Today was another early day, ensuring that I’d have plenty of time to get ready and get the last of my things packed – and go through the OCD ritual of checking lights and appliances – before catching my taxi to the station. Still paranoid and sticking to my deeply ingrained routine of worrying and getting everywhere early, I got to Waverley with over an hour to kill before my train left for Inverness. So, since it was another very chilly morning in Edinburgh, I grabbed some breakfast nibbles from the M&S Simply Food in the travel center and found myself a seat inside, out of the wind, and right in front of the departure and arrival screens. Eventually, it was almost time to depart, but with less than ten minutes left until I was supposed to, they still hadn’t indicated which platform the train would be departing from. The nice man at the information desk told me that, for some reason, that particular train’s platform isn’t announced until practically the last minute, but that it usually went out of one of the ones directly opposite where we were. Waverley is rather a big station with many platforms and since it’s a bank holiday weekend and I didn’t reserve a seat, I was a bit worried about how crowded it would be…and about securing a luggage spot for PJ. Finally, they announced Platform 16 and, noticing little “reserved” slips sticking up from many of the seat backs, I bypassed the herd of other passengers and headed for the first car; all of the seats were available and I was able to shove PJ in one of the very few luggage spots. I grabbed a seat on the right side of the train and in a few minutes, off I went with an estimated travel time of about 3.5 hours.
It was a gorgeous morning as the train headed out of Waverley, shortly making its way across the Forth Bridge and then veering to the east which allowed for a lovely view of Edinburgh, the castle and Arthur’s Seat dominating the skyline across the water. The train moved on, passing field after field of ewes and their lambs, and before I knew it, the lowland landscape had given way to steadily increasing hills as we began to enter Cairngorns National Park. In addition to the landscape changing, the weather did, too. The highest hills were topped with snow from a day or two prior, but eventually, the sky darkened and the flakes began to fall, dusting the ground with white. For much of the journey, the train tracks paralleled the motorway, and as I watched the cars through the snowflakes, I was even more glad that I was on the train, since my original plan had been to drive from Edinburgh to Inverness…until that terrifying day in Chichester.
By the time I arrived in Inverness, it was sunny again, although still very cold (have I mentioned how very glad I am that I bought that down jacket in London? It’s served me well and no mistake). I’m really enjoying the convenience of the trains in the UK and the journeys really don’t seem to take that long at all, although I was glad for this one to end, since sitting behind me were eight guys on their way to Inverness for one of the group member’s stag weekend. They really didn’t waste any time, hitting their beers not long after we left Edinburgh…at 9:30. I do feel sorry for the one who got the hiccups right before we arrived in Inverness, though. His drunken friends weren’t particularly sympathetic, but it was somewhat entertaining to hear all of their suggested remedies.
Before heading to the taxi rank, I stopped into the travel center to make a reservation for Sunday when I leave Inverness, since I’m not sure how crowded the trains will be on a holiday weekend. After waiting in the cold for quite awhile, a very nice cab driver dropped me off at my B&B, which I actually could’ve walked to in the time I spent waiting, but I wasn’t about to lug PJ up the hill. After ringing the bell, I was warmly greeted by Susan, who filled me in on any and everything I needed to know about Inverness and then insisted on carrying PJ up the two short flights of stairs to my room. After unwinding for a little bit, I headed across the street to the local that she recommended for dinner (it was very good) before coming back to my room to do some typing while I wait to FaceTime with Mum and Dad, who are eight hours behind me. I still wasn’t feeling well today and I’m still pretty tired, so I’m glad that I was able to sit and relax on the train, but after I chat with home, I’ll be off to bed.