Photos from Czech Replublic Trip October 2010

Photos added from the Czech Republic trip in October 2010 here.

Monday 4th October – Edinburgh to Bratislava with Ryanair.  Stayed in Ibis Centrum Bratislava.

Tuesday 5th – Train Bratislava to Brno taking about 2.5 hours.  Stayed in Hotel Arte.

Wednesday 6th – Day in Brno

Thursday 7th – Train Berno to Prague taking about 3 hours.  Pub crawl round Prague.

Friday 8th – Day of the Czech Repubkllic V Scotland.  Scotland play 4-6-0 and loose 1-0.

Saturday 9th – Tour of Prague Old Town.

Sunday 10th – Flew home with BA via Terminal 5 in London.

Camping Trip September 2010

Friday 24th September

Route – M8, M9, A84, A85, A82

Top of the Devils Staircase looling southwards through Glen Coe

Left Edinburgh about 9:30 and headed west.  Walked up the Devil’s Staircase on the north side, the path eventually ending up in Kinlochleven. Weather cold but clear.  Up in 38 minutes, down in 29. (Glen Coe = the Glen of Coe / Glencoe – a village at the end of Glen Coe)

Camped at the Red Squirrel Campsite in Glencoe, a 10 minute walk to the Clachaig Inn.  £8.50 a night with a few showers and toilets in old portacabins.  Allows campfires and has access to the river which runs along the side of the campsite.  thankfully no midges due to the cold.

Walked round the Glencoe Signal Rock followed by a pint in the Clachaig Inn.  It was busy, but no real atmosphere.

Saturday 25th September

Route – A82, A9, A96

Urquhart Castle

Woke to find ice on the tent.  Heard it was minus 3 degrees C overnight, and car temperature outside alert was +3 degrees C at 10am.

Drove up to Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness.  Allow at least 90 minutes to visit.  Has a decent visitors centre with a video presentation of the history of the castle.  Car park can become full during tourist season and this was the third attempt this year to visit the castle.  Citylink busses to Inverness seem to stop at the castle.  Good views up and down Loch Ness.

Then up to Fort George which is on the other side of Inverness.  Allow at least 2.5 hours to visit as it’s quite a large place.  Signs ask visitors to have minimum stuff with them as you are liable to be searched as it’s a live military barracks.

Stayed in the Inverness Tourist Hostel overnight.  Although it’s website says it has a free car park it doesn’t.  £11.50 a night, good city centre location, but above a noisy nightclub.  Cheapest car park in Inverness is next door – £4 for 24 hours,

Spent most of the night in Johnny Foxes.  Live band from 10:30pm which were good but didn’t seem to do requests.

Sunday 26th September

Route – A9, A96, A940, A941, A98

Elgin Abbey

Dallas Dhu Historic Distillery – shut down in 1983 and passed to Historic Scotland which reopened it as a visitor attraction in 1988.  It no longer produces whisky.  Unlike other distilleries you can take photos throughout.  Free sample of the Roderick Dhu blended whisky which ceased production in 1983.

Elgin Cathedral – allow 30 minutes.  Nothing special

Spynie Palace – allow 45 minutes.

Stayed in the Banff Links Caravan Park – £5 a night and right on the beach.  the park is owned and run by Aberdeen Council and has a couple fairly decent facilities blocks.  Didn’t know where the pub was unfortunately.  Rather noisy at night due to the sea.

Monday 27th September

Route – A98, A97, A920, A941, A95, B970, A9, B8019

Huntly Castle
Huntly Castle

Huntly Castle – Still has amazing engraving on the brick work.  Very clear to see.  Allow 30 minutes

Balvenie Castle – one of the only castles that has the full boundary wall still intact.  Not the easiest to find due to the poor signage through the local village.

Glenfiddich Distillery – free!  Allow 90 minutes.  About 200 yards from Balvenie Castle.  Short video presentation followed by a tour round the brewing and fermenting process.  Photos are allowed for most of the trip unlike other distilleries.  At the end of the tour sample the 12, 15 and 18 year old Glenfiddich whisky.

Cairngorm Funicular Railway – £9.25 for an 8 minute journey up a hill, and 8 minutes back down.  Nothing to see at the top due to the low cloud cover.  Wouldn’t bother again unless the weather was crystal clear.

Evening meal at the Old Mill in Pitlochery.  Nice atmosphere and good food.

Camped at the Loch Tummel Caravan Park.  About 10 meters away from Loch Tummel with a small beach.  Good facilities.

Tuesday 28th September

Route – B8019, B8079, A9, M90, A912, A90

Killiecrankie Battlefield
Killiecrankie Battlefield

Killiecrankie Woodland National Trust property.  2 Mile walk, returning vie the main road.  £2 for the car park.  Saw a wild snake for the first time ever on the footpath.  Walk back along the main road using a narrow footpath was rather scary though given the 60mph speed limit.

Pitlochry Hydro Electric Visitors Centre and Fish Ladder.  Free!  Saw a real live Bill Oddie making some tv program in the power station.

Lunch at McKays Hotel, Pitlochry

Elcho Castle – Near Perth.  Building in excellent condition but down a farm track and through a farm.


Note for future trips – get a sat nav!

Lithuania Away 2010 Photos

normal_pds_1929Photos from the Lithuania V Scotland trip 2010 have been uploaded.

Saturday 28th August – Haymarket bar, flight Edinburgh to Gdansk with Ryainair, bus to centre, Hotel Novotel Gdansk Centrum

Sunday 29th – Day out in Gdansk

Monday 30th – Train Gdansk to Kaliningrad, Russia.  Stayed in Hotel Kaliningrad

Tuesday 31th – visit to Submarine then taken by some Russians to see some Kaliningrad football.

Wednesday 1st September – A day wandering about Kaliningrad

Thursday 2nd – Kaliningrad to Kaunas by train, stayed in the Park Inn Kaunas (formerly Reval Hotel Neris)

Friday 3rd – Lithuania V Scotland football match (0-0)

Saturday 4th – Visit to old town

Sunday 5th – Fly to Tempere in Finland, then back to Edinburgh with Ryanair

Photos from August 2010 Camping Trip

I’ve added photos from my recent camping trip around the north of Scotland – Camping August 2010

Sunday 9th August

normal_PDS_jmg_1684We left about 5pm and headed for Glen Coe.  M9 to Stirling, A811 to Doune (past the 5 mile tailback coming out of the Trossachs and heading to Stirling), A84 to Lochearnhead then A82 to Glen Coe.  About 120 miles took about 2 hours 30.  First night’s camping was at the Red Squirrel Campsite just outside Glencoe Village, not far from the Clachaig Inn.  £8 A night, good location, camp fires allowed, but long walk to basic toilets and showers.

Monday 9th August

normal_PDS_jmg_1686Left about 9am for Fort William on the A82.  Raining quite heavily.  Shopping at Morrison’s in Fort William, then headed north up the Great Glen, again on the A82.

Had intended to visit Urquhart Castle but the queue for the car park was long, so headed in to Drumnadrochit for some lunch in the Courtyard Restaurant.  Rain had stopped by this point so headed back to Urquhart Castle where the queue was even longer.

We then to headed to Eilean Donan Castle near Kyle of Lochalsh.  A82 to Invermoriston, A887 and A87 to Dornie.  The drive down towards Shiel bridge is very spectacular – passing the 5 sisters.   Although the castle looks old it’s only 90 years old.  The castle was a complete ruin from 1719 to 1919 when it was completely rebuilt from the ground up.  To this end I’d call it a fake castle – bits of poorly maid concrete can be seen on the bridge.  Entry to the castle costing £5.50.

The plan was then to head to a campsite in Dornie but after finding it it was no more than a field we headed onwards.  We located another campsite nearby but it looked rather unfriendly – “backpackers tents only” whatever that means.  So we drove on again towards Skye over the newish Skye Bridge.  It doesn’t look like it, but the approach to the bridge is quite steep – I wouldn’t like to cycle it.  Over the bridge we stopped in Corry Tourist information to seek assistance finding a campsite on Skye but it was closed.

We headed onward up the A87, turning off just past Luib.  The quest was to find a flat bit of grass to camp on.  Sadly the ground arround Loch Ailnort was rocky so we eventually made it back on to the A87 near Sconser.  We then found the Sligachan Campsite near by.  A reasonable campsite with views up Loch Sligachan and up to the Black Cuillin the other direction.  Dinner was served in the nearby 180 year old Sligachan Hotel.  The hotel pub was full of like minded campers!

Tuesday 10th August

normal_PDS_jmg_1717Over to the Talikser Distillery on the other side of Skye via the A863 and B8009.  The Talisker Distillery isn;t actually in Talisker its self but in Carbost about 5 miles away.  A tour costs about £5 which includes a wee dram of 12 year old Talisker.  Then up to Portree via the B8009, A863 and A87.  Lunch in Portree in The Isles Inn.

Up the A855 passing “The Storr” and “The Kilted Rock” – the comment was “is that it?”…  Up the A855 to the tip of Skye at Kilmaluag.  As it was raining we didn’t visit the castle at Kilmluag as it was pouring with rain.

Down the A855 to Uig where we camped in the Uig Bay campsite.  When we turned up it was pouring with rain.  Quite a few folk were waiting in theor cars untill the rain stopped.  The rain dies down enough for us to fling out pop up tents down and had fully put up the tents in a few minutes.  We then headed to the pub!  Evening Dinner was severed in the Pier Restaurant which unfortunately I can’t recommend.  Took ages to order, ages to arrive, and was cold when the wrong food arrived.  One French family had been waiting 90 minutes for their food to then be told they’d run out of beef burgers.

Wednesday 11th August

normal_PDS_jmg_1725Aim was to head for Applecross campsite.  A87 from Uig through Portree, Sligachan, Over the Skye bridge, Kyle of Lochalsh, then on to the A890 through Stomeferry (no ferry), to Acintee.  Then on to the A896 to Applecross.

Lunch was had in the LochCarron Hotel.  Good food for not much money, with cracking views over Loch Carron.

On to Applecross via the Bealach na Ba (Pass of the Cattle) – the highest road in the UK which rises to 626 meters.  Unfortunatly I was driving and concentrating on the road, and the fog was down to about 10 meters visibility.  Supposedly you can get excellent views from the top.  We arrived about 3pm in Applecross and kept driving.  Unfortunatly it was very wet and there didn;t seem to be much to do.  We stopped at the other side of the bay to take some photos – and were severly bitten by the midges even though it was pouring with rain.

We kept driving up the road to Shieldaig, then on to the campsite at Torridon.  The campsite was no more than a very rough field so we kept driving along the A890.  Unfortunalty there didn’t seem to be very many campsites so we actually ended up in the Caravan Club campsite in Dingwall!  The trip was about 200 miles – Uig, Kyle of Lochalsh, Applecross, Torridon, Kinlochewe, Garve, Dingwall.

The Caravan Club campsite in Dingwall was very prim and proper.  Each pitch was measured out, and we had to be so far away from the nearest caravan, so far from the nearest wall, and so far from the nearest tent.  The campsite was however flat and well drained, and close to the town.

As it was Wednesday, the day of the Sweden V Scotland football game we headed to The Mallard pub at Dingwall Station.  Sweden 1, Scotland nill.  Time for some food from Tesco’s (at midnight!).  My first experience of very late night shopping.

Thursday 12th August

normal_PDS_jmg_1738Down the A835 to Inverness, then the A9 south.  We popped in to the Dalwhinnie Distillery for another tour.  £6 to be told basically the same thing as Talisker.  Then down to Pitlochry for some lunch at the Old Mill Inn.

Visited the Pitlochry Fish Ladder which is an amazing feat of engineering.  Onwards down the A9 to Perth, then off to St Andrews along the A912 to Cupar, then the A91 to St Andrews.  Down the A915 to Windygates, A911 to Glenrothes, A92 to Halbeath, then the M90 and A90 back to Edinburgh.

Deagio Whiskys – all basically the same

Grain from the Black Isles, Malted at Glen Ord using local peat, shipped to the actual distillery, fermented using local pure spring water, distilled, shipped to Leven to be casked, some casks shipped back to original distiller for ageing, then shipped back to Leven for Bottling.  70% of production goes in to blended malts.

Photos from Slovenia June 2010 Trip

Photos from Slovenia 2010 trip added.

Sunday 20th June

normal_jmg_1318Edinburgh to Stanstead with Easyjet, then Stanstead to Trieste Airport (actually near Turriaco 40km away).

We’d missed the bus by about 20 minutes and the next one wasn’t due for another 2 hours.  A taxi to Sezana would be 150 Euros, Triest would be 50 euros, or 20 euros to Manfacone train station.  Thankfully there was a couple from Australia also trying to get to Triest so we shared a taxi to the station.  3 Euros for the train to Triest from there.

Once in Triest we eventually found the tram from Trieste to Opicina which is travels up the side of a very steep hill – 1 euro.  From Opicina we managed to get a taxi across the boarder to Sezana – 20 Euros.  We found the train station with about 2 hours to spare so we watched the Italy V New Zealand world cup qualifier in the bar.  We eventually got to know that the train had been cancelled due to work on the line, and there was a bus transfer available to Postojna where we could board a train (free). The train then ran from Postojna in to Ljubljana and we arrived about 9pm.

We stayed in the Hotel Park Hostel.  A hotel and hostel in the same building.  If you believe in proper fire escapes I can’t recomend this hotel – it only has one unprotected stairwell and 2 lifts.  Apart from that the hotel was clean and the room was sufficient, free wifi in reception along with 3 internet PC’s.  We finished the night in the Skeleton Bar.

Monday 21st June

normal_jmg_1324A few pubs then climbed up to Ljubljnski Castle which has two very swish bars in it.

Pub crawl round Ljubljana watching the various world cup qualifiers.  No more then one beer in a pub, so watched the first half and second half’s in different pubs.  It was obvious that most of the pubs had invested in new flat screen TV’s for the world cup.

Tuesday 22nd June

Pub crawl watching the world cup qualifiers – only one photo taken…..

Wednesday 23rd June – Slovenia V England world Cup Qualifier

normal_jmg_1332We headed to a large outdoor area where a large TV screen had been put up.  5,000 slovenia fans, about 10 Scottish, and about 100 English fans watched the game.  Slovenia eventually lost the match but for a brief moment still thought they’d qualified second.  Unfortunately the USA scored a late goal against Algeria and came second.  Slovenia were out.

It looked like a large party had been organised if Slovenia managed to get through to the semi finals, but alas they didn’t quite manage it.

Thursday 23rd June – Metlika to visit Maja

normal_jmg_13397:30am Train from Ljubljana down to Metlika near the Croatian Border to meet an old friend Maja.

It was the last day of school in Metlika so the place was crawling with kids.

Thankfully we just made the last train back to Ljubljana and arrived at midnight.


Friday 24th June

normal_jmg_1350We climbed Šišenski Hrib / Tivoli Landscaped Park.  Unfortunately there was no view from the top which was heavily covered with trees.    We passed the “Church of the Visitation” on the way down.

A few more pubs to watch the football in including the “Guinness Pub” and the Cutty Sark.  The Cutty Sark pub was home to the Tartan Army during a previous TA invasion in 2005.  Photos of the trip were still adorning the wall in the pub, featuring Social, Shambles, Tam Coyle and Ally Smith.

Saturday 25th June

normal_jmg_1368We headed down to the city centre to see the return of the Slovenia Football Team.  They were received like heroes.

Then the start of the trip back.  Ljubljana to Sezana by train (about 8 euros), then taxi to Opicina (8 euros), and tram down the hill to Triest (1 euro).

We eventually found out hotel above a jeweller.  Out at night for some swanky food in an outside restauraunt where the thunder and lightning started.  Following that we eventually found a bar that had a TV for the world cup.  Again outside in the rain…

Sunday 26th June

normal_jmg_1399Bus from Trieste to Trieste airport.  Bus took about 90 minutes and seemed to stop at every wee village on the route.  Flight back was called as final boarding about 90 mins early so we sprinted through the airport to find no sign of a plane.  At this point we were in a wee room with no bar….  We arrived in Stanstead airport just in time to see England crash out of the world cup 4-0 to Germany.  The German people next to us seemed rather pleased – the same couldn’t be said for the english.  Back to Edinburgh and airport bus home, a very tired man.

A very good holiday from start to finish.  Good weather most of the days – not to hot and not to cold.  Most days done wearing a kilt.

Photos added from trip to Dublin

jmg_0461Photos added from recent trip to Dublin which also included St Patricks Day.

Stayed in the Clarion Hotel and ate most of the time in it’s Kudos Restraunt.  I can highly recommend the Singapore Friend Noodles, Vietnamese Duch Spring Rolls and the Teriyaki Beef.  Can’t recommend the 10oz Sirloin Steak or the Pan Fried Fillet of Hake though.

Visited the Guinnes Storehouse which I highly recomend – even if it’s just to admire the view from the Gravity Bar – one of the hghest points in Dublin.  15 Euro (book before hand at 12 euro).  This also gets you a pint of Guinness.

Visited the Jameson Distillery and paid 15 euro for a tour.  Can’t recommend it though – not even an actual brewery any more.  A tour around a building seeing various audio visual presentation.  Hardly worth it.

Visited Dublin Castle – a bargain at 4.50 euro for a tour.

Took a Dublin City bus tour.  15 Euros for an hour tour – ticket lasts for 24 hours.

For pubs I can recommend Oil Can Harry’s, Doheny & Nesbitt (an old man’s boozer), and the Baggot Inn.

For upmarket food I recommend Dobbins Restraunt – difficult to find but well worth it.  Voted the best  steak in Dublin.

Special thanks to John O’Brian for smuggling in some Diet Irn-Bru from Northern Ireland.  I spent more than 2 days searching for it in Dublin without success.

Photos added from New Year trip to the Isle Of Lewis

normal_PDS_jmg_0330Photos added from the New Years trip to the Isle of Lewis in the outer Hebrides of Scotland.

Flew with Loganair (FlyBe) via Inverness to Stornoway Airport.

Stayed in the Heb Hostel, Stornoway, for 2 nights.  The hostel is in the centre of Stornoway and is ideally located for the shops, pubs, nightclub (1) and the ferry from Ullapool.  It was warm and comfy.

Visited the Callanish Standing stones on the west side of the island on a bitterly cold afternoon.

New year bells was seen in in the Star Inn, which ironically is on “South Beach”.  Unfortunately it wasn’t South Beach in Florida.  The temperature from the warn fire may have been the same as Florida, but the snow outside kind of gave it away. Then on to the Sea Angling Club for a boogie on the dance floor.  You’d think the sea angling club is a funny name for a nightclub/disco, but it is actually the Sea Angling Club.  They seem to be the only place on the Isle of Lewis with a late licence!

Then on the 1st January down to Balallen for a night. Unfortunately the roads were too icy to walk to the nearest pub 2 miles away so we had a game of monopoly instead.

Special thanks to Wilma our taxi driver, to Mr and Mrs Macdonald for their hospitality in Balallen, and to Christine from the Heb Hostel.

Photos added from Wales V Scotland Football match

Wales-V-ScotlandPhotos added from the recent Wales V Scotland game at Cardiff City’s ground in Wales.

The trip started with a taxi to the airport at 5am – definatly worth spending the extra money to get a taxi!
Easyjet plane down to Bristol, then Bus transfer to Train station and train Bristol to Cardiff. Book the transfer from Brstol Airport in advance via the First Rail website.

Stayed in the Park Inn Cardiff City Centre which was ideally placed for the main pub district on St Mary Street.  Expensive but the cheapest we could find.

Friday we were able to get tickets to the Wales V Samoa Rugby at the Cardiff Millennium Stadium.  Wales narrowly won 17 to 13.  It could have gone the other way in the closing moments.  The stadium is massive and shows what Scotland should have done to Hampden.

Saturday was the Wales V Scotland football match at Cardiff City’s new ground.  25,000 capacity but only 13,000 seats ocupied.  Wales won 3-0 – the first goal on 13 minutes.  The game led to Burley being sacked on the Monday.  Cardiff City stadium shows what can be built if there’s room to build a brand new stadium.  Tynecastle, Easter Road and Pitodrie take note.

Favourite pub of the trip would go to the Walkabout pub – 2 very large TV screens and a large dance floor.

Back Sunday afternoon by the same way we went.

Good trip if you forget about the 90 minutes of football in the middle.

Photos from Trip to Glen Coe – October 2009

 Photos from my recent trip to Glen Coe in October 2009.

Glencoe – The village at the end of the glen, on the shore of Loch Levan

Glen Coe – The Glen of the river Coe

Stayed in the Kings House Hotel which is near the junction of Glen Coe and Glen Etive.  It is called the King’s House because British troops were billeted here following the Battle of Culloden in 1746.  

The Kings House was built in the 17th century and is thought to be one of Scotland’s oldest licensed inns. In late 1746 the building became a barracks for Crown forces under the command of the Duke of Cumberland. The buildings were used as base while soldiers conducted operations to crush or capture any remaining Jacobites in the Highlands.

The inn lies on the old military Wade road that crosses Rannoch Moor. The road crosses the River Etive at the inn before continuing into Glen Coe and ascending the Devil’s Staircase. The military road then heads north across the hills towards Kinlochleven. The former military road now forms part of the West Highland Way.

Had dinner in the Clachaig Inn.  Must remember not to order a starter and main course next time!  The Clachaig was built in the 16th Centuary.

Visited the National Trust properties at Glen Coe and Glennfinnan 

Route up was M8 to Junction 2, M9 to Junction 10 at Stirling, A84 through Doune, Callander, A85 through Crainlarich, A82 through Tyndrum, Bridge of Orchy to Glen Coe.  From Junction 10 of the M9 it is one road without having to turn off.

Route back was A82 to Fort William, A830 to Glenfinnan and back to Fort William, A82 to Spean Bridge, A86 through Roybridge.  A889 from Drumgask to Dalwhinnie then join the A9 to Perth, M90 and A 90 back to Edinburgh.