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!
It’s going to be a long day, so we started with a hearty lunch at MEAT Liquor. Their restaurants had been on our list for quite some time, but the proximity to St. Pancras station and the weekday lunch deal, made this the perfect opportunity to finally try them! It turned out to be great value for money, and the fast service meant we were back on the street in no time, ready to continue our day in London.
We visited quite a few museums in London already, but until today, the Museum of London escaped our attention. Unrightfully so, because it is the perfect place to learn about the history of London, providing context for a lot of other museums and monuments we did visit before.
After breakfast at Servini’s, we spent a drizzly Saturday morning at St Fagans National History Museum. An American lunch at The New York Deli and a coffee at Outpost Coffee & Vinyl were to prepare us for the main event of the day: a visit to the Tiny Rebelbrewery!
Saint Patrick’s Day, the only day each year I wear my saffron kilt. Although sometimes I get the question wether I’m Irish even if I’m wearing a kilt in a — to me clearly — Scottish tartan, most people associate any kilt with Scotland, and rightly so.
But there certainly is such a thing as an Irish kilt, and saffron kilts have been around as an expression of Irish nationality for over a hundred years!
The ancient Irish actually wore the léine, a linen tunic with voluminous sleeves and a hemline reaching the knees or higher, often dyed with saffron, which turned out quite yellow on linen. When there was a revival of Gaelic nationalism in the nineteenth century, the Gaelic League and the Gaelic Athletic Association — two major nationalist organisations, both concerned with Irish identity — wanted a ‘costume’ or national form of dress. The léine was considered to be too difficult to be updated to the fashions of the day, so they adopted the garment of their Gaelic cousins in Scotland: the kilt, dyed either green or saffron. Used on wool, the saffron dye gave it a bit more of an orange-brownish colour, the one we associate today with saffron kilts.
The school uniform of St. Enda’s School for Boys (1908) included the saffron kilt.
Nowadays the saffron kilt is mainly worn by pipers of Irish regiments, often without a sporran.
Another year, another Saint Patrick’s Day, so enjoy it! 🙂
After a 22 km hike, climbing 850 meters, we arrived at the bivouac site. There we discovered we wouldn’t be alone there that night. The good news: they were taking care of the campfire already.
So all we had to do ourselves, was getting some water from a stream nearby, filter it — it turns out the Care+ water filter connects perfectly to an Ortlieb water bag — and start cooking!
After our noodle soup, we joined the rest of the campers at the campfire to grill some sausages, before going to bed in our million star hotel…
In a blog named Kilted Guy, it wouldn’t be right to skip the subject of being kilted in Aberdeen.
Usually I change into my kilt once I check into my hotel or hostel, but since we had the convenience of a private cabin in the Caledonian Sleeper, I could just put on my kilt in the morning, before even touching Aberdonian soil.
As usual in Scotland, people never seem to be fazed by the sight of a kilt — unlike in Brussels — and wearing my MacLaren kilt, I never received any remarks about it. Well, the lady at the left luggage facilities at the train station inquired about it, but she seemed to be seizing any opportunity to chat about anything…
During our stay in Aberdeen, we noticed two other kilties. The first one, a guy in his twenties, was wearing his kilt very casual. Read: halfway down his calves, way too low to my taste…
The other one was wearing a beautiful kilt, obviously made by 21st Century Kilts, easily identified by the typical kilt pin. He was wearing it exactly as you see it worn in the ads of the kilt maker, complete with high boots and scrunched down hoses. Now I look at their photos again, it might very well have been the white-bearded guy featuring in a couple of them!
For the Punk AGM I decided to wear my black ‘beer kilt’, complete with BrewDog-bottle-opener-converted-to-kilt-pin. Only minutes after leaving the hotel, someone noticed my BrewDog outfit, and wanted to take a photo of me.
At the AGM, someone else even made close-up shots of my kilt pin!
Then, while I was on my own for a couple of minutes, a Scottish lady — who obviously had a few beers too many already — came up to me to ask me why I was wearing “a schoolgirl’s skirt”! At first I thought it was because my black kilt is not the same high quality and yardage as my MacLaren kilt, and her Scottish eye spotted it was probably made in Pakistan. But no, it was merely because it was black! Apparently, in her mind, only a tartan kilt is a kilt.
I guess even some people in Scotland still have to get accustomed to ‘modern’ kilts…
Before and after our time in Aberdeen, we allowed for some time to visit London again. We had to change trains there after all, so why not take the opportunity to stay a little longer?
We still had an Oyster card from our previous visit, so it was just a matter of topping it up, and hopping on the underground or bus again! The evening of our arrival we only used it to go for dinner and a couple of drinks, but the next day we had plenty of time to be tourists.
So early in the morning we headed for The Who Shop and museum, almost an hour traveling by underground and on foot. It was worth it though: the shop had Doctor Who related items I hadn’t seen anywhere else yet — quite happy with my new TARDIS umbrella — and the attached museum we had to enter through a TARDIS, had a great collection of props and costumes.
In the afternoon we discovered Soho a bit — Carnaby Street, Kingly Court — visited some vintage shops, and just strolled around a bit in this unknown — at least to us — area of London. It seemed to be a bit less stressed than the centre of London, which was nice.
During our stop on the journey back home, we visited Madame Tussauds, which offered a Star Wars ‘experience’ at the time. Nice to have finally visited the famous attraction, but not sure if I would ever have paid full price for it… Luckily I didn’t have to, taking advantage of a two-for-one offer.