I have to admit, the last tourist site that I was interested in visiting when I was in Edinburgh, was the former Royal Yacht Britannia. It was well off the beaten path, and as far as I knew was just a boat. What was the big deal?
Well, my travel companions convinced me to make the trip to its permanent mooring at Ocean Terminal in Leith, and I am really glad that they did, because it is a piece of royal history that is actually pretty darn cool.
Now, it is no Buckingham Palace, but what makes the Britannia so interesting is that it served as the Royal family's floating home during foreign travels from its launch in 1953 until it was decommissioned in 1997. It was one of the few places where the family could have complete privacy (well as much privacy as you can have with a full staff around you), and offers an intriguing look into the queen's private and traditional, unfussy British tastes.
The boat has had many famous guests from all over the world, and was the vessel that took Princess Diana and Prince Charles on their honeymoon. (I would never describe myself as a "royalist", but like a lot of the world, Princess Diana has always fascinated me.)
There is something amazing about walking in the same place that some of history's biggest movers and shakers have walked.
The ship's company was made up of an admiral, 20 officers, and 220 yachtsmen who kept the five tons of luggage organized, the Rolls-Royce ready to go, the teak decks scrubbed, and the ship running smoothly!
You can visit all levels of the yacht from the engine room up, and there is even a tea room to enjoy (I didn't hit that up, but I hear that the food is amazing!). For more info on the yacht click here.