A Travellerspoint blog

Gallivanting in Glasgow

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This place wasn't called the Hot-el Apartments for nothing. We had rather a warm sleep, and a warm morning too. And as for the bathroom (or should I say sauna) - well that made me glad we hadn't come to town on a hot day.
It was rather a relief to discover that it was raining when we emerged out on to the street - this was the type of weather that I had expected, and packed for!
We did the obligatory tourist thing and sat at the top of the double decker bus. In the rain. In the wind. Bring it on, Glasgow!
We got off the bus at Oran Mor, and enjoyed a wee dram before a play, a pie and a pint. It was packed - lucky we got there nice and early! Very entertaining play, and we all learnt some new dance moves. Move me, touch me, shake me, love me! Proud to report that we all managed to decipher the Glaswegian accent without any troubles. Neville didn't get all the jokes, but I still think he enjoyed himself.
After that we wandered around the Botanic Gardens briefly, before catching the bus through the streets of Glasgow and back to our car. We then entered the Guinness Book of Records for entering the most coins into a parking pay station. It would have been even more but the machine did not accept 1p or 2p coins.
Pat navigated us out of the city, which was just as well because the inbuilt GPS system lost the plot entirely at this point. It claimed that we were driving through paddocks and lakes, across freeways and even moonwalking for a time. All while we were actually driving on the M9. Anyway, it worked itself out eventually, and we went on our merry way.
We stopped in Newtonmore at the Letterbox for dinner - and it was just as good as we remembered it from 2 years ago. Neville really wanted to stay for dessert, but the rest of us were too full and wanted to get to our evening's accommodation.
When we finally made it to the Highlander Inn, we were temporarily defeated by the doors but then a local showed us this thing called a 'handle' and after that there was no stopping us. With 550 whiskies on offer at the bar, a night cap was definitely in order. Unless you're me, in which case a lime cordial was required.

Posted by Buccas 01:58 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Chilling out with chilled sangria

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Started the day with a sleep in - been awhile since we'd had one of those! Then we meandered into town past some penguins and Robert Burns to say goodbye to Welshy at the pub. Then it was off to Glasgow (via lunch in Stirling, at a place with very well-hidden toilets). We checked in to our apartment and then wandered the streets of Glasgow. It certainly has a very different vibe to Edinburgh - and I think I'm on Team Edinburgh (apologies to any Glaswegians out there). Eventually we decided on tapas for dinner, and discovered the wonder of frozen sangria - perfect for the unexpectedly warm weather we were experiencing. And what better way to finish off an evening than with salted caramel ice cream, Reese's peanut butter cups and Aberlour whisky (thanks Enya). A pleasantly relaxing and chilled out day - a well-earned break from all the intense holidaying we'd done so far!

Posted by Buccas 14:06 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Fundee in Dundee

Deep fried amazingness

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Good morning Edinburgh! We got off to an energetic start to the day when we climbed the 287 or so steps in the Scott monument for some breathtaking views of the city. A sign at the bottom advised us to stick to the right when passing, but the stairs were so narrow in parts that passing was definitely not an option. Pat's backpack only just made it through at times.
Pat went off to the land of whisky, while the rest of us strolled the Royal Mile and found Enya again to help us through another day of holidaying. Lunch was hog roast from oink, with haggis seasoning and washed down with Irn-Bru. Then we did something we may never do again - had a deep fried Mars bar, and a deep fried Snickers. Whoa! Let me point out that the five of us shared these delicacies, as I really don't think my arteries would have been up to the challenge of managing that on my own. Pretty sure that it cancelled out all the stair based exercise from the morning.
By then it was time for Kristie to head to the train station and leave us for the bright lights of London. She scored a window seat and Enya sent her off with a packet of Percy Pigs to keep her company.
Belinda headed off to drag Pat away from his new whisky buddies, while Simon, Enya and I walked up more stairs to Calton Hill. Wow. I actually think the stairs-to-view ratio was better there than the Scott Monument. The National Monument looked to be made of cardboard, so we had to climb up to prove to ourselves that it was legitimately three dimensional.
Eventually Pat and Belinda arrived and Enya showed us the most impressive sight of all - the building where GTA was invented! Lonely Planet didn't tell us about that one, it's much better to have a local on hand for these crucial tips.
Enya had well and truly earned a break from us by then, so we said our farewells and headed off to Dundee. Or tried to, except that peak hour traffic got in the way. And when we finally made it to our final destination for the night, we drove straight past our accommodation and into a maze of one way streets and roundabouts. So about an hour after arriving in town, we ended up at a pub with Gus and Vikki - hoorah!
Duke's Corner had tasty burgers, sweet potato chips, amazing beer-wine hybrids, and open mic night. Can't ask for much more than that on a Wednesday night! We wandered over to Tickety-boo's to finish the night, and Vikki introduced us to the coke+wine concept... Different. I appreciated learning some new Dundonian expressions though - "awa en leh en yer een pish" will come in handy often, I think.
Closing time meant we had to go back to our fancy shmancy five star apartment (there's a sentence I haven't said before). Gotta love discounts! Time for some five star sleep.

Posted by Buccas 13:48 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Edinbra with Enya

Wiggle wiggle splat

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Simon started the day with a trip to the shops for breakfast supplies, and came back with some advice from the cashier - "when walking around Edinburgh, you need sturdy shoes, an umbrella and sunglasses... because you just never know." Equipped with this knowledge, we set off to walk the Royal Mile. KK and the O'Bennetts checked out the castle, while the Buccheris visited the Museum of Edinburgh. It was mildly entertaining, but I probably won't need to go there again. After a quick beverage at the Castle Arms, we met up with Enya and presented her with the whaleboating shirt she'd been waiting 7 months for. Better late than never I suppose!
We went to Howie's for lunch, where we all tried to out-Scottish each other. Simon was probably the winner because he had cullen skink followed by haggis, neeps and tatties, but the rest of us came a close second by having haggis and Irn-Bru.
After lunch, it was off to Camera Obscura to play wiggle wiggle splat with the people of Edinburgh. What a fantastic way to spend an afternoon - our poor brains were completely muddled by the end of it! So many optical illusions, including the most ridiculous vortex tunnel and hilarious mirror maze.
Next on the agenda was the Real Mary King's Close tour - Neville got a little bit claustrophobic underground, but it was all good fun. We even managed to survive the plague, which is no mean feat. We celebrated with a beverage at the Greyfriar's Bobby pub, until we were accosted by a drooling gentleman who had obviously consumed some mind-altering substances and probably planned to consume some more. He then walked in front of a bus, while we walked in the exact opposite direction.
The next quest was Escape, which we convinced Enya to join us in. The initial challenge was finding the place, and then the challenge of getting out of it began. It's hard to explain without spoiling it, but essentially the six of us were locked in a room and had to decode our way out of it. Enya had the brilliant idea of turning the lights off, and they then wouldn't turn back on again. Eep! Three minutes of darkness. We all had our moments of inspiration and intelligence, and our fair share of "duh" moments too. The funniest part was when we found the final key, only to discover that it didn't actually work! Luckily the staff let us out.
After that, it was a trip to the 24hour McDonald's and then some faffing about and analysing our Escape experience before we finally let our brains get some rest.

Posted by Buccas 13:31 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Roadtrip

...and tetris

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Today started with a simple breakfast at Caffe Nero with Maya, or somebody who looked very much like her! After that it was off on a quest to collect our hire car, which was about a half hour walk away. Nowhere near public transport. Seemed cruel that a hire car service would just about need a car to get to it...
Anyway, in the end the Avis man was very friendly and it wasn't long before we were introduced to Leo the Peugeot, complete with skylight, in built GPS and fighter pilot display for the driver. Whoo! Neville was very impressed.
Simon boldly drove us back to Travelodge where we played a brilliant game of Tetris, and managed to fit five people and their luggage into the car. Kristie managed to score some free Rolos from the vending machine which made for an excellently chocolate fuelled start to our road trip.
First stop was Skipton, which had a population of similar age to the Skipton back home. The markets were a bit different though, and we couldn't find any platypus. English Skipton had a beautiful castle, but it was missing the charm of being offered mid-strength beer from a stranger's shed. Lunch was a hearty meal, and but the concept of squirty cream put us off trying dessert.
The drive to Edinburgh was entertaining, to say the least. We passed signs to brilliantly named places such as Giggleswick, Ecclefechen, Lamington and Crawfordjohn! There was also a sign for live pig racing (as opposed to dead pig racing?) and a curiously shaped pine plantation. Things really got exciting when we saw a sheepdog rounding up sheep for a man wearing a waistcoat and hat, and holding a walking stick. Stereotype alert!
When we arrived at Edinburgh at our flashy apartment, our pin didn't work to let us in. Hmm. We called the service staff, who had no notification of our booking. Hmm. Thankfully the apartments were still available, so we got what we had booked after all. And wow, what an apartment it was. Win!
By this stage, it was about 9.30pm and we were a bit concerned that we might not find any food... But never fear, ChaChaLaCa was here! So for dinner we had mexican food, served by Sicilians. Of course. Needless to say, Simon will now be invited to their next family function.
So with full bellies and some new friends acquired, we made our way back to our home for the next two nights.

Posted by Buccas 01:15 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

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