Edinburgh: Day 2

Not as big a day as yesterday, I only managed 15,000 steps over 12km, however there were a few Uber’s taken instead of very long walks. Among those was a trip down to Leith to board the Royal Yacht Britannia, a major drawcard for tourists. We both felt the Britannia was more interesting than the Castle or the Palace.

As previously mentioned, we followed the Britannia with lunch the The Kitchin (review), which was an amazing experience.

After some canapés in the club lounge this evening we made our way to The Dome to check out the amazing architecture and try a steak, two for £30 with unlimited fries. However, we found the serving of the dinner quite peculiar. We ordered blue, but were served the steaks on heated plates, with the steaks sat on a heated pedestal, and the unlimited fries had to be asked for by a server. If a server came round and saw you were low on steak on your plate they would serve you some more from the pedestal. I almost expected them to help chew it for me!

Following dinner we took a walk up Calton Hill, one of the first public walking trails in the world (or Scotland/the UK… I can’t recall what the sign said exactly). The view was stunning, as you can see. These photos were taken shortly before 10pm, in case you needed any more proof that daylight hours here are nuts!

Edinburgh: Day 1

I’m tired, it’s 19:30 and the sun won’t set for another 3 hours! It’s not jet lag, it’s the fact that today I walked 25,128 steps, totalling over 20km. I enjoyed the walks between the hotel and the various sights, but it has left me burnt out before dark! I couldn’t even survive a walk into town for dinner tonight, so it’s lucky I have club lounge access. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let me share with you some photos of my day.

We went for breakfast at The Edinburgh Larder in the old town. We both had a full breakfast and that gave us the energy we needed to power through the day. The black pudding on my plate (Dee-Anne didn’t have any) was delicious!

Following breakfast we headed up the road to Edinburgh Castle where there was a big line of tourists waiting to get in. It was just good timing that we arrived not long before opening time, however the mix of nationalities proved there’s no room for manners anymore, as the line became a mob as soon as the entry opened and we soon lost our good spot. For once, it wasn’t the Chinese that were the worst, though they did like walking in front of me every chance they got. Manners: it’s so simple!

We had a whirlwind tour of the castle. There was a lot of history in various rooms and you could have spent all day there, but I get bored easily, so chose the smarter option of just taking things in and moving on to the next attraction. We got through the whole castle in not much more than an hour.

Following the castle we headed back into old town and chose to check out the National Museum of Scotland, along with far too many school children! Plenty of exhibits to see and a lot of interactive ones to get hands on with. A really cool museum.

We didn’t stay for long though, as while it was chilly outside, they were using every radiator inside. We got far too hot too quickly and longed for the cool air again, something we didn’t think we’d want after stepping out of the hotel this morning. We headed back to the hotel to rest for a bit, before setting out to the Palace of Holyrood, just down the road from the hotel.

Manners were a bit better at this attraction, and we had a good look around the house before the gardens. On leaving, we headed to the Scottish Parliament, located across the road, and we were able to sit in the chamber and watch the gears turn.

We took a walk down Princes Street in the late afternoon (or what I would call such a thing – before 5… but what happens if the sun sets after 10) to check out the new town and trendy shops and that brings me to where I am now, failing to keep my eyes open as sleep takes hold of me. What will tomorrow bring?

Cockpit Visit

Arriving into London Heathrow on Monday afternoon we were invited to the cockpit on landing for a photo opportunity. During the flight Dee-Anne and I had spent some time in the back galley of the upstairs economy section talking with the various crew members and were looked after superbly by them. I can’t praise Jimmy and Eugene enough for putting up with us when the rest of the cabin was sleeping or watching movies on QF9. It’s times like this flight where I am so happy to be a frequent flyer of Qantas.

Holiday Inn Express, Brisbane

As my European holiday is about to start, I have taken an award night through IHG at the new Holiday Inn Express, Brisbane. Brand new, only 8 weeks since opening, we found the room adequate for a budget hotel and nicely styled inside. It was a short walk from Central train station and not hard to find. The views were as you would expect from an inner-city location.

It wasn’t just the room that was stylishly decorated. The Holiday Inn Express model is that every booking comes with a free breakfast and the dining hall was impressively styled. I didn’t get a photo unfortunately, but the checkin-counters and bar area shared the same space, allowing for minimal staff as they operated both stations. I found it quite a smart design.

We had a small bite to eat before heading to the airport and walked away impressed with the experience. It’s certainly a welcome addition to Brisbane.

The Quest for Platinum

If you are reading my blog it should come as no surprise to you that travel is a big part of my life. I enjoy it. I also enjoy the perks that come with a lot of frequent travel and even strive to attain those perks. A few years ago, this took me right to the top echelons of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program when I attained Platinum One status. The year that followed was certainly worth it, in my eyes. This entry isn’t about aiming for that level again, as I just don’t have the time or money for that. However, I recently dropped back to Gold, having been a Platinum (or higher) frequent flyer member for the last 4-5 years. I was happy and ready to accept that fate, when a double status credit offer appeared in my inbox and suddenly all bets were off.

Over a long weekend in April I took 12 flights that placed me back in the Platinum arena for the next two years. Where I go from there is unknown and is not important. This entry serves as a record of that journey in pictoral form. I don’t think anyone needs to know what it cost, except to note it was extremely good value. 

Catalina Display Launch Dinner

Just 6 months ago I was in LRE for the last QFM AGM with Dee-Anne. Due to a change of financial year reporting for the museum – so they don’t split in half their busiest time of the year (winter) – I was back to hear how they had been and more importantly, to stay on a little longer for the launch of a new display the following night.

Consolidated PBY Catalina "G-AGIE" looking out at the sunset
Consolidated PBY Catalina “G-AGIE” looking out at the sunset

They were still painting right up until the afternoon of the launch dinner, but they did an amazing job getting everything together. To complete the display for future visitors to the museum is not just the paint job, but some seats have been installed inside, with subs positioned along the skin of the aircraft to give the sound and feel of being inside a working Catalina. It’s really a very cool experience.

Aircraft Name "Antares Star"
Aircraft Name “Antares Star”
Aircraft Tail "4"
Aircraft Tail “4”
Aircraft registration "G-AGIE"
Aircraft registration “G-AGIE”

A slightly larger collection of photos was posted to Flickr.

McLaren Vale

Today was the big event. A wine tour of McLaren Vale with plenty of tastings, fun and prizes to be had by the attendees.

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Murray came with me and I think he had a great day, despite there being a lot of frequent flying talk. I had to wake mum and dad up early to ask to use the CC at Kay’s but beyond that it wasn’t needed.

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The amount of food we were served at Serafino, and the quality of it was great. We couldn’t finish it all but it was lovely.

Leconfield turned out to be a good final stop, as I bagged two of the last 2008-vintage Cabernet Sauvignon’s. I then also won the main raffle prize.

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On the return to Adelaide, I took Murray into the airport for some drinks in the lounge, finally checking out the shoebox that is the VA lounge here, before moving to the Qantas Club, thanks to Danny guesting us in.

Feel completely buggered now though, it’s been a long day!

Goodbye UK

The day has finally come, the last of my holiday in Europe for 2014. I sincerely hope it doesn’t take another 4 years to get over here! It’s been so much fun, so relaxing, and somehow it’s passed by in the blink of an eye again.

Luckily I’ve taken my fair share of photos to remember the holiday by, and I’d like to share the last few in this entry as I set off home. It’s a long trip home, I left Chesterfield this morning and wont get back to the Gold Coast until 2 days later in the afternoon. Of course, when you take time zones into account it’s only really 23 hours of flying (and 12 hours spent in airports waiting for flights).

Lower Your Expectations

The catchphrase for Chesterfield is simply, “lower your expectations”, as I’m clearly expecting too much.

Today that was proven with the SIM card we’d ordered yesterday ultimately not arriving, thus it’ll be useless buying it tomorrow. I had to pay for it to be ordered… and they wouldn’t refund the money because they had no product to exchange (yes, even though it’s being delivered to them, not me). So now I have to wait for the SIM to arrive, and receive it just to hand it back to them to get my £20 back. Ridiculous I know.

We had a brief look through the shops in town, unfortunately M&S didn’t have the shorts I liked in a colour and size I liked, but I did get a new jumper from H&M that looks good.

We did have a good time though, despite the let down. You wouldn’t think it considering it was such a dull, rainy day, but there’s a lot you can do around here when it’s wet… like caving! So off we went to Peak Cavern (tripadvisor) AKA the Devil’s Arse. Our guide was very entertaining, making loads of jokes and certainly leaving a lasting impression. I’d totally recommend it.

After we got ‘home’ we had a lovely cream tea, with a slightly different take on the jam, using damson plum in a nod to Del. Dinner tonight was fish and chips with mushy peas, and there was so much of it! We had a group chat with Mike in Chicago and then Penny got up to some shenanigans as we watched some highlights of Glastonbury on TV.

Welcome to Chesterfield

First up, The Chesterfield Hotel… as my mum would say, “going from the sublime to the ridiculous”, it’s definitely a change from Enigma in Santorini. Everything creaks, the doors don’t auto lock, there’s an ironing board and iron hanging on the road, as if a feature. As far as hotels go, it seems a joke, but it’s what we can afford after Greece.

This morning mum firstly needed to get some cash out, before she dropped us at Jonathan and Julie’s and she headed to see an old friend across the country. Sze Sze and I lounged around a bit, happy to finally connect to some decent wifi, before heading out to Curbar Edge to have a walk around and remember years past. Almost as if nothing has changed. On the way back we had a beer at The Gate Inn (tripadvisor).

We also ordered a SIM card to be delivered tomorrow, to combat the dreadful wifi at the hotel and lack of internet connectivity around town.

Back at ‘home’ we watched the World Cup and ultimately went out for dinner at The Fox and Goose (tripadvisor), which was only chosen by chance, as no one had been there before. Ultimately it turned out to be a good choice, the food was very good with lovely views to match, and due to it being a Thursday night, was quiet.

More football when we got back, before heading to our hotel shortly after the match had finished. Wifi worked for about 15 minutes before crapping out.