One Heck of a Start


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Europe » United Kingdom » Scotland » Midlothian » Edinburgh
July 12th 2007
Published: June 22nd 2017
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Geo: 55.9503, -3.18761

Our journey began with a smooth limo ride and check-in at O'Hare. A very kind ticket agent told us about a "secret" security check-in that "no one really knows about." As a result, we got through very quickly and had time to hang out in the food court near our gate for about an hour before our departure.

We got on the plane with no problems and things were good. Then the storm swooped down upon us. The pilot told us to expect about a half hour delay and that we should be back on schedule once the system passed through. Eventually the storm moved on, but our plane did not. After joining the take-off line, we had to detour to a maintenance garage due to a low pressure reading on the plane's main tire. "This should be no problem," we were told.

TWO HOURS later we finally took-off.

After an unentful flight across the Atlantic we landed at Heathrow with no chance whatsoever of making our connecting flight to Edinburgh. Navigating Heathrow proved to be an adventure in itself, especially since we had to go through security again under a "ONE BAG ONLY" rule that nobody had bothered to tell us about. Turning two bags into one at short notice can be a bit stressful.

We were reassigned to a later flight and told our checked bags would also be joining us. They did not. After landing at Edinburgh, described as "a slingshot of an airport" by Rick Steves, we waited at baggage claim. Every set of golf clubs in the Western World seemed to pop up on the conveyor, but not our luggage. After a brief wait in the customer service line, we were informed by a gentleman we couldn't really understand that our bags were still at Heathrow and would be delivered to us later at our hotel. At the time of writing, they have still not arrived but we are hopeful that they will show up later tonight.

"W" for whatever seemed to be the plan. Not too bothered, we boarded a shuttle to our hotel and decided to make the best of a sunny day. "This may be our summer," quipped the shuttle driver. Apparently it has been raining here for days on end.

After a fast and easy check-in at the hotel, we took an hour to recharge ourselves and ventured out onto the Royal Mile stretching between Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the queen's home away from home when she visits Scotland. The day was beautiful and we noticed that every shop seemed to be selling kilts. This must be the kind of souvenir one buys and puts away in a drawer, because nobody really seemed to be wearing them. We walked leisurely along one side of the road toward the castle, and then down to the other end and back, taking in everything we could and making notes for things to further explore later in the week. One highlight was venturing off the beaten path down narrow pathways called "closes." A close is a tiny alley between two buildings, originally with a door that closed at night. Typically, the front of the lot was for commercial purposes but the rear was reserved for living quarters. One would access the rear quarters via the close. Today, many of these passages lead back to nicely landscaped public parks that seem almost out of place in the midst of the otherwise-bustling Royal Mile district. If the weather cooperates, we hope to have a picnic lunch in one of these parks.

At this point we didn't really know what time it was, but we were hungry. The best option was the "Tolbooth Tavern," where we enjoyed Steak and Guinness Pie. Rich opted for chips (fries) and the rest of us went with peas and mash (mashed potatoes). The food was delicious and we were grateful to have made a good choice.

From there it was off to Auld Reeky's Ghost and Torture Tour. Our guide, dressed in black with a tall top hat and cane, led us through the "dark" quarters of Edinburgh, sharing tales of witchcraft trials, a hidden underground city, and a poltergeist.

Exhausted and ready for a good night's sleep, we are sitting in the hotel lobby, drinking Guinness and still awaiting the return of our bags. At this point, despite some intermittent naps here and there, we have been up for about 32 hours. Once we are reunited with our belongings, even the most aggressive Edinburgh poltergeist will not wake us!


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