A Travellerspoint blog

Loch Lomond

The other famous Loch

Today we hit the trail to Loch Lomond - the largest expanse of fresh water in Great Britain, and a scenic treasure with walks and hiking trails around the area in what is called the 'Mini Highlands'.

Our port of call was Balmaha, on the Loch's easten bank, and we arrived to see an information centre equipped with maps, a couple of well marked paths, and a drove of other hikers (albeit all with far superior equipment to ourselves, being in jeans and hoodies!).

Not to be outdone, we picked up the longest sturdiest sticks we could find, and set off up the side of a gentle hill. Which of course wound around and got steeper. The the path suddenly gave way to gravel, rocks, mud and steep, slippery grass! We pressed on, and with the wind chill getting stronger as we got higher, we soon reached some pretty spectacular heights and views over the Loch and Highlands to match.

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Good Nosh

After our leisurely stroll turned daring hike - a good meal was in order and the Oak Tree Inn (another winning recommendation from our host in Edinburgh) delivered our best meal in Scotland with a perfect combo of fresh and tasty ingredients, style, homely service and even homelier surrounds.

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A fair Luss

Made a quick stop over at Luss, a historic little village on the Loch's western bank. Highlights were the good old fashioned competition of stone skipping and rock throwing - Alex vs Deepak. Winners shall remain unnamed.

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Fare ye well

A quick scoot around to Glasgow and it was farewell to the British Isles, and to Darsh and Alex. At least for the time being, and we look forward to catching them again in Florence. Did have a look around central Glasgow in search of water and a light Tesco bite - plenty of pubs and restaurants, and the makings of a solid working class town. Tomorrow, we fly easyJet to continenta Europe - first stop: Paris, where we will celebrate both Suma's birthday and our 2nd wedding anniversary.

Posted by deepaksuma 16:34 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Crail & Aberfeldy

Good fortune in the mornin'

Alex went to pick up our rental Ford Focus today - and drove back with a brand new Peugot. Through some bungle or another (it may have been clear had Alex understood the Scotsman's strongly accented english), the rental company had none of the cheaper cars available and therefore lent us one far superior.

Not ones to complain about our good fortune, we shovelled in our breakfast (which deserves a mention, what with fine china, courses of toast, cereal, a variety of teas and coffees, and well cooked hot breafast choices with quality ingredients - with classical music playing in the background!) and per chance mentioned to the host that we were aiming to get to Inverness and back. Our info was incorrect - the supposed 2.5 hr journey was in fact 5.5 hrs, making it impractical. Instead, we crafted a scenic coastal route up to Crail, cutting inland to Aberfeldy to fit in a scotch whisky distillery tour and tasting, and then back by nightfall.

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It was all yellow..

The scenic drive was .. very scenic, peaceful and we had a really nice day discovering how the scenery changed from area to area, particularly once we headed inland and to higher ground. We passed plenty of yellow fields, flowers blooming in the springtime, and took a coastal walk around the old towns of Crail and St Andrews (yes, sports fans, the home of the British Open). We did see plenty of green grass, rolling hills, a couple of mountain highland cows, and .. sheep. Lots of sheep.

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World of Whisky

Tasting single malts and blends, discovering the tale of how a man named Dewar made his family incredibly rich, and seeing the process of how whisky is distilled - very cool. Wasn't a massive fan of the Aberfeldy single malt, although it was better than the blend they offered up (Dewars White Label and 18yr.. less said the better)

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Mo-Scot-o?

On the way home to Edinburgh we stopped at a Loch along the way to try and catch a nice sunset. Drove about 20 minutes out of the way, got out to discover a pretty average viewpoint, sunset on the wrong side and about 10 million mosquitoes! Within minutes we were back in the car, with a few of the critters stowaway in the car (they were soon taken care of, naturally).

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Back in Edinburgh, we washed down a quick drink (now Glenfiddich is a real Scotch whisky), and polished another splendid dinner at Positano.

Posted by deepaksuma 16:17 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Edinburrrrrrgh

Scottish Weather

The forecast was 'Fine' but Edinburgh was grey and misty when we arrived early morning on bmi from Heathrow, with Alex and Darsh joining us. Wasting no time, the four of us checking into the B&B and hit the streets of Edinburgh's Royal Mile.

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The old town centre, known as the Royal Mile for its heritage and proximity to Edinburgh castle, is movie set-like in its appearance, and walking the streets would be a little surreal, save for the swathes of tourists that cut through on walking tours and on open top buses. We stopped by a number of beautiful buildings, including the old cathedral. There were plenty of photo opportunities and we spent plenty of time floating about and soaking up the buzz. The Royal Museum was worth the a short visit and has plenty of exhibits showing the historical achievements of Scots around the world, and how Scotland became the country it is today. Hard to believe that Scotland's current inhabitants total a meagre 5 million - putting them on par with NZ?

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Giueseppi the Scot

Our Scottish food experience began and ended with the deep fried Mars Bar we picked up at a 'traditional fried food' shop near the castle. One bite and the experiment was over - we couldn't do it to ourselves! Our other options for traditional food was Haggis or Blood Sausage - neither seemed to appeal somewhat!

The evening meal was however a special one, courtesy of a man named Giuseppi and his restaurant called Positano, a few doors up from our abode. Good food, good wine - good end to a good day.

Posted by deepaksuma 16:11 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Blimey - is you 'avin a larf!

What's everyone complainin' about?

Having pre-warned Sumathi to brace herself for waiting for hours in endless lines at Heathrow, and the rainy and miserable weather - not only did we breeze through immigration and baggage claim, but we promptly hopped on the Tube, and emerged from the underground into glorious sunshine and warm weather! Everyone seemed to be taking full advantage, with parks and gardens full of people!

Luckily for us, the weather lasted the entire week with temperatures unseasonally high and sunny!

Club Med

Arriving at Alex and Darsh's little piece of heaven was a godsend after weeks in shared and/or basic facilities! Thanks guys for making us feel most welcome and comfortable!

Was also great to catch up with some other friends and relatives who now call London home, and with all the socialising, shopping, sightseeing and eating, we kept ourselves very busy! We did manage to squeeze in one jog around Maida Vale - 3.5km - but we're going to have to work a bit harder to keep fit over the coming weeks.

Watch out Oxford Street, here we come

We hit Oxford Street with vigour for some retail therapy, with much of our clothing in tatters or stretched, or simply not fit for Europe (albeit in Summer, its still cold!). A few hours later, we were all set with some new digs, shoes and having successfully re-imersed ourselves into the familiar world of mass market consumerism..

London Eats - a treat!

Had the pleasure of eating at some really nice London eateries - namely Busaba (by the man that brought us Wagamama - now moving into Thai food but maintaining the obligatory communal table); Mangal1 (underwhelming at first glance but really delicious authentic Turkish food); Smith's at Smithfield (great pub/restaurant at Smithfield - an interesting meat market/pub district in the city). Who knew London was a foodie heaven?

Looking London in the Eye

We did manage to fit in some of the sights of London - visiting the Queen on her 83rd birthday (well, we saw her palace from the outside, and she wasn't even there); Big Ben and Houses of Parliament, the London Eye and the Natural History Museum. At the museum, we saw the 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year' exhibition, which was even more amazing given our experiences taking wildlife photos in Africa.

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Green London

Not only are the parks and trees green, but so are the people of London. Everywhere you look, products are 'Organic', 'Free Range', or 'Fairtrade'. Now, we've heard of the Toyota Prius hybrid car - but check out this nifty little vehicle scooting around town - running solely on electricity and requiring overnight charging. Bring's a new meaning to the term 'car charger'!

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So long chaps

Left the glorious sunshine of London refreshed and relaxed and ready to take on the rest of Europe. First stop, Edinburgh - which I'm sure will do its best to show London up and give us some real British weather.

Posted by deepaksuma 15:39 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Egypt - Summary

Where did we stay? Cairo: Amarante Pyramids, King Hotel; Luxor: Tut 'Otel; Aswan: Cleopatra Hotel, On board a felucca
Favourite food: Taza!
Favourite drink: Sakara, Stella, Coca Cola
Highlights: Abu Simbel Temple; Riding on donkeys!; The Pyramids; Nubian village visit
Lowlights: The heat; The hassle ("Baksheesh?")
Types of transport: Train; Donkey; Felucca; Mini-Bus
Funniest thing: Mohammed ("Come on guys, quickleee"); Deepak being mistaken for Egyptian by everyone; Spelling of words on signs; Andrew's imitations
Most used phrases: "Baksheesh?"; Shokran; "You look like Egyptian"; "You look like Angel from heaven"; "How many camels?"
Unexpected surprises: Great roof bar on top of King Hotel!
Tense Moments: Any time when crossing the road!
Near Death Experiences: First few moments on donkey back; Risking being eaten alive by mozzies on felucca

Posted by deepaksuma 15:17 Archived in Egypt Comments (0)

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