Left home at 3:40 and walked in the slush to Runnymede Subway station. There’ s a long line up for the Airport Rocket at Kipling Station but the driver refuses to open the rear doors to make boarding easier. Traffic on the northbound 427 is sluggish as it’s snowing again. No problems with check-in and security at Pearson Airport but departure is delayed by 45 minutes. It seems that Air Transat just pretends it has “special meals." You can’t book them on-line, by phone or through a travel agent. Luckily, the pasta dinner is veggie.
We land at Glasgow airport and after a short queue for immigration the officer asks me what happened to my British accent. I explain that as a five year old I made a conscious decision to ditch it so that the kids on our street would stop laughing every time I said something.
At the tourist info booth I buy a return ticket, £6.50, for the Glasgow Flyer [which unlike the TTC's Airport Rocket is equipped with proper luggage racks]– an express bus that drops me off outside of Queen Street Railway Station. The 9:30 train to Edinburgh is quiet, comfortable and sets off on time, £9.70 one way. A Scottish microcosm flashes by – fields of cattle and sheep, ruins of ancient stone buildings, 20th Century pebble dash row housing, industrial estates, quaint village high streets.
When we arrive at Waverley Station I catch a glimpse of the Scott Monument [visible behind the Ferris Wheel in the above photo taken from the castle] and have to stop myself from hyperventilating. After so much reading and research, I’m really in Edinburgh!
I catch the number 12 bus, outside of Jenner’s department store, just off Princes Street and it drops me a few yards from my hotel. Because I checked in early, I got upgraded to a double bed from a single. I try to get caught up on sleep but can’t rest as I’m running on adrenalin. I head out, grab a bite to eat and meet my daughter Jess at Edinburgh Castle. It was a surreal moment – seeing her standing outside the gates of this historic landmark. The entrance fee is £10.00 per person. It's a bit of a splurge but most of the other places I want to visit are free of charge.
Highlights include: Mons Meg [seen here]– which at 550 plus years is one of the world’s oldest cannons. She was cast in Mons, Belgium, weighs over 6,000kg, and fired 150kg stone cannonballs. The Scottish Crown Jewels – fascinating displays recount the history of the Scottish Royalty and its powerful symbols - the crown, scepter, sword and the Stone of Scone (aka the Stone of Destiny). The Prisons of War exhibit – where multimedia chillingly recreates the experiences of prisoners of conflicts ranging from the Medieval to the American Revolutionary War.
By the time we get back to Princes Street, it’s positively heaving with last minute Christmas shoppers and party goers. I head back to my hotel with a take-away sandwich for an early, quiet evening feeling very pleased at how much my pre-planning and research have paid off. As an added bonus, I discover that I’ve got wifi access in my room and have fun Skyping hubby back in Toronto.