Sunday, 26 February 2012

 
 
BLOG FROM THE ROAD
 
 
Just after 10 we left our home in Clydebank . The night before we had fuelled the car. We had filled the tank to the brim as petrol is much cheaper in the Glasgow area. Strange having a holiday in your country. No plane tickets,no adaptors or strange money . We took suntan cream just in case.
 
Just after nine we are off on our Scottish adventure. Saturday morning the roads are not too busy. We decide to go the scenic route via  Stockiemuir road . First point of interest
was the Carbeth inn . Love their haggis ,neeps and tatties.  We then pass the Queens view.
Lorna reminds me this is where she lost a stone out of her engagement ring .
On to Drymen where we meet the A811 .Which we are on till we get to Stirling.
Just before Stirling we have a bit of  excitement when a pheasent runs out in front of the car . Lorna slams on the brakes . Bird and car still in one piece so we drive on to Stirling
 




dSally was our transport for our road trip. Citroen Saxo 10 years of ages and possibly  her last long road trip .d yo
Pitlochry  Lunch stop in fact a bar lunch. Then a walk down to the river Tummel  
  The Pitlochry fish ladder is a fish ladder next to the Pitlochry Power Station on the River Tummel near Pitlochry, Perth and Kinross, Scotland that allows salmon to travel upstream during the breeding season.

First night in Aviemore  Stay at the Kila B&B  Dinner in the Roos Leap .
I had the Aussie Barbie burger . My god it was big.
 
Stayed our first night at the Kila Bed and breakfast Aviemore. It`s on Grampian road.
Friendly English owner who made a good breakfast. This is a budget B and B £30PP a night. Have been to Aviemore a few times.  Always feel it`s great base to explore the Cairngorms. Got a few pubs and lot`s of places to eat .  At night we enjoy a Neil Diamond tribute band . No bad but felt guilty leaving him alone to sing his last few numberts.ur
Well thats day one over  time for sleep. Big day tomorrow of to our highland base of Dornoch.
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Sunday 3rd of July 2011 Day 2 of Scottish roadtrip
 
 
After a fab breakfast at the Kila we packed up and leave  Aviemore. We don`t have to be in Dornoch until the evening so we decide to head up the mountains .
Short drive and we are at the bottom of the Funicular train.
Train takes us up the Cairngorms mountain range. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
After  taking the train down we head to Loch Morlich.   
Long stretches of its shoreline are formed of sandy beaches. When examined closely the sand of these beaches contains large amounts of broken glass. However, this glass does not come from careless tourists discarding bottles irresponsibly, but is in fact left over from the second world war  when the area around Loch Morlich was used as a commando school.
After a coffee and cake on the shores of Loch Morlich we decide to make our way to Dornoch .
16.00 we arrive in Dornoch
Find our way to the Fairways flat in Burgh Gardens . This our base for the first week
Great flat handy for everything in the town.
 
We decided to make Dornoch our base for the first week of our summer holidays. [2011]
After much searching we chose the Fairways self catering flat.
Me and Lorna were delighted with the flat . It was our home away from home .
It had everything you need for a break in Dornoch. 
Short stroll  into the town and very handy for the sandy beach.
DAY 3  Based in Dornoch
 
 GOLSPIE,DUNROBBIN AND TEA AT GRANNIES HEILAN HAME
 
 After breakfast in our flat in Dornoch we head off to Golspie .
Golspie is a coastal village  . It has a population of around 1,650 people. It is located picturesquely on the shores of the Moray firth not too far from Dornoch. Golspie has fine beaches to the north and south of the tidal pier, where families can have safe bathing.




We walk along the front admiring the seabirds till we come to Dunrobin. Dunrobin Castle is a stately home in Golspie. It is the home of the Clan Sutherland . It has the same architect as the palace of Westminster.
There is a fantanstic falconry show

We always wanted to see Grannie`s Heilan Hame. Friend in the work [Robert]comes here every September and loves the place. We have a wander round and decide to have dinner in the bar . Fish and chips were good.

Short drive back into Dornoch . Day 3 has been an easy day but a very enjoyable time.
The highlight being the falconry in Dunrobbin castle.

iDAY4     THE TOP OF SCOTLAND n
First stop Wick
 
Tuesday  5th July  we left our base in Dornoch and drove north  up the A9  .Toilet stop in Wick then on to John o Groats . Short walk on to Duncansby head to see the famous stacks.
Back into the car and on to the most northernly point in the UK  Dunnet head .
John o' Groats is popular with tourists because it is usually regarded as the most northerly settlement of mainland Great Britain, although this is not a claim made by the inhabitants. It is, though, one end of the longest distance between two inhabited points on the British mainland, Land's End being the other. The actual most northerly point is nearby Dunnet Head.
 
 
 
 
 
The famous "Journey's End" signpost at John o' Groats is privately owned and operated by the same Penzance-based photography company which operates its counterpart at Land's End, with a fee payable for having pictures taken next to the signpost.
 
 
Dunnet Head  is a peninsula in Caithness, on the north coast of Scotland, that includes the most northerly point of the mainland of Great Britain. The point, known as Easter Head, is at  about 18 km (11 miles) westnorthwest of John o' Groats and about 20 km (12 miles) from Duncansby Head. Dunnet Head can be seen also as the western limit of the Pentland Firth on the firth's southern, or Caithness, side (Duncansby Head is the eastern limit).

All day breakfast was huge in the Y Not bar  Thurso
Homeward bound  right down  the A9 past Telly tubbie windmills to our base of Dornoch. 

PORTMAHOMACK  &  FALLS OF SHIN DAY5
 
After breakfast we set off for a driver ,We decide that Portmahomack sounds like a cool place to visit. Weather was dull but dry.
 
 Portmahomack is a tourist destination with its traditional harbour, swimming beach, golf, dolphin watching, fishing and other watersports. It has a permanent population of between 500 and 600 residents. In the former parish church the Tarbat Discovery Centre, designed by exhibition consultants Higgins Gardner & Partners, houses displays on local history, and many of the finds from several seasons of excavation within the church itself, and in the fields surrounding the churchyard. 
 
Did you know ?
John Shepherd-Barron, the inventor of the ATM (Auto-Teller Machine), lived in the village until He died on 15 May 2010 after a brief illness at the age of 84 in Raigmore Hospital [Inverness].The murder-mystery writer Anne Perry lives in the village
 
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After lunch we drive west to see the Falls of Shin.Weather is now wet wet wet .
 
The falls of shin are not too far from Dornoch and well worth a visit. 
Great fun spotting the salmon leaping up the falls. Salmon can be seen anytime between 
May and November.  It is said the falls of Shin are one of the best place to see Salmon leaping.   The salmon attempt to leap the falls because they are heading up river to breed, and to the place they themselves were born.
 
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Falls of Shin Visitor Centre is about one hour's scenic drive north of Inverness and is well signposted from the A9. It is just off the B864 which is reached from A836 between Bonar Bridge and Lairg. There is plenty of easy parking at the centre.
 
DOLPHIN SPOTTING  Day6 
 
We left  Dornoch and travelled south  down the  A9 .We then travelled east to the Cromarty ferry and crossed Nigg bay  and then drove down to Rosemarkie.Where we parked the car and walked along to Chanonry point . 

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Chanonry Point  lies at the end of Chanonry Ness, a spit of land extending into the Moray firth  near Rosemarkie  on the  Chanonry Point is one of the best spots in the UK to view Bottlenose dolphin from the land. The dolphins are often visible off Chanonry point, particularly on an incoming tide when they play and fish in the strong currents.
A survey in the Moray Firth in Scotland, the world's second northernmost dolphin population, recorded an average adult length of just under 4 meters (13 ft) compared with a 2.5 meters (8.2 ft) average in a population off the coast of Florida.
 
 
DORNOCH POINT  DAY 7
Friday was our last full day in Dornoch . We spent the day in the town .
In the afternoon we walked along the beach to Dornoch point.
What a great beach and very few people on it.
At night we went to the Sutherlands for a another  great meal. 






DAY8  Next stop Ullapool

Dornoch to Ullapool 78 miles 

Leave Dornoch early morning .Our next stay will be in Ullapool .
Weathers ok still not seen the infamous Scottish summer and the midge must be away it`s hols but we are now travelling west . Over the Dornoch bridge  

On A835 heading to towards Ullapool  we came upon Aultguish inn .What a wonderful setting . Right beside  the Loch Glascarnoch dam . We had our  lunch in the inn and wander round the dam.   
After lunch at the Aultguish inn we arrive in Ullapool. We are here for the night ,
We stay at the Caledonian hotel right in the centre of the town. As you can see by the photographs the weather was dull the day we were there .
Ullapool is a small town of around 1,300 inhabitants in Ross and Cromarty, Highland, Scotland. Despite its small size, it is the largest settlement for many miles around, and is a major tourist destination of Scotland. The North Atlantic Drift passes by Ullapool, bringing moderate temperatures. A few small palm trees are grown in the town. 
 
DAY 7 KYLE OF LOCALSH
On route to Kyle of Localsh we stopped at Gairloch .  
Had planned to stay a night at Gairloch but decided just to stop for Lunch .

Gairloch is a small village on the northwest coast of Scotland. Great wee tourist place with several hotel. We arrived at the top of a hill. Did not know which way to drive.  left or right . 
Drive left on to the harbour. It`s more touristy. Gareloch[Gearrloch] means short Loch in Gaelic.
We turned on our radio to listen to two loch station.  Smallest local radio in the UK  .

Gairloch and nearby Badachro have a strong history of creel shellfish fishing as well as small scale trawl fishing. The number of active boats is in decline, however, and Gairloch has seen both of its shellfish processing businesses fall by the wayside over the last 10 years. There are still a few dedicated fishermen who work regularly for their living, but many have moved on; some have diversified into catering for tourism and visitor activities.

Had lunch at the Old Inn in Gairloch . Which was very good . Normal hotel prices 
 
 
From Gairloch we drive south to Glen Torridon
The Torridon Hills surround Torridon village in the Northwest Highlands of Scotland. The name is usually applied to the mountains to the north of Glen Torridon. They are among the most dramatic and spectacular peaks in the British Isles and made of some of the oldest rocks in the world.
Our stopover before the Isle of Skye . Long drive from Ullapool so we decided to stay the
night at Kyle of Lochalsh. The weather was dull but the views of the Skye bridge were fine.
We had dinner in the Kyle hotel which was filling. Since the bridge has been built we thought the town would have been dead but to our surprise it was busy with lots of tourists making it their base before going over the bridge.   
 
                                
 
 
 Now over the bridge to the Isle of Skye . Weather is poor but it`s only a short drive
 
July 2011 was the first time I had ever been to stunning Skye . I had heard so much about the beuti of the island .  The focklore , the wildlife and the weather were all known to most visitors. We decided to take the bridge over and the boat back .

Was not disappointed by wonderful Skye . We had stayed the night at Kyle of Localsh .
Crossed over the bridge during a heavy rain storm. That was the last of the bad weather
we had during our stay on the Island .  As we drove along the main road [A87] we
begin to see the scenary Skye is famous for .The island's peninsulas radiate out from a mountainous centre dominated by the Cullins hills. We pass through Broadford  and on to the village  of Sligachan .



After our short stop in Sligachan  we drive straight to the main town of Skye . Portree will be our base for our stay on the island. We digs book so I have walk round the centre of the town looking for a room for the night . Most places were full so I decided to enquire at the information centre. They phone around and get us a bed and breakfast not to far from the centre of Portree.  The Foreland  was fine. You got a choice for your breakfast--
 which was a perfect start to the day.  

 The staff were very helpful . They were very knowledgable about the Island which help us plan our day.   http://www.forelandbedandbreakfast.com/
t h Portree  is a great wee town with tons a great places to eat and drink . Amazed at the amout of tourist the town gets. The day we were in the town there was a cruise ship in .
First night we.have a wander round Portree and have dinner in a local bar.
Second night we had a wonderful dinner at the Pier hotel . This was our favourite pub
while in Skye . The locals are friendly and the beer and food is good. 

The  Museum of Island Life at Kilmuir, Isle of Skye was opened in 1965. The aim was to preserve a township of thatched cottages, each one depicting, as closely as possible, the conditions prevailing on the island at the close of the nineteenth century.




Flora Mac Donald`s grave in Kilmuir Cemetery .
The Storr is prime example of the Trotternish Landship, the longest such feature in the UK.
The area in front of the cliffs of the Storr is known as the Sanctuary. This has a number of weirdly shaped rock pinnacles, the remnants of ancient landslips. One of the most famous of these is known as the Old Man of Storr.
Stopped for lunch at
Flodigarry country house  ---Not cheap but what a place

Award winning Flodigarry Country House Hotel, Isle of Skye ~ commands a panoramic position overlooking the sea towards the Torridons on mainland .
That night  the Skye pipeband entertained us in Portree main street.
Drinks at the Cullins hotel .




After a large Scottish breakfast  we driver south down to  Sligachan . We stop here for a soft drink.








FINAL JOURNEY DAY12
 
   Our final day of Scottish Roadtrip 2011. After a heafty breakfast in Mallaig  we set of south.
The minute we see signs for Glasgow we start thinking of home. We plan to stay another night before home. First stop was Glenfinnan  to see two famous sites.
Glenfinnan Monument  and  Viaduct.

The Glenfinnan Monument situated here at the head of Loch Shiel was erected in 1815 to mark the place where Prince Charles Edward Stuart ("Bonnie Prince Charlie") raised his standard, at the beginning of the 1745 Jacobite Rising.

        
Lunch in Glencoe . Stop at our favourite --the Clachaig  . 
 
The name Glen Coe is often said to mean "Glen of Weeping", perhaps with some reference to the infamous Massacre of Glencoe which took place there in 1692.
 In fact the Glen is named after the River Coe which runs through it, and bore this name long before the 1692 incident.
 
 
By now we start to consider whether to stay or head right back to Clydebank and home. 
Beer in the  Kingshouse Hotel  another of our favourites in the Glencoe area .
 
Above is the Buachaille Etive Mòr [the great herdsman of Etive] generally known to climbers simply as The Buachaille or The Beuckle, is a mountain at the head of  Glen Etive . Its almost perfect pyramidal shape.
 
Last stop the DROVERS INN
  
HOME  CLYDEBANK   1200 MILES   IN 12 DAYS
 
 THANKS FOR READING MY BLOG FROM THE ROAD
Next stop Ferry terminal for our boat over to Mallaig.


 Mallaig  on the west coast of the Highlands of Scotland. The local railway station, Mallaig, is the terminus of the West Highland railway line (Fort William & Mallaig branch), completed in 1901, and the town is linked to Fort William by the A830 road – the "Road to the Isles".


What a wonderful Island Skye is and can`t wait to revisit Skye in the near future.

Monday, 13 February 2012

         WONDERCOOL COPENHAGEN
Feb 2012
We decided to visit Copenhagen in the winter to see  what the city had to offer when the world famous Tivoli gardens are closed.  The winter can be very cold with months of freezing conditions. I arranged my flights in advance so I had no idea what the weather
was going to be.  It turned out cold. Infact freeeezin but  we wrapped up well.  Hats, scarves, gloves and thermals are a must. 
Wonderful Copenhagen transformed into Wonderful cool - cold Copenhagen
We arrived into Terminal two at Copenhagen Airport.  Took a taxi from the airport to
our city centre hotel.  The traffic was ok considering it was friday rushhour.
Took about twenty minutes and cost  kr250--  about £ 25. Our Moroccan driver explained we would have been much cheaper taking a train.  We took the train back.
Very easy to do and only takes 12 mins .  36kr single per person.  You get the tickets from the window inside the main office.  It`s on the left as you enter the main  door.
Downstairs to platform 5. You will see lots of travellers with bags and cases.
We  stayed at the Savoy hotel.  The Savoy is not as posh as the famous London hotel on
Park lane but it is ok for a  traveller. The rooms are not huge but are clean and comfortable ans has the normal mod cons. What sold me on the place was it  is right in the city centre not far from the main train station.  
Friday night
Checked into Savoy hotel and headed into the city for a few beers.  I had already been to Norway and Iceland so I expected the beer to be very expensive.  First stop was the Scottish pub.  Themed bars are not my favourite but I quite enjoyed this one.
I ordered a pint of  Kilkenny. Which cost 510 kr around £4.50.
On that corner there was  English, Irish and Scottish themed bars together .
After a couple we cross the road [Hans Christian Andersens boulevard]
We walk down the Stroget.  We stopped to have a hambuger.  The Dubliner was our last stop before heading back to our digs.
Hans Christian Anderson is the worlds most famour childrens writer.
The Snow Queen, Little Mermaid, Thumbelina and Ugly Duckling have all been loved by kids
all around the world.
Stroget
Saturday
After a good breakfast we headed out for a full day site seeing.  First stop is the cityhall.
Walk in and have a short look round.  It`s free and fun
We then walk down Europe`s longest pedestraian shopping area.
Stroget is a collection of streets which join together to make one shopping heaven.
There are also lots of places to eat and drink.
From the Stroget we walk down to the waterside to stroll along to the wonderful Nyhavn.
Nyhavn is the 17th century waterfront with brightly coloured houses .  Really smart area of the town.  
 


We now have to make our way to see the changing of the guard at Amalienborg.


 
 Amalienborg is the winter palace of the Danish royal family.  We planned it to get to the palace for noon as the changing of the guard takes place.




Get there about 11.45 so you have a great view.  The band comes along the road around five minutes to twelve. The changing of the guard lasts about 15 mins.
Sometimes there`s no band.  After the palace we walked along the riverside to see the Little Mermaid.

                           

The most famous landmark in Denmark. The statue is based on the  fairy tale - The Little Mermaid.  A story by Hans Christian Anderson.   The statue was commissioned in 1909 by Carl Jacobsen, son of founder of Carlsbery brewery. The Mermaid is 4ft high.  
Amalienborg was originally built for four noble families; however, when Christiansborg Palace burnt down on 1794,  the royal family bought the palaces and moved in.  Over the years various kings and their families have resided there.
 Winter in Copenhagen
We walked over to see the  Danish Crown Jewels at Rosenborg Castle.  The castle was
built in 1664.  You have to pay a bit extra to take photographs. 
 
 Short  walk from the Rosenborg we come across the Rundetarn [Round Tower]
Strange sloped ramp up to the top where there is a observation deck.
Great views of the city from up there.  There`s a lot of walking involved in a visit to Copenhagen but there is an open top siteseeing bus if you don`t fancy the hike.

 

Back through the Stroget  and passed the Tivoli gardens to The Hardrock cafe. After a quick look  we head back to our hotel.
At night we head back up to Nyhavn for dinner but decide against it  as prices are a bit more expensive.  A pub in Stroget wins it.   Streckers had good specials. [Steak]
Sunday
After Breakfast we walk to Christianshavn to see the famous Christiania area.  The peace loving folk are friendly and seemed very happy. Whitney Houston songs belted out from
one of the campbuses.  Whitney had just passed away that day.
We had a waffle from a stall in the Stroget. By then it`s time to go for the train to the airport. We have had a great weekend in Copenhagen  and proved there`s life in Copenhagen with the Tivoli Gardens.  

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Is Cairo safe for tourists

Culture,Camels and Chaos


Jan 2012


I decided to travel to Egypt to see how safe it really was for western tourists. After much searching I found some one crazy person enough join my adventure. Eric my brother in law
was always willing for a challenge.



 Cairo was the centre of the Egyptian revolution . The uprising started on the 25th of January 2011. The uprising was mainly a campaign of non-violent demonstrations but since then many lifes have been lost . I do not want to go into the politics of the revolution.The media in the west has covered the story and reported everyday since the overthrow of the president of Egypt  Mubarak. 


 


A year on and still uncertainty remains and with many views on how Egypt will progress.               
Many times Cairo city centre has been described as a war zone and very unsafe for foreign
tourists.  Although the much hated Mubarak has gone, concerns continue as along as the military is in charge. We did mix with the protesters and never felt unsafe. In fact they were pleased explain their actions.



 Third to the left Eric chatting to a protester


OK is it safe for tourists. 
Yes we found it safe . Our hotel was next to Tahrir square where the main demonstrations are and we felt OK and in fact it was more dangerous crossing the roads.  The pedestrians have the right of way but it takes a bit of getting used to. The Drivers are crazy
The locals were friendly and keen to tell you their opinion on the whole affair. We met no other tourists from Great Britain. There was two guys from America who we met at the Pyramids.
Tourism is down. Really down but hopefully once a new elected government is in place people will return to such a wonderful country. 




The best day of our trip was the visit to the Pyramids


We take a Taxi from our hotel to the Pyramids. Our driver was Sherif . Sheriff asks us camel or horse
We were asked 45 Min's or 120 Min's at the Pyramids . We said 2 hours so off we trotted on the ship of the Desert .  My camel`s name was George . George started slowly . It seemed I was  about ten feet from the ground and was thinking will our insurance cover a fall of a wild beast. We were taken in the side door right in to the Desert.

video

The most famous Pyramids are at Giza, on the outskirt's of Cairo. The Khufu pyramid is the one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient world  The only one in existence. 
After a short while we get used to the camel but always hold on as if we are on a ride at Universal.
We have a guide on a horse next to us.  More people involved the more tips you have to pay.
It took a short while before we begin to relax . Then we see the desert in front of us.
What a site the Pyramids are and even better with little tourists about.


This  was a day I would never forget till I die and the camel riding added to the experience.
After two hours we are taken back to the office to get our taxi.
On route o back to the hotel we are taken to see the  river Nile.Never a dull moment
Two factories later we finally arrive back at our hotel.


At night we walk the streets of Giza . Take in the wonderful street life and enjoy a beer or two at a local hotel and finish the night with a burger at McDonald's. Bit of cost cutting. Fast food even in Egypt   



The next day we travel through to Cairo city centre.
We visit the Egyptian museum. The remains of many famous Pharaohs are stored in the Museum. The Gold Mask of Tutankhamen [11 kg of solid gold]  was the highlight for me. It`s up stair.      Please note you can not take any photographs inside  the museum.  






NDP building next door to Cairo Museum burnt during the revolution 2011
It was the   main headquarters of the ruling National Democratic Party during the Friday of Anger in Cairo.
Hopefully I have gave you a small insight into how safe Cairo is. I would say it`s not perfect yet but if you are a bit adventurous you love Cairo now.


Here`s some photographs from my time in Cairo