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The Royal Yacht Britannia

Edinburgh, Scotland

After arriving in Edinburgh, we dropped our luggage off, grabbed an Uber and headed to the Royal Yacht Britannia. This was an absolute must see for me in Edinburgh since it has a royal connection and I have a new obsession with royal history.

If I am being proper, technically the vessel is called the Royal Yacht Britannia, and was the former royal yacht of Queen Elizabeth II from 1954 until 1997. The Royal Yacht was originally going to be built for King George VI, the Queen's father, but he died a day after plans for the ship were confirmed, so the Queen oversaw the commissioning of the yacht. It was constructed in John Brown & Co shipyards, one of the most famous shipyards in the world, with the keel being laid in 1952. Britannia is moored in the historic Port of Leith in Edinburgh. The yacht has travelled more than a million nautical miles around the globe, including to Chicago, Illinois. Britannia was designed to be able to be converted into a hospital ship if necessary, but this capability was never used. When the yacht was on royal duties, it was escorted by a Royal Navy warship. US Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton were welcomed aboard, respectively. Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana took their honeymoon cruise on Britannia in 1981. In 2011, Zara Phillips (the Queen's granddaughter) and Mike Tindall held their pre-wedding drinks reception onboard the yacht. A retired Rolls-Royce Phantom V state car used by the Queen from the early 1960s until 2002 is parked in the purpose-built garage aboard Britannia. The Queen's former racing yacht Bloodhound is berthed next to the yacht. The decommissioning of the yacht in December 1997 was very emotional for everyone. The tour gave you the feeling that Britannia was a sanctuary for the royals. Britannia is now part of the Royal Yacht Britannia Trust.

The Royal Yacht Britannia Website: https://www.royalyachtbritannia.co.uk

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Bow of the yacht
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Attempting to get a full view of the yacht
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The Britannia is berthed in Leith Port at Ocean Terminal. Ocean Terminal is a mall and the entrance to the yacht started from the mall. It was quite unusual to begin the tour this way. Our tour of the Britannia started in the Bridge.
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In no particular order, we'll start with the Royal apartments:
The Queen's Room
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The Duke's Room
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The Queen's Sitting Room
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The Duke's Sitting Room
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The Honeymoon Suite with the only double bed onboard the Britannia.
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State dining room
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Example of the Queen's place setting
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Artifacts from State dining room
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Anteroom. The bookshelf in the corner of the picture was taken from the Victoria & Albert III. The Victoria & Albert III preceded Britannia as the Royal Yacht. Royal Yachts date back to 1660 and King Charles II's Mary, which was a gift from Amsterdam. In all, there have been 83 Royal Yachts.
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State Drawing Room
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Welmar grand piano form the State Drawing room, which reportedly cost 350 GBP.
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The Sun Lounge was reportedly the Queen's favorite room onboard the ship.
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The royals were separated from the crew, whose quarters were not as glamorous.
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The yacht's sick bay
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Laundry room
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When the Queen went ashore, she used the royal barge. There were two vehicles onboard in the garage for the Queen to use. The Land Rover and the Rolls-Royce. The vehicles had to be hoisted into a special transporter to be lowered onto the ground. The Rolls-Royce's bumpers had to be removed for the vehicle to be hoisted. Later on, it was realized a suitable vehicle could be found for the Queen in the country she was visiting, so they rarely took the Rolls-Royce onboard and turned the garage into a beer store.
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As we walked around, we noticed a few interesting signs.
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The Royal Racing Yacht Bloodhound berthed next to Britannia
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I really enjoyed the tour of the Britannia. It really felt much more personal than some of the palaces and castles belonging to the royal family. There were two fantastic guides onboard, Tim and Andrew, who were so helpful and nice and entertained several questions from us. I wouldn't mind going back for another visit at some point.

Onto the Palace of Holyroodhouse...

Posted by LCP 08:32 Archived in Scotland Tagged edinburgh ocean yacht terminal royals britannia leith bloodhound Comments (0)

Edinburgh

Scotland

Greetings! Our next adventure took us to Edinburgh, Scotland for a few days. For those of us who are pronunciation-challenged Edinburgh is pronounced E-din-burrah. Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland. We took the train up, which took about four hours in total. One could also drive to Edinburgh via the A1. I'm a fan of the trains, so I will always choose the trains over driving! The train ride was quite scenic. On the ride up we stopped in Durham and Newcastle, which both looked like really cool cities to visit. The train paralleled the shore as we crossed over to Scotland and we had some fantastic views of the North Sea. The topography in Scotland was much different than in England. Scotland definitely had more dramatic landscapes and was much hillier than anything we have seen in England so far.

We had quite a bit packed into the few days we were there, so I will probably break out each major site separately. Our first day, we went to The Royal Yacht Britannia. The second day we went to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. And on the third day we went to Edinburgh Castle. Here I will focus on our exploration of the city of Edinburgh. Edinburgh is the second most populous city in Scotland the seventh overall most populous city in the United Kingdom. Edinburgh has been recognized as the capital of Scotland since the 15th century. The earliest human habitation of Edinburgh has been dated back to 8500 B.C. Enough of the history lesson, let's get on to more exciting things!

After arriving, we had a 20 minute walk from the station to our hotel. We stayed at the The Terrace Hotel in Edinburgh. The hotel is on Royal Terrace and was designed by William Playfair around 1820. Royal Terrace connects with Regent Terrace and Calton Terrace to form the longest continuous building of Georgian architecture in Edinburgh. Our room was quite spacious and we had a beautiful view of the gardens at the hotel. The location of the hotel was great for getting to all of the different sites on our list and near restaurants. It was definitely a quieter part of Edinburgh, which I enjoyed. The breakfast at the hotel was good and the staff were very friendly (it was a family run hotel). From the hotel, it took about 20 minutes to get to most of the sites. The only time we didn't walk was to get to the yacht which was at Ocean Terminal. For that, we used Uber, which was fantastic. We had great experiences with Uber drivers in Edinburgh. We also could not have gotten nicer weather during our trip.

Terrace Hotel: https://www.terracehotel.co.uk/index.php

Hotel cupola
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View from room
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View of the North Sea from Leith Docks
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We were able to get to several famous Edinburgh sites. The first full day we were in Edinburgh we had tickets to Palace of Holyroodhouse (a separate post will follow on that site). On our journey to the palace we walked past the Burns Monument which is a nod to Scotland's national poet, Robert Burns, and the Scottish Parliament building. The Scottish Parliament building is across the street from the entrance to the Palace. After the palace, we walked through Holyrood Park and saw Arthur's Seat, but unfortunately did not make it up to the top. That just means we'll have to go back, ha! Arthur's Seat is the highest point of the park and is part of four hill forts dating back over 2000 years ago.

Robert Burns Monument
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Scottish Parliament
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Holyrood Park
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View from Holyrood Park looking over towards the palace. The Nelson Monument is in the background atop Calton Hill. The monument was erected to commemorate Lord Horatio Nelson and his victory over the Spanish and French fleets in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. It was constructed between 1807 and 1815.
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Edinburgh city views
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Greyfriars Bobby in Old Town. Greyfriars Bobby was a Skye Terrier famous for guarding the grave of his owner for 14 years...talk about loyalty. You are supposed to rub his nose for good luck. He is so famous, Disney made a movie about him. Please excuse the random humans invading the picture.
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Some things Scotland is known for: whisky (obviously, and in Scotland it's spelled without the "e") and wool and cashmere. You can find some really good deals on wool and cashmere on the Royal Mile, which is the main shopping street in Edinburgh. There were also two excellent whisky shops along the Royal Mile: Robert Graham and Cadenhead's. The staff in both shops were extremely helpful and were very knowledgable and enjoyed educating shoppers about whisky. There were tons of restaurants on the Royal Mile, and we really enjoyed the staff and food at The Royal McGregor. The were very helpful, service was excellent and the food was fantastic. Some other lesser known Scottish things are Scottish marble and the quiach. Scottish marble is a greenish compound formed during the metamorphosis of limestone in the Highlands. It has been revered since the sixth century for its sacred and healing powers and prized by jewelers since the Victorian era. Scottish marble can be found on the facade of Westminster Cathedral in London. Quaich, pronounced "quake" is a two-handled drinking cup or bowl used for guests for welcoming drinks.

Views from the Royal Mile
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The Royal McGregor: https://www.royalmcgregor.co.uk

Whisky Shops:
Rober Graham: https://www.robertgraham1874.com
Cadenhead's: https://www.cadenhead.scot

We also managed to make it to the National Museum of Scotland and the Scottish National Galleries. Both places were free, but a small donation was appreciated. The museum was near the Greyfriars Bobby monument was extremely large and reminded me of the London National History Museum. It had a lot of family exhibits, but I most enjoyed the exhibits on Scottish history, which were nicely done. The National Gallery was located near Edinburgh Castle. It was smaller and cozier, but the artwork was fantastic. I especially enjoyed the small room of Nicolas Poussin paintings.

Two other restaurants worth noting were: The Hard Rock Cafe in Edinburgh and The Brass Monkey. Although cliche, the Hard Rock Cafe had excellent service and the food was good. And who doesn't want to collect all of the Hard Rock t-shirts! The Brass Monkey was very eclectic and the best part was they allowed dogs inside of the pub!

Our train ride back was interesting. We had seats next to a very nice Scotsman from Aberdeen, who talked the entire train ride home. He was very nice and I quite enjoyed his Scottish accent, but my introverted self was worn out after four hours of non-stop chatting.

Overall, I really enjoyed Scotland and cannot wait to go back. The people were so friendly and helpful. There is so much to do and see and it is a gorgeous country. I am looking forward to going back to see more castles and do some tours of the Highlands.

Onto the Britannia...

Posted by LCP 10:48 Archived in Scotland Tagged whisky edinburgh castle parliament nelson yacht royal mile wool marble cashmere bobby holyrood burns britannia greyfriars Comments (1)

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