Scottish Treasures and a Yacht Fit for Royalty
When I was a child growing up in West Hartford, my favorite pastime was to go to the Children's Museum of Hartford where they had natural history displays and dioramas showing the life of Native Americans from the area. I always thought it was quite wonderful, but the National Museum of Scotland blows it away.
We started our visit with a one hour highlight's tour. We learned that the grand entrance which we passed on the way in has now been replaced with a new entrance to meet 21st century standards, but just a quick escalator ride up to the second floor brings you into the grand Victorian atrium. Our pleasant guide asked if it reminded us of anything. Quickly I piped up and said, "Yes. Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin." Her smile quickly turned into a shocked look until I explained that the jail had been designed as an atrium just like this one with a glass ceiling for light therapy.
The museum has many galleries ranging from natural history and world cultures to discoveries, collections from sea captains, and the history of life in Scotland in a building resembling a castle.
Unlike most museums, each gallery extends up vertically so that you have to visit all three levels to see it. Technology enhances each exhibit. One surprising fact I learned is that the famous environmentalist John Muir is from Scotland. There's a small exhibit honoring him. On the roof is a 360 degree view of Edinburgh and a small garden with plants from all the natural habitats in Scotland.
We took a short bus ride to visit the Royal Yacht Britannia which was used by the Royal Family from 1953 to 1997. It has been in 600 ports in over 135 countries including Boston.
We were lucky to get a table by the window in the tearoom for lunch right on the ship. We noticed several people celebrating with champagne and learned you can even rent the ship for dinner functions although I imagine this would cost a fortune.
Following our audio guides, we saw most of the rooms on the ship including the honeymoon suite for Charles and Diana. Signed photographs of the Royal Family were hung everywhere. I thought the interior would be more ornate, but instead it was designed to look like a country home at sea. I loved roaming from room to room imagining what it would be like to spend time on it. I decided I would have liked it very much.
After our tour we headed back to our guesthouse on foot passing the statue of Bobby and a cute display of bears.
Having spent most of our daily budget on souvenirs and lunch on the ship, dinner tonight is a picnic here at the guesthouse. I look forward to enjoying it in their garden and we're so lucky. They say this summer has been the best weather in over 50 years!