Category Archives: scotland

Tips from a friend who just returned from Scotland and Ireland!! Bring your rain gear

Glenfarg Green

Our friends Kathy, Doug and  Conor just returned from a two week trip to Scotland and Ireland and kindly sent along their highlights/recommendations to share!

Kathy adds: If anyone is planning to go this summer, I’d be sure to bring layers of clothes and rain gear, since they’ve been having torrential rain and predicting it is going to be a “summer without a summer.” So saying, even though the weather was generally cool and rainy, we had some nice days and the weather was never so bad that it prevented us from doing what we wanted.) 


SCOTLAND

Edinburgh:  

Bed and breakfast: We stayed at Priestville Guest House [10 Priestfield Road, Edinburgh EH16 5HJ], a nice bed and breakfast with a friendly host, near the University of Edinburgh about a 20-minute walk from the Royal Mile and a short walk to Holyrood Park, which has plenty of walking and hiking trails.
Restaurants: 

* Salisbury Arms, a classy but casual restaurant and bar near the guest house with a nice patio area. 
* Anna Purna, a vegetarian Indian restaurant that was one of the best meals we had on the trip.
* Ciao Roma, a nice Italian restaurant downtown. Had a great pizza for lunch.

Pubs:

* Leslie’s, a “real ale” bar and traditional Victorian pub. 

Sights:

* National Museum of Scotland: Highly recommended, huge and free. Everything from mummies to dinosaurs and quirky timepieces. You could spend all day here, especially if it is raining.

Glenfarg: A tiny village about an hour north of Edinburgh and Glasgow. “The gateway to the Highlands.” There isn’t much in town but the Glenfarg Hotel, a small (16-room) private hotel with a restaurant and several bars that is obviously the place to be in the area. The Saturday night we stayed there the local soccer team was having their annual “disco night” in the basement bar, another group of locals was watching European championship soccer in the first-floor bar, some senior citizens were having dinner in the dining room, and we camped out in the lobby bar to watch the action. 


Drymen: About an hour north of Glasgow in the beautiful Loch Lomond national park area. A nice little village with several pubs and restaurants that would make a low-key base for several days of hiking, walking and touring. We stayed at the Winnock Hotel on the town square, a nice old hotel that catered to tourists (it hosted a traditional music “céilidh” one night we were there), and had a restaurant and a busy bar. We also had drinks and dinner in several restaurants and bars on the square.

Within driving distance:

* Doune Castle: “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” was shot in this well-preserved 14th-century castle. A fun, funny self-guided audio tour narrated by Python Terry Jones addresses both the actual history and the filming. We agreed that it was one of the best castle tours we’ve taken. 

IRELAND

Howth: Scenic fishing village a nice day trip north of Dublin on the transit system. After wandering all over town, we ended up eating fish and chips at a tiny pierside seafood tapas bar called Octopussy, where we had literally the best meal of the trip. We are still talking about the light, flaky smoked fish.
Waterford: We stated at Dooley’s, an old hotel on the waterfront, which had large rooms, a nice bar and the best buffet breakfast we have ever had. Waterford crystal is made here, and there is a display room and tours available. 




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Edinburgh: “scottish hog roast rolls” (no haggis), Stockbridge, Portobello, Dean Village, Water of Leith

A storefront in Stockbridge

Friends are visiting Edinburgh this summer so here’s some finds, as requested, from my trip to Scotland in 2009:

–  My English pals and I  stayed with friends in their 1820 stone house  overlooking the sea in the pretty suburb of Portobello  – a town where Findlay’s butcher shop boasts that it has  world’s best haggis. We didn’t try it.

– Not far from the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle is a great take-away pork sandwich place called Oink (“delicious scottish hog roast  rolls”) that vegetarians will NOT enjoy since the pork is carved from a pig laid out in the front window. OINK is on Victoria Street in the old Grassmarket area http://www.grassmarket.net/grassmarkethistory.asp which is worth a wander.

–  There’s a  good pub, the Bailie, that we went to for lunch (good mussels in a whiskey/bacon sauce  and sticky toffee pudding) in an off-the-beaten track neighborhood with nice little boutiques and galleries called Stockbridge.

– From Stockbridge we stumbled upon a pretty country walkway along a small river  – right in the city – the Water of Leith that led to lovely old Dean Village and then to the Museum of Modern Art. (photo: Dean Village seen from the East side of the Water of Leith)

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Glasgow: takemewithyou

This one’s for Des Moines friends who asked today for advice for an upcoming trip to Glasgow. I was there last May with friends from London and we stayed at the very Scottish, well-located, reasonably priced Kirklee Hotel (www.kirkleehotel.co.uk.; 11 Kensington Gate Glasgow G12 9LG; tel: 00 44 (0)141 334 5555) – an Edwardian house on a pretty residential street with giant orange, pink and purple rhododendron in the city’s West End.  A double was $112 (then 75 pounds) per night plus breakfast that included the option of smoked salmon with your eggs. We ate dinner nearby at The Ubiquitous Chip (www.ubiquitouschip.co.uk/index.html; 12 Ashton Lane; (44-141) 334 5007)  which specializes in gourmet versions of Scottish delicacies including haggis (which I declined to order but I did taste my friend Francine’s).  My Orkney salmon was lovely. The oatmeal ice cream was surprisingly good. This is the place to have ten-year-old Macallan Single Highland Malt Scotch Whiskey. Among nearby sights, you might enjoy the Glasgow Botanic Gardens, 730 Great Western Road; (44-141) 334 2422, http://www.seeglasgow.com.

We were on a Charles Rennie Mackintosh kick so we tried to see as much of his architecture as possible but unfortunately our visit coincided with a bank holiday so a lot of his buildings were closed. I most wanted to see Mackintosh’s Glasgow School of Art but most of the interior was closed for the holiday. We did go on a hop on/hop off bus that stopped at various Mackintosh buildings, some we’d never have found on our own,  including a grade school he designed that was pretty cool. Don’t know if the bus is still operating but you can check on: http://www.crmsociety.com. There also was a one-day Mackintosh Trail Ticket. We  had lunch at the somewhat touristy Willow Tea Rooms, which is a reproduction of Mackintosh’s original. Scottish food isn’t my favorite but when in Rome…and this cozy upstairs tea room is a good atmosphere to eat it in. I think I had a baked potato loaded with shredded cheddar cheese.

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Filed under Dining, glasgow, scotland, Travel