Our first full day in Scotland was spent exploring Edinburgh. It was a bit of a pinch-me-now day for this mega fan of The Crown. We visited the Royal Yacht Britannia, The Palace of Holyroodhouse, and Edinburgh Castle! I’m falling in bed exhausted, but with a huge smile on my face from the amazing things we saw, ate, learned and experienced. This was the kind of day only Disney can pull off!
Adventures by Disney Scotland
Day 1: Edinburgh – Failte!
Day 2: Edinburgh – Wrapped Up in Edinburgh
Day 3: Kelso – The Royal Treatment
Day 4: Inverness & The Highlands – History of the Highlands
Day 5: Inverness – Monsters & Dark Waters
Day 6: Inverness – Alba gu brath
Day 7: Inverness – Caledonian Escapades
Day 8: Inverness – Turas Math Dhut!
Breakfast at Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian
This morning kicked off with another delicious buffet breakfast to fuel up for the day’s adventures. Breakfast is included every day on every adventure.
Motor Coach Tour of Edinburgh
Our step on guide joined us right at the hotel and we were off to explore Edinburgh. We drove through Old Town where so many of the city’s architectural gems lie, and whose origins can be traced to the seventh century AD. Next was New Town – still older than America in many places. This is the epicenter of Georgian and Neoclassical architecture, championed by William Henry Playfair. It was a fascinating tour, and a great way to get a lay of the land and overview of the city’s storied history.
The Palace of Holyroodhouse
After a fascinating introduction to the royal palace, which is the official Scottish residence of the British monarch in Edinburgh, we took the official self guided Palace tour. It was so well done and absolutely intriguing. My favorite parts of the tour were learning about Mary Queen of Scot’s time here and how her private secretary was murdered by her husband while she lie in bed. His blood stain still mars the floor! I also was captivated by the story of Hanoverian troops slashing portraits in the Great Gallery in 1745. To this day, you can see the repaired slash marks on the paintings and a footprint on the portrait of Mary Queen of Scots. The Palace itself was beautiful and a joy to tour, although no photos were allowed inside. Over the centuries, great events at Holyroodhouse have shaped the fates of England, Scotland and France, and it was surreal to be standing inside this famed and historic palace.
(Outside the palace, thistle – the national flower of Scotland)
(The abby ruins)
In addition to your two Adventure Guides, Disney brings step-on guides in almost every location. These are local experts that know everything about the history and culture of your destination and are able to weave fascinating stories and passionately tell tales about their homeland. They are always fantastic!
The Royal Mile and the Statue of Greyfriars Bobby
En route to Edinburgh Castle, we stopped at the Statue of Greyfriars Bobby, the renowned Skye Terrier. No time goes wasted with Adventures by Disney and they always make time for fun stops along the way! According to legend, this adorable pooch spent 14 years until his death guarding the grave of his owner. The story of Greyfriars Bobby was so remarkable that Walt Disney Productions turned it into a movie in 1961! Many visitors to Bobby’s grave leave sticks instead of flowers. Imagine my surprise when a little doggy visitor trotted right up and started playing with them. I imagine Bobby would be delighted!
Lunch On Your Own
Our guides parted ways with us at the gallows on the Grassmarket, only after sharing a few stories about pups along the way that were inspired by some of the gallows most famous victims, including Maggie Dickson.
Maggie was charged under the contravention of the Concealment of Pregnancy Act and her exection was ordered to take place in public in the Grasssmarket on the 2nd September 1724. After the hanging she was pronounced dead and her body was bound for Musselburgh where she was to be buried, however the journey was interrupted by a knocking and banging from within the wooden coffin. The lid was lifted to the sight of Maggie, quite alive. The law saw it as God’s will and she was freed to live for a further forty years. She became something of a local celebrity and the locals gave her the nickname ‘Half Hangit’ Maggie.’
We chose to dine right on the front patio of Maggie Dickson’s and enjoyed quite a lovey lunch.
Tour of Edinburgh Castle
For the afternoon, we continued with our guides to Edinburgh Castle. Here, we had time to take in the resplendent views of the city and explore the castle’s massive fortifications. We absolutely reveled in the remarkable tales of royal intrigue surrounding the wars for Scottish independence. There wasn’t too terribly much of interest here, to be honest. I loved seeing the apartments where pregnant Mary Queen of Scots fled to after her husband took the life of her secretary. This is the room where her son, James VI, was born in 1566. Also, the Great Hall was pretty spectacular. Built in 1511, it still has the original oak ceiling.
St. Margaret’s Chapel is also just here, and is the oldest original structure in Edinburgh. King David I built the chapel around 1130 and named it for his mother. Queen Margaret, who was said to have performed many acts of charity, was canonised by Pope Innocent IV in 1250.
The Royal Yacht Britannia
Our spectacular day ended with a private after hours tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia. The yacht was covered in detail in the latest season of The Crown, and I can’t even tell you how I excited I was to visit her. Britannia was launched from the John Brown & Company shipyard in Scotland in1953. For over 44 years the Royal Yacht served the Royal Family, travelling more than a million nautical miles to become one of the most famous ships in the world. To Queen Elizabeth II, Britannia provided the perfect Royal residence for glittering state visits, official receptions, Royal honeymoons and relaxing family holidays.
State Drawing Room
Our visit started in the spacious and elegant Drawing Room, where I guides pulled back the ropes and allowed us to sit and chat right in the place where the Royal Family relaxed. Princess Margaret played this very piano, as did the likes of Frank Sinatra. The clocks onboard were all stopped at 3:01 PM – the moment the Queen bid her last farewell to Britannia after it was decommissioned. Everything on the yacht was original to the moment she left.
State Dining Room
This was the largest and grandest room on board Britannia. Here Queen Elizabeth II and The Prince Philip entertained some of the world’s most powerful figures like Sir Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.
Here the Royal Family relaxed in privacy, sunbathing or enjoying games of quoits or deck hockey. Prince Philip would occasionally set up his painting easel here and there was even a collapsible swimming pool for the Royal Family to take a dip if they wanted.
The Sun Lounge
The Sun Lounge was Her Majesty The Queen’s favorite room on board, where she would enjoy breakfast and afternoon tea.
We were able to take a peek inside three of the four royal bedrooms on the yacht. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip had separate sleeping quarters, both with just a twin bed, adjoined with a door between.
The honeymoon room became the only double bed on the yacht when Charles had it brought onboard for his honeymoon with Diana. Four royal honeymoons took place on Britannia. All four ended in divorce.
The fourth bedroom is for the kids.
We also got a peek inside the officer’s areas.
It was from this area that Britannia was commanded as the Royal Yacht sailed the oceans of the world. From here the Officers navigated, log books were recorded and orders issued. Our amazing tour ended here with champagne!
Evening in Edinburgh and Dinner On Your Own
We used our free time for a walk down Princes Street. We landed at Dishoom, which was an absolutely incredible Indian meal. What a day!
All About Adventures by Disney
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