Scotland road trip Aberdeen to Edinburgh – Part 4

Scotland road trip Aberdeen to Edinburgh – Part 4

Part 1 – of this series covers a walking tour of Aberdeen city and shopping. Part 2 –  is about the highland tourist route and driving. Last week in – Part 3 – I spoke about our road trip via Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms National Park to Edinburgh.  

Royal Mile Edinburgh

After a French style breakfast we hit the ground running. We had one day to see all of Edinburgh on foot. The must-sees I planned for us (grouped together by location) are: –

  • Start walking down the Royal Mile plus museums along the way such as The People’s Museum.
Scottish Parliament
  • Holyrood Palace, Scottish parliament and Dynamic Earth Centre at the bottom of Royal Mile.
  • .

  • Elephant house on George IV Bridge where Harry Potter was written for a quick bite, Greyfriars Kirk, and down Candlemakers Row to Grassmarket area.
  • Edinburgh Castle and down to Princes Street Gardens.
Holyrood Palace
  • Finally Charlotte Square, a UNESCO site and we wandered back along Princes, George and Rose Street. We had a late lunch at Henderson’s, a vegetarian restaurant in Hanover street.
Greyfriars Kirk

We never made the Dynamic Earth centre but we still squeezed in a visit to Real Foods in Broughton Street for a health food shop-up. By now I was tired. We headed back past the theatre area to our hotel in Pilrig Street. It was a long day yet somehow my friend still

 mustered up more energy to go for a run up Calton Hill. I have walked it before and highly recommend it for breathtaking views across the city. I was just too tired to join him.

Elephant House where Harry Potter was written

I thought I had lost him as he took forever to return but he did eventually, and after a quick shower and a change of clothes we went back into town and ended up at Q Bar for supper. The food was OK but they had great music blaring out and we ended up having far too much fun before walking back to the hotel and sleeping like the dead. A meal out for two with two glasses of wine and a tip costs around £40.

The next day wasn’t even half a day as my friend flew out at 11.05am and had to be at Edinburgh Airport with time in hand. The lengthy queues at the check-in counter meant he grabbed a coffee and sandwich and the next thing he was gone!

Candlemakers Row

Much as I enjoyed Edinburgh, my favourite city in Scotland is still Glasgow, which we sadly never got to see. Edinburgh is

predictable and pretty. Glasgow is sassy. I love, love the vibrant and loud art and music scene in Glasgow. The architecture is full of Charles Rennie Macintosh art deco influences. There is a disproportionate amount of fun going on in Glasgow.

Edinburgh Castle

Glasgow also has far more shopping options. And the best bit? The extra, ultra friendly Glaswegians. No need to fear asking directions from a Glaswegian, they love to chat and help. Only thing is, I can’t understand a word they say. They have the thickest, broadest accent called Glaswegian patter which is incomprehensible to most English speakers. I love listening to them anyway.

Although Scotland is part of the United Kingdom they have their own parliament, their own currency and their school and work holidays are not the same as those in England. It’s cheaper to hire a car from Scotland than from England. We’ve used Enterprise Car Hire so many times and have been happy with their service. Just make sure you triple check the car for chips and chinks coz if they find any when you return the car, you are liable for them.

Princes Street Gardens

For more on Scotland visit – here.

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

Scotland road trip Aberdeen to Edinburgh – Part 3

Scotland road trip Aberdeen to Edinburgh – Part 3

Last week in – Part 2 – I spoke about driving the coastal and highland tourist routes. The week before in – Part 1 – I spoke about the city of Aberdeen.

Vintage bikes in Banchory

We gave up on finding stone circles for a while and made it in time for a quick cup of coffee with the biker friend in Banchory – before heading off again. Along the Royal Deeside route are yet more gorgeous villages such as Braemar, Blairgowrie and Pitlochry. In the cooler months the mountains in the Cairgorms are covered with snow and there are – ski resorts. The last two winters in Scotland, 2010 and 2011, have seen plenty snow. In summer people come to climb the munros, cycle the hills, canoe up and down the River Dee or go fishing – read more – here. What is a munro you ask? Follow – this link – to find out.

Balmoral Castle

Look out for indigenous – red deer along the way and of course the cutest ever shaggy – Highland cows which are farmed in the area.

River Dee

One of the must-sees on this trip was Balmoral Castle. It was apparently Queen Victoria’s favoutite home and still much loved by the current Queen Elizabeth. It’s only open April to July when the royal family aren’t in residence. Read more – Balmoral Castle. I would allow at very least two hours to walkabout and watch a plethora of presentations. Avoid the cafe if you can. My Swedish friend had the very worst burger of his entire life there. A floppy white bun with a mingy piece of meat. That was it! He was bitterly disappointed.

Croft Moraig Stone Circle

At Braemar we popped into the tourism office and asked where we could find stone circles en route to Edinburgh. The young lady was somewhat surprised by our request but she found info on the internet and set us on the road to find –  Croft Moraig. Happiness!! We found a stone circle. Unfortunately so did another party of other people together with a bunch of children. They spread themselves all over the place and these kids were charging and leaping about the stones making it hard for us to get a

picture. But we did. We ticked stones off our to-do list and headed for Edinburgh.

The smaller roads in Scotland and the UK are mostly narrow, windy and single lanes. There are few emergency zones or places to pull over. We got stuck behind tractors, slow cars and trucks most of the time and our journey took a lot longer than we anticipated.

Croft Moraig Stone Circle

We finally got to Edinburgh at 18.00pm. Fortunately in summer the sun goes down very late in Scotland so we knew we could afford to take our time.

I booked a budget hotel in Pilrig Street in Edinburgh with – – as it had parking for our car and also because it was walking distance to town. The room cost £52 per night. When we arrived at this place my heart sank into my stomach. The reception area looked dreadful. Fortunately the room wasn’t bad and the bloke at reception was well meaning and helpful.

By now we were starving hungry and we took a walk to Port of Leith which was about 2 kilometers away. There are lots and lots of pubs, cafes and restaurants in the area. Mostly seafood and steak type places. ( a vegetarian sigh!) However, I had a nice meal at The Kings Wark – read about it – here.

North Bridge Edinburgh

I always skip breakfast at hotels if I can. Eating out is usually cheaper than at hotels and it’s another way to explore the city. The next morning we went in search of breakfast and we found a French Style Cafe along Leith Walk. A meal for two with coffee came to around £18. Then we hit Edinburgh on foot to see as much as we could in one day. Read about that next week.

Next week in – Part 4 – and the final part I talk about what to do in Edinburgh.

For more on Scotland visit – here.
For more on my other destinations and a few travel horror stories go to the Travel Archive Page.

Scotland road trip Aberdeen to Edinburgh – Part 2

Scotland road trip Aberdeen to Edinburgh – Part 2

Last week in – Part 1 – I talk about doing an Aberdeen city walking tour and shopping in Aberdeen.

River Dee near Duthie Park

Carrying on from last week and where to get healthy vegetarian food – Pret-a-Manger do great take-outs –  see their menu – here. There is a big one in Union Street and a smaller one in the Bon Accord Centre.

Walking along the old railway line

Marks and Spencer also do healthy, tasty take-out salads and meals. Plus you can pick up a great bottle of wine to go with. Read more – here. Find Markies in St Nicholas Shopping Centre.

What you absolutely have to do is visit a pub and try one of the local ales. There are microbreweries all over the UK and I would argue that the UK produces some of the best beers. Visit – CAMRA – to find out if there are any beer festivals when you are visiting. Some pubs can be a bit skanky and full of bar flies but I kind of like seeing life from all angles and hey, a great beer is a great beer, quirky company makes having it that much more interesting.

Greenie and Swedish friend

The Tourism office also gave us a printout for a walk which starts at Duthie Park and runs along the River Dee. Read about it – here. Duthie Park has a free indoor garden that grows just about everything.    We intended to
do that walk the next day. But we had a slow start and decided to rather walk along the
old railway line – from Duthie Park in Aberdeen to Cults which is about 6.5 kilometers. Fitter people can walk all the way to Peterculter [pronounced Peter Cooter], add another 6 kilometers. The walk allows you to see the outskirts of Aberdeen and villages like Cults or Peterculter, but also to see trees, birds, farms and natural scenery of the area.


At Cults we had lunch and then we walked back in the drizzle. I have to mention that Aberdeen is not a sunshine destination. Even when the mercury is reaching 27’C in Glasgow, Aberdeen is significantly cooler, and often cloudy. This has to do with a coastal fog that occurs in eastern Scotland known as The Haar. In essence the east coast of Scotland has it’s own little micro climate. Read more – here.

The upside of this is that the east coast has less of a problem with midges. Coming from Africa where we have deadly mosquitoes and insects, I scoffed when the Scots moaned about midges. Until one hot day I got eaten alive and had a bad reaction to them. Read more – here

Dunnotter Castle

We hired a car from here on and the next full day we drove the coastal route taking in old fishing villages such as Stonehaven, Montrose and Arbroath, finally finishing in the fourth largest city – Dundee. Whether you drive north or south, you encounter these picturesque little villages, castles, ruins, harbours with fishing boats and rolling green hills as far as the eye can see. We stopped at – Dunnottar Castle – and walked along the cliffs. It’s a full day out. Read more about the area – Coastal Route. Golf lovers might want to squeeze in a game at the home of golf in St Andrews. If you miss out, fear not, Scotland is crammed full of golf courses as you will see – here.


The next day we headed out to take in the – Cairngorms National Park – and the – Royal Deeside – area. I was determined to find a stone circle or two as they are of interest to me and there are plenty circles, henges, cairns, barrows and all sorts of prehistoric monuments in Aberdeenshire.

The plan was to go via Inverurie to see the – Easter Aquhorthies – and then head toward Banchory to meet a friend who was doing a motor bike rally. Somehow we missed the turn-off and unfortunately stone circles are often not sign posted. Have a look at these sites before your trip to make sure you locate the stone circles before you leave for your journey – stone circles Aberdeenshire or – historic Scotland

Part 3 – next week deals with road trips via the Cairgorms National Park and Royal Deeside
 and in – Part 4 – I talk about Edinburgh.

For more on Scotland visit – here.

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

Scotland road trip Aberdeen to Edinburgh

Scotland road trip Aberdeen to Edinburgh

Scottish Road Trip in 2012

This is Part 1 of a 4 part series. Links to the other posts are at the bottom of the page.

Union Street

I recently had a Swedish friend over to visit in Scotland. Aberdeen has (sort of) become my second home so I don’t always view the city as a visitor anymore. It was lovely to have a chance to explore this part of the world again. We only had 4 days, not a lot of time.

Market Street

I decided that we would do a walking tour of Aberdeen the first half day. We stopped in at the Tourism office in Union Street and they kindly printed out a walking tour for us. Just a note here. The Tourism office is not open all day, every day. They open later than most of the other shops in the area, they close for lunch, half-days on Saturdays, and closed on Sundays. Also there is one, maybe two people at most to help. Aberdeen is clearly not a massive tourist destination.

Union Terrace Gardens

The tour starts at Castlegate, which is the furtherest end of Union Street – not too far from the Tourism office. The walk weaves around Union Street taking in historic buildings, statues and examples of Aberdeen architecture. The printed brochure includes a map and interesting information. For more on what to do in Aberdeen read – here.

Aberdeen is known as either the Silver City or the Granite City due to the silver granite buildings that comprise most of the city. It’s the third biggest city in Scotland and is a major fishing harbour. However fishing is small fry compared to the oil industry. Aberdeen is the oil capital of all Europe.

Union Square

The walk takes around an hour and a half, depending on how long you make it. If you have time in hand, and want to include a bit of shopping, or people watching, the two main shopping malls are Union Square and the combo of St Nicholas and Bon Accord Centre, which are right next to each other.

You’ll find Union Square by going down Market Street off Union Street. Head down towards the harbour and then right into Guild Street. The other two shopping centres are behind where Market Street meets Union Street.

St Nicholas Kirk

As a greenie I love the plethora of UK charity shops which usually stock exceptionally good quality used clothing. I’ve bought an almost new Marks and Spencer leather jacket for £6. (Do vegetarians wear leather? I wear recycled leather clothes but not new. Read – this – for an interesting take.) Look out for charity shops along Union Street.
There are more of them further along Union Street and up Chapel Street. My favorite area in all Aberdeen is The Spital where Old Aberdeen is. Read about it – here.

I don’t eat out much in the UK. I find restaurants very expensive and the food is not great. Service is, sorry to say this, OK. My view is tainted by the fact that I’m vegetarian. Very rarely on my travels anywhere have I found a good vegetarian meal and most Western European places are reluctant to modify a meal to accommodate me.

Charity shops

I prefer to buy a yummy take-out and eat next to a river, in a park, on a beach or even relaxing in a hotel room. No fighting, no stress and no disappointing end to an evening.

Supermarket food is brilliant and service is usually excellent.

In Part 2 – here – I talk about where to find food. Part 3 – here  – deals with road trips via the coast, stone circles, the Cairgorms National Park and the Royal Deeside area. In Part 4 – here – I talk about Edinburgh.

For more on Scotland visit – here.

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

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