A Travellerspoint blog


Royal Yacht Britannia, Edinburgh

Amazing to walk through this royal ship that had featured in news reports for years

all seasons in one day

After Holyroodhouse Palace we hopped back on the hop on hop off bus, luckily we didn't have to wait for long as it was raining. We then got off this where a blue hop on hop off bus would stop. From here we headed to the Ocean Terminal, Leith, to visit the Royal Yacht Britannia. First you have to manouver your way through a huge new shopping mall to get to the entrance. It has been well done you can use the lifts or stairs to get to the different levels in the ship. So after each floor you exit the ship to get to the next level. Her Magesty's Yacht Britannia is the former royal yacht of the British Monach, Queen Elizabeth II, in service from 1954 to 1997. She was the 83rd such vessel since the restoration of Kings Charles II in 1660. The Royal Yacht Britannia was named the UK's number 1 landmark by TripAdvisor. Britannia was designed to be converted into a hospital ship in time of war, although never used for this. In event of nuclear war it was intended that the Queen would take refuge Aboard Britannia along the northwest coast of Scotland. Britannia was decommissioned on 11th December 1997. There was controversy over the siting of Britannia. However, her positioning coincided with the redevelopment of the harbour area at Leith, Edinburgh. The Queen was reported to have wept at the decommissioning ceremony. She was happy on this ship spending time away from prying eyes holidaying with her family. There are many photos on the boat taken on these happy occasions. It was also used on her State Visits to many countries around the world. She would hold ceremonial occasions on board. I can remember when it came to New Zealand. First we had a snack in the cafe and some coffee. This is on the deck the Royals would have sunbathed relaxed and played games. It now is covered in. It takes quite some time to get all around this boat. We felt a bit like peeping Tom's peering into the royal bedrooms. Especially the bedroom used by Charles and Diana on their honeymoon. The bed was small. The bedrooms were small. The boat is not a bit extravagant. Apparently the Queen wanted it decorated like a country house so people would feel comfortable aboard. A lot of very famous people have been on board this ship. The Officers quarters and sailers quarters varied according to their rank. Not a lot of privacy or room for some. It sounds like they had lots of good times and they had their bars and lounges. Sometimes they would entertain the Queen or other Royals here. They had a pet wombat soft toy that ended up getting operated on!!! There was a hospital wing and operating room on board. You wouldn't have wanted to be operated on in here. The engine room was spotless. The laundry room was huge. There was even a shop on board. Apparently Diana would let William and Harry purchase sweets here from time to time. Reluctantly we had to leave. I would recommend a visit to The Royal Yacht Britannia. We were waiting for our hop on hop off bus when I spied another bus across the other side of the road so ran across and caught that instead to the central city. The afternoon had fined up no doubt a relief to those going to the Military Tattoo that night. We found dinner in a Turkish place. Just had another snack. I wasn't very hungry. Took our final walk around the city before returning to our Hotel at Leith by the Park. A great adventure was had in Edinburgh.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 15:00 Archived in Scotland Tagged yacht royal britannia Comments (0)

The Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh

Scotland's Royal Palace


Just seen my big blooper from yesterday. Heading should have been Edinburgh Castle. We have been to Stirling Castle on a previous visit. We awoke and looked out the window to see lots of rain falling. After breakfast it was on with the coats and off to catch the bus into central city. The day before we had purchased tickets to cover the hop on hop off buses. Hopped back on these to get to the Palace. The Palace of Holyroodhouse stands in a spectacular setting at the foot of the Royal Mile. It has walled gardens and is surrounded by parkland. It has been a royal residence for over 500 years. Today the Palace is the official residence of Her Majesty The Queen of Scotland. The Queen had recently been in residence on her way to Balmoral. She spends a week here at this time every year to carry out official engagements. You can't visit here when the Queen is in residence. The State Apartments are also used frequently used by members of the Royal Family for events in support of charitable organisatios of which they are patrons. Apparently Princess Anne stays here a lot. We had a guided tour through this Palace. No photos to be taken inside. Sometimes these places can seem a bit gloomy due to very low light , deliberately used to protect tapestries and furniture etc dating way back in time. This place has a vast history. Of course a big mention goes to Queen Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary succeeded the throne on her father's death in 1542 when just a few days old. Mary grew up in France in the French courts after an attempt by Henry VIII to force the Scots to accept a marriage proposal between his son Prince Edward and the infant Mary. The young Queen of Scotland, a Catholic returned in 1561 to a largely protestant country. She lived in Holyroodhouse where many of the dramatic events of her short reign took place. After the opulence of the french palace she would have found Holyroodhouse to be quite plain. She married her second husband Lord Darnley in the chapel in 1565. Her Italian secretary David Rizzio was murdered by Darley in her private apartments. We were shown where this dreadful event took place. When you first get to the Palace you are greeted with the classic style Quadrangle, then you walk up the Great Stairs into the State Apartments. The very large dining table is set out like it is ready for an official visit. You get to visit the throne room which was plainly finished. Then the drawing room with its large tapestries. The King's bedchamber was very elaborate with lavish furnishings. The great gallery served many purposes over the years The Queen still regularly uses this room to carry out investitures for Scottish recipients of honours and for State banques, dinners and receptions. After the tour we visited Holyroodhouse Abbey. This building has been left as a ruin. The ruins make good photos. We then wandered around the gardens. It was showery. There was a rather nice cafe here with very good food we had lunch here. Afterwards we visited the Exhibition of royal paintings which we enjoyed.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 14:01 Archived in Scotland Tagged the palace of holyroodhouse Comments (0)

Edinburgh Castle

Walk the Royal Mile to the Castle.

sunny 23 °C

At breakfast chatted to the husband and wife owners of the McKensie Hotel. Our hotel has 5 rooms that are let out. The couple were originally from China. They said that this time of the year is hard work as the place was fully booked for a long time. They do everything themselves. The winters are not quite so busy. They look forward to the 3 weeks they close in the winter and head back to China to catch up with Family. We headed back to the City on the 24 bus to Princess Street. This is a good central location to visit the sites. We wandered around for awhile then decided on an early lunch. We went back to our favourite underground alley way pub. Like the atmosphere here. We then headed up to the Castle. We got the audio guides. Here they were well worth while as had lots of information on them, though struggled to find the numbers. This Castle was made up of lots of different buildings. This Castle was a principal royal residence from the 11th to 17th century. As well as comfortable living quarters, it provided an impressive statement and place to keep royal treasures. The most important event at the Palace was the birth place of the future King James VI on 19th June 1566. In 1603 James became king of England as well as Scotland and soon abandoned Edinburgh for London. Seeing the honours of Scotland, that I wrote about in my Dunnottar Castle blog, was a great joy. The Honours have an eventful history. The crown, sword of State and Sceptre are the oldest crown jewels in the British Isles. They were first used together for the coronation of Mary Queen of Scotts in September 1543. The Honours have an eventful history. Between 1651 and 1660 they laid buried to preserve them from the clutches of Oliver Cromwell, first at Dunnottar Castle then under the floor of the nearby Kinney church. After the 1707 treaty of Union they were locked away in the crown room at Edinburgh and forgotten. In 1818 Walter Scott, with royal approval, had the room broken into. The chest was forced open and with much relief he found them lying exactly as they had been left 111 years early. These are now at the Castle for everyone to enjoy. The castle also gives great views over the city. It also has Mons Meg, this possibly is the largest gun ever fired in anger at Britain. The great hall is rather impressive. Completed in 1512 it served as the chief place of royal ceremony. If you visit this Castle make sure you have plenty of time. I am a great believer when touring of spending plenty of time at places like this rather than rush around trying to see too much in one day. After visiting here we watched some more street acts from the Fringe Festival then walked through the park to find more Fringe Festival acts and Market stalls. We eventually had fish and chips for dinner in the park. It was a nice warm day.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 14:29 Archived in Scotland Tagged edinburgh castle Comments (0)

An exciting day in Edinburgh

Fringe Festival, Whiskey Tasting Experience followed by The Military Tattoo

sunny 23 °C

Breakfast was served between 8.00 am to 9.00 am at our hotel. We caught the 24 bus to Princess Street. This was a central bus area and right near the train station. There is also a large shopping mall here if you have time to shop. Edinburgh has recently spent millions of pounds on bringing trams back to the city. The trams look very flash as they are still very new. You can get all over the city using buses and trams. We headed to where we had to get our tickets. We had purchased them on line a long time before. They have a special place to collect the tickets. We then went and found where we had to meet for the whiskey experience before hand. Once that we all sussed we wandered around below Edinburgh Castle. The whole street was abuzz. It was Fringe Festival time in Edinburgh. As well as street performers the casts from the various shows were touting their tickets. It was all very entertaining. We soon realised it was better to accept the publications handed to us. There was plenty to choose from from the weird and wacky to the more serious. This kept us entertained for quite some time. Soon it was time to find lunch. I headed down an alley and found a lovely old pub with a folk arty painted roof. This became our favorite eating place. It was well priced. We then headed down to the park area and wandered around. We went back to our hotel for a rest before setting off for a snack before the Whisky Tasting Experience. Even though the day was warm we dressed well I even wore tights under my jeans, was pleased later that I did. A lady beside me was really cold at the Tattoo. The Whiskey Tasting Experience was enjoyable. We were told all about the making of whiskey. We could choose 1 out of 4 types for the tasting. I drank mine it slid down easily. We saw a huge collection of whiskey that had been purchased from a dealer. It was very valuable. The angels were taking their share. This is the natural evaporation process. We then got to sit in whiskey barrels that twisted and turned through an amusing whiskey story, as posted on my Facebook page. Afterwards we were handed a plate of nibbles in a dining area. They had a bar here. Some of the people involved in the Tattoo were there to talk to people. Soon we were walked up the hill below Edinburgh Castle to our seats which were all in the same area. What a great night it was with acts from many countries. Highland bands, singers, dancers from different countries, military bands etc. The mascot the Shetland pony made an appearance. We enjoyed the bollywood dancers from India. Once the show starts it is non stop entertainment till the show finishes. This was a dream come true as we had both wanted to go to this for a very long time. There was a big fireworks display as well. The theme this year was based around the war years, a commeration. The Castle is the backdrop for various images displayed. The lone piper always gets the emotions going. He was standing near the top of the Castle. We took our time going out. On exit there is one big stream of people heading down the Golden Mile. We walked back down to Princess Street to catch the 24 bus back to our accommodation. A great day in Edinburgh. We were lucky with the weather we had heard all the stories of people getting drenched during the Military Tattoo.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 12:55 Archived in Scotland Tagged edinburgh Comments (0)

Aberdeen to Edinburgh

Visiting Dunnottar Castle and Glamis Castle

sunny 22 °C

After breakfast in our hotel we headed down the Coast. Geoff had found some information in the hotel and a good map while having a whiskey the night before. We decided to head to Dunnottar Castle. Wow what a good decision that was. This place is quite spectacular jutting out into the ocean. A dramatic ruined cliff top fortress in a stunning setting. We arrived to the sound of bagpipes playing at the castle, how lucky were we. A highland pipe band from America were in Scotland for the annual pipe band competitions. Pipe bands sound amazing in places like these. We really enjoyed looking around this place. Good comfortable running or walking shoes essential for places like these so you can negotiate the uneven surfaces and climb the many stairs. William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scotts, the Marquis of Montrose and the future King Charles II all graced the cattle with their presence. Most famously it was at Dunnottar Castle that a small garrison held out against the might of Cromwell's army for eight months and saved the 'Honours of Scotland', from destruction. A dark chapter of history of Dunnottar is that of the 'Whig's Vault. The gruesome story of imprisonment in 1685 of a group of Convenanters who refused to acknowledge the King's supremacy in spiritual matters. We wandered around in this vault, creepy. The castle had a bakers, stables and brewers. They drank beer as it was safer to drink than water in those days. There was also a resident ghost, a young girl. I think you might feel vibes at night not when there are numerous tourists around. One of the Lord's had a lion, there was a lions den but it kept his wife awake at night so the Lion was housed elsewhere. Leaving here we passed an older lady dressed to the nines with a stick walking to the castle in 6 inch wedge heals, she almost toppled Off them while we walked past. It was then off to find some lunch. We finally found a tearoom at the seaside that reminded us of those Hidi Hi camp ground places, we have had one of those experiences in Wales. There were lots of ceramic fishes all over the walls, so quaint. After lunch it was off to Glamis Castle. My Grandma Wooderson would have loved to have visited here she was a big royalist she did visit Scotland.. She was also a similar age to the Queen Mother who grew up in Glamis Castle. Grandma like the Queen Mother lived a long life, she died just before her 104th birthday. We enjoyed Glamis Castle especially the highland cattle that were being farmed here. We arrived in time for the second to last tour of the day. This is the only way to see the Castle. No photos to be taken inside. We saw the private apartments created for The Duke and Dutchess of York, later to become King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. The castle has a vast history and has been the seat of the Lyons family since 1372. The present 18th Earl lives here today with his second wife. He has 4 sons from a previous marriage. He takes an active role in the management of the Strathmore Estate, Castle and farming enterprise. Princess Margaret was born here. Elizabeth and Margaret enjoyed their holidays here staying with their Grandparents. We headed off to Edinburgh, no problem finding MacKenzie Hotel. We were pleased with our accommodation it looked over a park. It was a good sized room with a spare bed for our cases. There was room for the car on the street, no charge for this. We headed out to our local area and found a pub for dinner. An exciting soccer match on won at the last minute by the trailing team causing eruptions of glee from the patrons.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 10:57 Archived in Scotland Tagged siteseeing Comments (0)

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