24 October 2011--I hate early morning departures. The worst of it is sitting in a pub at 10:00 on your last night in Scotland, having a
wonderful time with people you only see once a year at best, knowing you have to get up at a ridiculous hour the next morning. That's the real
reason I started taking a day's layover in Amsterdam on the way home--that way I could take an 11:00 flight, and ease the transition in more ways
than one. Ron doesn't have that choice, not having an extra day to spare; and living in Seattle, he has no real alternative to the
6:00 flight. He told me the other day he'd take a taxi to the airport this morning, but I won't hear of it. That's no way to say goodbye, and we
have the car. So we are up together at 4:00, and out the door shortly thereafter.
I manage to avoid the scenic tour of Kirkliston we took two years ago, but drive somehow into the wrong part of the airport parking garage, an express area that will cost a chunk of change if I can't talk my way out of it. It's always something... what do you want at 4:30 in the morning? Ron checks in, and we share a ritual cup o' joe before he disappears through security. I'm back in bed at 5:45.
All of this, of course, would normally be but preamble to my seemingly inevitable lost day in Edinburgh...but remarkably, I make it to breakfast at 8:45, and feeling reasonably cheerful, manage to get out to do things. I walk up to Princes Street and decide to go up to Calton Hill. Haven't been up there for years, and once up, I can't figure why not--it's a lovely park, affording marvelous views all over the city. From there, I circle around the back side of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, on a walkway I hadn't known existed before now, getting a look at the ruined Holyrood Abbey over the fence. Then I'm at the foot of the Mile, and shortly I'm in the Cadenhead's shop. Mark's not in today, but Neil is, and he's perfectly happy to sell me bottles of Pulteney, Teaninich, and Rosebank.
I stop in at Royal Mile Whiskies to have a blether with Iain, and buy a bottle of Bladnoch to be the last roadie of the trip. I tell Iain I'll be in the Stockbridge Tap later, and he says he might stop in, as it's on his way home. Willie has also said he might come by. I have a last pint at the Bow, and then coffee at the Café Rouge, before dropping my bottles at the B&B and settling in at the Tap.
Neither Iain nor Willie show, which is no big deal--I knew they were both kind of iffy--except that I was planning on having dinner here at the Tap, and it happens that the kitchen is closed this evening. I skip dinner, and find some nourishment in chit-chat with Lucy, the barmaid. I'm away from Edinburgh in the morning.