20 August 2010 Trip to Edinburgh!!
Booking the hotel was the trickiest part of planning this holiday, I had phoned over 12 hotels and researched for what felt like months and finally came across a hotel which seemed to tick all the boxes. My friend and I phoned again to re-check that I was purchasing a ground floor twin room, which was mobility friendly/wheelchair accessible, with a walk in shower and shower seat and was reassured I was going to receive said room.
At the same time of booking the hotel, I checked to make sure there were flights from Heathrow leaving the same day. I booked via package deal on BAA online, and as requested on the site, if I disclose a disability in which I will need wheelchair assistance to and from the plane, I need state online and phone at least 48hours prior flight to confirm this. I did so, and for the first time, the transition from the airport into the aircraft ran smoothly. The only nauseous part of checking-in, was being felt up by a Phil Mitchell/Conchata Ferell doppelganger during security. We arrived at the lobby and as soon as we printed out our tickets and checked in our baggage, we were directed to the 'Special Assistance' reception where we waited until we were escorted to our seats in the plane.
We arrived in Edinburgh at around 7pm, and were escorted by 'Special Assistance' to the airport taxi firm. From there we made our way to our hotel. Once we were there, we were far too knackered to do anything and decided to head to the hotel restaurant. That's where the little hitch came, there were two floor levels to the restaurant. The first level (approx 5 circle tables) was overcrowded by football fanatics watching the game on the large screen and to get to the second level, with scenic window views, there were 4 narrow steps. I made my way to the second level - steps aren't a huge problem if there are only few but if it's been a long day, it can be slightly harder to use.
After we enjoyed our 3 course meal (yum!) which we had £30 off as a part the deal, we headed back to our room to relax. The room was great; we had the first room on the ground floor and with were extremely spacious. The biggest problem came the next day when I wanted to have a shower and realised there was; a step to get in, half a shower door (so water could pretty much escape everywhere) and there was no shower seat. My friend and I headed to reception and queried about it, especially as I had requested a walk in shower/shower seat during the booking process and was told that they had fully adapted wheelchair accessible rooms available. They then asked if we could wait a couple hours so they can scout for a shower chair within the building, an hour later, we received a phone call from reception explaining that they had no shower chair to provide us with and that they were going to ring around other local hotels to see if they can provide one. Later that evening they informed us that they were unlucky in the search for this world renowned shower chair, they later arrived at our room with a leather chair and a shower curtain. They decided the best alternative was to place the leather/wooden chair in the shower and drape the shower curtain over it, and asking me to be careful not to let too much water on the chair itself... this was going to be a complicated showering..
I pointed out the fact I cannot guarantee that I can keep the chair water free, so they decided to use ties to bind the shower curtain over the chair, desperate for a shower I agreed and luckily their plan actually worked. Spirits were back up when we were told that £30 of the first night would continue through the rest of the evenings, yummy yummy food for squat! The best kind!
We had already phoned the Edinburgh council previously to ask about buses and travel in general, and every bus we came across was accessible (like London buses, one space for a wheelchair user or mother and pram), and actually had 6 priority seats at the front (I don't think I've ever come across that before.. or if I have, they probably were all taken up for me to see!). For an all-day travel card from 9am to 12am, it was only £3! I was also really surprised that 80% of the bus drivers waited until I had taken my seat before driving off.. something that NEVER happens in London.
The holiday itself was great! Very hilly, which was my only hurdle, it took me nearly 45minutes to walk to Edinburgh castle from the outside of the building, but was quite cool once I got there, a bit miffed I couldn't go inside after the long walk, but enjoyed it as much as possible. We used a lot of our time to visit historical landmarks, shopping, visiting art galleries and exhibitions, which were quite good. Buildings in Edinburgh City were very accessible, including the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
In the evenings we went out to explore the nightlife. I probably jinxed myself the night before pointing out how strange it was that I haven't been approach by random drunken strangers I usually seem to attract... So, on our last night, we were on our way to a 'Ghost Tour' (as Edinburgh is known to be the most haunted city in the UK) we sat at a bus station waiting for the guide to arrive. Already exhausted from antics during the day, I was hoping the tour wouldn't be too long - the guide arrived and informed me it would be a 3-4 mile walk underground and over ground. I decided against the tour as the hills had gotten the best of me, and we sat at the bus stop figuring out our next move. Just then, we were approached by a very wasted young man in a fluorescent workers vest - keen to sit in-between us, my friend 'politely' told him to sit on the other side, just then another friend of his, hammered of his face, decided to join us. After 2 minutes of small talk....
Scotsman 1: So where you from? Me: Heathrow Scotsman 2: Oh that's not far!.. That's only like an airport away... (He said stumbling into a tree..)
Scotsman 1: So where you from?
Scotsman 2: Oh that's not far!.. That's only like an airport away... (He said stumbling into a tree..)
...they were persistent for us to come back with them, trying to offer us weed we told them to leave and surprisingly but unwillingly they did.
After trying to find a cinema, we realised it was a silly idea at 11pm as it will obviously be shut, and headed back to the bridge when we bumped into them again. This time they got a lot more persistent and Scotsman 1 refused to leave me alone and Scotsman 2 said he would 'through my crutches over the bridge' if I didn't go back with him. Some while later, I managed to cool them down and actually persuade them to take a walk, and long after their explanation on how the two Scotsman used to be friends years ago, lost touch and bumped into each other after 5 years, and decided to get wasted and bumped into us..it must be fate, they finally left us alone after another 10 minutes of brain beating conversation. 15 minutes later, walking to the bus stop, we (yes, you bet) bumped into them again, this time they asked us one more time before fleeing with drunken girls. Yes!
Interesting in parts, but overall had a great time!