Welcome to a new page devoted to the spectacular country that is Scotland. Content is being added on a regular basis. Coming soon, for example, is information on :
Nakodar Indian Cuisine | Trespass Performance Outdoor Clothing | Ubiquitous Chip Restaurant
“We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation.” ― Voltaire
Table of Contents : Getting There | Airport Express | Angels Share Hotel Edinburgh | BBC Scotland & Pacific Quay Area | Cafe Andeluz Edinburgh | Castle Rock | CitizenM Hotel | CitizenM Hotel, Part II | CitizenM Hotel Photo Gallery | City Sightseeing | The Doulton Fountain | En Route to the Riverside Museum and SSEHydro | Gallery of Modern Art | Gallery of Modern Art Photogallery | George Square | Glasgow Cathedral | Glasgow Central Station | Glasgow Green & People’s Palace | The Highlands | Kelvingrove Art Museum | Le Monde Hotel | Necropolis | Oban | Parish Church of St. Cuthbert | The People’s Palace | The Princes Street Garden & Ross Fountain | Riverside Museum | Royal Exchange Square | Stonehaven & Dunnottar Castle | The Three Judges Pub | Waverly Railway Station
“Poetry, the reading of it, the writing of it, the saying it out loud, the learning of it off by heart. All of this matters deeply to ordinary Scottish people everywhere.” ― Liz Lockheed
Getting There. There are a number of airlines which fly into Scotland’s Glasgow International, many of them via London’s Heathrow. If you live in a U.S. city served by Icelandair, particularly the major metropolitan ones on the East Coast, you may want to take advantage of their Stopover Program, allowing you to stay in Reykjavik for up to 7 days at no additional cost before you connect to your onward travel to the UK. It’s easily one of the best travel programs one can find.
Once you arrive and collect your luggage, you will need to arrange for transport to the downtown area. There are myriad options and Glasgow International’s website provides comprehensive information. If you’re staying near Buchanan Bus Station, located in the city centre across from the Royal Concert Hall, you’re in luck as the city’s Glasgow Airport Express :
― operates every 10 minutes;
― is reasonably priced at £ 7.50 for a single trip or, as of this writing, CAN$ 12.53 / € 8.83 / US$ 9.40;
― is £ 10.00 for round trip travel (a great deal) within 28 days; and
― journeys to the city centre in under 30 minutes.
Tickets may be purchased at the information booth near Stance 1, or you may obtain the ticket directly from the drivers. The buses are clean, feature ample storage for luggage, have free wi-fi and each seat features USB ports.
“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” ― Orson Welles
Skeptics will wonder if it’s possible for a hotel restaurant to serve an excellent, memorable meal. They will be easily silenced by dining at the Angels Share Hotel in Edinburgh. We were staying at their sister property a few short blocks away, Hotel Le Monde, and looking for a great lunch. The general manager personally escorted us there, in the pouring rain no less. The restaurant is gorgeous; the bar itself, a work of art.
Let’s just skip to the finish line and admit, it was one of the best meals we have ever enjoyed :
― beetroot carpaccio, with goat cheese, fennel and pistachio salad;
― flat-iron steak with chips with choice of pepper, béarnaise or Lanark blue cheese sauce on the side;
― haggis tweeds, with poached egg, mustard dressing; and
― venison steak, with fondant potato, greens, dark berry jus.
Having been completely blown away by the meal, we could not decide on dessert, a message that was passed on to the pastry chef who promptly sent us a sampler :
― sticky toffee pudding with sauce and Mackie’s dairy ice cream;
― banofee pie with chocolate shavings; and
― Mon’s mess sundae with meringue, raspberry, butter shortbread and ice cream.
“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart.” ― Erma Bombeck
They were fantastic and the perfect way to conclude the meal. The service throughout was impeccable and the table next to us, ladies who lunch, stopped by and mentioned they wanted to join us as it was obvious we were having a great time and enjoying the excellent meals prepared for us. We have not stopped raving about this restaurant ever since.
“The Angels Share name itself refers to the small amount of alcohol that evaporates out of whisky barrels during fermentation.”
The BBC’s Pacific Quay location is a must. The broadcast centre, ideally situated along the River Clyde, is not only a destination unto itself, but features a number of attractions and architectural gems in the immediate area which are all worthy of your attention. The Riverside Museum, impeccably designed by Zaha Hadid, for example, is within walking distance as is :
― Bell’s Bridge
― Clyde Arc Bridge
― Finnieston Crane
― Glasgow Imax
― Glasgow Science Centre
― Glasgow Tower
― Mavisbank Gardens
― Millennium Bridge
― SEC Armadillo and SEC Centre
― SSE Hydro Arena
You can point your camera in any direction and capture spectacular images. When it’s time for a meal or coffee, the surrounding neighborhoods all have myriad choices.
When in Edinburgh, one cannot go wrong with Cafe Andeluz for tapas and drinks. Located at 77B George Street, the restaurant and bar is beautiful, an authentic slice of Andelusian cuisine. They have a second location in the city at 10-11 George IV Bridge.
“Eating, and hospitality in general, is a communion and any meal worth attending by yourself is improved by the multiples of those with whom it is shared.” ―
It was pouring rain when we walked in and we were immediately greeted with warmth and hospitality. At the recommendation of our server, we started off with :
― Raspberry Caipirinhas. Brazil’s national cocktail made with Cachaca rum, brown sugar and muddled limes, served over crushed ice and topped off with fresh raspberries.
“Well, you know, for me, I think Spanish food is festive.” — Jose Garces
The cocktails were excellent and after a few, it was clear we needed to order from the restaurant’s extensive tapas menus. We enjoyed the following :
― Calamares. Classic calamari served with fresh lemon and smoked paprika mayonnaise.
― Chorizo Y Butifarra Negra. Sautéed chorizo sausage and black pudding in a spicy tomato sauce.
― Croquetas De Jamón Y Queso. Crisp croquettes stuffed with Serrano ham and mozzarella cheese with garlic alioli.
― Gambas Pil Pil. Hot roast king prawns with olive oil, fresh chilli, paprika and garlic.
― Tortilla Española. Thick omelette with sliced potato and onion and Pixto salsa.
― Vieiras con Serrano. Seared king scallops with basil, creamed leeks and crisp Serrano ham.
The food was aromatic, subtle and filled with flavour. The entire experience, from the service to the quality of the drinks and tapas, was flawless.
The most visibly striking aspect of Edinburgh’s skyline is not the architecture, some of the most beautiful in Europe. No, it’s the volcanic formation known as Castle Rock, on which Edinburgh Castle sits. Rising 120 meters above sea level, the trip there is not for those out of shape or the squeamish. The pay off is worth it, however, and one can spend an entire day enjoying the surrounding Parish Church of St. Cuthbert, Princes Street Garden, the Ross Fountain and adjacent Scottish National Gallery.
Hip, modern and reasonably priced, one cannot go wrong with CitizenM Hotels. Their Glasgow location reimagines cool without the trappings of self-awareness and is, without question, the greatest hotel experience in my travel adventures. It’s as if the editors of Wallpaper* magazine had dinner with the most noteworthy designers across Scandinavia and then given blank canvases, from which they created the ultimate accommodations for savvy travelers.
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Check-in is a breeze, handled via kiosks on the first floor near the entrance and staff is present to lend assistance if needed.
Lounges of various sizes and layouts are scattered throughout the first and second floors. They invite long conversations, steeped in Danish hygge, and more often than not lasting well into sunrise.
The hotel’s cantina is located on the second floor and features coffee beverages to order, great breakfasts, hand-crafted cocktails, take-away 24 hours a day and bar tenders second to none.
“Let me wake up next to you, have coffee in the morning and wander through the city with your hand in mine…” ― Charlotte Eriksson
CitizenM does not rest on its laurels with just a focus on its locations and interiors, however. They have succeeded in delivering customer service that feels neither rehearsed or stilted. The entire staff, in fact, completely redefines excellent customer service.
The guest rooms, although compact, are brilliantly designed and feature personalized iPads which allow you to control ambient light for the shower pods, lights, music, room temperature and window blinds.
There are myriad, pre-set moods, too, for specific lighting and music combinations.
Glasgow’s CitizenM Hotel, Part II. Imagine checking into a hotel and not being simply greeted―but hugged. Or, walking into your room and finding it decorated to welcome you back. Imagine a hotel where the staff introduces you to their family and best mates. Now imagine checking out and the staff growing misty-eyed, as you do, too, when you depart. This is not the hyperbole of fantasy. This actually took place at CitizenM’s Glasgow property when we returned there for the second time.
Their staff, known as ambassadors, are phenomenal people, all of whom are multi-talented and possess an affability and warmth that cannot be faked.
When we decided to return to Glasgow, it was mostly based upon wanting to see the people there again. We had such a good time catching up with our new friends there, we are planning on crossing the pond in the very near future to see them again. I cannot think of a higher compliment to pay.
This small, Dutch-based company has properties in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Taipei and multiple locations throughout London, New York and Paris. Luckily for those planning on visiting the States, properties are scheduled to open in Miami, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, DC. Their concept―to take affordable luxury, cool surroundings and customer service to new heights―is very much appreciated by this traveler.
Glasgow’s CitizenM Hotel Photogallery :
Glasgow’s Buchanan Bus Station will quickly prove to be your new best friend. The city is compact, the downtown city centre easily walkable and Buchanan will provide you with access to a number of transportation features that will prove invaluable―like the airport express. And City Sightseeing. Like services in other cities, the bus tour has a number of options, price points and routes. I highly recommend it since it will give you, in most instances, unlimited travel across the city and allow you quick transport to charming neighborhoods and the sites defining this fantastic place.
The Doulton Fountain :
“The Scottish sun, shocked by having its usual cloudy underpinnings stripped away, shone feverishly, embarrassed by its nakedness.” ― Stuart Haddon
En Route to Glasgow’s Riverside Museum and the SSEHydro Arena. Scotland, a country steeped in great architecture, literature, poetry and history, will surprise you when it comes to her approach to modernity.
Glasgow, for example, has a surprising number of buildings devoted to contemporary and groundbreaking architecture, the most noteworthy of which is Zaha Hadid’s Riverside Museum.
“In poetically well built museums, formed from the heart’s compulsions, we are consoled not by finding in them old objects that we love, but by losing all sense of Time.” ― Orhan Pamuk
The ride to the museum from downtown’s Buchanan Bus Station is just as impressive :
Walking a fine line between a museum dedicated to modern art and an institution celebrating an irreverent view towards authority and quirkiness is the city’s Gallery of Modern Art, known for the statue of the Duke of Wellington with a traffic cone on his head greeting visitors at the entrance.
The Modern Art Photogallery :
Planned in 1781, George Square, the city’s central public space is surrounded by the City Chambers, the General Post Office and the Queen Street Station.
Looming large over the city is Glasgow Cathedral, or St. Mungo’s, named after the Scottish patron saint. Haunting, foreboding but ultimately beautiful, the Cathedral, built in the 12th century, is a must-see as is it is adjacent Necropolis Cemetery.
The busiest rail station in Scotland, Glasgow Central Station will prove to be indispensable as it the primary mode of transport throughout the various sections of the country, particularly through the highlands of the north and the towns and isles located off the western coast. The various rail lines also offer transport to / from English cities. Located in the downtown area, the station is easy to navigate; the ticket kiosks easy to use; and the customer service provided by the employees is very good. You may want to order your tickets online and then simply pick them up in person.
A diamond in the rough, Glasgow Green may catch you off guard. Located southeast of the city’s famed Botanical Gardens and accessible via City Sightseeing, the Green is defined by a large public space, the Clyde River and the gorgeous Doulton Fountain.
“The greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add a useful plant to its culture.” ― Thomas Jefferson
Adjacent is the People’s Palace and Winter Garden, the latter of which may not initially impress visitors. Therein lies its charm. It is not large or defined by any one spectacular showpiece. But, it invites casual strolling and possesses seemingly endless charms. We intended to stay just a few minutes and ended up staying hours.
Linked at the spiritual hip to the ring road in Iceland, and the mid sections of Norway, Scotland’s Highlands are barren and desolate in sections; gorgeous; haunting at both sunrise and sunset; and sparsely populated. On any trip you may take across them, and no trip to Scotland would be complete with them, be prepared for many great pictures from train windows.
“He found himself wondering at times, especially in the autumn, about the wild lands, and strange visions of mountains that he had never seen came into his dreams.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien
We traveled across them to the town of Oban, a historic and picturesque location on the country’ west coast. The departure could not have been more convenient as ScotRail departs from the George Square Rail Station.
Stop any local and ask for a museum recommendation and Kelvingrove Art Museum will be the first thing they say. It’s not until you enter does it become obvious why. The museum’s exterior is beautiful and striking, and does not hint at the range and quirkiness of the exhibitions and galleries inside. The Kelvingrove is many things but a stuffy, unapproachable cultural institution it most certainly is not.
“Someone asked them to be quiet…so it’s just a matter of a time before all hell breaks loose.” ― Brian Andreas
Yes, it features the ubiquitous paintings of famous artists, the most famous of which is Salvador Dali’s masterpiece ‘Christ of St John of the Cross,’ and artifacts from many eras. But, it also features ancient history; contemporary art; current homages to pop culture like comic books; digital treasure hunts; French Impressionists; modern art; and Scottish history. The building is huge on the inside and worth exploring for a day. Don’t be surprised if you’re exhausted at the end but it’s well worth it and should not be missed.
Edinburgh’s Le Monde Hotel, located on George Street, provided a 4-star stay and an extraordinary experience. The small boutique property is located within walking distance of the city’s famous Prince’s Street and Waverly Railway Station. What separates this hotel is not just superior customer service but the attention to details in each of its world capital-themed rooms. We were originally scheduled to check into the Barcelona Room but promptly upgraded to Casablanca.
Roomy and spacious with good views and sitting areas, the accommodations featured a huge bathroom with a separate shower and tub; ample closet and storage space, along with ironing board; complimentary coffee and tea service; excellent bath and bed linens; a noteworthy selection of free local magazines; and of course, free wi-fi. The customer service is exemplary; the price point, more than fair.
Looming on the hills in Glasgow, adjacent to Glasgow Cathedral, is the city’s Necropolis Cemetery. Modeled after the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise in Paris, this Victorian burial-place is accessed via the Bridge of Sighs.
Winding paths will take you past more than 3,000 ornate headstones and monuments and the views across the city are spectacular. With Glasgow’s ever-changing weather patterns, don’t be surprised if your stroll through the cemetery is characterized by drizzle, fog and then unexpected bursts of sunshine.
Located on the west coast is the picturesque, historic town of Oban, part of the Argyll area and a spiritual cousin to Norway’s gorgeous Bergen.
“There is no place like the beach… where the land meets the sea and the sea meats the sky” ― Umair Siddiqui
Dating back thousands of years, the resort town’s coastline is quite dramatic, particularly at sunset when the last beams of light strike the surrounding mountains and the isles of Kerrera and Mull slowly fade into darkness in the distance. Although the shops and restaurants close promptly at 05.00pm, the local pubs stay open much later and provide the perfect respite at the end of the day.
Edinburgh’s Parish Church of St. Cuthbert :
The People’s Palace :
The Princes Street Garden & Ross Fountain :
Designed by world-renowned Zaha Hadid Architects, Glasgow’s Riverside Museum is a must-see and the Winner of the 2013 “European Museum of the Year Award.”
Located on the north bank of the River Clyde and home to the Glasgow Museum of Transport, the museum is an architectural gem; kids will love many of the exhibits; and the surrounding area is a photographer’s dream come true as the BBC Scotland Broadcast Studios, SES Hydro Arena and noteworthy bridges are all nearby.
The Mystery and Mystique of Rosslyn Chapel. Mystery permeates the Chapel, located in village of Roslin, Midlothian, thanks in no small part to Dan Brown’s blockbuster, “The DaVinci Code.” The day we visited, not a single bird was heard chirping, not an uncommon description by other visitors.
“Ghosts don’t haunt us. That’s not how it works. They’re present among us because we won’t let go of them.” ― Sue Grafton
The book and subsequent film adaptation did not quell the endless rumours and speculation linking the building to the Freemasons, Holy Grail and Knights Templar. Part of the intrigue derives from the lack of information about when exactly the church, formally known as Collegiate Chapel of St Matthew, was constructed and there are no plans on record of its architectural design and layout. The building itself is not large but it is very ornate and just when you think your eyes have sorted out the myriad carvings and inscriptions in her walls, you will discover even more.
The tour is worth it and full of information about the building and it’s association with “The DaVinci Code,” taken in stride by the staff who will admit it drives the number of visitors there to very high numbers. The new visitor center, the direct result of the increased number of patrons, features a destination-worthy gift shop and a small cafe.
Royal Exchange Square :
Scottish National Gallery :
Stonehaven, located in the County of Aberdeen, can be reached via ScotRail at Glasgow Central Station. This part of Scotland, the northeast coast, is famous for Dunnottar Castle. Sitting atop an extremely hilly and rocky part of the coast along a medieval route, the castle is not for those out of shape.
“All is as if the world did cease to exist. The city’s monuments go unseen…its past unheard, and its culture slowly fading in the dismal sea.” ― Nathan Reese Maher
It’s quite a hike to reach the castle and surrounding grounds from the road, and meandering in and out of the buildings involves a lot of climbing and descending stairs and pathways.
The payoff, however, is well worth it. Foreboding, haunting and mysterious, the castle has been featured in myriad film and television productions. Point your camera in any direction and when the lighting and weather conditions permit, the resulting images are gorgeous.
Stonehaven Video. Ensure you activate the HD option in the lower right corner. Please note, this file may not be copied, distributed or downloaded without the express consent of the copyright holders.
Scottish people have to be some of the most affable and approachable on earth. Wander into any pub and within minutes of ordering a pint, you will find yourself striking up conversations with complete strangers. A few more minutes, and the strangers will become your best mates. By the end of the visit, you will have been invited out to meet their families, other best mates and possibly even their homes for the Christmas holiday.
Ensure you visit Glasgow’s West End and in particular, The Three Judges Pub on Dumbarton Road. Featuring an extensive list of ales, ciders, local whiskeys, rums, signature drinks and vodkas, the establishment is overflowing with authenticity, character and history. The pub is a great place to hang out, chat with whomever is sitting next to you and enjoy game night when the entire place becomes the very definition of fun. The bartenders have great stories to share, making you feel welcome instantly, and locals will jostle to buy you first rounds and love to hear as to what brought you to their country.
Waverly Railway Station. Edinburgh’s primary train station, Waverly is the main terminus for ScotRail’s service to / from Scotland’s capital and Glasgow :