03.05.2013 - 03.05.2013 6 °C
Since we only had one day in Edinburgh, we spent the time visiting two of its most famous attractions, HMY Britannia and Edinburgh Castle. Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia was the ship that the Royals sailed on for 44 years. It's travelled over one million miles, which is more than if it had sailed around the world once each year it was in operation.
The top level was where we got to inspect the bridge. This was the command centre, run by the Admiral, and was full of vintage knobs and dials and tubes that all looked very impressive and bewildering. Behind the bridge sits the Flag Deck, where the numerous signal flags were stored. There were about 2000 flags on board at any one time, as well as extra material in case it was necessary to make one.
On the second level we saw the Admiral's suite, which was very spacious and included a separate cabin for sleeping and its own washroom. We also got to peek inside the bedrooms of the Queen and the Duke, both of which, to my surprise, were very simple and ordinary looking. There was a sun room that had a view of the deck and bow of the boat, as well as a honeymoon suite which had being used by four royal couples, all of whom divorced.
We made our way down to the third level, the most luxurious of the yacht's four decks. There was a sort of lounge and bar here for the crew members, where they could relax and drink and play games. One of these games was called Wombat Tennis, which involved throwing a stuffed toy wombat into the ceiling fan and then batting it around the room once it was released. The toy had originally belonged to a lady-in-waiting, who apparently assumed that it would be in good hands upon the Britannia. We saw the State Dining Room, used by the Royals and their guests, and the various gifts from around the world that lined its walls. At one end of the room stood a long thin narwhal tusk, presented by Pierre Trudeau when The Queen visited the North West Territories. We were happy to have this small claim to fame amongst the artistic carvings and impressive swords and other international keepsakes. The State Drawing Room was also quite impressive, complete with a baby grand piano that had been bolted down to keep it from sliding around the room.
The final level was where all the behind-the-scenes workings of the yacht occurred. It was home to the mail office, sick bay, operating theatre, laundry room and engine room. Here was also where the mess and barracks for the petty officers, Royal Marines sergeants, and Royal Marines band was located. The barracks were very tight and cramped, with three-high bunk beds and lockers stacked to the ceiling. We saw a number of stickers decorating the barracks, many of them maple leaves.
It took a little longer to return home than we thought. We got rather turned around on our way back, and ended up taking the same corners several times before rediscovering our parking lot. However, Mom and Dad have adapted to situations such as these, and were so calm that Abby didn't even realise that we were lost until Dad told her. On an unrelated note, she decided to stay home as the rest of us headed out again to visit Edinburgh Castle.
We didn't explore the whole of the castle, as that would've taken hours. The castle sits on top of a hill, towering over its surroundings and looking quite impressive to anyone approaching it. Inside the castle walls is almost like a little village, where you make your way from place to place walking across stone streets and squares. We visited the prisons used to house prisoners of war from all over Europe and America. There was a large war memorial to soldiers known and unknown, its walls covered in the names and dates of numerous battles that the Scottish had fought in. The real highlight of the tour, however, was seeing the Honours of Scotland, also known as the Scottish Crown Jewels, and the Stone of Destiny, upon which many kings and queens have been coronated.
We returned home and had Scotch pies for dinner, which were very yummy, though not homemade. Tomorrow we will bid farewell to Scotland and come back to England, where we'll have barely more than a week before it's time to head over to the mainland.