Monday: Dublin

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It is a rainy day in Dublin but we still made the most of it. First, I was happy to see a 24-hour gym directly across the street from where we are staying. I was there at 6am and on the rower for 45 minutes, my first good exercise (aside from a ton of walking) in a week. It’s a nice place and well used. Tomorrow I’ll remember a towel!

I sat in a nearby coffee shop after that and was happy to read my book before going back to the hotel for breakfast. It’s always interesting to see what Breakfast Included ends up meaning, and this was a fine selection of coffee, tea, and cold food.

We walked to Trinity College after that, where my traveling companion/husband saw the Book of Kels (I had been there before) and the very impressive library there. I walked around the city and popped into some shops before meeting up with him again an hour later.

We walked to the river and checked out some places near there, then had lunch as it poured outside. We went back to the hotel where he left me so I could do some work.

photos: above – a pigeon staying warm on a light. below – breakfast; gym rower is perfectly positioned under a nice cool open window

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Sunday: Dublin

We left Edinburgh after breakfast this morning, and the bus to the airport was conveniently across the street from our hotel. We hopped on (well, our luggage weighs a ton so we didn’t exactly hop).

Our flight left about a half-hour late, but we were in no rush. The flight was on a small plane(70 passengers) and packed.

Once at the airport and through customs, we got our baggage and looked for the bus to Dublin Centre. We found it pretty easily, and an hour later we were at our hotel.

The hotel is hip and terrific. Our room is spare but nice, and we are in such a great location, within walking distance to some great pubs, restaurants, and shops. It is a happening place here and (bonus) I’m happy to have found a gym right across the street. I’ll be there in the morning.

We found a restaurant in our walk around the hotel neighborhood and I was able to get Sunday brunch: eggs, corn, polenta plus a delicious mojito.

We left and were sucked into a chocolate shoppe where we sat outside with a dark chocolate hot chocolate (me) and a latte (him). Drinks come with a complimentary chocolate, so there was that.

Tomorrow, Trinity College.

Saturday: Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle

The doors of over 100 public buildings around the city were open today and we took advantage of this annual September event that we lucked into.

Our first stop was the Edinburgh Sheriff and Justices of the Peace Court. We snagged tickets to the first tour, where we first heard from the Clerk of the Court about how the daily court system works (they stay until every held person is arraigned, so sometimes well into the night) as we checked out the courtroom. We saw cells (all of them empty since it is the weekend) and heard about how they handle assigning prisoners to cells. The 45- minute tour was very well done and there were tables of free duffle bags, snacks, pens and pencils, and key chains, which I grabbed as souvenirs.

Next we went to the Supreme Court buildings, on Parliament Square. This time we got tickets to a tour that was not for an hour, so as we waited we checked out some of the presentations: People could try on a judge’s robe and wig, hear about the law library, and look at some of the ancient portraits hanging all arround the great hall where we gathered.

The tour was good and was mainly about how the grand building was once used to house prisoners. Now those underground cells are used for paper files. Still, it was intriguing to see behind the scenes and in the lower levels of the very old building.

Next we went to the Arthur Conan Doyle Centre. We listened to the beginning of this tour which was more about the meditation and wellness center there than his writing. Our mistake, I should have read about that more thoroughly beforehand.

We had hoped to go to the croquet center and see some professional players in action, but that building was only open from 2pm-4pm and it was already 2:30pm. We had lunch instead and marvelled about how many thousands of people had overtaken Edinburgh overnight – the streets were nice and quiet until today. Still, it was a sunny day and nice to be out and about.

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stained glass window at Supreme Court building. The more money a donor gave, the larger his picture.

A street performer we came acriss as we walked around.

Friday: St. Andrews

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We took an early train to St. Andrews this morning, a one-hour trip from Edinburgh. we changed to a bus at Leuchars, the closest train station to our destination, for a 15-minute ride to St. Andrews. No matter, it was all easy and a smooth trip.

We had arranged for a walking tour of the city and that turned out to be a great idea. The tour guide was a well prepared college student and shared all sorts of facts and information about places we walked past: university buildings, ancient half-destroyed castles, unsettling sites of beheadings and witch killings centuries ago, Victorian swimming pools, and what is left of an ancient cathedral. It was a worthwhile two hours, with just us and another person on the tour.

Serendipity – the Alfred Dunhill Golf Tournament is going on this weekend and it’s free every day but Sunday, the finals. So we walked back to that after our tour and after a fish-and-chips lunch in a busy pub. We walked around at the tournament for about an hour but it was raining, often heavily, and it got to be too much. We walked back to the bus station and took a bus to the train, and got back to Edinburgh at about 4:30. We relaxed in the busy hotel lounge when we got back.

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Thursday: Edinburgh

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We set out exploring the city at 10 this morning after breakfast in the hotel. We wanted to Mary King’s Close, an underground alleyway where Mary King and her family lived in the 17th century. She was a “merchant burgess,” someone who represented her borough in the House of Commons.

We took a tour, going down 38 narrow steps and it was certainly interesting despite the young tour guide’s theatrics. (Unfortunately, we couldn’t take photos.)

We also visited St. Giles Cathedral, built in 1124 under the direction of King David l. The huge beautiful cathedral has a rich history that I won’t go into here.

Next we walked to Bennet’s Bar,  one of the oldest pubs in Scotland. It is notable also because it had a separate room (now used for small groups) for women to hang out and not be bothered by the men there. The room has a small window to pass drinks from the bar through. It was fascinating to see.

We stopped at Blackwell’s Bookstore, where I picked up a few books by Scottish writers.

Tomorrow we will go to St. Andrew’s by train, an hour from here.

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[photos – above are some pretty steps before we got to Mary King’s Close – not the 38 I refer to.

Below is the coffee house where JKRowling created Harry Potter. We didn’t go in and it was near impossible to get a photo with people milling around. First photo was taken in St. Giles Cathedral)

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Wednesday: Edinburgh

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[the toast trolley on the train]

We left London on a 10am train an to Edinburgh. The ride was a little over four hours, past fields and fields of grazing horses, sheep, and cows, plus quite a few perfectly rectangular farms.

We had lunch on board the train (cannelloni for me, fish cakes for husband) and I spent most of my time reading. It was very pleasant.

We checked into our hotel and then walked around the neighborhood a bit before having dinner at a small Italian restaurant. It was a good choice. Tomorrow we will see what we can discover here in this very old city.

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Tuesday: London

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[squirrel lady in the park]

What a nice day it was to be walking around the city. It rained in the morning when we first set out, but cleared and the sun came through.

We dropped husband at the Churchill War Room (I had been there once before) and my friend and I went for tea and talk. It was a relaxing few hours – what a treat.

We picked up husband at the appointed time and by now the line for the War Room/Bunker was quite long so we were glad we had gotten there early. The three of us walked around St. James Park before grabbing a snack at Oree bakery and going back to the apartment for some reading and relaxing.

Sushi later.

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[protestors by the Cabinet Offices]

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