MRCP Celebration & Ceremony at Edinburgh, tour to Glasgow, Falkirk Wheel and Isle of Skye 9D7N 2017

The main objective of this family trip to UK was to attend Wei Juan’s MRCP Celebration and Ceremony at Edinburgh. Unfortunately  Yun Xin and Wei Hor could not join us as they had work commitment at that time, else it would be more fun and more enjoyable! Of course the trip will be more complete!

Day 1

Arrived at KLIA2 airport at around 11.45 pm waiting for our red-eye flight to Doha at 2.55 am by Dreamliner Qatar Airways.

Kim was already in here dreamland before boarding the Dreamliner!

After almost 7 hours flight, we finally arrived at Hamad International Airport,  Doha at 5.00 am local time for our transit to Edinburgh at 7.05 am. (Time difference between Doha and KL is 5 hours).

Sunrise at Doha airport during landing

At the arrival hall, Hamad International Airport, Doha

The icon of Hamad International Airport, Doha

Kim woke up already and did some workout

Waiting for our flight to Edinburgh

Bird’s view of Doha city

After another 6+ hours,  we arrived at Edinburgh International Airport at around 2.20 pm local time. (Time difference between Doha and Edinburgh is 2 hours)

At the immigration hall, Edinburgh International Airport. The airport is quite small.

A group of Scottish were at the airport to welcome the arrivals of visitors, but not sure whether it was for a particular group of visitors

Immediately we took the Airlink bus to Edinburgh Waverly bus station (£4.50 per pax). Then we walked for about 10 minutes to our Airbnb apartment at the Old Town Edinburgh. Well, this was the first time I was staying at Airbnb apartment!

The Airlink linking airport and city

At the Edinburgh Waverly bus stop

The Hunter Square near our apartmentd at the Old Town

After checking in, we walked again to Princes Street to get some winter clothing for Jun Ing and Kimberly. On the way back, we dropped at Tesco Store to get some fruits and breakfast for the next day. In Edinburgh, you don’t find modern sky-scrappers. You only see century old medieval buildings. 

Our Airbnb apartment at the Old Town

Edinburgh is full of old Medieval buildings

Starting our walking to Princess Street

Not sure what is this iconic building, a cathedral?

Edinburgh Castle viewed from Princess Street

Nice Spring weather at Edinburgh!!

Vvy couldn’t resist the temptation of trying this Scottish hotdog! Very salty!

We retired early to bed as everyone was too tired after more than 14 hours flight!

Day 2

Woke up early and after some self-prepared breakfast, we started out first itinerary by walking to  Arthur seat. It was quite a distance from our apartment. But it wasn’t too bad as the weather was cold and windy. It took us about 1 hour to reach the base of the hill.

At the base of Arthur Seat

JI and Kim didn’t follow us up the hill as the trail was quite steep.

Kim playing at the base of the hill

It took us about 45 minutes to reach almost to the Arthur Seat. We didn’t continue our climb as the trail was getting tougher and the two of them were waiting at the base.  

One pose before climbing the hill

Hiking up the hill

Part of Edinburgh city from the hill

A wefie before proceeding

                                                                                                         Vyy is acting cool.. 😛                                                                         (Photo by : WJ Lim)

Arthur Seat at the peak of the hill

Arthur Seat is so near yet so far!

So we descended and walked to Dynamic Earth, another tourist attraction. However, we didn’t go in as it is more suitable for school children and of course the entrance fee is not cheap also!

A group of students at the Dynamic Earth

The hop on hop off bus is very popular in Edinburgh

So we called an Uber taxi to get to Botany Garden. We explored for about 2 hours at the garden.  

At the Botany Garden

Cheeky Kim Kim

We then took another Uber taxi back to Edinburgh Train Station to take our lunch at the Booking Office Restaurant.  

We tried the local dish, haggis which is a blended mixture of liver, lungs from cow and oats. But this delicacy is not palatable to us. Maybe we are not used to it!

The haggis

After lunch, Wei Juan, JI and Kim went back to the apartment as Kim was in sleeping mode and they had been there before during their last visit. The three of us headed to Edinburgh Castle which is just a 15 minute walk from the train station. This castle is an amazing and beautiful place to visit and to get some inside history of Scotland. Entrance fee is £17 per pax. At the castle, you could get a panoramic view of part of Edinburgh town. However the wind was very strong and it was very cold, you couldn’t stand outside for too long. Anyway it is worth visiting.   We stayed for about 2 hours before walking back to our apartment.

Edinburgh Castle

A lot to see at the castle

Wanted to try this Scottish ice-cream, too bad it was closed for business at 5.00 pm!

After a simple self-prepared dinner, mom and I began our exploration of the night life in the Old Town area. Alas, it was very quiet and we were disappointed to see very few people out there despite the fact that it was the most happening area in Edinburgh according to TripAdvisor. Maybe it could be due to the cold weather which was about -20C.  So we didn’t stay long before we were back to our apartment.

Expecting some night life here, but it was very quiet!

Day 3

It was an exciting day as we had to wake up early to catch the 7.15 am train to Mallaig, the northern part of Scotland then took a ferry from Mallaig to Armadale before taking a MPV to Portree, a country town in the Isle of Skye.

Everyone woke up at 5.00 am. After a simple breakfast, we rushed to Edinburgh Waverley Train station. It took us about 15 minutes to reach the station. We took the train to Glasgow which is about an hour journey where we switched to another train heading to Mallaig. It’s another 5 hour journey from Glasgow to Mallaig.

At the Glasgow train station

In the train

But it was never boring as on the way, you could enjoy the beautiful scenery. The train also stopped at several stations on the way. Actually the scenery looks a bit like New Zealand where you can see a lot of green grazing fields with lambs roaming around, lochs and seaside. Some mountains were capped with snow. The view is just magnificent!

Beautiful scenery on the way to Mallaig

The train finally arrived late by 20 minutes at  Mallaig, a small cowboy town. So we missed the 2.00 pm ferry, had to wait for another 2 hours to board the next ferry at 4.00 pm. We had our lunch at the Mission Restaurant, just fish and chips.

Notice the phrase below the English words? It’s Gaelic language in Scotland

The beautiful scenery at the ferry terminal 

The almost empty ferry. Most of the people bring their cars into the ferry.

We departed from Mallaig at around 4.05 pm. The ferry journey took about 45 minutes to Armadale. Our prebooked driver, John was there to greet us and fetch us to Portree which was another 1 hour journey. (Price is £75 per MPV one way) We checked-in at Pier Hotel at around 5.45 pm. Well, Portree is a beautiful port town with beautiful mountains and seaside. Our hotel is just situated at the pier. Immediately we walked around the town to explore. We bought some bread and fruits at the Cooperative Grocery Store. Dinner was at Lower Deck Restaurant. It’s supposed to be a highly recommended restaurant from the reviews in TripAdvisor. However, we didn’t find the food spectacular. Maybe we are not used to Scottish cuisine.

Our hotel at Portree

The sea just in front of our hotel

Cheeky Kim posed again!

Day 4

Today’s itinerary  was round island trip. We engaged a local tour agent Skye Scenic Tour for a seven hour tour which brought us to various tourist spots in Isle of Skye. After a simple breakfast, we took some photos before setting off.

Simple breakfast at the hotel

Departed from the hotel at 9.45 am. We were back at the hotel at around 4.30 pm as it was raining in some of the places we visited, so we didn’t stay long. We visited mountains with lambs wandering everywhere, lochs as well as cliffs. The places we visited were mostly unspoiled as there were not many tourists going to this island and the population here is only around 5000. The scenery is simply marvelous and picturesque, ideal for photography.  Alas, the sky was cloudy, so we couldn’t snap good photos. The package was £180. After a rest, we were out again to explore the town on our own.  

This is the place where the shooting of the film The Transformer was carried here.

A pose from lengcai!

Kim was very fascinated by the lambs

The cliff that looks like the Great Ocean in Melbourne

Vvy found a Sneaker ice-cream. Of course he tried it.

At a brewery in Uig, the hometown of our driver,John

Our driver John

Day 5

It was time to say goodbye to Isle of Skye, a beautiful paradise. We checked out the hotel at 6.45 am without taking the breakfast. The hotel proprietor was kind enough to give us some cereal and milk. The driver was there to pick us up to Armadale Pier. It took us around 1 hour to reach the pier.

Another picture before leaving

At Armadale ferry terminal

It’s another hour of ferry ride to Mallaig. We arrived at the train station at around 9.30 am. The train departed at 10.10 am. So we hanged around the train station under the cold weather at around 20C.

At the train station Mallaig

After a 5 hour train ride, we finally arrived at Glasgow train station. We walked about 10 minutes from the train station to George Square to check into Premier Inn, Glasgow.  After a brief rest, we headed to George Square and walked around the city to get a feel of Scottish culture in Glasgow.

Kim looking at the feeding of pigeons at George Square

At Hard Rock cafe Glasgow

In front of the Royal College Of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow

Bought this plaque from the college

Packed fish and chips from this restaurant for dinner

Day 6

After breakfast, we walked to George Square and Princess Square to go up to the Light House to get a view of the city. However the view was not spectacular as the Light House is not very high.

Entrance to the light house building

Vvy was excited to “find his car”  in Glasgow!

Then we headed to the Museum of Arts. We didn’t stay long as we are not enthusiast of modern arts!

At 12.00 pm, we checked out.  Juan and Vvy walked to the Buchanan Bus Station while the rest of us took an Uber taxi with our luggage. It’s another hour bus ride before we arrived at the Edinburgh bus station. Again Juan and Vvy walked to our Airbnb apartment at the new town while we took an Uber taxi.

In front of the apartment at the New Town

 At around 4.45pm, all of us were ready for the big event; i.e. to attend the MRCP celebration and ceremony at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons which is about 10 minute walk from the apartment. The ceremony went smoothly with 62 medical officers from various part of the world attending the ceremony. We had buffet dinner at the college. Finally we had a guided tour of the college to get to know more of the college history. Actually the medical college started in the 17th century! We were back at the apartment at around 9.00 pm.

Guided tour to the library of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Edinburgh

Day 7

Woke up early in the morning at 6.00 am as we had to catch the train again, this time to Cameron for our destination to Falkirk Wheels. We reached Cameron train station at around 9.30am. Immediately we tried to get an Uber taxi, but not available. We walked to the bus station nearby and asked the bus driver. None of the bus goes to Falkirk Wheels! Scottish people are very friendly and helpful. The driver really took the time to explain to us how to walk to the place despite the fact that there were many other passengers waiting in the bus.  Apparently we had made a mistake by alighting at Cameron as there is no public transport to this destination. In the end, we had to walk about 45 minutes to reach the place! And worst of all, it was drizzling. Falkirk Wheels is a famous master piece of engineering linking 2 canals which are separated from each other because of different in height levels. The rotating wheel brings the ferry or boats from one level to the other level, thus linking the two canals. An astonishing fact is that it only require  energy equivalent to boiling 8 kettles of warer!  Now it is not much of commercial use, as land transport is much more convenient and cheaper. So it has become a tourist attraction. Return ticket price is £15 per person. The journey takes about 50 minutes each way.  After a simple lunch at the Falkirk Wheels, we walked to the nearby bus station. Unfortunately there wasn’t any cab around. But there was a bus waiting. Again we were lucky that this time the bus driver was willing to take us to the nearest spot where we could walk back to Cameron train station. This time, the good Samaritan bus driver could do it because there wasn’t any passenger on board. Best of all, he didn’t charge any single pence for the ride as you need to purchase a day-pass for any ride and it is £4.60 per day! So this time we only walked about 10 minutes to reach the train station. Second incident to show that the Scottish people are very helpful! When we were about to reach the train station, the train was coming! We had to walk across the rail road to reach the train station via the overhead bridge. Juan rushed to the train station to request from the train master whether could he wait for us as we were at the overhead bridge. Surprisingly he obliged and agreed to wait for us! Another incident to show the kindness of the Scottish people!   

Reached Falkirk Wheels!

Master piece of engineering

We took an Uber taxi to go to Royal Yacht Britannia at Ocean Terminal, Leith, Edinburgh. The Royal Yacht Britannia was a sailing home to Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family for more than 40 years, sailing over 1,000,000 miles around the world according to the posters displayed in the ship. Entrance fee is £15.50 per pax inclusive of a simple to use  audio guide. The audio guide will take you from one station to another station and give an in depth  understanding of the Royal Yacht Britannia. A lot of the Royal family photos were displayed. Of course the most memorable one was Princess Diana.  

It was fabulous to stand at the front deck of the yacht and have a great view of the pier. There is a café in the yacht. We spent about 1 ½ hour there before going back to our apartment

The kris was presented to The Royal family from our Malaysian government. Another one was presented by the Sarawak State government

Kim got her own taxi while we were waiting for our Uber taxi

Day 8

This was our last day in Edinburgh. We decided to walk to Calton Hill which was about 18 minute walk from our apartment. Calton Hill is actually situated in the vicinity of Edinburgh. It is not very high but it is a good place for jogging and exercise. At the peak of the hill, you can get a quite nice view of the city.

At the Calton Hill

Finally got a taste of Scottish ice-cream! Not bad.

We took it as an exercise to climb up and down. Then we headed back to our apartment to check-out. We called an Uber taxi to fetch us to the bus station. Again only 3 of us and Kim could get into the taxi including our luggage. So Juan and Vvy had to walk. However, when we passed by the two of them, the taxi driver was kind enough to stop and asked them to squeeze in, another gesture to show that the Scottish people are really kind and helpful. Really grateful to the kind driver!

Finally we boarded our flight to Doha enroute to Kuala Lumpur ending our tour to Scotland.

Departure hall of Hamad International Airport Doha

I’ll box you if you take my picture! Kim was in bad mood!

Really wish we could stay a few more days there as we enjoyed very much the peaceful atmosphere and the hospitality of the Scottish! Hope to come back again one of these days!

Bye Edinburgh, bye Scotland!

 

Exchange rate : £1 = MYR 5.70

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About HP Lim

An experienced Form 5 chemistry teacher from Johor Bahru.