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Flying Scotsman Trip – Day 8

Edinburgh & Leith

My last full day in Scotland started with breakfast at Papii, and coffee at Lowdown Coffee. Then I was off to Camera Obscura and World of Illusions. I knew there wouldn’t be any demonstrations of the actual camera obscura, but I didn’t expect it to be completely closed off for the public! So that left me with the World of Illusions—nice, but it wasn’t what I came for—and the observation deck, which at least gave me an interesting perspective onto Edinburgh.

The visit was over a bit quicker than I anticipated, but that at least meant I had time to revisit Oink for some pulled pork and crackling, and find a good spot to hear the One o’Clock Gun, and see the time ball drop on the Nelson Monument. I’ve been in Edinburgh a few times already, but somehow I’ve always missed it… I found a great position, one o’clock came, the gun blasted loudly, and the ball… did nothing!

Oh well, to Gladstone’s Land then, which is other than you might expect, a house. Each floor is redecorated and refurnished as it would have been in a certain period of its long life. Hats off to the NTS volunteers, enthusiastically telling the story of their floor, and pointing out all kinds of interesting tidbits.

Another coffee or two, at The Milkman this time, and it was time to discover Edinburgh’s bus network, and head over to Leith. Apparently, that’s where all the cool, new breweries open up (a taproom) or move to nowadays.

I actually went to two locations of Campervan Brewery: their Lost in Leith taproom, and their taproom—beer garden?—at the brewery itself. In between I tried to visit Pilot for a cheeky canny, but I didn’t think to check until what time their shop would be open…

Back in the centre of Edinburgh, I then headed to The Hanging Bat for a chicken club sandwich for dinner, and a beer, of course.

Then it was time for a special moment: my visit to the final Scottish BrewDog bar, BrewDog Lothian Road! Exactly one week after I entered the first Scottish BrewDog bar on my trip, I stepped into my last. It might sound silly, but I was actually even a bit emotional about it! Before I left, I collected the final stamp in my Beer Visa needed to complete the Flying Scotsman challenge.

As promised to the Fierce crew, I then finished the night at Fierce Bar Edinburgh, for my last beers on Scottish soil…

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…

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…

This 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! This last Aberdeen BrewDog bar visit and its accompanying stamp also marked the completion of the Home Dog challenge…

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 Andrews, 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 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 kinda like them! Just serve them with the (non vegan) blue cheese dip, and they’d be 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!

Croissants and Culture

After breakfast at the hotel—croissants of course—and a first real coffee at Telescope, I made my way to the banks of the Seine, to visit the famous Louvre.

I had no intention to see everything—which would have been impossible anyway—so I just picked a couple of highlights, that was more than enough to keep me occupied well until lunchtime.

This time my food of choice was a Parisian classic: jambon-beurre. As simple as ham and butter on a baguette, but the version prepared by Julhès was tasty nevertheless. A coffee at 5 Pailles, and I was ready to get moving again!

A Trip to the Past

While I’m still awaiting my second vaccination, I continue discovering places in Belgium I haven’t been yet. One that had been on my to-do list for a long time, was the Archéosite d’Aubechies-Beloeil, a site with some archaeological reconstructions from the Neolithicum until the Roman era. I was of course most interested in the latter bit…

So, after an hour on a train, fifteen minutes on a bus, and then another twenty-five minutes on foot, I was finally there!

The outside of the buildings looked nice enough—the temple really reminded me of the time I worked as a volunteer ‘archeotolk’ at Archeon—but unfortunately the inside mostly seems to have been adapted for modern use, like exhibitions and events.

If I ever have a garden, I definitely want a summer triclinium like that!

Liège & Manoir de Harzé

With one round trip left on my free government issued Rail Pass, and a museum assignment to complete, I decided to go to La Boverie, a museum in Liège, so I could take a nice walk in the Ardennes afterwards. So this dreich Sunday, I got on a rather empty train to Wallonia and spent my morning in the museum, and fruitlessly walking through the city looking for an open espresso bar.

In the afternoon I travelled on to Aywaille, and walked to Manoir de Harzé, home to the great Misery Beer Co., which I had visited before last summer. I had rain, hail, and sunshine during my hike, but it was sure nice to be able to be outside, in woods and fields, without a mask. Upon arrival, I had a couple of cold beers (the shop was still open, and I bought a glass as well), before heading home again with a backpack full of beer…