Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

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

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

May 1st, 2009, 05:12 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,618
Trains, planes, and libraries: solo trip, open-jaw EDI/LHR

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.
scotlib is offline  
May 1st, 2009, 05:19 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,618

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.
scotlib is offline  
May 1st, 2009, 05:21 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,618
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.co...hp/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/euro...st-andrews.cfm), and I have a lot of years working and volunteering for libraries (the "lib" in scotlib 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.
scotlib is offline  
May 1st, 2009, 06:45 AM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 686
Good start, please continue.
rogeruktm is offline  
May 1st, 2009, 07:02 AM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 6,628
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.
Cathinjoetown is offline  
May 1st, 2009, 07:10 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 9,736
Looking forward to more, Scotlib!
CAPH52 is offline  
May 1st, 2009, 09:03 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,618

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.
scotlib is offline  
May 1st, 2009, 09:04 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,618

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.
scotlib is offline  
May 1st, 2009, 10:04 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,618
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.
scotlib is offline  
May 1st, 2009, 10:15 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,618
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.
scotlib is offline  
May 1st, 2009, 10:40 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,618
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
scotlib is offline  
May 1st, 2009, 10:53 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 9,736
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!
CAPH52 is offline  
May 1st, 2009, 02:36 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,618
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.
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

travel clock
extra zip lock bags
some sheets I printed out with timetable information for train trips and bus times
tooth powder
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
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.
scotlib is offline  
May 1st, 2009, 04:32 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,618
oops, forgot the chapstick and mini composition book kept in my pocket. Now, you've more than everything you may have want to know, lol.
scotlib is offline  
May 1st, 2009, 04:57 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,618
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.
scotlib is offline  
May 1st, 2009, 05:15 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,618
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.
scotlib is offline  
May 1st, 2009, 05:50 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,618
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.
scotlib is offline  
May 2nd, 2009, 12:53 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 729

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.


billbarr is offline  
May 2nd, 2009, 02:16 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,156
Great report. Did you know Lesley is famous? At least in Scotland?
sheila is offline  
May 2nd, 2009, 05:07 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,618
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.
scotlib is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 09:12 AM.