I thought I would be too tired to sleep the night before going to The Motherland, but I guess waking up at 3:30am and then driving 10 hours makes a person pretty tired. I woke up on the 24th VERY excited to begin our epic trip to Scotland.
Everything at the Boston airport went quite well, including our delayed flight, which had us a little worried for our connection, but supposedly there would be a lot of wind helping our flight and we were only going to arrive 30 minutes later than originally planned. Okay, this is all boring stuff...fast forward to boarding and being excited about our flight attendants' accents and our awesome in-seat TVs that showed good movies and TV shows. Oh! And the Andy Murray BBC documentary that totally made me tear up while on the plane! Embarassing! Fast forward to me taking a picture with my Powershot and putting it back into my bag*. Zoom through the five hours on the plane and then...
Seeing London from above and at night! So cool. I've never been to London, but based on the aerial view alone, I'm in. Our connection at Heathrow went fine* and before we knew it, we were on a freaking plane to SCOTLAND!
I kind of can't describe my excitement at this point. I have dreamed about going to Scotland for as long as I can remember so to be on the final leg of the journey there left me filled with joy.
The reality of touching down in Edinburgh was that we then needed to navigate the nine miles or so to the city from the airport. Originally we had planned on taking a taxi since we arrived at about 11pm and weren't certain about the bus system, but we're pretty frugal and decided to try the bus because it looked to be pretty clear with which one to take.
Now, this was pretty funny because we went to buy our bus ticket from the little machine next to the stop, but it would only take coins. (Oh, sidenote: At Heathrow we hit up the ATM, but I was denied, which totally freaked me out! I was so worried my card would be eaten that I decided to wait until the next machine, which was at the Edinburgh Airport. Except, I was denied again! OMG! Was I not going to be able to have cash while there?! I was freaking out until my genius sister who used to work at a credit union realized that I probably had a $300 limit for withdrawals and with the conversion rate, my attempt for $200 was breaking that limit. A quick request for $100 that was granted confirmed our suspicions and we were good to go.)
Okay, back to the bus story. So we needed coins, right? But all we had were 20 pound notes so we went to the one food spot open and bought a bottle of water each. It was so obvious we just needed change and we felt bad for taking the till's smaller bills to break our twenties. And then? Then the ticket machine for the bus flashed "Buy Ticket From Driver". *sigh*
The trip to the city was uneventful and we had looked at the map saved to my nook so we were pretty sure where we were going. It had seemed like our hotel was really close to where the bus stopped, but we got so lost once we started walking! At one point we were dragging our suitcases on a dirt path next to a small highway with no real idea of where we were. And it was about midnight by then so not my favorite time to be wandering around an unfamiliar city.
Remember when the Knight Bus picks up Harry Potter in the third movie? That same exact thing happened to us while standing on the side of the road while lost in Edinburgh. Well, except it was a taxi instead of a Knight Bus, but it was the same idea and about ten minutes later we were being dropped off at the Brooks Hotel on Grove St!
Until the hotel front desk guy checked us in and said, "Oh, you're only staying with us one night."
"WHAT?! No, technically four."
Long story short (I'm not a good story teller, by the way), our original itinerary had our three nights booked, but Ali (genius, seriously) realized our first night wasn't included! Turns out that when our travel agent added the first night, they put it under my name so when the guy looked in the computer, he didn't see the subsequent nights that were under Ali's name. Apparently being super smart runs in the family because I was the one who figured that out;)
Ahhhh, with the accommodation problem settled and our pajamas on, we tucked in at about 1am to get some sleep before hitting the ground running the next morning!
(Note: I highly recommend taking the daytime flight to the UK. We had no pressure to sleep during the flight and even thought it was only about 8pm our time when we got to our hotel, we were so tired from getting up early and traveling all day that it wasn't that difficult to get to sleep. I know a lot of people fly overnight so they don't have to spend money on a hotel room that first partial night, but for me, money spent on comfort is money well spent.)
More soon! I promise it gets better! And soon, PICTURES!
*Except that somewhere in between taking that photo on the plane to London and getting on the plane to Edinburgh, I lost my beautiful (and new!) Powershot. I was pretty bummed, but also determined not to let it get to me too much. I quickly put it in perspective: it was much better to lose it at the beginning of the trip rather than the end after taking a million pictures. And also, it was NOT the worst thing that would have happened. Not by a long shot. Plus, I still had my DSLR and iPhone for photo ops!)