone to the service. Coming from the direction of the rail station you see the 900 year old stonework of the Cathedral. I learned in conversation after the service why there's much newer brickwork on the other end. During the 1600s revolution, that end of the church was destroyed, so there's actually a lot missing and just a little area in brick was put back on.

    The Carlisle Library's main branch is right in the middle of a shopping complex. Very nice to see the hum of activity.

    The Tullie museum is another great one for kids, lots of activities here and there. I enjoyed the Hadrian's Wall display. You can experiment shooting small rocks from a model onager (one-armed stone thrower).

    A video program tells you about the Reivers, all the fighting between just about anyone/everyone who lived in the Borders. The program started automatically when anyone entered and lasted about 8 minutes. I had feelings of Hatfields & McCoys during the description of the fighting. As one voice said of the Reiver fighting days, "Who can remember who began it?" So many women lost their menfolk to the Reivers attacking, they were spoken of as "be reived."

    The train back to Edinburgh was a Transpennine. If I had stayed another hour I would have been on another Virgin train. I figured I had to try more than one to make decisions later. And now I know I would next time stay the extra hour, most probably, :-)

    When leaving the train, to get to the main area of the Waverley rail station, everyone had to show his ticket. I was wondering what to show and remembered the rail pass Is my ticket, showed that and walked through.

    Back to the apartment by way of the #36 and end of Day 6.

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    Day 7: Thursday, 23 April

    I had planned to take the train to Leuchars, walk around town, then also stop in Cupar on the way back to Edinburgh.

    In Cupar, I had used Google maps to find the library and that would also take me by the Douglas Bader Community Garden, http://www.dbcg.org.uk/. I was interested in Douglas Bader from reading his biography years ago: Reach for the Sky : The Story of Douglas Bader, Legless Ace of the Battle of Britain by Paul Brickhill. Excellent book. I recommend it.

    Another excellent biography of a WW2 ace is the one written by Larry Forrester: Fly for Your Life : The Story of R.R. Stanford Tuck, D.S.O., D.F.C., and Two Bars. That's Robert Stanford Tuck for a more complete name.

    However, I woke up not feeling so great and I just stayed on the comfy couch until noontime. When finally leaving the apartment I made my way to Waverley Bridge (#36 again) to get reservations for Friday's train rides. I had gone to Carlisle without reservations, no problem going down, not many seats open coming back, and I wanted to be sure of a seat on Friday.

    I went to the National Museum of Scotland, http://www.nms.ac.uk/our_museums/national_museum.aspx, on Chambers Street for a while, then used #35 to get back to Easter Road and walked home.

    I stopped in at the Sea Breeze again for some supper and ordered a hamburger. Weell, you know how to get something you do not expect is just a gentle reminder that you are a visitor in someone else's homeland? My hamburger was a meat patty, batter dipped, and deep fried. I really could not eat much of it, lol. I loved the fish/chips and pizza from the beginning of the week, but I will not order a hamburger again without a tad of trepidation.

    End of day 7.

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    Day 8: Leaving Edinburgh, 24 April

    Thursday evening had me packing up and I was up early on Friday for final packing and organizing the apartment for leaving. I called for a taxi and it arrived pretty promptly. I saw some new back streets getting to the rail station! The cost was £5.

    First, I trained to York and spent a couple of hours in the National Railway Museum, http://www.nrm.org.uk/. Wonderful, wonderful museum for train lovers! I had searched the museum's web site for directions but it is also well marked right from the rail station.

    I saw trains of all kinds. You can walk on a few, watch the turnstile demonstration, walk under a train, view a cut open train, and wander the warehouse of items in open storage. A 9 3/4 sign on one side and 9s on the other turned out to be a sign that had the "s" on one side painted over for a day of book signings by J.K. Rowling.

    My next rain was from York to Peterborough, a brief wait and the next train rolled from Peterborough to Ely.

    I checked in to the Riverside Inn Guest House, http://www.riversideinn-ely.co.uk/. I read about the Guest House in rogeruktm's trip report from last year. He recommended it and I ditto the recommendation.

    I walked around Ely a bit, found the public library, again in a shopping area. I picked up a couple of books from the booksale shelves: Lester by Dick Francis and "Dead Ringer" by John Francome. I thought John's book was dead boring and left it for the guest house's library and/or it could go back to the library's sale on their next trip to the shopping area.

    Lester was a very good read. It is a biography of the jockey Lester Piggott and has both Lester's and Dick's signatures in the front. Added to my weight for coming home, but it also provided a lot of reading pleasure while waiting around for my flight on Sunday!

    After another fish/chips with some mushy peas, too, meal, I walked back to the guest house by way of the Cathedral, http://www.elycathedral.org/. It was already closed to visitors so I only saw the outside. The place is HUGE! A descriptive sign said it costs £3000 per day to take care of the Cathedral, and from being a very old building (listed at 1300 years), I would bet more money is needed for restoration work on regular occasions.

    End of Day 8.

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    Scottlib, glad your trip went well. I was wincing at the thought of you eating mushy peas. When I taught in a boarding school in Ireland many years ago, mushy peas were on the menu at the noon meal every day but Thursday when we got boiled cabbage. (The weekly menu was the same every week, so if it was ham, for instance, we knew it must be Wednesday--except Ash Wednesday.) Mushy peas made me almost gag. The noon meal was eaten with the students so I had to set a good example and eat it without comment. A few times I tried swishing them around in the gravy to make it look as if I had eaten most of them. A few times I got away with scooping them into a handkerchief, hiding handkerchief under napkin in my lap, and flushing them away after the meal. I still gag when I think of them.

    I thought the hamburger trick was gone by now, but I guess not. Tuesday evening's meal was those disgusting deepfat fried burgers. In the evening, staff did not have to eat with students (gave us all a break), so before the meat could pollute the roll, which was really good,I would whip the burger out of the rolls and then slather peanutbutter and honey on the roll. I would toss the meat out the staffroom window and then later pick it up and toss it in the waste patch across the road. The nighborhood dogs wouldn't even eat those burgers!

    Thanks for your trip story!

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    sdcotlib

    I too read rogeruktm's trip report and that, plus yours, has almost persuaded me to do likewise. I'm in the middle of planning my annual trip to Greece but I think perhaps a late autumn/early winter week on those trains would be wonderful. I'll build in the Museum of Flight. I'm pleased you enjoyed the National Railway Museum. It's been a few years since I visited - reason enough to go back!

    I'm only an hour or so home from the Rosslyn Chapel. Some friends are here from Greece and it was one of their 'must sees'. Have you visited it?

    Bill

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    Hi irishface,

    As much as I like the mushy peas, I probably would not want them every day. Eating them to set a good example for the students is a wonderful thing, good for you!

    The 6th grade here does an International Dinner in the spring. I made a mock mushy peas using split peas and adding a bag of frozen peas. The students wouldn't even serve the peas, lol! They could not believe it would be edible, so I got to eat my mock mushy peas for several days. Quite good when nuked, a sort of consistency of green mashed potatoes.


    Hi Bill,

    I saw Rosslyn Chapel on last year's trip. It was a stop on the day tour I took from Edinburgh with Heart of Scotland Tours down to Hadrian's Wall. I did enjoy the stop, really enjoyed visiting with William, the black kitty who would come everyday to visit the visitors. I hope he is well and still visiting with them.

    I would like to go back and visit again when I can visit without watching the clock to get back on a tour bus. I would like to walk to the Roslin Castle remains, too, on a return visit.

    Cheers.

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    Day 9: Duxford!

    I read of the Imperial War Museum at Duxford by following one of rogeruktm's trip reports. The fact you can get to it by public transportation is what put it on my itinerary.

    Duxford also has connections to Douglas Bader and Robert Tuck, both flew from there in WW2.

    I enjoyed a very good breakfast at the Riverside Inn Guest House, paid my bill, and left. It was £50 for the night, £20 had been paid on deposit with credit card when I made the reservation.

    I headed over to the train station and took a short ride to Cambridge. I found the left luggage (oh, used that at York, too, while visiting the Railway Museum), and then found the correct bus. While I was studying the schedule and not planning to take a bus that was at the stop because I knew IT wasn't the one I wanted, the driver took time to ask what bus I did need and pointed out the correct one that had just pulled up on the other side of the street, so many thanks to helpful Stagecoach drivers in Cambridge!

    The left luggage for Cambridge Rail Station is at a Bike Shop. You leave the station, head over between the Police station and City-something hotel, walk out that way and you'll see a left luggage sign on the bike shop building. £3 for the day, I think, £5 back in York.

    Compared to many of the bus drivers I had experienced up to then, the C7 driver on Saturday morning was positively sedate! It was not quite an hour to the museum and we arrived 10 minutes or so before it opened.

    I was able to be by the door as a line formed and 40-50 people were ready to enter when the doors opened.

    3 hours of a lot of fun at Duxford! Lots of planes, some good video presentations to watch, and did I mention planes :-)

    A WW2 something or other took off and came back a little while later to do a 10 minute or so quickie show: buzzing the runway, going up .. up .. up, loop down, buzz the runway again.

    I bussed back to Cambridge (speedier driver had me hanging on during curves!), got my luggage and took the train from Cambridge. I don't remember exactly which one this was, Cross Country or First Capital Connect? Yes, there was a first class section, but it had four seats across, not 3 like the bigger trains. You did have a little section with its own door, making it quiet for comfort. I enjoyed a conversation with a couple headed home from their own holiday time.

    From Kings Cross .. (little) sob, I forgot to look for Platform 9 3/4 .. I took the Tube to Paddington .. walked up some stairs, passed the ticket line .. walked around a corner .. walked down some stairs .. and onto a Heathrow Express train. Talk about nice. The Express trains certainly seemed larger, and must be newer? On almost all the trains up to then I would have ear pressure trouble with going through tunnels and under bridges, but not with the Express. More insulation?

    From arriving at Heathrow I went to the Central Bus Station and then found the Hoppa bus (£4) by Terminal 2. I stayed at the Holiday Inn Ariel, bed and breakfast for £47 + VAT, so a total of £54.05 was the bill. I think I had a pretty good price, found it one night on the web. My room was on the inner ring, very comfortable for the single traveler.

    I had supper at the McDonald's in the Airport Bowl, just along the road from the hotel. I could have done some bowling, but travel tiredness was really hitting me by then. I just ate my Big Mac (more what I expected for flavor) and watched the bowlers.

    End of Day 9. Only one more to go.

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    Day 10: 26 April, Heathrow to Home

    Sunday involved a lot of sitting. After the breakfast buffet I packed and read my new book Lester, waiting until it was time to leave.

    I used the Hoppa bus again to get back to the terminals. The ride was 45 minutes, from when I got on to getting off. I have read that some of the hotels can be reached using the free local buses or cheaper to reach with some buses, and going to the terminals sometimes is free. I did not research enough beforehand and as a single traveler it was just easier to pay the £4 each way (at least for this time).

    I really wanted to be sure that my duffel was under the 6 kg limit for Virgin Atlantic. The Cafe bag had all the paper I collected this trip: brochures, small books, flyers, my journal. On top was a tin of cookies purchased at Duxford. The chargers went into my coat pockets, anything small and heavy went in other pockets. Lester is a hardcover book; I just carried it openly. I used the self-service kiosk first and the duffel weighed 5.4 kg. I did not put my coat or Cafe bag on the scale!

    I could not figure out the kiosk check-in and stood in front of the various Virgin check-in desks, wondering which one was appropriate to approach, when Teresa approached me asking if I needed some help. Yes!

    Many thanks to Teresa for walking me through the check-in kiosk correctly, except then the machine would not print out my boarding pass, so she called to Verra who walked me over to Kylie. I am very grateful for the help of all 3 to get me checked-in.

    Next was security. Well, I walked, and walked, thought I was reaching the end of the line so used the toilet nearby, then walked some more to actually find the end of the line. From the Terminal 3 security I went all the way to the elevators past the chapel.

    It took 45 minutes from finding the end of the line to getting through security. It was not much fun, but the line moved at a steady pace and staff regularly would call out flight times for people who needed to be moved up and get done quickly to make their flights.

    The directions said to not remove shoes unless directed. I did not have to, a quick glance at my feet seemed to suffice. Other people were sent to a secondary screening to get their shoes x-rayed.

    Once finally through all the official stuff, that put me in the area with all the many shops. Until about an hour and a half before my flight this was where I stayed, reading.

    Near the end of the book, when Lester was getting ready to retire (he was a jockey from age 12 to 50), a special match race was done for him and a jump jockey just retiring the same year--John Francome, the author whose book I had left behind!

    When the gate was shown on the screen, I made my way there; boarding began soon after.

    I found the Virgin Atlantic crew very helpful and friendly. My economy seat had plenty of leg space (I'm shy of 5' 6"). And the food was plentiful: after drinks, supper, then a round of ice cream bars, and later another round of cookies and brownies and more drinks as requested. One more treat, mints, before landing.

    A chocolate pudding for supper had me wishing I had known about this before leaving the UK .. Gü. The little chocolate ganache and raspberry pudding was delish!

    A quick trip through passport control and customs in Boston and I was able to make the 5:30 pm bus to Portland. Two hours on the bus, another hour to home.

    I walked through the door and my doggy did a "You're home! You're home! Let's go for a walk!!" act and was ready to leave right then. She did give me five minutes to say hello to the two-footed family, but it has been a walk every chance she can get me out the door since.

    Well, that's the trip. I have final thoughts to add as they come to me, and I would like to post at least a few pictures. Thanks for coming along on my review of 10 fun days.

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    Sounds like it was very nice trip, Scotlib. Thanks so much for posting your report.

    And thanks for mentioning the chocolate ganache and raspberry pudding. Will definitely keep an eye out for that! Gu is the name?

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    Hi CAPH52,

    Yes, Gü (with dots over the u) is the brand. If you see that in the stores (Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury's, etc.), do try it!


    Hi WillTravel,

    Thanks for the reply to the report. I used Google Maps extensively. I type in a starting (apartment, rail stations, etc.) location and then do the Get Directions From Here to find the locations for libraries.

    Google Maps is great for just exploring, too. Instead of an exact name, I just put in a descriptive word (episcopal, pizza, takewaway) and get a results list of possibilities.


    Hi rogeruktm,

    So often I think, I really want a travel partner, but then I start thinking of possibilities for a new trip and know it is likely the itinerary would only interest me, so solo again.

    After the pleasant experience on the Virgin Train, I am really thinking of spending the fall planning a trip around the route map. Hmmm, I have heard Chester is pretty, and it has a Roman history. I live only 2 hours from one Bangor, might be nice to see the original(?), http://www.virgintrains.co.uk/travelling_with_us/our_network/default.aspx


    Cheers.

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    Couple more memories

    The Virgin Atlantic flight also had a very nice goodie bag: socks, eye shade, toothbrush/itty-bitty toothpaste, and pen (handy for landing card), all in a very reusable pack (not toss-out thin plastic. Overall, I really would like to take VA again!

    When I went to check out of the Ariel, I was first presented with a charge slip for $82 US. No, no, I told the girl, my bill is £54.05. See, she said, we have it in US for your convenience.

    I did another, No, no, I want £54.05 and so she re-did the charge and that was what I signed.

    This was that dynamic currency conversion, DCC, I believe? The exchange rate on the slip said $1.52 and I know the rate was about $1.47 that day, so about $3 more for me to pay if I had not said, No, no!

    Yes, I will be checking my card bill when it comes.

    Cheers.

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    Tips

    Mentioned already, I need to learn more about buying air fare at reasonable times and costs. I cannot buy very often to learn from actual experience of buying, but I think I could do more tracking and watching, then really not buy so far, far, in advance.


    Hoard your 10p and 20p coins for paying toilets. Both Waverley Rail Station and Kings Cross had turnstile access on this trip.


    Know your train's final destination to pick it out on the list in the station.


    Taking less, I still think (this is a personal decision) that I need to pare down. The paring may come to ounces, but find 16 items that can be reduced by an ounce and I will have found a pound! Counting out the supplies in my little med kit .. 3 sheets of Pepto pills and 9 band aids .. 2 and 3 respectively probably enough, eh.


    Journal .. if a journal is a trip keepsake you enjoy, make time to work on it every day. Skip a time or two and next thing you know you have lots of blank sheets and you're starting to forget what happened on what day! I take a glue stick and mini scissors to cut out bits of flyers/brochures and add to the pages as I go. I admit I did not work on it quite enough on the trip, so this is a work in progress to practice what I am preaching, lol.


    Itinerary sheets .. I really liked having sheets for each day. Notes of this site, directions to another, train times, suggestions of little things to do that I have read on Fodor's, etc. It is not that I planned my days to the minute, but I had information on hand to use to fill my day as I liked.


    Bring 2 copies of itinerary sheets, if used .. I thought I had lost the sheets one day and all the information for the following days were stapled on, so a moment of Ack! before seeing it safe in my Cafe bag. A backup copy will be included in the pack next time.


    Well, that's what coming to mind, today, for tips.

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    Scotlib, can I butt back in here to ask you a question about something you told me on another thread?

    You advised me to make sure my son takes his school ID along and mentioned using yours to get the student rate on tours, etc. We had originally thought he'd be getting one of the international student ID cards. But have decided to hold off on that because, at this point, his semester abroad is somewhat up in the air (he's thinking about doing an internship in the US instead). So I just wanted to check back with you to make sure that you had no problem using an ID from your school rather than one of the above-mentioned cards.

    Thanks! :)

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    Regarding Virgin trains and places. A couple of or three years ago I spent two nights in the village of Wool in Denvon in order to visit the military Tank museum at Bovington, also the famous Money World...anyway I took the local train to Basingstroke where I boarded a Virgin train and took it to Carlisle. I think it went on to Glasgow or Edinburgh. Great trip with free lunch in 1st class. Check it out but I think the train started Borunemouth.

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