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Tag: First Class

Flying Scotsman Trip – Day 9

LNER back to London

After putting on my trousers again—and that feels weird and uncomfortable after a week in a kilt—I boarded the LNER Azuma to London. Unfortunately, because of railroad works, it would take a different route, and take around six hours to get there, instead of the usual four. At least I would be well fed and hydrated, or so I thought… They already ran out of bacon rolls by the time the trolly arrived at my seat! A cheddar and pickle pickle roll for breakfast is was, then. A bit after noon I was lucky enough—yes, lucky, since they skipped the early boarders to feed all the newcomers first to see if anything would be left—to get a chicken and salad sandwich as well. Plenty of tea and cold drinks, though, and even their own ale!

The longer ride, also meant less time in London, so a lot of places to visit in a short time. A quick checkin in my hub Hotel—with a view on King’s Cross train station, highly recommended for trainspotters—and off I went!

I managed to get to the Bermondsey Beer Mile in time and have a drink—sometimes even more than one—in the Hawkes Taproom (yes, for a stamp), 73 Enid Street | Cloudwater London, new kid on the block Craft Beer Junction, and finally The Kernel Taproom Arch 7.

Then I went to that other set of arches in Hackney, where I visited Brew Club, Hackney Church Brew Co., and The Experiment.

To finish the night, I went to the OG London BrewDog bar: BrewDog Camden. Never seen it that calm, but it was a Sunday night, and already getting late. Still enjoyed my time there, some bars always feel a bit like coming home…

Flying Scotsman Trip – Day 7

Glasgow West End & Edinburgh

After another breakfast at the Bucket List Café, I decided to spend my last day in Glasgow in the West End. It gave me a great excuse to travel on The Clockwork Orange again, the third-oldest subway system in the world.

I started my western adventure with coffee and a cruffin at Papercup, where, in despite of their name, they actually did serve coffee in proper cups.

Since part of one of my tattoos is inspired by Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s designs, I simply had to include a bit of his work in this trip. I didn’t visit the Willow Tea Rooms this time, but the Kelvingrove Museum had another of Mackintosh’s tea rooms set up. Unfortunately the traditional one o’clock organ concerts had not yet been reinstated…

By the way: if anyone is looking for some Ingram chairs: just £500 in the museum shop!

The Grunting Growler is an addition to the area I had been looking forward to to visit. A bottle shop is so much more fun if you can sit down for a drink as well!

A last visit to BrewDog Glasgow, before shoogling back to the centre, picking up my bag at the hotel, and I was off to the train station again. Destination: Edinburgh!

Edinburgh Waverley is just a couple of hundreds of meters from my hub hotel, so a checkin and bag drop off was the first thing I did.

I’m all for discovering new places, but some are too good not to go back to. Wings is one of those places, and I’ve really been looking forward to get stuck in some of their chicken wings, five years after the last time I had been there! My pick of the evening: the Charlic dry rub, and the Baz’s Buffalo, Imperial Tiger, and Barbaraki sauces. Nothing too spicy—only up to level two out of five—but very tasty. I’ll level up next time!

The last stop of the evening, was my first ever BrewDog bar, where I drunk my first ever BrewDog beer: BrewDog Edinburgh! Or is it BrewDog Cowgate now? I was lucky enough to immediately get a table, and spent a wonderful couple of hours there. Love that they still have a chalkboard with staff portraits!

Flying Scotsman Trip – Day 5

Stirling and Glasgow

After a breakfast burrito at The Bulldog 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 turned out to be delayed. My £3 upgrade to first class made me quickly forget about the delay though. I arrived in Glasgow Queen Street station, which 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 bit too much, even for me. I loosened my kilt straps and belt a little, and stayed in the bar for the remainder of the evening…

Flying Scotsman Trip – Day 1

Inverness, Inverurie, and Aberdeen

After a day of quite heavy drinking in London, and a nightcap on the train, I fell asleep—or did I pass out?—as soon as I put my head down. I even forgot to take out my contact lenses, or set my alarm, so when I eventually 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 under the blanket—leaving me with a rather peculiar hairdo for the rest of the day.

When I alighted in Inverness, I had still some time to kill before the first Stagecoach 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…

At Culloden I also learned that the perfect amount of social distancing is two Scottish broadswords long, or four targes. I think people would keep their distance much better if everyone was actually 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 sixpack 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 Craig Fisher graffitis were awesome as usual!

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

All settled, freshened up, and hair 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. Not 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 BrewDog News 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 had traveled on it before, but since then, the service has been completely overhauled. Even though it has been plagued with issues since then—especially recently—there was nothing wrong with the train I was booked on for the night: it departed on time, I had warm water in the shower, and the lounge car was open for business!

Boat Trips and Beer Flights

A long walk all across town brought me to Kaapse Kaap, the taproom of the Kaapse Brouwers, for a first waterside beer. Their brewery is at a different location nowadays, and unfortunately without its own taproom.

A watertaxi brought me to a temporary taproom of another Rotterdam brewery: Vet & Lazy, They recently opened a Pub-Up-Bar in the city centre. After this I made a short stop at Kaapse Maria, the city center restaurant and bar of Kaapse Brouwers.

I couldn’t leave the Netherlands without having some Surinamese food, and Warung Mini was the perfect place to get it. I really needed some food to start soaking up that beer!

My last stop of this trip was BrewDog Outpost Rotterdam. There I could finally get that stamp in my Beer Visa they didn’t have yet the previous time I visited them…

Then it was about time to get back to the train station, and go back to Brussels…
Hopefully my next trip will be a bit longer again!

Visiting the ‘Dams

As promised in my last blog post, earlier today I found myself back on the rails again already! This time I was in a Eurostar, and for the first time ever, not to get to London, but to go in the opposite direction, to Amsterdam. That is one of my two destinations for this trip, the other being Rotterdam. A’dam and R’dam for short, or, if you will, the two ‘Dams…

In Amsterdam I’m staying at easyHotel Amsterdam City Centre South again, so that is where I headed first to check in and get rid of my bag. Just a couple of minutes’ walk from the hotel there’s Scandinavian Embassy, a specialty coffee bar, where I got today’s caffeine fix.

And guess what? Now it’s time for some beer!

Off to Paris, and a good start!

It’s not yet the trip I’ve been planning for since 2019, but at least I’m back on an international train again, this time with destination Paris!

I’ve been to the City of Light several times before, but I can’t remember ever having spent the night here as a tourist. That’s about to change!

Like most of my days out and about, I start with coffee, and since the Ten Belles roastery was only a short walk from the Gare du Nord, that was my first destination.

Then it was time to check into my Ibis Styles hotel, just to drop off some stuff, and make sure there actually was a room waiting for me. Luckily, it was! And yes, that is a single bed, before booking I didn’t even know hotels still had these… But hey, that’s a couple of euros saved I can now spend on beer!

IC Hamburg – Köln & ICE Köln – Brussel

Train route from Hamburg to Brussels, over Köln

My first leg of the journey was on an IC train. I’m not sure if it’s typical for this type, but it felt quite a bit older: lots of fake wood, actual curtains, no airconditioning… Next time I’ll try to make sure I only book ICEs!

And like it was on purpose, to rub in the fact that I had to cancel a large part of my trip, there was a ÖBB Nightjet waiting in Köln station!

The last leg was a proper ICE again, and even in seat 61! Perfect temperature, comfy seat, loads of space, and Komfort Check-in again! No clue how they actually check it, but every time I used it, they’ve always passed me by during ticket control.

Well, that was it, I’m almost back home! Hopefully next trip will be a bit longer again…

ICE Berlin – Hamburg

Train route from Berlin to Hamburg

This Sunday morning I was in Berlin Hbf again. No, I wasn’t there to catch a train home yet, but one to Hamburg first. I was a bit early—getting up and checking out of your hotel can be so much quicker when you’re travelling alone ?—but luckily I found a nice coffee place just outside the station, Tucano Coffee.

Now it’s just a short ride to Hamburg, so I’ll be arriving there soon!

Off to Berlin!

Wait, what? Straight to Berlin? What happened to Wien and Budapest? Well… because Hungary suddenly closed its borders for tourists, I had to change my plans a bit. The sleeper train adventure has been put on hold for now, and on this trip I will only visit Berlin and Hamburg, meaning I’m going straight from Brussels to Berlin. I’m still keeping it classy though: first class tickets all the way!

As usual, I had to change trains in Köln, giving me the opportunity to quickly grab something to eat. Don’t be afraid to ask them to put your order in your own reusable packaging, even abroad! No time to grab my usual coffee in the coffee bar just outside the station, so a train coffee had to do… Really nice of Deutsche Bahn to serve it in proper cups, at your seat!

Now just a couple more hours of podcast listening—I was running behind a bit anyway—and enjoying the view, and I’ll be back in Berlin!