Skip to content

Tag: Glasgow

Flying Scotsman Trip – Epilogue

Now some time has passed, the bags are completely unpacked and back on the attic, and I’ve reverted to a slightly healthier lifestyle again, I’m taking some time to look back on my epic Flying Scotsman Trip. In general, it went remarkably well!

Trains & Buses

All the trains I booked well in advance—notably Eurostar, the Caledonian Sleeper to Inverness, and the LNER back to London—were on time, and fully functional. Only the catering side was still a bit sub-par, due to COVID measures, or other reasons: no full menu on the sleeper—which I only know about because of a text message sent to my Belgian phone number, since I only had charcuterie and whisky—and they ran out of bacon rolls on the LNER way too soon!

Most of my ScotRail train tickets were flexible, although most of the time, I took the train I planned on taking anyway. I used the offer to upgrade to first class for £3 a couple of times, mainly because I really prefer solo seats, especially when travelling in a kilt. On one train, the train conductor refused to sell me the upgrade, but let me sit in first class for free, because I was ‘not getting anything in return anyway’… It was nice being able to buy and save all my tickets in-app, an option that wasn’t available yet when I first started planning this trip.

To get to Culloden Battlefield, to Peterhead and Ellon, and to St Andrews, I used Stagecoach buses, usually with digital DayRider tickets. They were never scanned, by the way, I just had to show them to the driver. It’s really convenient to have USB charging ports available on those buses.

In Glasgow and Edinburgh I only used digital tickets as well for the local buses, and for the Glasgow Subway the smartcard I still had from years before. I didn’t buy a single paper transport ticket the whole trip!

Hotels

In northeastern Scotland (Aberdeen, Dundee, and Perth) I stayed in Travelodge hotels. It’s remarkable how different they can be! The first one had two extra single beds in the room, the second one just one, and the third one —just when you’re getting used to having an extra bed to put your stuff on—only had the double bed I actually booked. The last one, in Perth, still used actual keys, instead of keycards!

In Glasgow I stayed at easyHotel, as I had oft before. No surprised there, but I do think I’ve started to outgrow them, or at least their smallest rooms: when travelling for over a week—with a rather large bag and a kilt to air out every night—a bit of extra space is not just a luxury anymore.

In Edinburg and London I stayed at a hub by Premier Inn hotel, in virtually indistinguishable rooms. Even though they discontinued the room control app they used to have, the ease with which you can still control everything—light, temperature, DND sign…—and plethora of USB and power outlets, both UK and EU, to keep everything charged, make these my favourite rooms of the trip. A really nice bathroom helped too… To my surprise the London hub even had a breakfast buffet, which was really convenient on my last day.

Beers & Bars

This was a very beer-centric trip, to say the least… Apart from the BrewDog bars—discussed separately below—I also visited quite a few other bars and taprooms in the towns and cities I visited. Scotland sure has a lot to offer in that department! Unfortunately I missed out on a few, due to their often (still) limited opening hours, especially on Sundays and the first couple of days of the week. I’ll just have to go back another time!

I actually had about a third of my beers in London, and almost half of the bars I visited were there! Considering the only noteworthy hangovers I had this trip were after a day or evening in London, next time I might avoid cramming so many London bars in my schedule…

BrewDog Bars, Stamps & Badges

So the BrewDog bars I visited in Scotland were BrewDog Inverurie, BrewDog Castlegate, BrewDog Aberdeen, BrewDog Peterhead, Dogtap Ellon, BrewDog Union Square, BrewDog St Andrews, BrewDog Dundee, BrewDog Perth, BrewDog Stirling, BrewDog Merchant City, BrewDog Kelvingrove, BrewDog Cowgate, and BrewDog Lothian Road.

When people hear I visited all of them, they tend to ask “Which was your favourite?” Now that’s a very hard question to answer! Some of them will always remain special to me: Cowgate was my first BrewDog bar ever, and where I drank my first BrewDog beers. In Kelvingrove I spent many hours—and had over a hundred beers, according to Untappd—and it still feels like home there… To fully appreciate the other bars, I should really revisit them a couple of times. A hungover afternoon visit, or being the first customer in for lunch, or the last customer on a Monday night, it just doesn’t compare to a visit on a buzzing Saturday night, or when meeting a friend during quiz night…

That being said, I had a great time in all of them. I didn’t catch anyone on a ‘bad day’, and felt very welcome in every single BrewDog bar. And even though I already tried most of the BrewDog beers on tap—and it didn’t take long to try the remaining ones—the guest beers were sufficiently different and interesting to keep me occupied for quite a while, and without having to drink the same beer twice.

To keep myself from forgetting to get my Beer Visa stamp, I usually put the booklet in front of me on the table. More than once, a crew member would come to my table with the stamp when they noticed it. It was really nice to see how much pride some took in making sure the stamp was the nicely centred and the right way up, and rather funny to get warnings about other bars, because ‘they always put the stamp upside down’…

I tried to get a pin badge in all bars as well, but some didn’t have any: I seem to be missing the ones for Inverurie, Ellon, St Andrews, and Merchant City. Another reason to go back soon?

Even though they swiped my EFP card in about half the bars, none of the digital stamps appeared automatically. After reporting them online however, they soon showed up, and even the Homedog and coveted Flying Scotsman challenge now appear as completed!

Kilts & Compliments

From the moment I alighted the Caledonian Sleeper, until the day I went back to London, I was wearing my eight yard MacLaren kilt, and I loved every minute of it. Some of the time I wore it with brogues—not ghillies!—and with proper garter ties, especially in more formal settings, like museums and memorials. Most of the time though, I wore it more informally, with a T-shirt, hiking boots, and the hose scrunched down, showing off my calf tattoos… Since I hardly ever wear shorts, I don’t get to do that very often!

As I’ve experienced before, even when a kilt isn’t an everyday occurrence, even in Scotland, no-one blinks an eye. If there is any reaction at all, it usually is a smile. On a couple of occasions, I even got a “Nice kilt”, or “Love your kilt” shoutout—thank you Glaswegian girls! When in one museum I suddenly noticed being followed by a guard, it turned out he had recognised my tartan, because he used to be in the Clan MacLaren Society council.

Only once this time, I was asked “Is Scotland playing tonight?” Apparently for some, that, and getting married, are the only reasons to kilt up! I don’t really need a reason though, and next time when I’m going to Scotland, I will definitely do it kilted again!

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 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 had 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 fame, 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 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…

Spare Kilt?

Any skinny MacLarens looking for s spare kilt? There’s one now at Mr. Ben! Quite a few moth holes though…

Advanced Beer School

In the afternoon, we went to Brewdog Glasgow for a couple of drinks and an Advanced Beer School. Megan taught us about off-flavours, hops, food pairing and more.

Morning Well Spent

Morning well spent: Provand’s Lordship, coffee at the Brew Box Coffee TARDIS, an animal mummy exhibition at the Kelvingrove, concluded with a cheese steak sandwich at Roast.

Arrival in Glasgow

Arrived in Glasgow with a little delay, so we quickly checked into the hostel to shower and change. Headed to the very hot Merchant Chippie for some battered haddock, haggis, and chips.

We needed to cool down after that, so we had a couple of beers at Drygate. We finished the first evening at the DogHouse, BrewDog’s only restaurant at the moment, but luckily just a bar as well. Another BrewDog location to check off our list!

Glasgow, Balquhidder & Lochearnhead Highland Games

Leaving for Scotland again! We enjoyed traveling by rail so much last time, we decided to take the train again. We’re only using daytime trains this time, and stopping in London just long enough to have lunch in between our connections.

But first, let’s leave, so we can actually catch our train!

The Glasgow subway is magic

oh-glasgow:

Anonymous asked: “I’m Dutch. I went to Glasgow, and visited Stirling. I wasn’t having issues with the inclines on foot. I guess it depends on the person. The Glasgow subway is magic.”

It sure is. Before the recent refurbishment, it was like stepping back into a seventies living room. Waxed brown tiles on the wall, the trickle of water water running between the tracks, yellowing tiles underfoot, as a vibrant garishly orange train lurches to a stop.

Excellent.

image
image
image

Pictures of Glasgow

oh-glasgow:

Okay, so, I was asked what my favourite pictures of Glasgow are. Here are some I’ve taken over the years.

The aftermath of gigs.

image

The humour in the face of adversity;

image

The flowers in Victoria Park;

image

The heads in Kelvingrove Art Gallery;

image

The bear on Hyndland Road;

image

The Mural at Hyndland train station;

image

The University of Glasgow;

image

University Avenue;

image

A man playing a banjo outside the Botanic Gardens;

image

The colours of autumn in the Botanic Gardens;

image

And finally, a squirrel eating a sausage roll;

image