Tomintoul, Highlands, Scotland – A quick hot chocolate

I’ve been here in Tomintoul before several times; one after seeing a cheap deal on Wowcher or Groupon, and the second time, when I did the Speyside Way with friends, and used the youth hostel here for several nights accommodation. Well worth it!

Whilst there in the youth hostel, I was told that not only did the village have many more people years ago, but that it was a Gaelic speaking one. He also noted that the pronunciation should be, “DAW men dowl”. Finally, he stated that many of the existing houses are now AirBnBs, and the village tends to come to life in the summer when more people are living there.

It’s an interesting place, with not only a distillery for Tomintoul whisky just before the village, but it also has a very basic, grid street system.

We came here for a quick hot chocolate after seeing that the hotel we had stayed at years ago, the Richmond Arms, was not only open, but was advertising their wares with a street sign.

I noted that the village square is still there, and has a “designer” hotel, a village shop, pub restaurant / hotel, The Glenavon, and a tourist info / museum building, that provides much needed info on this area.

For those interested, there is the nearby Glenlivet Estate (yes, the same name as the whisky!), where a myriad of activities take place.

CB

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Belfast, Northern Ireland – Part 1

ICC in Belfast

I’ve been to Belfast / NI, about a half a dozen times the last decade, for a variety of reasons; travel, golf, to see friends, etc, and each time it appears to be more vibrant, cosmo, livelier and “better” if one can use that word.

The Garrick

For today, I decided to have a walk around in the evening with my partner, and after leaving the ICC, we headed for a pub that we’ve been to before, The Garrick.

What a selection of beer, and a simply excellent, hearty menu. Ah tradition, I love it. Equally, there must have been an Erdinger bier promotion (both here and other places in Belfast), as the blau und weiss colours of Bavaria were everywhere.

From here, we had a stroll to Belfast City Hall, a hall that makes the one in Glasgow, look like a dump! I noted this to one of the very kind, security guards inside, and surprisingly, he told me that, that was the second time he had heard someone tell him that, on the day! Whilst inside, we naturally signed the condolence book(s) for Her Majesty, the Queen.

From here, again, we went to a familiar pub, and favourite of mine, The Crown Liquor Saloon, an antique of a bar owned by the National Trust.

A pub that always seems to have a decent pint of real ale on the menu. And equally, seems to always be packed with tourists.

Part 2 to follow, one can hardly wait!

CB

Kelvingrove Bandstand Concerts this Summer, Glasgow

Once again, the adage about something being on your doorstep, that you don’t even know about.

Kelvingrove Park Bandstand, West End, Glasgow

Had a walk on the weekend around the West End of Glasgow, and after hearing some music coming from the park, had another walk on the Sunday, and came across the above concert series; and they even had a drinks van from West Brewery in Glasgow!

I have to admit, I didn’t know a thing about this, and thoroughly enjoyed the hour I was there, listening to brass bands, one from the University of Glasgow.

Glasgow University Brass Band Ensemble, Glasgow

I would say that at least the powers that be, who run Glasgow, are attempting to have something for everybody here. This was a very friendly, family-oriented event – more please.

It also it is good, to see this once, run-down venue, being used more and more these days, particularly with their summer series concerts (rock, pop, etc) taking place here the last few years.

Very pleasant.

CB

Euro Trip – A good idea from Germany – the 9 Euro Ticket

So I’m over there in Deutschland, and the partner says to me, “I’ve got you one of these 9 Euro tickets.”

“Ah, I’ve heard of these.”

Yes I have, due to the online job that I have, where I communicate daily with many Germans.

It’s an (was) interesting idea and one that gave even more benefits, besides just being able to use it on a train.

You could use it on buses, trams, underground systems(?), everything BUT the ICE trains in Germany. The ICEs are the Inter City Express trains, that are not only quicker than normal ones, but have a good deal fewer stops as well.

Not only that, but another huge benefit, was that it did NOT expire after you used it, but was valid for the entire month of August (I believe?).


Many of the trains / buses were packed, and some were not, so it was not a panacea; OTOH, it was just SO convenient to use, and no doubt the German authorities wanted to see just how much of the public transport their citizens would use for one month, if it was, in effect, free.

Why oh why don’t we at least TRY to do this here?

CB

Euro Trip – Germany and France – A random walk in Bavaria

Yes, in Bavaria again, and I have always found it very good, to just go for a walk and see if there is anything different that strikes me.

I’ve been to Germany many times, but something always hits me, that many who have not been here, would probably find quite odd.

Yes, the above is a gigantic (not sure if I’ve blogged on this before) climbing wall, right next to a children’s school or nursery (a KITA perhaps).

With a smaller wall, for the children I presume?


It’s part of a private climbing club, and is right in the middle of a housing estate; though looks very well maintained. And the walk there, involved some grapes, growing on a wall by the sidewalk! Amazing.

Equally, just round the corner, as this was a Sunday walk, I came across one of these huge quality / inexpensive German supermarkets, where the amount and variety of goods is simply amazing.

This was a Kaufland, and owing to German laws, it is not open on Sundays! In fat, NOTHING is open on Sundays, except bakeries, some restaurants, and petrol stations (There may be more, but I’m simply not sure).


As you can see, NO ONE is there, as the car park is comletely empty.

Interesting.

CB

This week; the Thornwood area of West Glasgow, a newish café and various wanderings & more!

Thornwood, used to be out west of the West End of Glasgow, or at least that is how it seemed to me; even more west than Partick, but not anymore.

There are many newish restaurants and cafes in this area. And even some peculiar street art:

Royal Mail in Thornwood, Dumbarton Road, Glasgow

What a beautiful thing to have! And so far, it has not really been vandalised. Long may that continue

How intricate

CB

What a lovely, trad place; Glasgow Central Hotel, City Centre, Glasgow

I’ve been here before, and after a recent BBQ at my bit, someone had the nerve to say that it is just so old-fashioned and out of date?

Really? They’ve overhauled this place some time ago, and now it not only is modern, but fits its place that it is trying to do. Our very own Ritz, if I may add!


We were there for tea and cake, but the design, service and accoutrements were brilliant – linen serviettes. The view was perfect for not only people watching, but also to see the piano players, hitting the plastic ivory.

Various internal shots of the Cafe

Even the food was class, with a pink cheesecake chosen for me.

It seemed to me, that this is primarily known and used as a bar / champagne bar (its title), but whoa to be had, with just a little walking around the city centre.

They even had a collection of photos from previous stayers at the accommodation in its heyday; ranging from Roy Rogers to Gene Kelly; though I did not see the photo of Diego Maradona, from I believe 1979.

CB

Portugal – Part 1, the flight and a stay in Faro

First of all, I decided after looking at the ridiculous prices of flights from Glasgow and Edinburgh (direct flights) to Lisbon, to go from the little used Prestwick Airport on the west coast of Scotland on a flight to Faro. They mainly only serve Portugal and predominantly Spain, but at very reasonable prices.

Shot of Prestwick, direct from the Bus stop arriving

Firstly, it is so easy to get there, whether by bus (above) or train (below); much easier to get to than Glasgow Airport; still with no train link, though this was tried in the past.

Prestwick Train Station

Inside, the airport is very empty, short queues, and there’s even a wall bar (apologies for the photo), to commemorate Elvis Presley’s only stop in the UK, back in 1960. Though he may have had a secret trip (earlier) to London.

Various shots of Prestwick Airport

The flight was naturally with Ryanair, where I had one of their “deals” with tea.


Once in Faro (for the night), I stayed in a relatively inexpensive (50 euros) hotel, the Hotel Alfonso, that had the typical spartan, tiled look – all I needed!


It was interesting to be in Faro, as the centre of the city has seen better days, so with my late arrival, I had few choices to find a restaurant; though the one I did find (after hotel advice) was perfectly adequate; even with a large screen for the late football.

Sto. Antonio restaurant

The Sto. Antonio (?), if that is what it’s called, served a variety of dishes, mainly Portuguese, but it was a gentle introduction to the cuisine I would be eating for the next few days.

Salad and Gazela green wine

With even the little things, like presentation, quite different to what I am used to. I had one of the “green” wines that the Portuguese do so well – In this case, it was a Gazela wine, and at only 9%, it was quaffable and not too heavy.

Wine and table water

CB

This week, Lisbon, cafe’s, etc – New Partick, Glasgow street art . . .

If you have been in Partick, in the West of Glasgow the last few weeks, there is a smattering of new street art:

Purdon Street Mural

I think that it’s both colourful and bright; a cure-all for our awful weather here in the West of Scotland!

My only complaint, is that it is replacing some of the murals that were created to celebrate the 2014 Commonwealth Games, that were held here back then. If you disagree, please go here, to add your opinions to Partick Community Council.

More this week from Lisbon, and various other things.

CB

This week; Birnam, Scotland (Beatrix Potter land) and other observations, cafe’s, etc.

What a week, more being in the hospital recently, but it makes you even more grateful when you are not there!

Birnam Hotel, Birnam, Perthshire, Scotland

Had another Perthshire trip in the bag, this time to the sister “city” of Dunkeld, Birnam. Maybe it’s the poorer little relation, but still has something, particularly the home / place / whatever of Beatrix Potter, author of the Peter Rabbit books.

Birnam Hotel, Blue Plaque

The hotel was right out of the 19th century! I love these type of things and I came across a “floor light” or whatever it’s called? I’ve never seen one of these things. But if you looked above it, to the roof, maybe it was a proto-type skylight? Who knows?

Skylight from the 19th century?

Also, there seems to be a little bit of money in this place, as various rooms looked completely up to date, which can only be a good thing.

Various shots

And it was only opposite, where there were various Potter types of elements, and also a theatre, museum / café dedicated to her memory.

Various things a la Beatrix Potter

Where the attendant was nice enough to let us have a look, even though they were officially closed.

CB