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Month: September 2021

Flying Scotsman Trip – Day 6

Glasgow and its Southside

My Thursday started with some poached eggs at the Bucket List Café, conveniently right next to my hotel, and a bus to Glasgow’s Southside, more specifically Pollok Park, where I went to see some Highland coos, and to visit Pollok House. I already mentioned I recently became a member of the National Trust for Scotland, but when I booked this visit, I didn’t realise this was actually the place where the NTS was founded. I’ve even been in the room where the actual foundation meeting was held! The house has an awesome library as well.

After my visit and an enjoyable walk out of the park again, it was time for the first of my joyful reunions of that day. I met up for lunch—Mac ‘n’ cheese—at Eala Bhán with Mark and Emma. They’re two food and travel writers I’ve first met the very first time I visited Glasgow, and probably every visit to Glasgow since then.

I then rushed to the Wee Beer Shop, to visit it just before it closed at 15.00. I then spend some time in The Allison Arms, where they had some beers in the fridge by Brew Toon, the brewery in Peterhead that was sadly closed when I visited it last Sunday.

The main reason for sticking around in the area however, was the Koelschip Yard, which only opened at 16.00. There I met up with its owner Dom, and with Andy, whom I both know back from their BrewDog Glasgow days. Lots of beers and laughs were had, and it was great seeing them again! The bar and its beer selection is awesome as well, of course!

For dinner I—finally—went to a Glasgow institution, Mother India’s Café. It absolutely lived up to its name, that was some really good chicken saag!

The night ended at BrewDog Glasgow—that’s the Kelvingrove one—which still is my most-visited BrewDog bar after my ‘home’ bar in Brussels. They just started the Amundsen showcase, so that was my night sorted!

Flying Scotsman Trip – Day 5

Stirling and Glasgow

After a breakfast burrito at The Buldog Frog, and a coffee at Blend, it was time to head back to Perth’s railway station, to take the train to Stirling.

After some hassle to pre-book while already standing in line—I finally visited Stirling Castle. I say finally, because the last time I was in Stirling, I simply didn’t have enough time for a visit to justify the entrance fee. It was nice to see reenactors telling us about where we were and what would have happened there, but it kinda defeated the purpose of the (paid-for) audio guide…

Castle visit over, I had some crispy haggis bon bons at BREA, followed by their ‘malt of the month’. A quick coffee at Unorthodox Coffee, and it was almost time for BrewDog Stirling to open.

I could easily have stayed about half an hour longer, because my train was delayed. My £3 upgrade to first class made me quickly forget about the delay, and arriving in Glasgow Queen Street station, meant I was able to check into my easyHotel not long after that.

Nevertheless, I still had to hurry along to be in time for my 19.30 booking in BrewDog Merchant City—or is it still DogHouse? After a first drink to catch my breath, I ordered the Trinity Sampler, which, in the end, turned out to be a little too much, even for me. I loosened my kilt straps and belt a little, and stayed at the bar for the remainder of the evening…

Flying Scotsman Trip – Day 4

Dundee and Perth

My morning in Dundee started with a Kiwi breakfast at the Bach. No, not the fruit I’m allergic to, but a breakfast dish from New Zealand: mince on toast. Right across the street was my next destination, the McManus Galleries and Museum, where I learned about the three J’s of Dundee (Jam, Jute, and Journalism).

On my way to the station—and after a coffee stop at Empire State Coffee—I caught another glimpse of the—unfortunately closed on Tuesdays—V&A, and the ship Discovery.

Only a short train ride later, I arrived in Perth. Here I first visited The Black Watch Castle & Museum. An interesting history to say the least, but especially items from more recent history—like a kilt with bullet holes, and the mud from the banks of the river Somme still stuck on it—brought it very close to home.

Before finally checking into the hotel, I stopped at the Craft Beer Bottle Shop for a couple of beers, a chat, and a great breakfast spot recommendation (but you’ll have to wait to see until tomorrow).

For dinner I picked an Indian-Nepalese restaurant recommended to me by local EFP ScottyMC, the Everest Inn. I had some haggis pakora, and chicken Nepal curry, with some garlic naan, and life was good…

After dinner I finally went to BrewDog Perth. Unfortunately i was too late to meet the aforementioned EFP, but he very kindly left me a welcome drink—which I already had in front of me before I was even properly sitting down—and thanks to him warning the staff about my arrival, there was a table waiting for me, even though it was fully booked quiz night!

I didn’t have to sit there alone, though, since I was soon joined by Craig, who I had met on Hogmanay 2020 in BrewDog Brussels. Good times were had… The quiz, although I didn’t participate, was good fun as well, by the way, the staff certainly has a sense of humour!

Flying Scotsman Trip – Day 3

Aberdeen, St Andrews, and Dundee

Although I actually planned to go for a run this morning, when I heard the park I planned to do it in was closed, I decided to sleep in instead. Actually quite enjoyed that…

They meant I had all the time in the world to get to BrewDog Union Square for one of my favourite breakfasts: chicken and waffles. As weird as it may seem, hot sauce and maple sirup drizzled over deep fried chicken and sweet waffles make for a great combination!

Since the Union Square shopping centre is connected to the train station, it was a smooth transition from breakfast onto my ScotRail train to Dundee. Although I would be staying the night there, I only quickly dropped off my bag, before jumping onto a Stagecoach bus to St Andrew’s, where I would spend most of my day.

My first stop was the museum of the university, the Wardlaw Museum. As far as university museums go, this was a really nice one. I especially enjoyed the Philip Colbert exhibition, ‘the godson of Andy Warhol’.

I then took some time to breathe in some of that fresh sea breeze, while admiring St Andrews Castle, before heading to the taproom of the local brewery, St. Andrews Brewing Co.

The main purpose of my visit to this university town—where most of the accents I heard weren’t local at all—was of course BrewDog St Andrews. While I had had most of BrewDog’s own beers by now, the guest list here was quite impressive, and kept me occupied for quite a while.

I also gave the seitan ‘wings’ a try for the first time, and I must say, I quite like them! Just serve them with the (non vegan) blue cheese dip, and they’re perfect!

Then it was time to get on the bus again—this is the only Scottish city with a BrewDog bar, but no train station, if you don’t count Hop Hub—to Dundee. After picking up my bag again, I first had some fish ‘n’ chips at Tailend. In a city right next to the sea, with so many fishing trailers in sight, I simply had to! And even though I’m not a big fish eater, I really enjoyed it.

After checking into my Travelodge hotel, it was time for one more stop in Dundee: BrewDog Dundee. Quite quiet on a Monday night, but with a couple of interesting guest beers on tap, still a nice place to spend a couple of hours. Seeing all the arches and huge stones, I would love to know more about the history of the building!

Flying Scotsman Trip – Day 2

Peterhead, Ellon, and back to Aberdeen

The second day in Scotland started—as it probably will a couple more times—at the Travelodge breakfast buffet. After that was time to fulfil the last Corona formality: taking the self test, and mailing it. It was even more extensive than the tests performed by professionals, probing both throat and nose! After I got rid of this biohazard, I still had time for an espresso macchiato at BrewDog Castlegate before my bus to Peterhead would leave.

I arrived at BrewDog Peterhead just after they opened, and managed to order the last Smokey Joe pizza, since they apparently ran out of smoked sausage. I was hoping to see some of local brewery Brew Toon, but neither bottle shop nor taproom was open… The bus I planned to take to Ellon afterwards, apparently didn’t run today, so I had some more coffee at Symposium Coffee while I waited.

Luckily the staff at DogTap was happy to change my booking, and when I arrived, the welcome was as warm as it could be, and I don’t just mean the indoor wood fires. They even had a goodie pack for me, because they felt sorry they couldn’t yet provide the tour I was hoping for! Seriously guys, thank you!

It was nice to have a slightly different menu here, and I really enjoyed the oak fired chicken. Frickles—fried pickles—however, are not really my thing. After devouring the chicken, I did my own tour, in the publicly accessible parts, that is. There’s even a indoor roof terrace with a view on the humongous canning line!

After I made it back to Aberdeen, my first stop was the Fierce Bar: quite a cosy bar, and a great tap list!

My last stop of the evening was at CASC. I didn’t try any of the cigars or whisky: just the beer did do just nicely. Even though they’re still using less than half of their lines, among what was available, were some bangers!

Flying Scotsman Trip – Day 1

Inverness, Inverurie, and Aberdeen

After a day of heavy drinking in London, and a nightcap on the train, I fell asleep—or did I pass out?—immediately when I put my head down. I even forgot to take out my contact lenses, or set my alarm, so when I woke up, I was already late for breakfast! Luckily not too late, and mere minutes after getting up, I was enjoying a Highland breakfast and tea.

The Caledonian Sleeper arrived ten minutes early in Inverness, leaving me with a little less time than planned… In the rush, I couldn’t find my toiletry bag until the very last minute—it was on my bed—leaving me with a rather peculiar hairdo for the rest of the day.

After I alighted in Inverness, I had some time to kill before the first bus to Culloden Battlefield would leave, so I first had a coffee at Velocity Cafe and Bicycle Workshop. The bus then dropped me off right in front of the visitor centre and museum. As a fresh National Trust for Scotland member, I had free access to the exhibition.

After that, I walked upon the battlefield itself. It was a chilling experience to stand on the exact spot where the MacLarens must have stood in 1746, in line with many other Jacobites, just seconds before advancing to the enemy, and for many of them, towards their death…

I also learned that the perfect amount of social distancing is two Scottish broadswords long, of four targes. I think people would actually keep their distance much better if everyone was still wearing broadswords!

Back in Inverness, I had a pizza for lunch at the Black Isle Bar, where they of course also served beer from their brewery on the other side of the firth. Before getting to the train station, I had to little walk through town, and quickly visited Leakey’s Bookshop. After all, since handing over a six pack of 75cl bottles, and a couple of cans and small bottles in London, I had plenty of room in my bag for books!

After this little excursion, it was time for the first Scottish BrewDog bar of this trip, and my first stamp towards the Flying Scotsman reward: BrewDog Inverurie! I was still a bit rough from the day before, so I just had one beer there, and a whole lot of water. The staff was great, though, and the Fisher graffitis awesome as usual!

My last train of the day brought me to Aberdeen, my home for the next two nights. I checked into Travelodge Aberdeen to get settled, and to check out my obligatory day 2 Corona test kit. It looks like I’ll get to play doctor on Sunday!

All settled, freshened up, and hairs finally combed, I then headed to BrewDog Castlegate for dinner. I didn’t account for the Saturday night crowds, however, and had to wait outside for a bit. I didn’t have to wait for long though, and I only just had the first sip from my second beer, when the lovely staff told me they found me a table! It then didn’t take long before I was tucking into a Korean fried chicken burger, this month’s special.

My final stop of the evening was at the OG BrewDog bar, BrewDog Aberdeen. Here The BrewDog Podcast’s Rob left me a bottle of MMXXX I won in a prize draw a couple of months ago. Thanks for that, Rob, and we’ll surely meet in person another time!

Flying Scotsman Trip – Day 0

To London, and on the Caledonian Sleeper

Finally, it is happening! I had to postpone this trip three times already, each time amending, or cancelling and rebooking most of the eleven trains and six hotels. This Friday morning however, I was actually back in a Eurostar travelling through the Chunnel to St. Pancras International.

Because I arrived in London earlier than usual, I had decided to use that extra time to make the trek all the way to Ealing, after first dropping off my bag at a Radical Storage point, and a coffee at Origin Coffee in the British Library. In Ealing, one of the newest BrewDog bars had recently opened, not surprisingly called BrewDog Ealing. There I met up with beer friends Jackie and Simon, and BrewDog’s beer trainer Paddy joined us as well. Since it was only noon, and drinking on an empty stomach is never a good idea, we had lunch there as well.

After lunch, we made our way back to the centre of London again, making various beery stops along the way: Kill the Cat, where we were joined by fellow EFP Liam, the Mikkeller Bar, the Mikkeller Brewpub, where Emma joined us, and finally, after picking up my bag again, the Euston Tap.

After a last couple of beers, we said our goodbyes, because it was time for me to board the Caledonian Sleeper. I traveled with it before, but since then, the service has been completely overhauled. Even though it has been plagued with issues since then, and especially recently, there was nothing wrong with the train I was booked on for the night: it left on time, I had warm water in the shower, and the lounge car was open for business!