The train ride between Glasgow and Edinburgh is 55 minutes, and not only do services to each destination run every half hour, but there is a tea lady who goes up and down the track selling snacks. I don’t think the tea lady really needs to be on a service that is similar to the Geelong-Melbourne service at home, but you have to love the frequency.
Overall, travelling by train with the family has been a far more pleasurable experience than I ever anticipated. We’re using a Britrail flexi-pass which allows us 8 days of travel over 2 months and have found most of the trains to be comfortable. Rather than arriving at an airport and having to bus or taxi into the centre of town, you arrive at a station which is already the town centre and any travel by public transport can be done in a far easier way.
Unless you’re arriving at Waverley Station in Edinburgh where there are extensive renovations underway, and it’s also in a hollow. Unless your apartment is in High Street, or The Royal Mile, and you have to go uphill, lugging your ever-increasingly heavy suitcases and holding the hand of a child who does not want to go uphill because they’re tired. Unless you have to lug said suitcases up 4 floors of a circular stairway to your apartment because there is no lift, and all you want to do is throw said suitcase off the side of Edinburgh Castle.
Looking on the bright side, we’re on the Royal Mile in a totally cool apartment with character (for character, read rolling floors and windows that aren’t sound proof). The owners have placed mirrors here and there to reflect as much light as possible into the apartment. And not only was it not raining, it was sunny!
Fears of being kept awake all night were allayed, as there wasn’t that much noise from the restaurants below that we weren’t used to from Florence (that seems like ages ago!)
It was sunny as we headed up the Royal Mile towards Edinburgh Castle. We did a slight double take at the price £16 for adults £9.20 for children 5-15, but luckily we didn’t have to wait too long at the ticket counter, about 15 minutes.
The view is magnificent, the day was sunny and there wasn’t hordes of people. Sure, you had to queue to see the Scottish Crown Jewels, but there wasn’t too much of a queue. However, spending over £40 just to get in made me less inclined to spend any money on souvenirs.
I think it was also getting to the point where I was seriously over castles. There was only so much history, and art and architecture that my brain could absorb, and Edinburgh Castle was one castle too many. But having said that, we then went to the National Museum of Scotland.
Not so much the antidote to a history overload, but it was free. The kids got to have a play in the Science section, all in the name of education , and do some dressing up, and we saw the original Lewis Chessmen.
Master BG was also quite taken with a trebuchet game that was quite reminiscent of Angry Birds :-)
Apart from that, the Museum was okay. While the collections were grouped in very broad ways (it’s the librarian in me who gets a bit obsessed about collections and classifications), there really wasn’t much of a narrative linking the artefacts. Objects were displayed with very little explanation or thought in presentation. Wooden mouldings where located up high on a wall, making them hard to view, and old jewellery was encased in steel sculptures as a way of interpreting how they would have been worn by people of yore. The only problem was, it was hard to see the Jewellery!
I think it would have been better had we not realised we missed an exhibition of Scottish railway ephemera and advertising artwork, dating back to the 1930s- by 2 days! There was an element of frustration we felt that coloured the rest of our visit at the Museum.
We ended the day with Italian, a few doors up from our apartment. It was truly a yummy meal, made all the better that it was about a 1 minute walk from our apartment. This of course did not include the walk upstairs with full tummies :-) .
Some Angry Birds sweets we found in Scotland :-)