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79 Kms from Birnam
We didn't have much plans for the day. After Scottish breakfast, we headed towards Halifax. This time, we took the alter...
We didn't have much plans for the day. After Scottish breakfast, we headed towards Halifax. This time, we took the alternate route, A1 via NewCastle upon Tyne along the North East coast. There were numerous castles on the way. We passed through many valleys, loch banks and fishing villages.
We reached Edinburgh by 1 PM and checked in to Leonardo Royal Hotel. After lunch, we decided to visit Edinburgh Castle. The Castle is a historic fortress which dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh, from its position on the Castle Rock. Its importance as a part of Scotland's national heritage was recognized increasingly from the early 19th century onwards, and various restoration programs have been carried out over the past century and a half. As one of the most important strongholds in the Kingdom of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle was involved in many historical conflicts from the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century to the Jacobite rising of 1745. Research undertaken in 2014 identified 26 sieges in its 1100-year-old history, giving it a claim to having been "the most besieged place in Great Britain and one of the most attacked in the world".
The benefit of being in one country in Europe is that every other place that seems far from here is actually so close to you. And one must always make optimum use of such geographical proximity between different countries in Europe. Having spent the initial days of my first solo trip in England, my next and most obvious destination was England’s gorgeous neighbor, Scotland.To start my trip, I had the option of flying out of London to Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland. Surely, it would have saved me a couple of not so important leisure hours but I chose the other option- rail route. And if you’ll do what I did, I’m sure you will not regret it. I booked my train ticket with Virgin Trains East Coast, which cost me almost the same as would a flight with Ryanair or Easyjet. These are the low-cost airlines that can be used if you’re not traveling with much baggage. They charge extra (and that’s a lot compared to the ticket price) if you exceed their cabin baggage allowance. Travelling on a train allowed me to carry all that I wanted to carry without worrying about shelling extra money. Countryside views and mesmerizing landscapes en route was just a cherry on the top. Additionally, if you’re a Potterhead, you may get to see King’s Cross station if your chosen train starts from there. Yes, King’s Cross station has a platform 9 3/4 as well as an extremely tempting Harry Potter souvenir and merchandise store. My train was supposed to start at 9:30 AM from a different platform and the store opened at 9 AM. I was still inside the store at 9:25 AM. That was close! Poof! Be careful and don’t miss the train.
Food: Local favourites include the national dish haggis with mashed potatoes and turnip. Cullen skink is a soup served with fresh toasted bread, comprising of smoked haddock, potatoes and onions, is a local speciality of the town of Cullen in the North-East. Get a steak pie or the popular fish and chips from any one of the numerous takeaway chips shops. And for dessert, try cranachan, which is a delectable mix of honey, whisky-soaked oats and raspberries.Suggested stay:
Squeeze in a day or more for these festivals – Edinburgh International Film Festival (15th to 26th June), Gardening Scotland (3rd to 5th June), The Moonwalk (11th June), Royal Highland Show (23rd to 26th June)
Things to Do: Get a taste of the local food movement at the Edinburgh Larder. Feast on Scottish hog roast at Oink and drink one of 200 whiskies at The Devil’s Advocate.Visit the Portobello Beach, the Turkish Baths and the Golf courses.
Sights: National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh Zoo, Edinburgh Castle, Royal Botanic Garden, The Scottish Parliament, Royal Yacht Britannia, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Scott Monument.
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe takes place over a period of 12 days and is another reason to visit Edinburgh this June. While summer here is bustling with tourists, the inexpensive food, drinks and other activities in Edinburgh make up for it.
One of Europe’s most beautiful cities, enwrapped with rocky hills overlooking the sea, Edinburgh welcomes you with a skyline peppered with minarets and everyday buildings, sitting atop cliffs.
107 Kms from Birnam
We took an hour break and spent some time on the city map to locate the main areas of interest in the City and by 4 PM, ...
We took an hour break and spent some time on the city map to locate the main areas of interest in the City and by 4 PM, we found ourselves roaming somewhere around the City center. The area was almost deserted, may be due to Xmas eve. We reached the banks of River Clyde and the surroundings looked very beautiful. The sun was set by then. The reflections of the light from the buildings along the banks in the river provided a stunning view. Later, we walked through the shopping realms and streets where we experienced a sharp contrast to the desertness. Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland.
25th Dec 2016It was Xmas. Quickly send some Xmas wishes to some close friends and family in the morning. Being Xmas day, the hotel cooks was on holiday, but we got toast, muffins, croissants and tea for breakfast. We took the scenic route through Balmaha-Argyll forest-Loch Lomond and the final destination for the day was Oban, the famous resort town 140 miles from Glasgow. Very soon we hit the country roads and the ride along the beautiful countryside landscape reminded us of the MS Windows 2007 desktop picture. The morning was sunny and green meadows embroidered both sides of the road.
After a fill of history, scotch and scrumptious food, keep the last day on the Scotland itinerary to relax and enjoy a slow pace. Take a train from Inverness to Glasgow (it will take about 3 and a half hours). Once there, spend the day taking in the sights and sounds of the city.
GLASGOW :Where to stay : Euro Hostel Glasgow. Costed roughly £15 per night.One day is pretty much enough for Glasgow. Major points of interest includes People's Palace and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Botanical Garden. Everything is pretty much located within the vicinity and can be done in a day. I highly suggest end the day by the riverside for typical Scottish musicals by local musicians and some great food.
We are up and ready to catch our train to Glasgow at 6.45am. It's about 4 hours journey from Inverness to Glasgow, the train was on time and we reach Glasgow around 11am. Glasgow is one of the biggest industrial town of Britain, it's got the characteristic of any other city, so i would not say there is anything special about Glasgow. There are some monuments and heritage structures which can be explored and as always we preferred to walk around the city to explore these sites.We reached a open garden and it started raining here, it wasn't surprising, as in Britain it can rain anytime round the year, so it is suggested to carry windsheaters with you, for us this was the only time it rained. We took shelter under a big tree and me and Wifey took out our beer cans and started sipping on some beer. When it stopped drizzling, we walked ahead and reached a beautiful museum, which showcased the absolute history of Glasgow. It was quite a good experience knowing the city so well.After the museum we walked through the market of Glasgow and finally we decided to reach the train station as we had a train to catch to go to the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh. Trains leave at an interval of every 15 minutes from Glasgow to Edinburgh. We reached Edinburgh at around 2.30 in the afternoon, we were not really very hungry so we decided to pick up some sandwiches to eat. It was suggested by friends to explore Edinburgh, so we decided to take this special city tour bus. We paid 20 Pounds per person for this double-decker city tour bus which had open roof tops and it takes you on a 1 hour city tour with a recorded voice talking to you about the monument or place you are passing through.
It is the largest city in Scotland. A city with history ,it has a character of its own. A little different from the metropolitan cities elsewhere but also similar in a lot of ways. It reminds one of a bygone era and at the same time keeps them in the present. Source Lighthouse - overviewing Glasgow Author Maciej Żytniewski from Galway, Ireland
344 Kms from Birnam
For all lucky Harry Potter fans, you may have heard of Warner Brother Studios which has most of the Harry Potter sets an...
For all lucky Harry Potter fans, you may have heard of Warner Brother Studios which has most of the Harry Potter sets and costumes and is just two hours away from the heart of London. For all Titanic fans who have seen the Titanic multiple times, here's the ultimate way for you to express your fandom. Belfast is a small town in Ireland where the Titanic was built. It is small but it is still the largest city and the capital of Northern Ireland. The entire town has remnants of the Titanic ranging from mementos to a small ship making factory to museums dedicated to the Titanic.
BelfastI spend the day chilling around my hostel and trying out some local food, however you can use it to go check the Photography Museum or Royal Court of Justice. Later, in the afternoon, me and a couple of people decided to go hike up a nearby mountain and its worth it. Gives a whole view of Belfast and can be much of a change from everyday tourist things.
BELFASTGETTING THERE : A lot of flights fly out to Belfast from Edinburgh and cost as low as £30.WHERE TO STAY : Vagabonds. Costs around £20 per night.Belfast is a very small English area, also the capital of Northern Ireland. Major reference of Belfast is Titanic. Yep, there is a museum of ruins from Titanic and some other ships. Just like every other English city this is also famous for castles and cathedrals and town halls. I would pretty much suggest you to walk around the place and visit places of interest if you do not want to repeat a castle or cathedral visit. There is a big fish and tower clock photo stops along with some other local architecture stops. Its famous for its Titanic and Rifle museum.
180 Kms from Birnam
A sparkling composition in granite. This port-city stands proudly, looking out across the North Sea....
A beautiful coastal down and looked a bit old too. I noticed that most buildings in Scotland were made of gray brick! I picked up some funky hair scrungies, a CD and headed back to the train station. The people present there had a good laugh as I tried to put my backpack on.
125 Kms from Birnam
When I say 'romance', which places comes to your mind? Switzerland, Paris, Maldives, Mauritius? These are the names that...
When I say 'romance', which places comes to your mind? Switzerland, Paris, Maldives, Mauritius? These are the names that would pop up in any google search as well. Infact I also knew the same till March 2018 when a sudden holiday plan led me to Inverness. A travel freak that I am, I could not resist a chance to roam around UK in the early weeks of March when it was still snowing there. UK in winters would mean less tourists and since it was March, I hoped the climate would not be very harsh. Plus, this was my first visit in UK outside London and I always wanted to explore the countryside, Scotland and the Scottish highlands. The scenic beauty of Scotland captivated me even before I was there to experience it myself. So here was the plan- land up at Manchester, indulge in shopping at Leeds, visit Edinburgh for a day and then stay at Inverness for 4 days to explore the city and the highlands.When I reached Inverness, it was a bright sunny morning. Inverness is the largest city and cultural capital of the Scottish Highlands. My driver took me to the hotel which was my home for the next 4 days- Hotel Columbia. This hotel has been set up in a 1881 property, overlooking the River Ness. The benefit of booking in an off season was I was able to get a room which gave ne a view of the River Ness and the Inverness Castle from the windows. It had the luxuries of a modern hotel but also had the charm of an ancient old building. The moment I entered the hotel, I felt Scotland would treat me well! I could see the streets in front of me..locals going about their daily activities in their usual pace, the church, the bridges, the shops, they were all right infront of my eyes. I have been in love with mountains, seas and oceans, but for the first time, I had fallen in love with a city, where I wasnt born. As dusk arrived, the city lit up in beautiful hues, the castle glowed brightly, the bridge changed colour from purple to red to green as if they were all displaying their love to me. The dusk sky was so cheerful and lively. They made me feel warm despite the cold and made me thankful again for my life which is still worth living despite so many setbacks. I walked along the banks of river Ness, walking past the Inverness Castle, St Andrews Cathedral, little shops selling souvenirs and local food, crossing the suspension bridge, thinking how beautiful a city could be! I was right in the heart of the city with hundreds of shops, restaurants, hotels around me, yet it was so serene and peaceful. The people had an usual calmness in their pace and always cared to pass a smile unlike those in big cities like London, where people are always busy! Food being an important part of my travel stories, how could I not have the famous Fish and chips and Scottish whiskey from a restaurant nearby and wonder at the magnanimous castle that were right before my eyes!The plan for the next day was to visit the mysterious Loch Ness, probably one of the most popular names in Scotland. I booked a cruise with Jacobite. It was a one hour cruise and informed about the history and mystery of the Loch. Strangely, people still believed in the Nessie monster and paid utmost attention to catch a glimpse of the monster. As the cruise went deeper into the lake, we could view the remains of the Urquhart Castle. The views of the lake were breathtaking and I couldnt resist capturing every single frame that my eyes could set on.The next day was to experience the distinctive landscapes and breath-taking scenery of rugged hills, beautiful glens and numerous waterfalls that the Scottish Highlands had to offer. The beauty of Inverness was a surprise but I was expecting the highlands to take my breath away. After an extensive search, I finally zeroed in Happy Tours and booked an all day highlands tour with them. the tour guide was a very happy, old man and a Scottish local who was very proud of the beauty his city had to offer to the world.The journey from Inverness to the Isle of Skye is an exciting road trip to take in some of Scotland’s most beautiful and famous places; we once again passed by the mysterious Loch Ness, the emotive and atmospheric Glen Shiel where a Jacobite battle was fought against the British Government in 1719, the legendary and dramatic peaks of the Five Sisters of Kintail, and the world famous and extremely photogenic Eilean Donan Castle. The tour guide stopped the car at frequent intervals to help us spot for wildlife along the way and we did spot some deer, wild goats, and highland cows. And then there it was! The sea.. that would take us to the Isle of Skye. We crossed the Skye Bridge, which opened in 1995 and travelled through the Cuillin Mountain Range. We reached the picturesque harbour town of Portree to stop for lunch. Then we continued on the road trip to gaze upon where volcanic activity has left mesmerising natural landmarks such as the impressive Old Man of Storr. Its difficult to part with a beauty as mesmerizing as this and difficult to describe too, perhaps the pictures would tell you all. I felt I belonged to this place, my wild untamed soul resonated the surroundings and got entangled so beautifully! The phenomenal views at the Quiraing would make you feel alive and blessed. It is one of the most beautiful landscapes in the Isle of Skye. It is vast, colourful and mysterious.As part of the Trotternish ridge it has been formed by a massive landslip which has created high cliffs, hidden plateaus and pinnacles of rock. We then proceeded towards the distinctive pillars and beautiful waterfall at Kilt Rock, with views across to the Torridon hills on the mainland. I returned to my "home" in Inverness in the evening after having tested some awesome local whiskey and cookies.After the 3 day stay in Inverness, it was time to bid adieu to the beautiful city. But the Inverness and the Isle of Skye provided an air of romance and mystery that would make you cherish the memories long after the journey is over!P.s. I had not written much about Leeds, Edinburgh and London which were also part of my trip because Inverness and the Scottish highlands won hands down in the battle to woo me over!
Starting around 9 AM and taking the A9 roadway from Inverness. As soon as I departed, the clean view of the coast and the sky brimming with clouds made me click a lot of pictures. The A9 roadway by the coast, stretching all the way to Tain (and beyond till Thurso) is about 35 miles long. The first stop was at Glenmorangie Distillery located in Tain. The distillery is huge and covers a large amount of land by the coast. It has a lovely aroma of barley which can be smelled as soon as you enter Tain. It is located in a picturesque setting and the buildings are what you expect traditional distilleries to look like. At only 10 pounds, the tour was a steal, considering how welcoming the staff were. I also learned what exactly is the story behind Sixteen Men of Tain. After a few sips of a wide variety of single-malt whiskies, I headed towards the Falls of Shin Community Project. Located next to the river Shin, it has a famous view point called Salmon Leap, where if you are lucky, you can see salmon leaping from the Falls of Shin on their journey upstream. As a visitor, you can see the salmon jump from the waterfall viewpoint, just over the road or wander into the woods on a peaceful forest trail and come back to the Community-owned visitor centre for food. The next stop was at Golspie to see Dunrobin Castle. By the time I had reached the castle, it was about 5 PM and 50 miles were left to cover for Day 1. The thing about the (Highland) countryside is that shops, markets and public houses close quite early and people go to bed as early as 8–9 PM. Keeping that in mind, I had to reach Wick by at least 8 PM (yeah, too much to cover and explore for Day 1). After a short drive in the fog, I arrived in Wick around 8:30 PM and checked-in to a nice cosy lodge, booked previously through Airbnb, and got out to get some dinner. It was funny to find one of the few restaurants open at this hour in Wick was an Asian restaurant called Spice Tandoori — had lovely Indian food with some nice people serving us. That lovely dinner brought my first day to an end in the Highlands and I had covered about 180 miles from point A to point B which was a lot of distance to begin the coastal road trip with.
Deep in the Scottish Highlands, along a cold mountain stream lies a beautiful little town. A town surrounded by misty mountains, where an imposing castle stands tall overlooking houses that look like tiny matchboxes stacked to perfection. A town where people work during the day and spend the evenings angling in the Ness river which flows right through it. A town consisting of beautiful little cafes, hauntingly pretty alleys and a lush green forested area. Yes I am taking about the jewel in the crown of the Scottish Highlands – InvernessLocated in the far north of the United Kingdom, this place is one where the term “Heaven on Earth” might just stand true and I feel blessed that I have been able to spend a couple of days in this “paradise”In the paragraphs below I will attempt to describe this beauty as much as I can and although what the eyes saw might be tough to replicate in words, I will let my pictures do the talking.
#CoffeewithTripotoComing back with a blog after an eternity seems like a task, rather it actually is one. I had to spend hours thinking about a perfect start for this beautiful piece. No, I am not being biased towards my writing that too prior to completing it rather I am referring to it as beautiful, for it involves a story of travelling through a beautiful place that also hosts a house I intend to have as my retirement home.Nestled amidst the ‘Scottish Highlands’ lies a place I explored this turn, which goes by the name ‘Inverness’.The first question that popped in my head as soon as I stepped in ‘Inverness’ was, what should I refer the place as? Hamlet? Well the place has a lot of churches, dictionary says I can’t use the word in that case.City? Really? But, I missed the normal hustle and bustle here, may be Town? I guess yes, it fits.So there I was visiting this town located north in Scotland almost opening out to the Atlantic Ocean. I was travelling as part of a group that had three people, other two being two of my favourite people on earth.We took a train from Edinburgh to reach this town, hostel was pre booked and was centrally located.
Day 1: Inverness Castle - Located in the centre of the town the castle occupies a comfortable position on a hill top. I say comfortable, for the view it offered to its inhabitants was good enough to gauge the status of the entire town, and this I know because it didn’t disappoint us who were mere visitors to the place. The view this place offers can totally serve as the setting for a writers new story or a directors new project.Mesmerised we stood there for a while watching the water flow and the seagulls play. I could only attempt at capturing what my eyes saw, in the form of pictures put below. Yes I am cheating, I am referring you to the pictures since I am no poet nor a writer and hence not adept at describing the beauty and tranquility of the place well enough that would make me feel I did justice to it. See yourself and decide.
Days 12 to 14There are two ways to look at my stay in Inverness. One way is to focus on the negativity that permeates this entire town and its people, to the extent that as a solo traveller I began getting worried about my safety even while having a sip of coffee during the day. The other way is to remember that in this same town are people who stood up to those acting weird and helped me out. So, in many ways, Inverness proved to be a metaphor for life in Britain, for tourists, travellers and ‘immigrants’. Now, what remains to be seen is which side will reach the so-called ‘critical mass’ and tip the balance for or against bigotry masquerading as nationalism and paranoia and violent opportunism posing as tribalism and ‘closed border’ policies.
INVERNESSGetting there : There are buses going to Inverness everyday from the main station of Glasgow to InvernessWhere to stay : Inverness Tourist Hostel. Costed roughly £12 per night.Things to do : Inverness is legit the star location of Scotland. Every goddamn story about Scottish highlands to exotic locations, everything is on Inverness. And, yeah you can go monster searching at Lochness. Cool no?
We reach Inverness in Scotland at 6am in the morning and our first priority was to look for a B&B (Bed & Breakfast) as we had decided to stay overnight in Inverness. B&B is basically a house were you get a room to stay overnight with breakfast. The charges may range between 30-50 Pounds depending on the facilities available; bargaining is not really a possibility as these places go full round the year. After checking out some 5-6 places we settled for a place very close to the train station as we had a train next day morning at 7.30 am to Glasgow. The place we stayed was owned by a lady, who had a huge dog;). She offered us a nice cozy room for 50 pounds a night. The overnight train journey was very relaxing and we had a good sleep to, so we were all fresh and ready for our day ahead in Inverness. The lady of the house offered us our morning breakfast; we had a nice hot water bath and were out to explore the city by 9 am.Inverness is a city in northern Scotland and it's the northern most city in United Kingdom. It was a beautiful day and again we decided to walk around the city instead of taking the bus tour. Our first stop was a castle just 5 mins away from our B&B, it was a short uphill climb to the castle and we could see the cityscape from here. After a small photo shoot around the castle, we walked to the main Inverness city. The city is very well planned around the river Lochness. We walk around the main city market, doing a lot of window shopping and a little bit of grocery shopping i.e. for water, beer, chips & chocolates.
90 Kms from Birnam
This quiet sea-side town near Edinburg in Scotland is perfect for the couple who cannot decide between the mountains and...
This quiet sea-side town near Edinburg in Scotland is perfect for the couple who cannot decide between the mountains and beach. St. Andrews offers the best beaches and the most picturesque mountains. As you explore the town's numerous castles and immerse in the Scottish culture, you are sure to feel like a countryside couple right our of a Victorian novel.Where To Stay: