May 24 – Let’s be posh and take tea on a yacht

Can I just start with saying how pretty is the view out the window of the hotel room at 9:30PM?

I’m starting to get the feeling that Edinburgh doesn’t really do early mornings. We had a thing to do in the morning so we thought we’d just have a nice early hotel breakfast then off we’d go. Breakfast starts at 8:30. As luck would have it that still just fitted in with our plans as long we ate quickly, but it seems this place runs on a quite civilised schedule. Just in case anyone out there is saying “oh please DO tell us about this amazing breakfast” – it was a little continental breakfast, some cheese, salami, fruit, cereal, toast, yoghurt, juice and of course coffee. No I didn’t have all of that, that’s just what was on offer.

Suitably (and quickly) breakfasted, we went back up to old old friends the the Hop on Hop off bus as it goes right past this morning’s destination – the Royal Yacht Britannia. The Queen’s home-away-from-home when at sea, we’ve probably all seen it on the telly at some stage as she took it around and around the world. It was launched in 1953, and after 44 years at sea was decommissioned in 1997, bringing to an end the tradition of royal yacht starting around 1650.

There was an audio guide that went along with the tour, explaining things in great detail, and I’m 99% sure it was voiced by David Tennant, which was nice. Of course there’s way too much detail to remember, and I’m sure Google can give you all the information you need to know. Some of things that surprised me a little was how un-lavish it mostly was. The Queen’s and Prince Phillip’s bedrooms were quite simply decorated, each with a standard sized single bed. There was only one double bed on the whole ship, installed at the request of Charles at the time of his marrying Diana.

Things did get a bit more fancy in the formal dining room which I think could sit around 59 guests. The table could take up to 3 hours to set, with each piece of cutlery placed and checked with a ruler (like, not the Queen, I mean a measuring stick with numbers on 😉 ) . There were about 220 staff on board, I’m not sure if that included the people needed to keep it going or also the Queen’s staff as well. But I can imagine it wouldn’t exactly have been cheap to operate.

It was a very interesting look into a bygone era. We had to be fancy and have a morning tea in the tea room which was, of course, quite lovely. It has taken over what was ‘the Royal deck’, now earning its keep to help with ongoing maintenance of the yacht. Tea was served in a silver teapot, of course, accompanied by a scone with jam and cream. I’m sure it was mandatory to stick one’s pinky finger out whilst drinking 🙂 From the tea room on board there was also a glimpse of the Forth Rail Bridge in the distance was a bit exciting. (A glimpse of a bridge is exciting? Yes. Sorry not sorry! )

Then it was back on the bus, past more and more beautiful old solid dependable buildings. We had a milkshake at Grassmarket, an area chock full of restaurants and one (fully booked out) cat cafe – but happily some of the cats like nothing better than to sleep in the windows.

We didn’t have tickets to visit Edinburgh castle itself, but that’s OK, I was more than happy to just stand in the carpark knowing that’s where the Edinburgh Tattoo happens every year. They’re currently busily re-installing the arena seating which really just clings on to the edge, you’d have to hope it’s really tied down well enough to stay put.

After that we wandered around more streets with more of the beautiful buildings, and then back down to the train station to check on a few things for Sunday where the schedule will get a bit weird – with a verrrry long gap between checking out of the hotel and moving on to the next destination.

Dinner was in a nearby huge mall, St. James Quarter. Delicious Greek food – looks a bit like a high tea.

That’s about it for another big day. An early start tomorrow – to the point where we had to double check that we could actually find somewhere that serves breakfast when we need it. We’re all set on that front, so ready for more fun and games tomorrow. See you then!

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