August 1, 2008
08/04/2008 06:10 Dockside Copenhagen, awaiting breakfast
In keeping with the tradition that I’ve established of being a few days late, we’re departing the ship in 2 hours, and I’m showered. Lin is still asleep. The day is very grey with evidence of rain, shiny roofs, drops on the balcony railing. Our luggage has disappeared and these are our final hours on the Eurodam. Her cruising career is about 2 months old, and ours is over until November, when we fly to Miami to pick up the Crystal Symphony for a 13 day cruise through the Caribbean and the Panama Canal to Los Angeles. These are discounted cruises, although the entire industry seems to have opportune discounts, so pity the poor traveler who pays full fare.
The cruise from the Tyne to the Forth was short and the weather had little opportunity to change. Our travel agent, Leah, had arranged a Virtuoso Tour to Edinburgh Palace, before it officially opened to the throngs that were in the city for the famous Edinburgh Festival. The day was very grey, but this time we were in rain gear. We were in the Firth of Forth just seaside of the two beautiful Firth bridges, and anchored, so we went by tender from A deck. The tenders which can transport 120 passengers in “comfort” and 150 passengers by design, when your larger home away from home is preparing to take its final plunge, were bobbing up and down, and waves were cracking against the side of the ship. Timing, in taking the large step downward, is important if one wishes to remain relatively dry. With the help of the Indonesian crewmen, we made it safely into the tender, which was bobbing, nervously. When full, we bobbed away in the direction of the dock, passing under the most impressive Firth of Forth railway bridge. Just like in the films, there was the sound of the pipe and drum, playing Scotland the Brave, but when we drew into sight, it was a wee lassie on the bagpipes, blowing up a storm. And it came. The rain started as Lin located a loo belonging to the Royal Lifeboat Service and they were happy to perform a rescue, of sorts. After this, we set off in the gray day, the rain dripping onto the coach windows as we passed rows of gray houses.
Soon we were in Edinburgh, and there was the castle, high on the granite rock, in the distance. The traffic thickened, with complaints from the guide about how dreadfully busy it was, but she must never have been to Los Angeles and the I5 at rush hour. Things were civilized and very interesting. We passed the Caledonian Hotel at the foot of the castle and learned that it was Sean Connery’s favorite, and we had stayed there when we went to the Tatoo from Cambridge in about 1987. That was the famous trip by rail to Edinburgh where we had a wonderful reserved seat on an otherwise deserted car, next to a gentleman from Pakistan who must not have had access to plumbing. We endured a horrible stench the entire trip. That was also the trip where I discovered how to use the handbrake handle on the baggage trolley, but only after I had dragged the trolley loaded, I’m sure, with Lin’s entire summer wardrobe, for 500 yards with brake on. I was cursing and sweating in the heat, while many passersby gazed on with unsympathetic smiles at my folly. Finally, a little old lady said, “You’ll find it a bit easier, if you push down on the handle.” “Thank you, mam!” Lin is still laughing. The Caledonian Hotel, a luxury hotel with exquisite features, came with one unforgettable addition, which we laugh about to this day. It seems that when I went to use the commode in this fancy place, there was a small un-flushable remnant left behind by a previous guest, which defied many efforts directed toward its dispatch. We refer to it as the Turd of Robbie Burns, to this day. Oh, the special memories of Edinburgh.
The castle was wonderful and vertically daunting for Lin who disappeared into an assisting vehicle, while I made like a mountain goat. When I located her again, she was high up in the castle engaged in conversation with two members of the Irish Guard who were regaling her with stories about their battles in Afghanistan and had affixed a green bracelet to her wrist. I wondered if they were ignoring her cane and trying to recruit her!
The castle was very interesting and I visited the museums of a couple of highland regiments, ignored the Stone of Scone and the Crown Jewels, and hoped Lin was giving them a wide berth, as well. We gathered at the bus and boarded for a trip back with the gray clouds parting and the beautiful bridges in clear sight.
Aboard the ship we simply toasted Scotland. At dinner, it was 5 women and me, with Marlene and Elda, joined by the lovely Barbara, a nurse from St. Augustine, FL, and Sue, a teacher of delinquents, from Lodi, CA. Passing Dave and Maria quipped that I had my harem….hardly!
Completed, August 6, 2008 Admirals Lounge, LHR, 13:00