The Blue Max Project

© 2016 Thomas Emme Some Rights Reserved

Getting from here to there....

" And there is anoher personal satisfaction that of the people  who like to recount their adventures, the diary-keepers, the story-tellers, the letter writers, a strange race of people who feel half cheated of an experience unless it is retold."

Ann Morrow Lindgergh

I suppose it isn't too ironic that I read this quote in the first page of the book I brought along for part of my vacation reading.  This was from her book " North to the Orient" describing her travelling adventures with Charles where she flew as his navigator and travelmate.

Can't say our travel was quite as exotic as that, but the adventures warrant retelling.

The day started at 8:00 am , being shuttled to the airport, three hours before our flight.  We took the "get there really early" advice, which gave us lots of time sitting in the airport before we had lots of time sitting in the airplane.  Did get treated to these large scale WW1 and WW2 era airplanes hanging from the ceiling in one concourse.

Five hours from San Francisco to Newark was the first leg.  As a seasoned Southwest Airlines short trip veteran, we were not prepared for the mayhem in a long flight in Economy class.  The flight attendants start at one end pushing their carts to provide drinks or snacks, but it takes a long time to run cover the length of the plane.  Unlike Southwest they are preparing the drinks as they go.  By the time they make the junket, they need to do the run again to collect trash and the trash is starting to accumulate in your laps.  By that time the people who had the drinks need to que up for the restroom.  At one point we had two arrendants pushing the cart with six or seven people in the que and a third attendant trying to lift a trash bag over someones head to try and get by.  Yikes!  Very busy.

We did get a treat as we came into Newark at the end of the day.  Caught the Manhatten skyline just as the sun was setting.  The Statue of Liberty was there too, but it was so small we almost couldn't tell.

Had just enough time when we landed to use the bathroom, pose in front of  a cardboard cut out of the Statue of Liberty and get back in the que for another 6 hour flight.  Wow!   Mostly darkness over the water until the sun started coming up.


Many hours of movie watching and climbing over each other to get to the bathroom and perhaps some napping if you were lucky and we finally got treated to this wonderful view coming into Edinburgh.

We landed at around 9am Scotland time to beautiful blue skies, picked up the luggage and made our way to the "car hire" lot.

This is where the story gets interesting.  

So I had done all my obsessive research and had reserved a compact car with automatic transmissions ( clearly I have nothing in common with the Linbergh's advanture spirit) .  I brought my own gps after reading that the weekly charges are almost $200.  The very polite Hertz guy let me know " oh, well for a trip like this we assumed you wanted a built in GPS so we upgraded you to a nicer car".   After much discussion about the cost of the GPS and the hours I spent programming in all our destinations, he offered to "fix it" and sent us out to our car.  What we saw in the parking lot was a brand new audi sedan, full size and close to the ground.  In the states I would have welcomed this, but after zooming thru the backroads on googlemaps, I knew this was just too big of a car.  

Back inside, cut thru the que ( which was now quite long, got a few dirty looks) and they set us up with another much more appropriate car.  Got it all packed up ( suitcases just fit) and filled out the form for any existing damage and rolled up to the gate to check out.  First thing, he asked for was the form we just marked up.  Hmmm.....had it just a minute ago.  We dug through everything and couldn't find it.  Doors are flung open, jackets are flying.   Too late to pull out of the que, four cars waiting behind us and more coming.  We continued our search but finally the guy gave up on us and started new paperwork.  Keep in mind we have been up pretty much twenty four hours at this point so not hitting all cylinders.

Did I mention that somewhere in there I jumped in the car in a hurry and one foot tapped the gas so the car lurched forward a bit?  No harm no foul, just amping the adrenaline level before starting our first experience driving on the wrong side of the street from the wrong side of the car!

Here is where Robyn's research paid off.  We still have about four hours until check-in at the hotel, so we headed to the Scottish Modern Art Museum.  They had easy parking and a small lunch spot called the Cafe Sun Terrace.  Had a fritatta, salad and a glass of wine.  The lunch was nothing compared to the dessert table.  Even more interesting were the people themselves.  A big loud crowd of old lady's, mom's with baby's, art fan's full of laughing and accents.

After lunch outside the museum even better people watching.  A bus dropped of a bunch of junior high school kids. Dressed in traditional "english school boy" outfits.

And than we ran into some toddler childcare with an impromptu soccer game with all the little guys in their  reflective safety vests.


Finally we made the short walk to the Leith Waterway....with some great views along the waterway with some really old buildings.

After all that made it to the hotel and crashed for about six hours to catch up on our sleep.  Woke up at 9:00 PM, figured we better do something to get back on a normal sleeping pattern.  Robyn asked random people on the street about a good pub to go to, and we ended up here at Smithies.

Robyn and I sat with a Scotsman right at this stool and talked politics and unions and Trump and Bernie Saunders and coal mining and the RAF and the history of Scotland and the United States.  After all that I bought him a beer because he had earned it!

That was it.....more than enough story telling for day 1 and 2.