Waking up I realize that most of the people I have traveled with this past week already have left by taxi. The description of the taxi tour reminded me more of a rollercoaster ride… I am enjoying my last breakfast on the Flying Dutchman before it is time for me to leave the boat. Well, not yet. I am spending a few more hours in Oban, having another cup of tea and am enjoying the slow start of the day. But before late I go back to the boat to fetch my luggage and my bike and to take the final goodbye with the crew. One last look back on the rental bikes, I am spotting one of the causes of all the troubles we had with them: rust covered chains. This, in combination with tires which were never fully inflated, explains a lot. Once more I am more than happy that I bring my bike with me on this kind of tours.
Though, while waiting at the railway station for my train, I could have second thoughts about that. A conductor approaches me, asking me if I have a bike reservation because they could not find it in the system. Phew, it turns out my decision from a week ago to get my tickets from the desk and not the machine was a good one. The advice, which I got then, to screen print the email which confirms that I do have a reservation now comes in handy. The conductor tells me it is not a problem as they do not have that many bookings for bikes. But what they would have done if they had not? I will not learn on this journey. I guess I do not need to know everything. Other than in Germany or Norway the platform here is closed until the train is ready for departure. Prepared for passengers to board it, I should say. Once my reservation is sorted, I am the first one allowed to enter the platform to get my bike into the train without interference. I like that. It gives me the space to maneuver my bike around without bumping into other passengers. The idea of closed platforms makes for a less stressful experience here – at least for me.
But the platform and the train are not on the same level, so getting my bike on is not as straightforward as it could have been. Again the staff proves helpful, lending me a hand to set it all up.
A few hours later I am arriving in Glasgow, where I have to say my final goodbyes to Tony and Suzanna. Here I have to change trains again to get to Edinburgh. The platform is not announced before a few minutes ahead of departure. But hopefully still early enough so that I do not have to fight the crowds when I am getting to the train. Well, that hope is crushed. I am hurrying down the platform with a group of people worthy of a concert hall, trying to spot an entry that is not already blocked by bikes. Where do all these cyclists come from? Every carriage holds its maximum number of bikes already. Finally, the third or so wagon still has one place left for my bike. I am on!
Throughout my train ride, I am wondering if the elevator in Edinburgh has been fixed. Will I have the luxury of taking my bike on the lift? Or will I be so unfortunate as to have to haul it up the stairs and then run back again to fetch the bags? Or maybe I can carry it up with the bags still attached? Well, I am not King Kong…so what will I carry up first? The panniers or my bike?
I did not need to worry about it this time. Someone fixed the elevator before my arrival. 🙂
Now to get to the hotel. It proves useful that I was there just a week ago. I do now approximately where to take the turn now. If I had to search for my little map…well, it would have been chaotic, to say the least. I had forgotten about one thing though: the stairs up to the entrance. This time I am taking off my luggage. It’s only five steps but maneuvering these with a back-heavy bike? I do have two extra minutes to take the bags and the bike separately.
One last night in Edinburgh
Once again I am greeted by a helpful receptionist. After my check-in is completed he advises me to use the bar to disassemble my bike and pack it into the bag I stored at this very hotel. Pieries Hotel is not as modern as the Hub Hotel I stayed at last week. But I have got a nice big room from where I do not hear the street and a big comfortable bed as well as a small but suitable bathroom. I am not going to live here permanently, and even for a few more days, this Hotel would do for me. The only thing I am missing here is an elevator. Carrying my luggage to the third floor is not what I prefer to do. Well, at least my bike can stay downstairs in the luggage room, packed away in its bag. Breakfast tomorrow is another 7£, but yes, I will take it this time.
Last week, when I traveled to Oban, I was advised to visit the Edinburgh Festival at the town’s center. I am somewhat worn out from the travels so I will once more stay in my room and finally enjoy reading my book. Maybe I will someday come back to Edinburgh just for the Festival. Perhaps I will then do some more cycling around town…but then it will be an unsupported tour…until then…Good night.