Not Enough Time in Wales and Scotland

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July 20th 2016
Published: June 10th 2017
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Geo: 51.4813, -3.1805

Setting aside only one day to explore Cardiff, Wales was probably not the best scheduling we could have done, but there were so many places we wanted to go, and even then we ended up not going to Ireland or North Ireland this time simply because of so many days away from home. So we needed to squeeze both Wales and Scotland in. The first thing that hit us was the chilly, very windy weather! We experienced so many different weathers in one day that it felt like the old Shakespearian description of April (very badly paraphrased): if you don't like the weather, wait a minute. This also applies to Maine in April, and obviously also to Cardiff any day throughout their summer. No summer heat here, although people did tell us that yesterday it had reached 35C, around 100F. Just like in London. It seems the hot weather had been following me, at least until we reached Wales. From Romania throughout the Eastern European countries, to Madrid, home again, and then to London, temps were in the high 90s (F) or even over 100F. Very, very hot! (I've been delighted!) So this 50s and 60s F weather here is quite hard to deal with, but we are leaving tomorrow for Scotland, so I think I'd better try to acclimatize very quickly.

The people in both Wales and Scotland are very friendly and quick to try to offer help to wandering tourists. Many nationalities live in Cardiff; we were told that there is no discrimination in Wales, and this, I hope, is true. Like my experience in Japan, when you stop to look at a map, someone local will step up and ask if you need help and offer directions to where you want to go. Such kind people, but I wonder that if, since their weather is so awful here in Wales (my opinion, of course), they work on being kind partly to gain "points" for living in some more clement place in their next lives.

All our hotels worked out very well, especially in terms of proximity to city centers, airports or train stations, and, of course, the restaurants. In Cardiff we were right across the street from the River Taff, so we walked along it down to Mermaid Quay on the (other side of the) Atlantic Ocean, intending to take the river taxi back to City Center. But we missed the last river taxi by 15 minutes, so walked the additional two miles back, enjoying the views along this lovely little river. If we had had another day in Wales I would have wanted to see the western part, the cliffs along the ocean, the beautiful scenery there that we had been told about. But for Cardiff, one day was enough for me.

But Edinburgh! Such a delightful city! We could have enjoyed a full week there, I'm sure. The weather was much more pleasant, and we wandered around, exploring the old city, eating lunch in the new city, taking a Sandeman's free walking tour of Old Edinburgh and hearing some of the vividly strange stories that have become twinned with this fine city. Edinburgh is simply beautiful!

Very early on Friday morning we had to leave for the airport to fly to Lyon, France, this time on Brussels Air. Their coach seats are quite comfortable, more spacious, and with more legroom than I've recently seen on many other carriers. So the comfort alone was appreciated. But when we arrived at the Edinburgh airport we almost missed our flight since, unlike in Boston or Heathrow, they really had no understanding of organizing passengers according to flight times. They had only one person checking everyone through, a very long line of people waiting and waiting and waiting. As I stood there, looking around, watching people and wondering at all their luggage, growing more and more impatient, I saw signs showing directions to different areas in the airport, and (this is another reason I delight in travel) there was a sign, inside the Edinburgh airport, surprisingly pointing the way to their Prayer and Quiet Room. How many other airports have Prayer and Quiet Rooms? I smiled, and started deep breathing, calming myself down by just looking at this sign and appreciating how lovely their having such a room was. And we did make our flights after all.


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