Kat’s Scotland Guide: Longer Journeys

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ADVENTUROUS EXPEDITIONS

 

2 hours + from Edinburgh:

Glencoe (top, above) (2.5 hours) – featured in the Bond film Skyfall, stunning mountain ranges and just an incredibly-beautiful drive overall! I love this drive so much.  Take the route that is M9-A84-A85-A82 – enter the Glencoe Visitor Centre as your destination (GPS postcode PH49 4HX).
Glenfinnan monument & viaduct (bottom, above) (3 hours-ish north-west) – featured in Harry Potter etc, and a very pretty drive up there indeed, it’s about 3 hours from Edinburgh. Generally the west coast is just beautiful.
Oban (2 hours 45 north-west) – a very pretty seaside village with a coastal garden called Inverewe (below, top) which is an adventure to get to (single track roads!)
Inverness/Loch Ness (3 hours north) –  Inverness is the best vantage point for getting to Loch Ness.  You can get a cruise from Inverness or drive to the loch yourself. If you get the cruise they often drop you off at the ruins of Castle Urquhart which is a good visit. Inverness also has the famous Culloden battlefield.
Culzean Castle (below, bottom)

 

(2 ¾ – 3 hours south west) – Culzean Castle (pronounced Cul-ain) is a beautiful castle on the west coast looking out towards Arran. It is surrounded by stunning gardens and is just well worth visiting if you’re heading south, or if you just fancy it for a day.

 

 

I hope you enjoyed this wee series. Any questions, hit me up and I’d be happy to update the guides or put up a Q&A.

 

…xxx

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Kat’s Scotland Guide: Further Afield

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So you’re here, you’ve got wheels, and you want to see more of Scotland..

 

SHORT DRIVES AND DAY TRIPS

 

Rosslyn Chapel

Falkirk Wheel

 

Close to Edinburgh (30-60 minutes):

Rosslyn Chapel (20-30 mins east) – lovely chapel, featured in The Da Vinci code.
Falkirk Wheel (20-30 mins west) – very cool giant loch wheel (Google it or check out the website to understand!)
Glasgow (45-60 mins west) – for a wander

Glasgow is a larger city and less old/pretty but still worth a look, if you fancy a day trip.

 

Culross

Loch Lomond from Luss

 

45-90 minutes from Edinburgh:

Culross (30-40 mins north-east) – old historical village, very pretty.
North Berwick (45 mins north-east) – lovely beach-side town.
Stirling (45 mins north-west) – Stirling Castle is really worth visiting!
Anstruther (1hr 10 mins north-east) – best fish and chips in UK.
St. Andrews (1hr 10 mins north-east) – oldest golf course in Scotland.
Loch Lomond (1hr 30 mins west) – beautiful loch you can cruise on or just visit Luss or Balmaha.

 

We’ll go even further next time…!

 

 

…xxx

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Kat’s Scotland Guide: Edinburgh Pt 2

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EDINBURGH, PART TWO

 

See Part 1 here.  And also, a version of this was published early without the links. My apologies.

 

 

Extra fun stuff

Take the ‘closes’ Edinburgh is full of small windy staircases and pathways we call ‘closes’ to get between areas. Take a few off the Royal Mile and get lost.  They also do free ghost tours and there is a special one, “Mary King’s Close”, set up as an attraction (walking tour under Edinburgh).
Ceilidh! A Scottish traditional dance/folk dancing, they’re quite regularly held if you do some Googling.  NB: Pronounced ‘kay-lee’
Deep Fried Mars Bar We’re kinda famous for this ridiculous treat.  My favourite place to try it is the Clam Shell fish and chip shop on the Royal Mile. Worth trying once.
Edinburgh Zoo We have pandas!  To get to the Zoo take the no. 26 or no. 31 buses from Princes St.

 

 

Eat/Drink

Panda and Sons A ‘hidden’ bar on Queen Street.
Eteaket Excellent teas and cakes, etc, off George Street.
Illegal Jack’s One of my favourite restaurants ever in Edinburgh – cheap, no frills Tex-Mex. Good food made by good people. This is up the road a bit further from central town but definitely walkable from Greyfriar’s Bobby, etc.
Chaophraya Excellent Thai restaurant on the top of a building on Castle St, you can get good views of the Castle at night if you ask for a good viewing table! Bookable online.
Spoon Good wee eatery by the Festival Theatre.
Blackbird In Tollcross (ask a local, not too far a walk up Lothian Road until it splits, take the right fork) – good food and cocktails.
Tuk Tuk Indian ‘tapas’ just up from Blackbird in Tollcross.
The Banshee Labyrinth A bar with a series of small “caves” you can sit and drink in.
Jekyll & Hyde* Hanover St – has good cheap cocktails.
Bar Soba* Great wee cheap Asian eatery.
The Dogs* Bit more upmarket and super tasty.
Montpeliers Bruntsfield – excellent brunch.
Loudons Fountainbridge – excellent brunch.
Arcade Bar, Haggis & Whisky House On Cockburn (Co-burn) street off the Royal Mile. Whiskies and haggis, which is worth trying. Vege haggis is delicious too.
The Last Drop Pub on the Grassmarket, at the site of Edinburgh’s last hanging. Scottish dishes.

*All next door to each other

 

Up next:  a bit further afield!  And later in the year, I’ll post about Edinburgh at Christmas.

 

 

…xxx

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Kat’s Scotland Guide: Edinburgh Pt 1

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I get asked fairly regularly to recommend itineraries or places to see when visiting Scotland, so I thought I’d put up a few posts with my recommendations, starting with Edinburgh itself. So! Without further ado..

A wee disclaimer: This is not a massive list because I usually write these for people who are here for a really short time! An itinerary for longer trips will come later.

 

EDINBURGH, PART ONE

 

Edinburgh is a compact city.  Most of it is very walkable, but there is also an excellent bus and tram system.  I’d recommend purchasing a day ticket if you are going to get lots of buses, but it’s actually not necessary if you’re not venturing too far out and have a car for the rest of your visit to Scotland.

 

 

Transport from the airport:

I recommend the tram, especially if you are staying centrally.  They run every 8-12 minutes and it takes about 35 minutes to get into the city.  It’s £5 one way, £8 return and there are machines so you can use a card, etc.  Alternatively, if you are staying in Corstorphine, Murrayfield, etc, then take the Airport Bus (#100, bright blue and available right outside arrivals).

 

 

Places to stay:

Central hotels, with varying prices-

Apex Hotel (Chain, ****) – http://www.apexhotels.co.uk/en/hotels/edinburgh/

The Rutland (Boutique) – http://www.therutlandhotel.com/

Ibis South Bridge (Chain, ***) – http://www.accorhotels.com/gb/hotel-8484-ibis-edinburgh-centre-south-bridge/index.shtml

The Sheraton (Chain, ****, rooftop pool!) – http://www.sheratonedinburgh.co.uk/

 

And there are also budget spots-

Hostelworld is your best bet – http://www.hostelworld.com/hostels/Edinburgh

Also there are quite a few places in the Lochside area – Ibis Budget, Premier Inn.. which seems a bit far out on a map but is on the tram route so super easy (and quiet, cause it’s near business parks!)

There’s also an Easyhotel on Princes St.

 

It’s super quick to get into Edinburgh on a bus, if central prices put you off and you can find a good deal a bit further out.  We have great B&Bs!  Look in the Roseburn, Murrayfield, Corstorphine areas.

 

 

To Do/Itinerary ideas:

New Town

Princes St/George St The majority of our shopping is on or near Princes St and is known as Edinburgh’s ‘high street’ (in the UK this is what you’d call the main street for shopping etc – don’t confused with the actual High Street, that’s the Royal Mile.. sorry!). George St is one block up and a bit more upmarket.
Calton Hill At the far end of Princes St you’ll reach St. James Shopping Centre on your left, cross over to the next corner, pass a Howie’s restaurant and an Apex hotel. Keep going towards the monuments you can see up ahead.  Take the staircase, then turn right and walk up the hill.  This is a free view out over Edinburgh/the craigs. Worth the short hike!
Scott Monument/Princes St Gardens The Scott Monument is the dark gothic rocket-ship-looking thing on Princes St. You can go up for a view of Edinburgh for about £4. Small spiral staircases (just a warning in case you’re claustrophobic).  The gardens are also nice for a wander/a good view from below the Castle.
Rose Street In between Princes St and George St there is a pedestrianised street with small restaurants and bars.

 


 

Royal Mile/Old Town

Walk along Princes St past the train station until you reach the Balmoral Hotel. Turn right and walk up South Bridge to the “Royal Mile”.

Edinburgh Castle A must. A bit steep at £16 a person, but also has excellent views out over Edinburgh.
Tartan Weaving Mill Free and basic, a good way to see tartan being made, research tartans, try on tartans and get a “ye olde” style photo, buy tourist ‘tat’.
The Scotch Whisky Experience A fun museum about whisky. And you get tasters, etc.
Grassmarket/nearby Take George IV bridge and turn right onto Victoria St (my favourite street in Edinburgh), then at the bottom you’ll be on the Grassmarket. Pubs galore.  There is also a great vintage/thrift shop called Armstrong’s that is worth visiting.
Holyrood Palace/Holyrood Park/Arthur’s Seat At the bottom of the Royal Mile is Holyrood Palace, where the Queen stays when she is in Edinburgh. You can book a tour.  It is also at the entrance to the Holyrood Park (very pretty) and Arthur’s Seat (the large hill in the park, which is actually an extinct volcano! So is the Castle hill!).  Not too tough a climb and a great view.

 

That’s covering some of the more touristy stuff.  My next post will cover a few other interesting spots and venture out of Edinburgh!

 

…xxx

swhite

 

 

Caledonia

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Let me tell you that I love you, and I think about you all the time – Caledonia you’re calling me, now I’m going home

 

 

I come from one of the most beautiful countries in the world, but geez, Scotland takes my breath away sometimes (especially the northwest). Here are some snaps from my recent drives around Scotland!  I travelled from Edinburgh to Fort William, through Glencoe, etc. Stunning.

 

Glenfinnan/Loch Shiel

Glenfinnan Viaduct

 

 

…xxx

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Alba gu bràth

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I love you, Scotland. Hoping and praying for positive steps forward in the Union, and for people to live together in kindness and civility over the coming months.

 

 

 

 

I did vote Yes. But life will go on! And the turnout was simply incredible. What an amazing moment in history. I feel honoured to have been a part of it.

 

 

 

 

And hey, I was interviewed about it for NZ news on Tuesday night. Which was hilarious and fun and I got this super silly picture of me with the 3 News mic. New career?

 

 

…xxx

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Around here lately

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It’s been busy yet chilled lately. It’s been a time of small pleasures.

 

 

The weather has been fantastic.  A few weeks ago I bought us this ridiculous tiny but effective BBQ for the garden at Tesco for £20 (they’re now even cheaper). It was the colour that attracted me, of course, but it’s great for these super long, warm days we’ve been having.

 

 

I’ve had quite a few afternoons outside gathering freckles on my arms and shoulders, and giving my legs some sun. It’s one of the perks of living up here and not having that pesky ozone hole, but of course I’m still being sun-careful.

 

 

The sun is dipping down and giving its last wink at about 11pm now, so you forget what time it is all the time, and the sun is only just gathering its heat when you leave work, which is great. It does feel like summer.

 

 

I also took my first tram ride last Thursday!  It was super exciting in that geeky way. It’s not really that handy to us or to anywhere I usually go, but I can get into central town from work really easily if I want to, and I thought when I went to get my hair cut, I’d take it. It was good fun.

 

 

And speaking of the haircut, here it is.  I wanted to lose some length and weight for summer and just have hair that I can style instead of just piling up in a bun. It has backfired a bit in terms of keeping me cooler, because it’s so thick still and now it sits just on my neck, which isn’t ideal! But I still really like it and am glad I lost the length.  It’ll grow so fast that by the wedding it’ll be long again…

 

 

Oh and I went to Glasgow on Saturday and met Carine and had Wagamama then went to The Pierces – I love them so much, it was really exciting to get to go and see them live (they were incredible), and it’s always kinda fun going across to Glasgow. It’s like going between Wellington and Auckland, but in 45-60 minutes. Crazy.

And in other news, we’ve started a wee craft project – we finally bought some dining chairs but they’re a bit dated so we’re sanding and painting them. Photos will be shared once they’re done!  I also have some photos from New Zealand to post…

 

 

…xxx

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