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Trip Report YEAH: York and Edinburgh for April Holiday

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It was a quiet holiday, or felt so, and this may not be a long trip report, but I've a few things I'd like to share. Writing the report also gives me a chance to reflect and remember the trip again :-)

Dates:
Friday, 13 April to Sunday, 22 April


Flights:
BOS - DUB - MAN and return

I started thinking about April vacation last fall, so now and again put in flights to take me from BOS to somewhere in the UK. I stumbled on going to Manchester and found the BOS-MAN flights on Aer Lingus for only $778 (total price). The best price? I don't know. It sure seemed good enough, so I hit "buy."

The method to the "madness" of going to Manchester was its nearness to York and I definitely wanted to go to York at some point on a trip. I stopped briefly in the 2009 April trip report and saw the National Railway Museum, but I wanted to see more, particularly the air museum and Minster.

Aer Lingus now uses the new Terminal 2 in Dublin for the connections. I like the 2-4-2 seating on the Airbus 330. The 2 seats are good for couples traveling, and if you're solo, you're not climbing over any more than one set of legs to get to an aisle!

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    Lodging logistics:

    4 nights
    Number 34 Bed and Breakfast
    http://www.number34york.co.uk/
    34 Bootham Crescent, York
    Number 34 is recommended on various Fodor threads and I'll add my recommendation to the list! I used the en-suite single room. Sure it's not overly large, but it's a great room for a solo traveler. An en-suite bathroom is a good comfort (nice-sized shower with good water pressure), so was the built in hair dryer and towel warming rack. Breakfast was great each morning. Cost for 4 nights in April was £150. It's a straight walk in to York center, just 5-10 minutes. The B&B is also walkable from the rail station (granted, easier now that I know the route across the S'boro bridge). Google Maps shows the standard route from the rail station, just under a mile. There's an easier route that comes out on Bootham Terrace (kitty-cornered to Bootham Crescent), but I can't get it to show. I learned by following the signs for the rail station from the top of Bootham Terrace and then walking back.


    3 nights
    Dene Guest House
    http://www.deneguesthouse.com/
    7 Eyre Place, Edinburgh
    I have stayed here twice before and find it a very good value for the solo traveler. An en-suite single was a bit over £40, so I used the single standard room and paid £29 each night (one night's stay was billed to the credit card before I arrived). The hosts are friendly, breakfast is filling, and a lot of bus stops right around the guest house. I like the Dene.


    1 night
    Radisson Blu Hotel Manchester Airport
    www.radissonblu.co.uk
    I stayed here using points, so no money out of the pocket for the night. I've stayed at a couple of Radisson's for conferences and the experiences was that: conference hotel. I don't know if Radisson is upping its service, or if it's this particular Radisson taking nice customer service initiatives: I rec'd an e-mail after making the reservation asking if I would like some welcome gifts (ex: chocolates) ordered for the room to be in when I arrived, I rec'd an e-mail after coming home asking about doing a survey. I had a very good stay and didn't mind indicating that my name could be used, so I rec'd another nice e-mail from the hotel thanking me for my feedback. When I couldn't get the key to work, the staff member in the hallway helped me right away (I don't know if it was his job or not). A lot of nice gestures and positive feelings came from this hotel. It's also right on the walk between the terminals and I never heard a peep from the airplanes. The desk clerk at check out mentioned thick glass. It must surely be thick! I would definitely stay here again if needing a flight out of Manchester.

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    Travel Gadgets

    I do like going through travel catalogs/stores, to see what catches my eye, so before the regular packing info, these are the items purchased from various travel catalogs and/or web sites, all but one since the last trip in 2010. I've put the list in recommended down to just mentioning order:

    * mini tote that packs in its own pocket .. this one is from Rick Steves, though you certainly may find one from another source. Hmm, looks like you will have to go to another source b/c I don't see it on the web site anymore. Flat and open it measures about 13x13x5 and if you can fold it correctly again once open, it zips away into the built-in 5x3 pocket. I found this so convenient to keep in my coat pocket and yank out for getting picnic items at Sainsburys as well at museum gift shops (just about all clerks, no matter the store, asked if I needed a bag while ringing up my purchases). I started skipping putting it into its pocket and just folded by thirds and rolled before stashing away.

    1/2* Tom Bihn Travel Tray, http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/ACC/TB0991 .. my jaw just dropped by the end of the little demo video and I quickly ordered an ultraviolet tray for myself. In actual use, well, it was very useful standing up in the room, but the shutting and going into my bag did not work as well as the demo, I think because I didn't have a flat location for it; the top of my bag was an angled squish. Now that I have it, I will continue using it, now that I have it, but the ziplock used on my last trip did the same function and was less $.

    1/3* sewing kit luggage tag .. a present from my Christmas stocking. It's a great idea, but the execution in this model is cheap. The strap came undone at one point, but I noticed before losing it. I will continue using it .. until the strap probably breaks someday. Didn't need to use anything from it this trip, and combining the two uses--emergency sewing kit and luggage tag--from two items to one Is imaginative.

    - Colgate Wisp, mini-brush with freshening bead .. this is a tiny brush with a toothpick at the other end. I found these in the travel section at a department store, and I saw them for sale at BOS also. Sure, I used one, but I did start thinking that as a single use item, they are a bit wasteful. I'll use up my pack (comes with 4), but I'm not going to recommend buying them as regular travel accessory.

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    Packing

    The packing note starts first with the items I forgot to pack:

    .. for all my trips I have brought a bit of duct tape on a pen. Only used it once, and the benefit was to a fellow tour member not myself, but it's an emergency "might need" item and I meant to bring it.

    .. vitamin C drops, or anything useful for sucking on when the throat is ticklish, but not really a cough. I had some items in my purse, but these would have been better than what I did have with me.

    .. I don't know if it's the Incognito Pants Wallet, Hidden Travel Wallet, or Undercover Hidden Pocket, but I have three of one version from Magellans, http://www.magellans.com/store/Small_Bags___Wallets___Wallets___Money_Belts?page_number=all. I use two large safety pins to pin the pocket to my pants waist (I pin it in horizontally along the waistline). To have three means I can leave the pocket on each pair of pants and just move the stash, not pin/unpin .. but I forgot to bring the other two this trip and Did have to pin/unpin with each change of pants. (While packing I saw the extra wallets, wondered why I had so many, so a true V8 moment when I finally remembered on the trip!)

    My printed packing list now has those three things on it!

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    Packing con't

    My bag:

    This trip I used the Lowe Alpine Ti Carry-On 40, http://www.amazon.com/Lowe-Alpine-Carry-On-Travel-Carry/dp/B001LDJK6A I've used a different bag for every trip thus far :-) but the next trip will again use this one. I like the size (a bit below "normal" carry on), compression straps are both inside and out (and the outside go from top to bottom, not almost top to bottom, leaving some space outside of the compression zone), and it has some organization slots included, and the convertible straps worked fine for the short distances I used them (up to mile).

    What I put in the bag:

    Basically, pj's and clothes for two days. I did put in two extra sets of underclothes/socks and then wish I hadn't. Yes, it meant I only did sink washing one night of the trip, but by the end I was wishing for a second night of sink washing and not lugging the laundry around. One pair of socks that I take are just for nighttime use: SmartWool hiking socks .. a heavyweight pair, so soft and cushy when new, and warm!

    311 bag:
    shampoo (an ounce or so), Febreeze (travel bottle with under 1 ounce), travel Woolite (2 packets) .. I was having trouble with dry skin and picked up some Neutragena at the Terminal 2 in Dublin. Yes, cost more at the airport, but it met a need.

    Purse:
    The mini-messenger bag from 2008 is my favorite bag for trips. It's not too large and has a very comfortable strap. The pocket probably meant for a small cell phone has cough drops and ginger chews (but no hard candies/vitamin C drops, which I was wishing for later on the trip). Another zip pocket had my emergency first aid: a travel wet wipe, a couple band aids, some Pepto pills, two travel packets of Tylenol (one dose in each), and a travel packet of Dramamine. I used one Dramamine, half at a time, and a band aid was passed over to a young man who caught his hand somehow on the plane home and needed it. A few other items always in the purse: Moleskine Cahier notebook, 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 with blank pages (nice for drawing/tracing), pen, pencil, and mini Kleenex (usual use and emergency use for public WC with no paper .. yes, it happens). A small glue stick and mini scissors are used with the Cahier notebook for an on-the-go journal/scrapbook of the trip.

    Misc:
    umbrella (used it when returned home and family picked me up at the bus station, though I know it's luck to not have needed it on the trip :-)
    gloves, hat, scarf .. never used on trip

    Toiletries:
    usual .. a tip I'd read online was for frequent travelers who buy new deodorants, etc, to put the new in the always packed bag, so to never be out while traveling. I do the opposite: when my deodorant was down to about 1/4 stick, then it went into the trip toiletry kit, and the same with my toothpowder (powder works well and it's one less item for 311 bag).

    Shoes:
    just one pair .. the New Balance 811 shoes that I first wore in 2008. I liked them so much that I clean and put them away between trips. I did try purchasing another pair, but even though the 2nd pair was the same kind, they didn't fit as comfortably, so I am conserving this pair for trips! I do bring an extra set of Dr. Scholl air pillow insoles and swap those out daily.

    Electronics:
    adapter for UK sockets
    camera
    camera charger
    iPhone
    iPhone charger
    microphone-earphone to use with iPhone

    Well, I hope that all isn't into too personal land, it gives some idea of what I took along. As I was rushing about on the Friday before leaving for the bus station, I worried about what could be missing (definitely discovered those few items I wished for later), but I remembered Ira and knew I was "packed" .. tickets, passport, ATM and credit cards .. good to go!

    (LOL, I used some of my 2010 trip for summer course projects and cited Ira's advice :-) http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/paris-75.cfm )

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    Friday, 13 April

    The morning was very busy with getting ready to leave, so many final details. I carefully called the banks and credit card companies to leave travel alert notes.

    My ticket was for the later Aer Lingus flight and I was hungry enough to get something to eat while waiting. Past Security in Terminal E, I tried O'Brian's Pub. The chicken quesadilla came with some guacamole, sour cream, and salsa .. okay. For fun I ordered some mac & cheese from the kid's menu--it was just a Kraft's type, plunked on a big plate .. oh, lol .. rather a disappointment.

    The flight experience was the ordinary: wait to board, board, dinner, and try to sleep. I must have slept, some, but it was the sleep that doesn't feel like you're asleep, in bits and snoozes.

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    Saturday, 14 April

    We landed in the morning at the new DUB Terminal 2. I tried to have both onward boarding pass and passport ready. All the agent looked at was the boarding pass, which beeped a warning at her.

    I had a long layover, 6 hours, and that was the reason for the warning. The agent suggested leaving the airport and I agreed, but only if I knew where I was going. I wasn't prepared on this trip to leave and come back, so I just stayed.

    After scanning the boarding pass, the little office for an immigration official was empty, so I passed on through and next was security, where I managed to set off the metal detector.

    The agent asked if my bag had an computer or iPad? No. He didn't say iPhone, and that was in my pocket at this point, not my purse. Also, I'd forgotten about paying for supper and the change that was in another pocket. So embarrassing, but also not uncommon, I would think, for a fuzzy headed traveler, walking with sleep deprivation.

    If you have to be stuck for a long layer, it's nice to be at a new terminal. I browsed shops, and browsed some more. There were quite a few displays of things Titanic-related (100th anniversary, of course).

    The flight from DUB to MAN was on an A320. It was a noisy plane; something in the mechanics made grinding noises, and someone near me made a comment, "Okay, you can take the handbrake off." (Quite a few giggles.)

    It's a short flight to MAN, barely time for the flight attendants to do a beverage service (you purchase on this flight). At MAN, we disembarked using stairs and were bused over to the arrivals hall.

    I had studied coach schedules to get from MAN to York. I also looked at the train schedules. Knowing that flights can be delayed, and rail works can disrupt things on weekends, I decided to splurge and take a hired car.

    I searched car hire possibilities through the Manchester airport web site. I also searched Fodors and that's how I found Marc Smith and http://www.chauffeur2go.com/ The trip took a little over an hour and cost £140. Along the way, we chatted about passing scenery and possible things to see in the area. It was a good trip.

    After settling in to my room at Number 34, I walked into York for my first look at the Minster. Everyday I took a picture or two on the iPhone to post to Facebook for friends/family. The picture this day was a beautiful shot of the west end, with the last of the sun brightly lighting it.

    FYI, Number 34 and the Radisson had general wifi. The Dene has wifi for guests, though only in the breakfast room. Every evening I posted something about the day on Facebook and called home on Skype ($10 credit to make calls to landlines at .05/minute).

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    Sunday, 15 April

    Breakfast at Number 34 can really fill you up. Everyone can start with tea/coffee, orange juice, yogurt, fruit, toast and cereals, and then you have options of the full English breakfast, a vegetarian full breakfast, or other options (scrambled eggs on toast, bacon or sausage sandwich, or fried egg on toast). What you want for the full or other option breakfast is indicated on a menu beforehand. All very good!

    I made my way back to the Minster for the Sunday morning Sung Eucharist and stayed for the coffee time afterward in the Chapter House. I stayed long enough to then sit in for Matins as well. I exited through the gift shop to come back around and pay for entry and a guide booklet. The guided tours weren't on Sunday, but my entry purchase allowed return visits, so I could do a tour later.

    I had to stop taking pictures because my camera's battery died! A walk back to Number 34 gave time for charging both the battery and myself. I watched And the Band Played On (while scanning for titles on the TV, more than one channel would have something about the Titanic during this anniversary week).

    Since last fall, I gathered quite a few "Like"s on Facebook for museums/organizations that related to my trip. A Vintage Fair (just £1 entry fee) at the Merchants Adventurers' Hall was happening that afternoon and posted on Facebook by Visit York. The rest of my day was spent walking (15,500 steps on the pedometer that day): to the MAH for the Fair, finding the bus stop that would take me to the Yorkshire Air Museum, through crafters stalls in the area around Parliament Street, a stop in the Marks and Spencer to buy items for a picnic supper in the Dean's Park, and following signs from the top of Bootham Terrace to the railway station and back.

    I used a Barclays ATM for some cash and the statement on the screen made me chuckle. Yes, it accurately and plainly described the action, but something just tingled the funny bone: Please wait while your bank deals with your request.

    After picking a bench in the Dean's Park, a spork in my purse provided the utensil to enjoy the Marks and Spencer pear/blackberry yogurt and salad. A little bird came very near and even sat on the bench. I didn't know what I could offer, but tried some crumbs of the hard boiled egg in the salad, which were flown off.

    I have some pictures if anyone can identify the type: songbird size; brown on the back and tail, a reddish breast and line of gray between.

    Hmmm, searching myself, I guess it was a robin, http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/r/robin/index.aspx I thought it a very cute bird, cuter than an American robin, now that I know its name.

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    Monday, 16 April

    After another great breakfast start, I headed out to walk around the center, gradually making my way down to a bus stop past the Merchants Adventurers' Hall.

    I had a hard time walking in York. For someone with weak ankles and now one experience with a broken ankle (last summer's "fun"), the walking surfaces were one vast potential for catching a toe. The walking could be a cobbled surface, but also sidewalks of an irregular flagstone-like surface. I looked down quite a bit.

    While trying to find one of the public WCs in the center, I walked and looked, walked, finally looked up, discovering I had walked by the door already, but watching the ground in front of me, did not see the sign above the door! It was .40p for the WC near the St Sampsons Center for Over 60s.

    I could not believe it when I saw the bendy buses! Obviously the route must go around the center, not through the very center, but even wherever I caught sight of one, it just looked too big for the streets.

    The return bus ticket to take me to the Yorkshire Air Museum .. http://www.yorkshireairmuseum.org/ .. was £3.70. The ride was 30-40 minutes, I think. The route went through housed areas and pastureland, with some zigs and zags both in town (between the parked cars) and out of town.

    I visited several hours, catching the first of two times to take the bus back to York. A video in the main display hall theater told the story very well of one young man who married a local girl but did not survive the war. Memorial brick walls in the main hangar display include the one his wife bought. YAM was a great day trip. It has good displays for children to learn about military aviation and life during WW2.

    I picked up some supper items in the Tesco near the bus stop, but going by Drakes Fish and Chip Restaurant (97 Low Petergate) to reach the Dean's Park again, I instead had fish & chips and mushy peas for supper (£5.09).

    I had no sooner sat on the bench and I could hear an eruption from the brush behind me. A couple walking by were also startled and exclaimed a bit to see the little robin come to the bench. Some bits of a Tesco roll and potato (from the chips) flew off this eve.

    Heading back to Number 34, I first walked the wall from Bootham Bar to Monk Bar and back. I saw a mention somewhere, so I knew York had a museum for Richard III, but had not realized it was IN the Monk Bar. I did not go up from the gift shop area, so cannot offer info other than location.

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    Tuesday, 17 April

    Monday's pedometer reading was 11,600. Tuesday ended up quieter with just 9,700 steps.

    The weather had not been great, but certainly could have been worse on my trip. Tuesday rained early and late, so rain when I was comfortably in Number 34 was okay by me :-)

    I returned to the York Minster and arrived in time to catch up with a group that had started a few minutes earlier. It was a delightful hour of informative background and stories.

    Walking down to the National Railway Museum, I saw the Multangular Tower and York Explore Library (http://www.york.gov.uk/leisure/Libraries/Library_facilities/exploreyork/ ). I thought the Library a wonderful, well-designed space. Now knowing it's the result of a refurbishment, I really think they did a good job. (When inventing my Fodors username: A librarian who wanted to go to Scotland = scotlib.)

    I did not walk around the Yorkshire Museum gardens much, so a return visit will be longer than just seeing the Tower, http://www.yorkshiremuseum.org.uk/Page/GdnsBuildings.aspx More about the Tower: http://www.historyofyork.org.uk/themes/roman-empire-governed-from-york/the-multangular-tower

    The York Wall from Bootham Bar to Monk Bar has a metal railing. To start walking near the railway had no railing, so for me, I was glad to have already walked some part and not walk on the next section.

    The National Railway Museum was a repeat visit, http://www.nrm.org.uk/ I first saw it on my April 2009 trip (http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/trains-planes-and-libraries-solo-trip-open-jaw-edilhr.cfm ). I'm sure a museum can't stay the same all the time and keep visitors happy, so it was good to know the displays were changed, though I missed not walking underneath a train as I did in '09.

    Walking around as much as I was doing was enjoyable, but I was also very conscious of taking a week's trip and getting sick if doing too much activity as the body gets tired (been there, done that = no fun!). So I spent some time walking around the trains and displays, but also went up to the NRM's library area and just read train journals for a while.

    When I arrived at the Dean's Park for a supper picnic, I had another takeaway from Drakes and a seeded cracker. I couldn't sit at the same bench, so thought I wouldn't have a visitor again, but either the robins zoom in on any food source, or there's more than one family, because I had two robins visit my bench for some little offerings.

    Perhaps my story will annoy readers? Pigeons are pests (IMO) and I had no interest in attracting the attention of the ones flying around the Minster's area, but the robins were cute .. but better if I had not given even any crumbs?

    I did not offer anything (money or food-wise) to the young man sitting in the tunnel to reach the railway museum. I asked about that situation on a recent thread, http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/buskers-and-beggars-donate-if-yes-how-much.cfm

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    I live near York but am enjoying your report and seeing the city as a visitor might. You also put my packing to shame with your organisation!
    Robins are considered 'cute' and no one would blame you for throwing one some crumbs. They feature on Christmas cards over here! They can be friendly and cheeky, and if you walk along a country lane they can seem to follow you. I always like to see one in my garden.
    Glad you liked the Air Museum - I've been once, late one afternoon and we practically had the place to ourselves. Not sure if you agree, but we found some of the buildings very atmospheric and more than a little bit creepy. You'd have to pay me good money to spend any time along in the Control Tower! Great place to visit though.

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    I'm loving your report - lots of good detail. I'll be in Yorkshire for a few days next month, but not sure if I'll make it into York. I love York and your report is making me wish I had more time this trip.

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    Hi Morgana, thanks for the info about robins. I was amazed at how close they would get, not that I was about to try and touch or do anything untoward. I rushed a bit at the Air Museum, I felt, by trying to get the next bus and not the second one back. Hopefully I will have a chance to return someday. The Control Tower was not open during my visit, but the day was quiet enough that, yes, being surrounded by old buildings could make you wonder what might be around a corner.

    Thanks, janisj, for reading along. I'm also a great fan of James Herriot (James Alfred Wight), so more time in Yorkshire will be a definite .. someday. I thought of him while spending time in the York Minster; I know they held the public memorial there. I enjoyed learning about the man behind the pen name in The Real James Herriot: A Memoir of My Father by his son Jim Wight.

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    Trying to see if I've left anything out of the first half of the trip.

    A reason I mentioned calling the bank and credit cards on the day I left .. one card was with Chase Bank. It was easy to call and leave the travel notice. The next morning, though, while I was getting ready to board the connecting flight to MAN, I rec'd a call from home. An automated call from Chase Bank wanted to confirm that I had called and left a note about travel .. argh .. a call to me at DUB and me calling Chase Bank to hit "1" and confirm I'd called.

    I've read online of not leaving the calls to banks and credit cards to the last minute .. now I'll ditto the recommendation!

    LOL .. this doesn't have an impact until the end of the trip, but just when family was about to take me to the bus station (hour away) to catch the bus to Logan, we fortunately discovered the gate to the heifer yard was open. Better to chase one critter back and fix the latch than for them to come home 2 hours later and find them all out ;-)

    When doing the landing card for coming home, on past trips I have marked a "yes" for a question about being near livestock in the last two weeks. My trip was less than two weeks, so within the past two weeks, yes, I've been near livestock--I live on a farm.

    This trip, there was still a question about livestock, but it was written in a way that it just meant while on the trip, not prior, so I was able to check "no."

    Another thought about the going over flights: I've made two other trips with Aer Lingus and I know with getting off the flight in DUB that we all had to speak to an immigration official. It was very weird not having anyone look at my passport, just the boarding card.

    In fact, another advance peek .. when going home from MAN to DUB, again I first showed my next flight boarding card to an agent, then even though there was an immigration official in the booth to pass by, all he did was also look at my boarding card, so I have No stamps in the passport from this trip, none at all.

    Something I managed to find while in York was Gü puds--enjoyed some each evening :-d

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    Meant to add - this was while Alf was still alive but retired (maybe around 1993) and Jim still ran the veterinary surgery and before the visitors centre/museum.

    My girlfriend and I were standing across the road from the office - thrilled that we were seeing 'James Herriot's' place when the door opened and a woman walked out the door, a carryall over her arm. As she turned around in our direction -- there sticking his head out of the bag was a baby goat and he was chewing on the lapel of her jacket. It was the cutest thing :)

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    @janisj .. what a cool story! thank you for sharing the memory.


    A final thought (I think final thought) about York, and then the story heads north:

    While visiting the Minster on Tuesday, twice an announcement came over the public address system, welcoming the visitors and asking for a moment of our time, and then a general prayer was said, asking for good things for people everywhere. I liked this. It was a nice reminder that before being a huge, old, glorious building for gawking, the Minster is someone's church home.

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    Wednesday, 18 April

    After a final delicious breakfast at Number 34, I put my convertible bag on my bag and strode to the railway station in easy time to pick up my ticket.

    I had purchased two tickets online back in February, early enough for advance tickets using Scotrail's site, http://www.scotrail.co.uk/ .. York to Edinburgh Waverley and Edinburgh Waverley to Manchester Airport. I paid with my Capital One Visa (no foreign transaction fee) and just needed to put it in the slot and tap in the purchase code to get the ticket and seat reservation.

    Soon after the train exited the station, I could tell that I am just not used to train riding--every couple of years is just not a regular enough experience. I took 1/2 a Dramamine (and took the other 1/2 before boarding the train back to MAN).

    Other than getting used to the motion, I love riding trains on my trips! I hate, however, when two trains meet. It always comes as an unpleasant surprise, making me jerk and I have to shut my eyes.

    The Dene is 1 mile from Edinburgh Waverley. It's a slight uphill to Princes St, slight uphill up Hanover St to the intersection with George St, but then it's all downhill (Hanover St changes to Dundas St along the way) to Eyre Place. I made it in 26 min, all the while thinking that I would be getting the bus back on Saturday morning!

    After settling in to my single standard room, I went across Dundas St to the Cuckoo Bakery, http://www.cuckoosbakery.co.uk/ This is another FaceBook "Like," and the pictures of the cupcakes are just gorgeous. I purchased an Eton Mess and carried it to find the Royal Botanic Garden (http://www.rbge.org.uk/ ) and a quiet spot to enjoy my cupcake. It was very good. Was it so good that I would pay £2.30 for another? For me, no. One a trip, yes, I will be visiting again when next in Edinburgh, but the icing was a bit too sweet for me, so one a trip is enough. I also want to return and try the ginger beer that was on the shelf (I like ginger beer and try the different brands as I find them).

    I headed back from the Garden (not far from the Dene and this was my first visit) to go up Dundas St .. up, up .. oh, I am so taking the bus on Saturday, I thought. I approached the Royal Mile by going up over the Mound, stopping by the Museum on the Mound. A gentleman in a suit opening the door for every visitor was a first! http://www.museumonthemound.com/ A museum for the banking/financial industry was different, definitely different. I didn't stay long, but may go longer the next time to read more of the displays (visual, but largely texted displays).

    I wanted to be sure and make the People's Story, http://www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk/Venues/The-People-s-Story I love going up to the video room at the very top. I was in time to watch the video that covers life in Edinburgh and its changes through the 20th century (to about the '80s) one time. It was 4:30 and the shooing out had begun.

    I had seen something on the news on Monday and I looked for a quote in a display for comparison .. "in 1863 1 baby in 7 died before the age of 1 year." Now, the baby is alive, but not well, because the news was how 1 child in 7 is obese in the UK. True, one city's stats against a country's, not fair, but still interesting thought.

    From the People's Story on the Royal Mile, I went back to the Dene, and then back up Dundas St as far as Queen St to go to the Edinburgh New Town Cookery School, http://www.entcs.co.uk/

    Somehow I had seen the Cookery School's web site and a new beginner's course was starting that night. I e-mailed and asked if a one-night visitor was okay. It was. I think it worked well because it was the first night of the course, so I wasn't butting in to an established group dynamic. I tried counting students as they came in--my last count was 9 men and 5 women.

    For the one session, the two hour course cost £52. I had a lovely time and learning some cooking techniques. We made a small loaf of Irish soda bread, pesto, and minestrone soup. Not having a way to store my efforts, I gave away most of the pesto and soup, taking the bread and rest to have a lovely supper down the hill in my room.

    Any guesses to the pedometer reading? :-) From railway station to guest house to gardens to Royal Mile to guest house to Queen St to guest house ... 17,100

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    Thanks for the report. After London, York is my favorite English city and I went to many of the same places you did. If going to York again, the Yorkshire museum as there is a lot of interesting exhibits on the history of York and the building itself(an old abbey).

    I looked into that B&B but it was full. I stayed for 4 days at the Talbot Court Apartments http://www.talbotcourt.co.uk/ which I can highly recommend. Lovely clean furnishings within the city walls. And the owners were marvelous to deal with and had some groceries waiting when I arrived. Still have to make it to the Air Museum as the buses weren't running.

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    Thursday, 19 April

    What to do this day? A friend has indicated interest in coming on a trip with me for 2013, or summer 2014 if next year doesn't work. I want to revisit just about everything I have done on my four trips to date, but I also want to perhaps leave some things so we share new experiences, but we haven't yet talked about her interests.

    I debated leaving this idea for a joint trip, but then decided as it was on my "must do" list, I won't worry about whether she'll wish I had waited or not care. I headed to the Falkirk Wheel, http://www.thefalkirkwheel.co.uk/

    After breakfast I trekked back to the railway station (hmm, I'm rested after yesterday's walking and it's doable).

    I purchased my ticket from an agent's desk. I wasn't sure what she meant that I could do either Falkirk Grahamston (FKG) or Falkirk High (FKK). It made more sense when I heard the announcement when the train stopped in Linlithgow, "Change here for Falkirk High." Getting off a train that was already going where I wanted didn't make sense, so if you're in Edinburgh, FKG seems the more logical route.

    The trip was not long and I didn't have trouble with the motion this day. (I still hate when trains pass!)

    Getting off in Falkirk Grahamston, the train leaves you on the correct side to head uphill into town and catch the bus to the Falkirk Wheel. Go up Glebe St alongside the ASDA and across the street to the bus stop by the clock. You will know it's the correct bus because it's green and has lots of yellow text about the Wheel :-) The route number is No. 3. Coming back, the bus lets you off on the shopping store side and you just walk back down to the train station, going up and across the walkway to the other side to board and go back to Edinburgh.

    The off-peak return train ticket cost £9.00 and the return bus ticket was £3.80. The bus trip to the Wheel goes through a residential part of Falkirk Grahamston, so the trip is as long as the number of requested stops, but it really didn't take long at all.

    The first building you enter is actually a tourist information stop for the local area. Exit that building and go into the next for the Wheel's reception area. I purchased a ticket for the next boat ride and had lunch in the cafeteria (£7.70 for sandwich, banana, water, and very nice piece of chocolate cake .. yum).

    The weather was gray and sprinkles fell during the boat ride, but it was still fun, and I would just hope for a sunny day on a return trip :-)

    Afterward, I followed the walking path markers to the Antonine Wall and back, arriving in time for a bus to take me back to the shopping center and go back down to the train station. Sprinkles were no bother (I did have my umbrella with me). The heaviest sprinkles were as I approached the train station, but by being so close, I just kept going, so I never actually used the umbrella on my trip, though I wasn't far from it several times.

    Returning from the Royal Mile on Wednesday, I had stopped at Unicorn Antiques on Dundas St. I found a cute blue itty-bitty vase to take home. I stopped again this trip to ask a curious question, did the proprietress have anything related to a bear named Wojtek? It looked like I was giving her a trip down memory lane, but nothing to offer was in the shop.

    Wojtek was a bear who lived in the Edinburgh Zoo from 1947 to 1963. He arrived there by traveling with the 2nd Corps of the Polish Army during and after the Second World War. Another friend asked me if I could find the statue of him and take a picture. In my researching, I found the charity, http://wojtekthebear.org.uk/ , and learned a statue is still in the planning stages, but I was going to find some more info, if possible, this trip.

    Thursday's steps: 13,200

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    Hi emily71, thanks for reading. Yes, even with my three days I didn't make it to the Yorkshire Museum or York Castle Museum or Clifford's Tower or ... repeat visits are due :-)

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    Friday, 20 April

    The weather was gray and sprinkle-y to start, but not enough to need the umbrella as I once again went up and over Dundas St to go to the Royal Mile and beyond.

    First stop was the Central Library on George IV Bridge, http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/directory_record/5079/central_library The enquiries desk sent me down to the Edinburgh & Scottish History Section where I filled out a request slip to browse the reference copy of Aileen Orr's Wojtek the Bear: Polish War Hero, http://www.amazon.com/WOJTEK-THE-BEAR-Polish-Hero/dp/1841588458

    I spent an hour and a half browsing and definitely want my own copy. The book is a delightful read, and a knowledgeable epilogue puts Wojtek's story in context to the WW2 events.

    Next stop was the National Museum of Scotland, not far away on Chambers St, where I made it for the first time to the rooftop terrace, http://www.nms.ac.uk/our_museums/national_museum.aspx . Do look for the signs to go up and enjoy the view. I took the stairs, but I saw that one of the elevators also goes up.

    A special exhibit until June is all about train posters. Yes, I enjoyed it!

    I walked down Chambers St to visit the Blackwell Bookshop on South Bridge, but a copy of Orr's book was not available. I will have to order online.

    Back up to George IV Bridge and I spent some time in the National Library of Scotland, http://www.nls.uk/

    I filled out forms for a library card and to access the reading rooms this trip. My coat and purse had to stay in a locker. The only things I could take up were my Cahier notebook and pencil (pens stay in the locker). The enquiries desk staff were very helpful. Again, I filled in a slip with what I needed and waited for it to be brought to me. I requested the microfilm of the Scotsman newspaper for the months when Wojtek arrived at the Zoo and when he died (thinking there might be a news story).

    Luckily, the 1947 Scotsman is now electronically indexed with PDF copies of articles. Simply by typing in the name and paying .35p I had a copy of when Wojteck arrived at the Zoo. I wasn't so lucky with the November 1963.

    I haven't worked with microfilm since college, 20+ years, but it did come back to me how to work the machine :-) I first found a picture of President John F. Kennedy receiving a dirk from the Black Watch Pipe Band, which was touring North America. I later also saw the headline news after his assassination.

    I didn't find any article about Wojteck, though that doesn't mean more can't be found. I may have just missed it, or a different paper may have mentioned his passing. I have one article copy and information on how my friend can request research services even from this side of the Atlantic from the National Library's staff.

    Back over to the Dene to drop things off and a walk, with the sun now shining around clouds, to the Scotmid Co-operative on Hamilton Place. The coconut yogurt (and I seem to remember bits of chocolate) with the Co-Operative Truly Irresistible West Country label was delish!

    Friday's steps: 11,000

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    Good to see you enjoyed yourself.

    Robins are very good at watching gardeners weed and they pounce on any little creature you unearth. Also they are very territorial. I was taught that in olden days it was assumed that Robins were the male of the species and Wrens the female. Hence the song.

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    Saturday, 21 April

    Breakfast on Saturdays is later than weekdays, so I helped myself to the continental items in the breakfast room before dropping off the keys and leaving.

    On Wednesday, I thought sure I would want to wait for a bus, but daily trips up and over the hill, and I thought I could make it. I did, and two minutes faster than my arrival time! I think the faster bit was from not having to wait at every single corner (more traffic on a Wednesday early afternoon than Saturday morning).

    I picked up my pre-purchased ticket from the kiosk, just to stick in the credit card, and wait to find which platform.

    I don't have a note if the train changed engines in Carlisle or another place, but it did once. An announcement mentioned to expect a smalll bump from the process. More than one exclamation was heard, that if that's "small," what's a big one? Hmm, perhaps better to not know ;-)

    The train went all the way to the Manchester Airport, where you go up an escalator and just follow signs to the Radisson .. easy-peasy.

    I watched Merigo (a horse trained in Scotland and owned by a Scotsman) win his second Scottish Grand National and then went down for a supper in the hotel's Runway Brasserie and Bar. The service was great. My chicken Caesar salad .. well, okay (too much dressing, I thought).

    I liked my room at the Radisson: queen bed, lots of room, and a great bathroom. It was odd when first entering that the lights came up only gradually, but for getting up with an early flight, your eyes will then appreciate it.

    You could tell this hotel caters a bit for the frequent traveler/foreign guest. I could recognize French and German on a couple of channels (The Big Bang Theory in a different language - very interesting). The bathroom has a built in clothes line over the tub and wash cloths :-d

    I spent the evening doing final packing things. Some of the accumulated paper for my Cahier journal was clipped and glued in.

    In hindsight, I could have taken a later train from Edinburgh. I took the 9:51 because it was express to the airport, but another time I may find something I want to do for the morning and take an early afternoon train with 1 change.

    Just 5,100 steps today.

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    Sunday, 22 April

    I'm not a regular coffee drinker, but today's a long trip, so I had that in my room and grabbed a banana from the "Grab-and-Run" table (breakfast service started later).

    It was an easy walk to Terminal 1 to check in and go through security. They only wanted to see the boarding pass, not anyone's passport.

    In line, you put your stuff in bins, go through the metal detector and then wait. You'll either get an open door to go get your stuff or get an open door requiring to go through the scanner machine. (A sign earlier in the process warns that if you refuse the scanner, you won't fly.)

    The lady in front of me was scanned, I was just metal detected, but I did have to wait until about as long as it took for her scanning to then have my stuff come down the line to gather up (it's nice if this is always the case, as it could be helpful when traveling alone and person behind you can't reach for your stuff).

    The walk to the waiting area then wends and winds around a Lot of shopping (no straight path!).

    I purchased a water for £1.10 and soon wondered, "Why?!" To go through security in DUB would mean having to toss it then, so I did drink some and tossed the rest before boarding.

    My previous flight connection and I forgot to empty my pockets of metal. This time I made sure to have completely empty pockets and I still set off the beep, so rec'd a quick pat down. I don't know what set it off this time, and the pat down found nothing, so I gathered stuff and went upstairs.

    At security a board tells your flight number and gate information. You either go upstairs or continue somewhere else based on the number. Each time I was directed upstairs, so what things look like the other route, I can't actually tell you.

    My 2010 trip had a 4 hour layover and I just ate/shopped/browsed, figuring a 2 hour before the gate was time plenty. It took an hour of that two to get to the gate, because of US immigration/customs preclearance in Dublin. With just a two hour window, I purchased a sandwich and water for the flight (and chocolates, lol) and went right to preclearance, though the sign board didn't actually say to do so...

    The sign at the top of the stairs down to preclearance said flights 139 and something else didn't have to do it. My flight was 133, so I went downstairs.

    New sign warned of entering US soil and not bringing anything forbidden, eg.: meats, fruit, etc. Hmm, egg and bacon sandwich. Okay, back up the stairs, eat, go back down the stairs and fill out the blue/white landing form and get in line.

    I saw some other folks leaving the line after speaking to one of the agents and discovered when it was my turn that my flight would do immigration/customs in Boston, not Dublin. Oh. In fact, all the 13x flights would not do preclearance in Dublin.

    In my defense, the sign only mentioned 139, not any 13x flight. My assumption did turn out incorrect, though, and I just made my way to the correct gate, to wait. It wasn't long until boarding and maybe that's why we did the clearing in BOS instead of DUB.

    After the flight I was able to quickly get through immigration (luck, yes) and go straight to the customs check (just my purse and carry on bag in hand). Perhaps because I'd come across so quickly, I was asked for a random bag check. No problem. The immigration fellow also wanted confirmation that the packaged candies listed on my purchases did not include any other food, so the customs fellow may have been double checking that, too.

    I made it outside in time to catch a bus within 15 min, called family to pick me up in about 2 hours time, and then just snoozed away the ride.

    I started by saying it was a quiet trip. It felt quiet. I guess because I wasn't running from thing to thing. But an enjoyable trip, and maybe I'll finally have someone convinced to share the next one.

    Cheers!

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    Thanks, irishface, for reading along.

    Well, I haven't been to Iona yet .. a definite wish list. I haven't visited Glasgow yet, or much of the west side. I also want to do more of the Borders.

    My friend, who is considering coming with me for a trip, also does not want to drive. We'll first decide what we want to do and then figure out if what we want to do can all be done with public transportation. If not, then maybe we'll include some hired drivers.

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    Thanks, sheila, for reading the report and commenting.

    I don't know what song exactly, but my assumption was the one I found and linked. The second link has some background text, assuming it's the correct item, http://www.delamar.org/mgs-long_cockrobin.htm

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