Scotland Part 2: Zoo Britannia

The next day we decided to go to the Edinburgh Zoo in the morning and then take a bus out to see the Royal Yacht Britannia in the afternoon.
We spent quite a bit of time at the Zoo. I won’t bore you with too many details, but it was quite lovely and sort of meanders on this hillside on the edge of town…and it was empty. That was odd, really. Here it was a beautiful Saturday morning, bright sunshine in Scotland even, and there was nobody there.
Who would have thought we’d run into Ken?

This was the weirdest little beastie. It would just run back and forth and then stick its butt way up this tree and mark…back and forth, constantly.
But then we saw it’s name, and it all became clear

No Scent For Oil!
A little further on we happened on the Zoo’s security system

Anyhow, after 3 hours of hearing Daughter squeal “It’s so cuuuuuuuute!” at

we reckoned it was time to hop on the bus back into town, grab some lunch, and then hop back onto another bus to head out to Leith and see HMY Britannia.
So we did.

This was actually a great way to get a cheap tour of the city. Edinburgh only has 400,000 or so folks living there, but during August when the Fringe Festival is going on there are over a million tourists and performers and hangers-on there at any given time. It’s insane, really. And they are all clustered about the Royal Mile for the most part. Sheila would absolutely love it, as everywhere you go there are street performers and hawkers for performances shouting out. We ran into troupes from all over the world up there, from High School groups from the States to dance troupes from Asia. Insane. So it was nice to get away from that and actually see more residential areas of the city from the bus out to Leith.
I’ve been in a lot of cities, and I have to say that the areas we went through, especially as we got closer to the port, which are traditionally the rougher areas of most cities, really didn’t look that bad. Every place we saw seemed fairly clean and reasonably well kept up, and it was nice to see the residents going about their normal lives. There was a Hibernian match that day, and our bus took us near the stadium, and it was neat to see all these green-bedecked folks getting on the bus, chatting amongst themselves in that pre-game excitement before they hopped off to have a few at the many over-flowing-with-fans pubs we passed.
It also was comforting to see kids who were, oh, 10 or so, getting on the bus in pairs but unaccompanied by an adult. I know the crime rate in the UK is far higher then in the states, and it was nice to find out that here at least parents felt good enough to let their kids go to the mall without too much fear. Yes, I said ‘mall’, for that’s where Britannia was moored, permantly attached to a mall. Not a bad idea, actually. It pays for the upkeep and ensures a steady stream of visitors, and the mall is there to merrily drain more pounds from you after you tour the yacht…pounds from your wallet, not your waist, sadly.
Touring the yacht (it seems a bit much to refer to something that is over 400 feet long as a ‘yacht’…Thurston Howell 3rd eat your heart out!) takes a bit of time:

You start out on the top deck and loop around then go back off one gangway and down a flight of stairs and back on another gangway, wash, rinse and repeat:

One of the more interesting decks was the main deck on the stern for the royal family:

The teak was scrubbed every day, but it had to be done silently by sailors who were not wearing their caps. This was so because as this made the sailors technically out of uniform then the royals didn’t have to return the sailor’s salutes and thus wear out the royal elbows. Mind you, the sailors had to salute and stare straight ahead anytime a royal was about.
The main dining room was larger than my house:

I imagine the claymore behind the head of the table came in handy when the roast wasn’t done quite right.
You can actually rent the dining room for private functions, as Britannia was decommissioned in 1997, if you’re looking for that special place for your next soire.
Now, having a 400′ yacht is nice and all, but how does one get one’s royal personna from the yacht onto shore? Simple, really: you hop in your 40′ ‘barge’ that you always carry onboard for just that purpose:

They had a neat picture from the 50th anniversary of D-Day in 1994 which gives you an idea of the size of Britannia

That’s the QE2 in the backround.
Anyhow, she is a very interesting ship, and the tour tells lots of stories about life for her crew that seem just, well, odd I guess to American ears, but they are justifyably proud of her, and she is well worth the visit.
Shallow person that I am, however, I am forced to admit that the highlight of the day for me was afterwards in the gift shop, when I came upon this:


6 Responses to “Scotland Part 2: Zoo Britannia”

  1. Lisa says:

    Heh, Camilla is 50% off. I had to giggle.

  2. Mr. Bingley says:

    Lisa, I was standing there crying from laughing in the gift shop; my mortified Bride had to kick me to get me to stop. Of course, she started laughing too once I pointed the sign out to her.

  3. Lisa says:

    Diana’s somewhere going, “Count MY millions, beyotch!”

  4. The_Real_JeffS says:

    Great photos, Mr. Bingley! Even that one of Ken, er bush dog, rubbing his butt against the tree. But especially of the “yacht”.
    Whilst in London, many moon ago, I toured the Tower Of London, and had a look at the Crown Jewels. Therefore, I expect that your photos somewhat understate the oppulence of the “yacht”.
    Thanks for sharing!

  5. I simply MUST have a cut-rate Camilla cup!

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