It all started here...

It all started here...

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Edinburgh (South Queensferry), Scotland

HAL Zuiderdam 12-Day Fjords and Highlands Cruise Day 10
Friday May 26, 2017 -- Edinburgh (South Queensferry), Scotland (10:00AM~11:00PM)
Weather: Sunny

South Queensferry was our port for the city of Edinburgh. This was the one port that I spent a lot of my research time on with so much helpful information on Cruise Critic. Especially a big Thank You to tartanexile81 who provided detail transportation information about this port. When we arrived at port, I still couldn't decide what we were going to do to get us into the city. By now, I knew there were three choices. 1. Take the shuttles from port to Edinburgh which cost around $15 or 10GBP round trip per person. It would have been an easy pick but I read that the last bus coming back to port would be at 4:30. That would not give us too much time in Edinburgh with our ship anchored at 10:00. 2. Take the train, but that requires a hike up the hill from the pier to the train station including the 100+ steps of stairs on the way. 3. Take the local bus 40A which is the cheapest way to go (3.50 GBP day ticket) but requires a walk to town to catch that bus. I thought once we get there we will see how everything is and decide what we will do but for sure we are going to Edinburgh!

Not sure what this was as our ship went past it.

We tendered into Hawes Pier in South Queensferry. I believe that's the Forth Road Bridge in the background.

View of the town of South Queensferry from the tender pier. We would have to walk there to take the local bus 40A.

Forth Road Bridge (white) on the left and Forth Bridge on the right (red).



As we walked out to the entrance of the pier, I talked to one of the volunteers there (I wonder if he was tartanexile81) about transportation. It sounded like the train would be our best bet if we can do the hike up. I also asked the shuttle bus operator about the last bus coming back from Edinburgh. He said it will be at 5:00. Still a little too early, I thought. After checking with everyone in our group making sure that they are OK with the hike, we decided to take the train.

We found the little path right next to the Hawes Inn across from the pier...

and followed the signs up to the station.

I counted on our way back, there are 120 steps on this stair. Definitely not for someone with mobility issues.

It was pretty easy, just followed the signs along the way.

Fortunately, we had good weather so the path was neither muddy nor slippery.

Walking right under the Forth Bridge.

Followed the sign and made a left turn here.

This couple didn't know that they became our guides.

Nice walk!

Crossing Station Road...

to the back of this building and up to the station.

Instead of fumbling with the ticket machines, we purchased our off-hour tickets with the man at the ticket counter inside. He was very helpful and kind.

Then we crossed that bridge to the other side of the tracks and waited for the train. It looked like there were a lot of people but we all got seats on this 15-minute ride from Dalmeny to Edinburgh.

This was the train we took.

After three stops we arrived at Edinburgh Waverly station. This is a huge and busy station and it can be a little intimidating as we found out later that day.

Our instinct told us to go inside the waiting hall to look for an exit but we didn't find any. The escalator is actually outside the waiting hall right after the platform area. This escalator took us to the street level at the Market Street exit..

I think that's the Scott Monument on the other side of the train station.

As we walked up Market Street, we noticed the couple from our ship was right in front of us again.

There was some traffic control up around the Mount area at the Free Church of Scotland. Looked like something important was happening but it seemed like the VIPs are gone by now. This was what we saw at the end. 

Around the corner of Mount Place and Ramsay Lane.

It was quite a hike up!

Finally reaching Royal Mile/Castlehill, entrance to the castle. 

A lot of construction work was going on around this area.

Getting in the long line for tickets. The line moved rather quickly and it looked worse than it actually was. They have the 'concession' tickets available for seniors 60+, savings of a couple of dollars.

After a visit to the restrooms near the visitor's center it was time to enter the castle.

We just planned on spending as much time as needed to explore this castle. The views were magnificent all around.

This was the only indoor exhibit that we went to.

Up to the top of the castle.

The Royal Palace

Long line of visitors waiting to get inside the palace to see the treasures and jewels.

Scottish National War Memorial right in the same area.

As everybody waited for the 1 o'clock gun, I could only find a little crack through the crowd and positioned my camera there, then...

...boom! Got this photo at the right moment.

Looking up at the top of the castle as we made our way back down.

Down Royal Mile. This big shopping arcade on the left is huge and worth the time if someone wants to shop for souvenirs. They have everything in there. While the rest of our group wanted to do some shopping, ChC and I decided that we really want to try some Scottish food. ChC picked Amber which is right near there, inside the Scotch Whiskey Experience.

Amber Restaurant
When we arrived at the restaurant we were told that there will be a half-hour wait because a tour group is finishing their lunch there. We will be seated after they clear everything and set the tables. We then waited at the whiskey bar and just watched other customers enjoying their drinks since we don't drink ourselves. It was quite interesting listening to their conversation about the whiskeys that they were tasting.

Hmmm....the 'Teacher's' bottle is almost empty!

Finally got a table in the restaurant.

ChC's haggis, 8.95GBP

I wasn't brave enough to have the whole order of haggis, so I ordered a lamb stovies for 8.75GBP.

After our delicious lunch, we came back out and met with the group to continue our day in Edinburgh. This is the entrance of the Whiskey Experience and also for Amber and the whiskey bar which is downstairs.

St. Columba's Free Church of Scotland

Victoria Terrace (upper ) and Victoria Street (lower)
There is a store called Walker Slater that sells tweed jackets, knit wear, etc. at very good prices. ChC wanted a tweed jacket but unfortunately he couldn't find one with the right size and color. Out of the couple of Walker Slater stores on this street, this one is more like an outlet store with heavy discounts. That store is somewhere on the left hand side of this picture.

Down at the lower level.

St. Giles Cathedral on Royal Mile

Some people called this the "Mother of all Presbyterian Churches".

I did not take many pictures here because it was very busy with many tourists inside and they were setting up for certain function in there. You need to pay 2 GBP for a camera pass for taking pictures inside.

Continued on Royal Mile, the main street in town.

After wandering for quite a while along Royal Mile, we needed to look for a restroom desperately and ended up at the campus of the University of Edinburgh of Lifelong Learning. The lady in the office was very nice and granted permission for us to use the toilets there.
That's the Arthur's Seat/Holyrood Park in the background.

Canongate Church, another Presbyterian church 

Finally came to the end of Royal Mile.

Across the street from the Scottish Parliament.
Part of the Palace of Holyroodhouse in the back.

Entrance to the palace on Abbey Strand

Front of the Scottish Parliament with Arthur's Seat/Holyrood Park in the background.
A lot of people were hiking up there that day.

We went around to the side of the palace and took some pictures through the closed gate. Looked like something was happening in there. Not sure if it was Obama who happened to be in Edinburgh that day also.

Our day in Edinburgh about to end as we walked back to the train station taking Jeffrey Street down to Market Street.

By now, we were all very tired from walking around all day. I went to the ticket counter and asked which platform we should go to and was told that we could take the trains at 6:14 or 6:24 going to Glenroaks. The screen in the waiting hall should show the platform we need to go. As soon as the screen showed platform 15, we went to the gate but they wouldn't let us in because we were there a couple of minutes before 6. As the clock hit 6, we entered and got to the platform. There was an empty train sitting on the track already but all the doors were locked. We waited and then someone got on that train car and opened the doors. As we got on this train, another one pulled up right behind so I figured the one we were on can't be the next train out. I went and ask a staff standing there and was told 'yes' the train that just pulled in is the 6:14 train out to Dalmeny. Hurriedly, I got everyone off the train and went to the one behind. We thought we were good to go with seats and everything.

As we sat and waited, I noticed the sign board posted that our train was delayed and the time to depart had past. A couple of minutes later, they announced that the 6:14 was cancelled so everybody got off that train and went back to the second train. By now, the 6:25 train was packed with people from both departures. Some people were not able to squeeze in and were left at the platform to wait for the third train out. It was really terrible how they handled this. One good thing was that there is a train about every 15 minutes, frequent enough not to cause big problems. I'd say 80% of the passengers on this train were either cruise passengers or locals that got off at Dalmeny. 

Original sign for the trains.

A long line of people taking the narrow path back to the pier.

It took us about an hour to get back from Edinburgh to the ship because of the train delay.

Other than the chaotic incident on the train coming back, we had a busy and fruitful day in Edinburgh. We walked all day up and down the city, sightseeing, shopping, and eating and had a great time. Hopefully, we will be able to come back one of these days for more of this beautiful city, and  visiting places that we have missed.

More Scottish music at dinner.

What was THAT!

Crab and Asparagus Quiche

Beef Wellington

Grilled Pompano