I’ve been missing for about nine days or so – off to the land of Haggis, Sheep, Tartans, and Highlanders: Scotland.
On Sunday, November 21st, my dear friend and one of my oldest confidantes, Telisa, met up at her home to be transported to the Atlanta Airport. Luckily, she had this awesome connection with MGA LUX, a private transportation service that escorts you to the front door of the airport! We gathered our things and headed out to greener, well, snowier pastures!
When I travel internationally, I always dress super comfortable. I opted for a thin, butter soft gray T-shirt that read Radiate Positivity in rose gold and black yoga pants. I made sure to pack two more outfits on my carry-on bag, as well as all of my chargers, hiking boots, and makeup, just in case my luggage gets lost.
We were giddy as two teenagers! You see, Telisa and I have been talking about traveling to Europe together for years. Sure, we’ve both done some traveling, she more so than I, but we had never done this together. Actually, our friendship started over the Let’s Go Europe 1991 (I think that was the year,) book! At the time we couldn’t imagine where we would ever come up with $800 to backpack Europe, and here we are now, in our late 40s, sitting on go with less worries and definitely more financial stability. (I can’t imagine spending $800 to backpack a continent now! I think I blew that much on souvenirs alone.)
I was a little nervous about getting through security due to my name. I never officially changed my last name on my passport or social security card after I got married, however, I did change my last name on my driver’s license. At work, on my insurance, and my vaccination card, it reads: Kirksey. On everything else, it reads: Thurston. We put the airline ticket in Thurston and I just grabbed my passport and hoped for the best. Like all things we worry about, they didn’t even bat an eye at my vaccination card in the Kirksey name. One hurdle done.
Got through TSA with no problems, I believe Telisa’s bag got pulled, but all went well and we headed to our gate for an overnight flight to Paris, France.
Ah Paris, you know how I love you. If you haven’t read about that trip, click HERE.
Unfortunately, Telisa and I did not get to sit together on the eight hour flight. We got upgraded to Comfort plus, so the seats were not together. She sat next to a guy from Croatia and I sat next to a guy from Colombia. Best part about Delta’s Comfort Plus:
All of that leg room.
The flight was smooth as silk and we landed in Paris around 9 am or so. We had a little over an hour to get through security to catch our connection to Edinburgh. The Paris TSA were a pain in the ass – barking orders: Grab an extra container. No, not that one. Is this your water? Keep moving.
Blah, Blah, Blah.
And guess what? Both our bags got pulled for a security check. Plus, they used their wand to scan my hands for bomb residue.
FINALLY we get to our plane, a very small plane, might I add, and settle in for the 1.5 hours flight.
I am pretty sure I fell asleep on this flight, since the last one, I simply watched movies and read my book over the eight hours we were over the ocean.
We finally land in Edinburgh and we breeze through customs and head out to get our scheduled Covid tests. I have to admit, that is a little intimidating. I did worry – what IF I was positive? I would have to stay in a hotel for ten days and not leave the area. That would totally ruin the entire trip. Luckily, we got in and out and everything was negative.
Uh oh… I forgot an important detail. My luggage made it, Telisa’s did not. So our day was a little behind, because she had to file her claim with the baggage area and everything got pushed back a little. We missed our appointment to visit Holyrood Palace and… well… just wait, there is more!
We hailed a cab and had an awesome time chatting it up with our driver. He was a talkative bloke, originally from England, and he enjoyed pointing out the attractions and telling us about the neighborhoods. He did ask us, (which I was surprised it came up,) what we thought of Trump. We both, in unison, replied, “Not a fan.” He then went on to tell us why he just adored him. He explained he loved his brashness and no-holds-bar approach to dealing with people. We were quite surprised. I had always heard that the international community were not a fan. Goes to show what I know. (But wait… there is more on this issue later.)
We got dropped off at the address Telisa googled for the Bed & Breakfast – The Scott House. We got out, crossed a busy street and discovered that we were indeed at The Scott House, just the wrong Scott House. At this point, Telisa is started to get frustrated and for good reason. She was cold and still aggravated about the airline losing her luggage. We sort of took a deep breath, got on the AirBnB website and figured out where to go next. We hailed another cab and took off, this time for the new place. While this is happening, she realizes that she cannot find her glasses. The last time she had them, we were in Paris. I wouldn’t think much of it, but apparently, she is blind without them. Add that to the list of things that could go wrong.
By the time we got to the RIGHT Scott House, I was thrilled to see a bench out front. It was too early to check in and we couldn’t get the owner on the phone. So I just grabbed a spot and chilled out. Finally, a woman who speaks very little English answers the door and lets us in. She ends up handing us the phone, and the owner, Jemima, is on the line. She tells us our rooms are almost ready, in the meantime, just relax. So we did. It was nice to sit someplace warm and cozy.
The Scott House is a beautifully restored Georgian (about 200-year-old) townhouse in the heart of Edinburgh’s New Town, laying just off the trendy Broughton Street area. All rooms had large en-suites with both bath and shower. The space was absolutely perfect for our first taste of Scotland. To see our room, click HERE. We stayed in the Robert Burns room, which happens to be both haunted AND up three flights of stairs.
Oh wait.. I forgot to tell you. I had to pay $100 extra dollars for my suitcase which weighed 56 pounds. It was six pounds over. I was dreading the idea of pulling my big suitcase up the stairs, when divine intervention presented itself. Telisa could not see, yet I could. She asked me to handle the baggage issue on the phone, and in turn, she would carry my bag upstairs! Let’s just say, she made me an offer I could not refuse.
Once we got upstairs, it was getting close to 2 pm, and I was in need of sustenance and Telisa needed glasses. We got cleaned up (well, I did anyway, she really didn’t have anything to change into,) and we walked out the door, around the corner to see if we could find a pharmacy or bookstore or really anyplace that might have reading glasses. Telisa finally found a pair and the mood began to lighten just a bit more. At least she could see now, however, the coat situation was not looking good. The confirmation we had from the airline was that her luggage would be delivered on Tuesday morning and that all would be well. We decided to scope out the street, feeling a little more hopeful and ready to tackle the day!
Right behind where we were stay was the Cask & Barrel Pub.
Luckily, we met the nicest Scottish bartender who poured Telisa a pint and made a flat white coffee for me.
I asked if they were still serving lunch and unfortunately, the kitchen was closed. I think he took pity on my story about the comedy of errors we were experiencing and went in the back and heated up some potato and leek soup for me!
Suddenly, everything seemed to feel right. We got the biggest kick out of the older gentlemen sitting to the right of us. They were discussing a soccer match and every other word was eff this and eff that. Well-dressed, nice men at that. Apparently the F-word is just another word in this part of the world. Telisa and I giggled at the lack of pretension and just sat back and relaxed.
After we sort of got our bearings we decided to uber over to the Edinburgh Christmas Market on Prince Street. Talk about magical!!!! THIS was what the doctor ordered.
It was close to 4pm and in Scotland, specifically this area, the sun begins to set at this time. This means we got the full force of the evening cold, the twinkly lights and the magic on an older city like Edinburgh can provide.
Telisa joked over and over how she was “there for all the food.” I was still trying to behave myself and stay “not sick,” so I just lived vicariously through her. The next few pics are some of the items she ate:
After we shopped and nibbled our way through the market, I realized that I needed dinner. So we stopped by the Milnes Bar on Rose Street.
Telisa ordered the fried haggis fritters,
While I opted for the veggie sliders and chips.
I actually tried some of the haggis and honestly, it was not bad! It tasted very much like beef. We enjoyed sipping and nibbling and just chatting it up. Finally, we decided it was time to head back, take showers and get ready for the big first full day in Edinburgh.
Little did we know…. the comedy of errors had only begun!
Stay tuned for Part Two!