The Journal of a Journey,
UK and Ireland 1999
Day 3Saturday, October 2
On to Scotland
It was a brighter morning though still a bit blustery as we made our way on foot to the Underground before 9 a.m. to catch our train from King's Cross Station for Edinburgh (pronounced "Edinboro") and leave London behind. Tourist Information told us the train would be crowded by rugby fans and we were distressed to eventually confirm that a major international game was being played that day in Edinburgh. Most of the seats on the first train were reserved and a horde of travelers rushed to board it. Sure we would never find a seat, we declined to even try. There would be another train in about half an hour. A railroad man advised us to board it even if we'd have to stand, which we did. And although most seats were reserved again, we did manage to get seats and found as we went along that the crowd thinned and we were able to upgrade to table seats from which we could get excellent video out the windows. (Reserving seats costs nothing additional to the fare, but must be done at least two and a half hours before departure, a fact I'd read while planning the trip, but forgotten.)
It's a little over 400 miles from London to Edinburgh and the high-speed trains make it with a dozen or so stops en route in a little over four hours. Though we passed through drizzle just outside London, another 30 or so miles on the sun shone better than it had thus far since our landing at Heathrow on Thursday. Clouds came and went but on the whole it was a beautiful day. We passed gorgeous countryside and many English towns with their mixes of the ancient and modern. I was especially impressed with the largest of these, the City of Newcastle on the River Tyne. In the area there were many beaches, lighthouses, castles, cathedrals, cliffs and great ocean views.
We were in Edinburgh by mid-afternoon, but were told that every room was taken for the night because of the rugby match, even the £300 ones, and that even the next city by train, Glasgow, was crowded. After waiting in a queue at the accommodations booking bureau for over an hour, I inquired whether we could get a bed and breakfast room in Perth, a large town up the northbound railroad six or seven stops. They assured me we could, so I booked the room, paying a £3 booking fee, and we were off on the next train north. The lady in the Tourist Bureau said we would like Perth.
It turned out to be a small city, and we found our way on foot after dark to the B&B about a mile from the train station. We'd had no food since the substandard English breakfast at the London guesthouse, so after checking into our room we were off to find a restaurant. We got some general directions about where to look from the B&B hostess and walked the half-mile or so. The only restaurant we found (other than pizza) was a Mexican one, so we tried it. It was the first Mexican restaurant either of us could recall eating in that didn't provide free nachos. The prices were reasonable, but it was the worst "Mexican" food I'd eaten since the Frankfurt Chi Chi's with Bob in '96 (but on the other hand, it beat haggis, Scotland's most famous national dish, which Let's Go says is made in a sheep's stomach bag and includes lungs, liver, heart and other tasty stuff).
Next station: Edinburgh
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