Following a day in the Highlands, we stayed in Edinburgh overnight and decided to go to Arthur’s Seat in the morning. Great climb, the views from the top of Edinburgh are amazing. Definitely climb to the top of the little rise at the top of the hill. One of the highlights of the trip up to this point!
Edinburgh is an amazing city and completely different to Glasgow. The hills and Castle are simply stunning. The Christmas markets are also worth going heading to. There are endless great pubs in the Old Town that you can hide in when it’s freezing in winter as well.
Another weekend in Edinburgh, we decided to take one of the guided tours on advice from one of our friends.
Big plug for these guys – Hairy Coo Tours.
They are great. It’s a few Scottish guys who came together and decided to start a touring company. We had Donald for our tour, very knowledgeable and funny. He kept us entertained the whole day. The tour that we went on was the “Free” Highland Tour, pretty much you pay what you feel the tour is worth. Very good concept. The tour started in Edinburgh in the Old Town then moved steadily up into the Highlands stopping at the Forth Bridge – an amazing feat of architecture, the William Wallace Monument in Stirling, Aberfoyle (a small town in the Highlands), Trossachs National Park and finishing with a visit to some real life Hairy Coos.
The highlands are so beautiful, probably best to hire a car and take your time going to each place. There’s so many little towns to visit along the way and they all have their own individual charm. We got back to Edinburgh round 6pm so plan to stay the night there if you’re in for the weekend – there are plenty of good pubs to grab dinner straight after or you can grab a late train back to Glasgow (they run pretty late). One thing that annoyed me was the fact that some people didn’t pay anything for the ‘free’ tour. However this was a minority, most were very generous – giving £25-30. Oh well, I suppose the guys would expect things like that to happen.
Anyway if you get a chance – go on the tour, especially if you’re strapped for time!
First day back in Scotland in the New Year and we were travelling again. This time it was to Loch Lomond, about 35km from Glasgow near the town of Balloch.
It’s one of the great Lochs of Scotland – it’s the largest in terms of area in the UK.
Loch Lomond is amazing, there is a reason a folk song is written about this Loch. The day we went, it was very foggy and dreary but it actually made it better. We spent a good 3hrs walking around the Loch and then resting up at the Balloch House, which for what it’s worth is a very cosy B&B. The food and beer there was top notch and the fireplace was super warm, great if you get drenched after a long trek around the Loch! If you’re in Glasgow – add this to the list, you won’t regret it!
We spent the last 2 days in Paris going to some places that weren’t in the main area. La Defense was one district that we went to – very interesting area. It’s essentially the Central Business District of Paris, about a 20min ride on the metro from the Champs Elysees. There is quite a large shopping centre here called Les Quatre Temps. Good to spend a morning or afternoon and also to visit Le Grande Arch (it looks right down the road towards the Champs Elysees (about 7-8km away).
Since we had both gone to the Eiffel Tower on our last trips, we decided to go to the Arch du Triomphe instead. Was surprisingly good. Despite the fact that it is only 50m tall (about 280ish steps I believe – not too tough a trek up), the views are quite stunning. It offers a more central view of Paris, good to go up during the day or night! There are 12 roads intersecting at the Arc – I’ve tried to show this in the photos above. A very good alternative if you don’t want to wait for the long queues to go up to the top of the Eiffel Tower. I must say the views from the top of the Eiffel are stunning and definitely worth visiting at night. Why not do both!
One area in Paris that is full of art, culture and good food is Le Marais, it’s just off the Rue de Rivoli in the 3rd and 4th arrondissement. We booked an apartment off Airbnb for 4 nights and used it as our base for our stay. Very convenient and easy to get to most of the big attractions in Paris, very walkable as well. Two places that we loved were Legay Choc (a patisserie) and Le Coude Fou (a very authentic French restaurant). Both are in the heart of Le Marais. The Pain au Chocolat’s at Legay Choc are to die for, by far the best we had on the trip. We were literally there every morning for more.
My lovely girlfriend took me for a cruise on the Seine. Was a really fun night, great French cuisine and great enjoying Paris at night. French food is very rich, full of cheeses, cream and dairy. It was a very romantic experience, although I did spot a few families! I’d imagine quite a few proposals would have been made at this time as it seemed to be the perfect opportunity to do so.
The first of three lots of photos in Paris. We spent the few days before New Year’s here. It was my second time here so we visited some of the less touristy areas, which was refreshing.
I know Paris can be a love/hate sort of city. To be honest I didn’t really enjoy it last time I was here but it has really grown on me. At night, it is just buzzing. Love walking down the main strip and seeing all the expensive boutiques and cafes.
Such a pretty little town. Spent an afternoon here in mid December just before Christmas. Was in town for the Muse concert (was in Antwerp the day before for another Muse show!).
Can’t wait to be back here, the Old Town has some great areas to walk along, near the canals.I believe the town of Colmar (about 1hr south) is similar.
We spent Christmas in the Netherlands with my girlfriend’s extended family in a small town outside Amsterdam called Uitgeest – its about 30mins by train.
Delft is a small town about 45mins from Amsterdam and right next to The Hague (Den Haag), worth going to see the Oude Kerk and Nieuwe Kerk and just to walk along the canals. Our second time back to Amsterdam as well – Anne Frank house was very interesting. Was great to be back in the Netherlands, almost everyone speaks a decent level of English and everything was easy to find and get around. Amsterdam is built for walking (or riding) – you definitely don’t need a car.