A week after our trip to London and Aberdeen, we’re well rested again, and all the photos have been collected from the different cameras. Time to look back on our experiences!
Getting there and back again
It all began with getting there, in our case by train, this time. The leg Brussels-London was pretty straightforward, with the Eurostar. The train was still the old model, but even those have power outlets next to the seats, if you pick the right car. But thanks to The Man in Seat Sixty-One, I knew exactly which seats to book to have power sockets, be near the bar vehicle, and be seated facing the direction of travel.
Departure from Brussels and arrival in London were exactly according to schedule.
A day later we continued our trip to Aberdeen in the Caledonian Sleeper. We checked in quite early, so after quickly dropping our bags in our private cabin, we were sipping a couple of beers in the lounge, even before the train started moving. The beds were quite comfortable, easily the best moving sleeping accommodation I’ve had so far.
To save a couple of pounds, we didn’t book the sleeper berths on our way back, but the ‘sleeper seats’. Worst travel decision in quite a while! Apparently they don’t even dim the lights in the sleeper seat section, the seats don’t recline very far, and there are people getting on and off the train all night… For a lower price, we could have taken a Megabus Gold, which would at least have had real berths, dimmed lights during the trip, and no people getting on and off during the night! Lesson learnt…
It was nice though we were able to buy shower vouchers on the train (£5 each), so we could freshen up in the Virgin First Class lounge at Euston station upon arrival.
After spending another day in London, the last leg of the journey was with the Eurostar again. Same comfortable seats as on the first leg, but with a 50 minute delay, which meant a long wait — we were early as well — in a very full and hot terminal at St Pancras station. We arrived in Brussels before midnight however, and made it home without any further hitches.
Budget permitting, we’ll surely take the Eurostar and Caledonian Sleeper again on our next trip to Scotland! It is quite nice to have the privacy of a sleeper cabin, to be able to change into my kilt just prior to arriving in Scotland, the luxury of a sink with hot running water, and a fresh cuppa served with your wake-up call!
A new year, a new destination, a new mode of transport… All my previous trips to Scotland I used MegaBus to get to my destination, and I’ve always been quite happy with that. But to get as far as Aberdeen, it would become impossible to have a guaranteed connection in London, if I would have wanted to do the whole trip from Brussel to Aberdeen in one go. And as far as the sleeper bus is concerned, compared to trips to Glasgow or Edinburgh, we would have to spend an additional three hours in the rather confined space of our berths. Quite honestly though, I’ve always wanted to try the Eurostar and Caledonian Sleeper. So, even though the extra night we’ll be spending in a hotel in London would have solved at least the connection issues, the train tickets are booked!
Thanks to the site of the The Man in Seat Sixty-One, I was able to book some Eurostar seats facing in the right direction, and even conveniently next to a power socket. I’m hoping we’ll be traveling on one of the refurbished e300’s, but there’s no way to know for sure until the day we travel…
For the journey to Aberdeen on the Caledonian Sleeper, we’ll have a Standard Sleeper Berth compartment to ourselves . If there are some seats available, we’ll probably spend some time in the lounge car as well: apparently they even serve Scottish craft beer there!
On the way back to London, Standard Sleeper Seats will have to suffice. I just hope I won’t regret this money-saving decision too much…
Anyway, not even taking in account the destination, I’m tremendously looking forward to this trip!
It’s becoming a habit: the MegaBus sleeper arriving in Glasgow way too early, and having breakfast at Where the Monkey Sleeps after ditching the luggage. However, we visited the new venue of Where the Monkey Sleeps, since it’s a bit closer to the hostel. A bit more open and lighter than the original, but the same impressive bagels!
After dinner — although mostly a liquid one — we made our way back to Victoria Coach Station. When we arrived there, quite a lot of people were already waiting for our bus, so for the first time, I was not one of the first to board it.
It didn’t make much of a difference though, since we had the same berths as last time, and no one sleeping on the berth above us.
So, next stop: Glasgow.
And we’re off to Scotland again!
French border control went faster than ever, but the British decided to let their sniffer dog have a go at us and our stuff first… Nothing was found though, so without any further interruption we can continue to the Eurotunnel terminal.
Waiting for a bus so here’s a wee pic I just took of the Clyde Clock, it is an odd specimen; a stainless steel statue of a running pair of legs, with a cube clock as a body. Aptly positioned outside Buchanan Bus Station, it was created by Glasgow artist George Wyllie.
One of the last things I see of Glasgow each time I leave the city, since the curtains on the Megabus sleeper back to London, are usually shut by the time I get on…
No day to day report of my trip this time, a couple of photos after our return will have to do. Later I will post a follow-up with some photos from the cameras and iPhone of my travel companion and girlfriend h–na as well.
The journey by bus was more troublesome than ever before: the trip to London has taken us six hours longer than intended, mainly due to problems in the Eurotunnel. We made it to London eventually, but headed straight to the hotel to get at least some sleep before our first full day in the city.
After some time in the museum, we needed a drink, so we enjoyed some tea and scones at the Tea and Tattle. And I must say: it was the best cream tea I’ve had so far!
After a short visit to theScience Museum, it was time to start drinking… 😉 As an avid BrewDogfan, I wanted to visit as many BrewDog bars as possible, so we started at the latest London addition:BrewDog Shepherds Bush. After a couple of beers, we moved on to Camden. First fish and chips at Hook, where the dishes served looked and tasted remarkably like those at Bia Mara in Brussels… That means excellent, in case you were wondering! 🙂
Then a beer in the nearby BrewDog Camden, and after a short stop at the Dean Swift, our third BrewDog bar: BrewDog Shoreditch. Since they were about to close, we were ushered into UnderDog, the beery cocktail bar of BrewDog.
Since we didn’t feel like switching to cocktails, and preferred to sleep a little before another day of playing tourist, we decided to go back to our hotel. The previous night we were quite happy with the service provided by our Uber taxi, and the very reasonable ride price of £7.92, so even when the app warned us it the cost would be 2.4 times the normal rate, we went ahead and ordered another one. Oh boy, was that a mistake… Apparently we were quite a bit further from the hotel this time, since the total added up to £34.58!
After arriving in Edinburgh, we checked into our hotel ( easyHotel ) for a little nap — I’m never fully rested after a night on a sleeper bus — and shower.
Since it was h–na’s first time in Edinburgh, we decided to get on one of those tour buses to get an overall view of the city. We had a small, standing lunch at Oink, and then went for an Introduction to BrewDog Tasting and Talk with Five Craft Beers to Taste Each with Cheese and Meats at BrewDog Edinburgh. Mostly beers from their core range, but I’m happy to say I was able to identify each and every one of them, before the staff told us which ones they were! 🙂
It was the 25th of January that day:Burns’ Night! So we went to a ceilidh with a haggis, neeps & tatties buffet. Not the best of combinations for me, since I wasn’t really up for more dancing after having a go at the buffet…
All was digested by the next morning, however, so plenty of room for a proper Scottish breakfast! 🙂
This day we went on another bus to see Leith as well, and in the afternoon we had a private tour of Edinburgh Castle. Unfortunately, after the tour most museums in the castle were closed already. Winter isn’t the best time of year to be a tourist, so it seems…
But there’s always BrewDog Edinburgh, the place where I first discovered decent craft beer outside of Belgium and became a BrewDog fan. And as an Equity Punk, it is especially interesting to get there and order before five o’ clock to enjoy a very attractive Daytime Discount! 🙂
The culinary discovery of this trip must have beenWings: only chicken wings on the menu—well, and a few side dishes—but dozens of different sauces or dry rubs, and delightfully geeky!
To finish the day, a visit to the Bow Bar — they even had beer from De Natte Gijt! — and one last drink at the Ghillie Dhu before turning in.
Our last day in Edinburgh we went to the National Museum of Scotland, where we rushed to the roof to hear the one o’ clock gun and see the ball drop on theNelson Monument, only to miss it by seconds… It was the third time in Edinburgh for me, and I still haven’t actually seen or heard it!
Lunch at another newcomer in Old Reekie:Reekie’s Smokehouse. Here it was the first time I had brisket — tasty — but I’ll have to come back to try the ‘burnt ends’. Or maybe I’ll just get the whole Meatfest next time! 🙂
Our last afternoon we spent — once again — in the Valhalla of craft beer: BrewDog Glasgow. Even though some of the beers I had hoped to try were sadly unavailable, we managed to try quite a few new or rereleased beers, accompanied by a couple of nice local cheeses and meats. Seriously, we need a BrewDog bar in Brussels soon!
Our last meal before boarding the bus homeward again was atJacker de Viande. Not bad, but BMB is still number one in the burger department!
And that was the end of another fabulous trip to Scotland again. I’m missing it already!
In spite of the thorough border check of French customs, Megabus once again managed to get us to our London destination twenty minutes early. Plenty of time for a pit stop at CASK Pub & Kitchen for a burger and some beers! And for a visit to the crapper… Not trying to be rude here, but the company name in cast iron makes it very obvious where this colloquial name actually comes from.