Occasionally in life you meet someone and you just know there is a depth to the connection that will turn that initial interaction into a life-long friendship. That is what happened with us and Gerald. He hosted us at the first bed & breakfast we stayed in when we arrived in Edinburgh. What a guy! He truly became for us, in those five nights and five delightful breakfasts (he prepared for us), a trustworthy guide ripe with all the right recommendations of things to see, do, and eat as well as offering a clean, easy to find, well located home full of all the amenities (our favorites were the cable television offering 700+ channels and wireless Internet access throughout the whole house) at a reasonable rate.
But it was the dynamic conversations we shared across a plethora of topics that made us feel so at ease and comfortable from start to finish in Edinburgh. The other bed and breakfasts we stayed in when we drove north into the countryside shouldn't be compared to Gerald's because his defines bed & breakfast. We've stayed in others around the world and none compares. Stops in Stirling, Pitlochry, and Inverness were a disappointment as far as accommodations were concerned after Gerald's. But here's the thing: these other B&Bs came highly recommended, we did enjoy them, and one of them (here) just won a big award from Trip Advisor. They awarded the wrong place!
A dear friend once laid out his philosophy of a good bed & breakfast for us like this: there are three components that, if you get right, make the difference between a very good experience and a mediocre one. They are: 1) the welcome, 2) the bed, and 3) the breakfast. Seems obvious, huh? Well, many of these establishments miss one or all three!! But Gerald scored perfect 10's in all categories. He met us at the front door and after we got settled he immediately provided us with good maps, restaurant recommendations (we tried most of these and loved them), a tour of his place, and shared other resources every visitor in Edinburgh and Scotland needs. Each night we slept quietly and comfortably on the bed, furnished with clean and cozy sheets and blankets and grade A pillows. And every morning we indulged in breakfast complete with cereals, fruits, yogurt, eggs, bacon, sausage, grilled tomatoes, toast and croissants, jams, and butters, juices, and coffee. If you add a great location and Internet access to the previously listed elements for a superb B&B, then Gerald stands far, far above the rest!
I am not exaggerating when I say we were truly sad to leave and wave our goodbyes out of the taxi window. We left a good man and wonderful friend in Gerald behind. As he quickly readies the place for another series of visitors we only hope he will not soon forget us because we will never forget him and his hospitality, but most of all his friendship.
So if you're off to Edinburgh you know where to stay. Gerald's Place is where the journey began and here is where I begin my reflections on our visit. More tomorrow.