I picked this up because I was in Edinburgh, Scotland and had been on a Literary Walking Tour of the city’s most famous writers and Rankin’s name kept coming up. We passed places he hung out, locations from his books, and heard stories about his life. So when I had the opportunity to grab one of his Rebus thrillers I took it, feeling like it’s a good thing to read local writers. Continue reading
Monthly Archives: July 2013
I recently returned from an amazing 9 day trip through Scotland, Ireland and Northern England and in the past, I’ve travelled through most of Europe and quite a bit of the United States. I’ve stayed in a number of hostels and while some experiences have been better than others, I had one on this last trip which ranked so far down the list, I felt the need to actually write a bit about it – and the hosteling experience in general.
To start with the bad… The hostel in question here is The Belford Hostel in Edinburgh, Scotland. I’ll get to why they rank so low in a moment but first, a word about what, in my opinion, makes a good hostel and where this one fails (and the one place they succeed). Continue reading
This is where that little surprise comes in. I was all set to call it quits after Liverpool and was resigned to a long train ride back to Edinburgh but Jennifer had other plans. She had done her research (she’s good at that) and discovered we could fly from Liverpool to Dublin, spend the day in Ireland and then fly back to Edinburgh that night with plenty of time to spare to make the 6:30am flight back to Kaunas. All of a sudden our trip became 4 cities, 3 countries, 2 plays and 1 knight! I was beyond stoked! Continue reading
As long as we were in the north of England, I had figured we might as well see Liverpool. When we were planning this trip, all sorts of possibilities were presenting themselves but time, cost and feasibility had narrowed things down to flying in and out of Edinburgh with a trip to Manchester and Liverpool thrown in. This was okay by me. I’d never been to any of these places while Jennifer had been to Liverpool and Edinburgh but it was years ago. Jennifer had also take care of planning the latter half of the trip and so she had booked us on an early morning train to Liverpool, about an hour or so away. The idea being to make the most of our day since odds are, we were going to spend most of monday on a train back to Edinburgh for my 6:30am flight back to Kaunas on Tuesday. Continue reading
We had decided that Manchester was really much more about the theatre than any other touristy sites so there was no rush to get up and hit the day running as there was every other day of the trip. So instead, we just languished. We enjoyed the comfort of the hotel room, sleeping until we wanted to wake up. It was glorious. We also took this opportunity to deal with travel details for the next few days. I had received a surprise but that will come in time. Continue reading
The bus to Manchester left at 5am. This meant we had to be out of the hostel by 4ish and at the train station when it opens at 4:45 or so. That’s early. Even for me with an annoyingly early rising dog. But that’s okay, we’re professional travelers, we got this!
And we did. At the station by about 10 to five and on the bus when it arrived. It was mostly empty that early, so we settled in for smooth sailing down south to the English home of Football. If only it went that way.
Thursday was our second tour with Heart of Scotland Tours, this time we were going north to see Loch Ness. To say I was excited about this would bean understatement. When Scotland was first proposed as a vacation destination my first thought was “I want to see Loch Ness.” Now, I know this isn’t anything real, but I don’t care. Just the idea of going there and seeing it for myself was intriguing! Continue reading
Wednesday morning came bright and early. We’d decided to try our hand at getting to the distillery we’d gotten information about from The Whiskey Experience so we headed down to try and find the bus stop for this once an hour transport. We weren’t having much luck. By the time we thought we’d found it and it was supposed to arrive, we’d actually decided on a different plan altogether.
See, today was Jennifer’s dad’s birthday and him being a golfer and us being so close, relatively speaking, to St. Andrews, we figured a trip to the home of golf would be a little more fun. Continue reading
Our first full day in Edinburgh started off just fine. We easily walked into town, across the Waverley Bridge and into the Old Town. A wee bit about Edinburgh history here. Everything started with the Castle, which has been around, in one form or another, for close to 2000 years. It was built on the mound of an extinct volcano and would have been an imposing presence no matter which era you’d seen it. Had there been guidebooks back then, Roman centurions would have found it on their list of “places to avoid.” Continue reading
Leaving the hostel early enough to not only make our 9am bus tour, but to find breakfast and the place to meet our bus tour wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Not that leaving was hard, nor getting up in time (I don’t sleep late anyway, thank you, Laika) but just figuring out what to do for food and where the bus stop was accounted for a slight bit of frustration. In the end, we opted for jumping in to a local supermarket (Sainsbury, for those playing UK Location Bingo) and grabbing some eat on the go stuff and then figuring out that our tour pick-up point was actually quite near Calton Hill… and we were a little early so we decided to eat up on the hill with the view of the nearby body of water which is called the “Firth of Forth” (try saying that three times fast!). Firth means estuary and Forth is the bay which leads out to the ocean so that’s what we were looking at before heading back down and joining our group. Continue reading