“We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation.” ― Voltaire
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 :
Cafe Andeluz | Edinburgh | Glasgow | Rosslyn Chapel | Riverside Museum | Trespass Performance Outdoor Clothing | Ubiquitous Chip Restaurant…and more
Table of Contents : Getting There | Airport Express | Angels Share Hotel Edinburgh | BBC Scotland & Pacific Quay Area | Castle Rock | CitizenM Hotel | City Sightseeing | The Doulton Fountain | En Route to the Riverside Museum and SSEHydro | Gallery of Modern Art | George Square | Glasgow Cathedral | Glasgow Central Station | Glasgow Green | 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 | Royal Exchange Square | 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 have arrived and collected your luggage, you will need to make arrangements 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. 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 driver. 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 if they dine 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 say, 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 and sauce on the side (pepper, béarnaise and Lanark blue cheese.) Our server graciously brought us all three.
― haggis tweeds, with poached egg, mustard dressing
― venison steak, with fondant potato, greens, dark berry jus
“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart.” ― Erma Bombeck
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
― Mon’s mess sundae with meringue, raspberry, butter shortbread,
They were fantastic and the perfect way to conclude the meal. The service throughout was impeccable and the table next to us, ladies who lunched, 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, believe it or not, 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, incredible 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
― SEC Centre
― SSE Hydro Arena
You can point your camera in any direction and capture spectacular images. And when it’s time for a meal or coffee, the surrounding neighborhoods all have myriad choices.
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 well over 120 meters above sea level, the trip up 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 redefines cool without the trappings of self-awareness and was, hands down, the greatest hotel experience in my travel adventures. It’s as if the editors of Wallpaper* Magazine had been given blank canvases and been asked to design the ideal, communal living space. The 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. The lounges scattered throughout the first and second floors invite long conversations, more often than not well into sunrise. The hotel’s cantina is located on the second floor and features coffee beverages to order, great breakfasts, take away available 24 hours a day, and a bar staff next to none. The entire staff, in fact, completely redefines excellent customer service.
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 service 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 and 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 (which we mention in a separate post.)
The ride to the museum from downtown’ 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.
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 excellent. You may want to order your tickets online and then simply pick them up in person.
A diamond in the rough, Glassgow 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. Adjacent is the People’s Palace and Winter Garden, the latter of which may not initially impress visitors. And therein lies its charm. It 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 trips you may take across them, and no trip to Scotland would be complete with them, be prepared for great many pictures out of the train windows. 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.
“Someone asked them to be quiet…so it’s just a matter of a time before all hell breaks loose.” ― Brian Andreas
Stop any local and ask for a museum recommendation and Kelvingrove Art Museum will surely be the first thing they say. And it’s not until you enter does it become obvious why. The museum’s exterior is gorgeous 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. 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.
“There is no place like the beach… where the land meets the sea and the sea meats the sky” ― Umair Siddiqui
Located on the country’s west coast is the picturesque, historic town of Oban, part of the Argyll area and a spiritual cousin if you will to Norway’s gorgeous Bergen. 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 :
Royal Exchange Square :
Scottish National Gallery :
Waverly Railway Station. Edinburgh’s primary train station, Waverly is the main terminus for ScotRail’s service to / from Scotland’s capital and Glasgow :