Agnes and I were up and off to see the Royal Yacht Britannica early this morning. It opened at 9:30 AM and we were there just as they were opening the door. The Britannica is the final royal yacht in a long line of royal yachts and sailing vessels. The Britannic was launched in April 1953 and sailed the equivalent of around the world every year until she was retired from service in Dec 11, 1997. At that time is was permanently moored in Edinburgh. During her time of service she had a crew of 30 officers and 250 yachtsmen. In addition there was the royal service staff of cooks and butlers, doctors, dentists, and forth plus a number of royal marines who were on security duty. The ship is now 64 years old so the technology and fittings make it very much a time capsule. However the Britannica is as clean and bright as the day she was brand new. The ship is filled with personal items of the Queen’s as well as gifts which were given to various royals on trips the ship made. The dining room is the largest room on the ship and has hosted an amazing list of dignitaries. I always wanted to eat in the Canadian Senate Dining room. The Britannica makes that look like take out. The maintenance work to keep her looking so shiny must be phenomenal. The crew worked 18 hour days and changed uniforms up to six times a day to make sure they were always in the proper dress for whatever they were called on to do. As hard as the work was and as cramped as the crew conditions were, it must have been a real honor to have served on this ship. The pictures really don’t do it justice.
The second stop on our tour was Holyrood. Holyrood is the official royal palace in Scotland. You are only allowed on the first two floors of the palace and only through certain sections. In addition strictly no photos inside the palace. Too bad as I would have loved to share with you the lavish décor. Incredibly elaborate plaster ceilings. Three hundred year old tapestries adorn the walls. Three hundred year old bed frames covered in damasks silks. You are allowed through the Mary Queen of Scots section and the story of her ultimate demise is laid out. The tour is really amazing. After you exit the palace you walk through the Holyrood abbey which is a ruined abbey and attached to the palace. The actual exit is through the gift shop.
I have over the years collected coffee mugs from various places, however as there is no longer room in the cupboards for more mugs I have kind of quit buying them. But I still look and on occasion will buy an especially nice one. There in the gift shop was one I loved. It was a real beauty. Fashioned on a royal mug used King Edward. Beautiful gold leaf rim, nicely curved handle, royal crest on the side, felt great in your hand. As there was no price on it I picked up one that was still in the box. Upon turning the box over I saw the price at 195Pounds and then quickly and carefully set it back down.
The tour bus took us up th Royal Mile where we jumped off and had a late lunch before wandering up the Royal Mile and looking into the tourist shop. No I didn’t buy any 150 Pound cashmere scarfs or 1000 pound tartans.
Tomorrow we have 65 miles (104 kms) and head north on the final leg of our journey.