Blog - 2018

Euro Rail Trip - 2013 - posted 25th November 2018

Five years ago I bought a 10 day (non-consecutive) Interrrail pass and did a rapid city to city tour over about 15 days.


The trip:

  • Marseille (one night)
  • Nice (one night)
  • Genoa (one night; we changed trains in Ventimiglia on the way and had a great pizza (much more pleasant than my lasting memory of Ventimiglia from the only other time I visited which was seeing a turd in the sea back in 2002)) 
  • Rome (two nights)
  • Florence (one night)
  • Venice/Mestre (one night then one night on the sleeper train to Vienna)
  • Vienna (one night; also included a side trip to Bratislava during the day for a few hours)
  • Prague (one night)
  • Dresden (one night; changed trains in Leipzig on way to Berlin)
  • Berlin (two nights)
  • Frankfurt (one night)

While this was one of the BEST holidays I have ever had as I saw so many cities and landmarks, I was literally too ill to do anything the day after getting home as the schedule was so packed. 


Some of the highlights:

  • Swimming in the Med in Nice
  • The amazing architecture in Rome (not to mention the great pizza and ice cream) and Florence
  • Incredible weather (although the impact of the recent floods in central Europe were visible in a number of the cities we visited, included those on the Danube, Elbe, and Tiber rivers). 
  • The endless beauty of Venice and its narrow and grand waterways
  • The impressive Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna
  • The charming old towns of Bratislava and Prague (plus Prague's Petrin Hill for great views of the city)
  • The DDR museum, East Side Gallery and Panoramapunkt in Berlin


314 photos from the trip are available on Shutterstock here.


Edinburgh Snow - 1st March 2018

There were some incredible scenes in Edinburgh on the 1st of March with blizzard conditions in the city centre!



Tinto Hill 

Earlier this year (17th February) I walked up Tinto Hill in South Lanarkshire. It is 711m high and there is a straight forward out and back route with excellent 360' views from the summit (weather permitting!). It is a little over an hour by car from Edinburgh. 



Ski/Snowboarding Trip to Glencoe! - posted 27 February 2018


Last Friday (Feb 23rd), six of us headed to Glencoe for some skiing and boarding, making the most of some pretty good weather and snow conditions (at least for Scotland). Unlike the last time when we visited Glencoe, it wasn't the Glasgow school holidays so there were no queues to speak of for tickets (or ski hire). 


The snow was very hard and icy in many parts and after going over the S-rail I slipped on the landing and landed on my coccyx and behind, which put me off taking any risks in the afternoon and left me on ibuprofen and with some lovely purple bruising. 


This week what the media has dubbed "The Beast from the East" is arriving, bringing heavy snow and freezing conditions. Tomorrow (Wednesday) is supposed to have a high of -3C (27F) where I work, a little outside of Edinburgh. The slopes up north are due to get more heavy snow and I hope to either get back up to Glencoe/Glenshee/Cairngorm before I travel to Nepal, and/or that it is a cold March and I can get up in early April.



Winter Hiking in SOUTHERN Scotland! - posted 11 February 2018


Last Sunday (Feb 4th), three of us took a trip to Broad Law in the Southern Uplands. It is about a 1hr 30m drive from Edinburgh and the starting point must be one of the highest points on any public road in Southern Scotland, at around 450 metres. The summit of Broad Law is 840 metres and we were following a fairly straight forward out and back route (although it isn't signposted and we were trudging through quite deep snow towards the summit).


The weather conditions were excellent. There was some cloud at first but as we ascended the cloud gradually dispersed while there remained some low level cloud in the valleys.


I hope you enjoy the photos!



Where Have Your REALLY Been?! - posted 27 January 2018


There are various apps and websites out there that let you enter data on the countries or cities you've been to and then have the information presented in the form of some kind of colour coded map. Some of these will colour in all of Russia just for that weekend trip you had to Moscow nine years ago. However, I came across the website "The Best Travelled" the other day and it reminded me about just how much of the world is there to be explored some day (and how much of it will likely never be seen up close). While the website isn't as location specific as Facebook's Cities I've Visited app, it is much more representative than maps that just colour in full countries on the basis of any trip across the border (whereas The Best Travelled splits countries into multiple disticts). And while I visited at least 11 countries last year and flew further than I had in any year before (1.22x around the world accourding to FlightMemory), it is exciting to think about all the places yet to be explored.



Walk in the Snow in the Pentland Hills - posted 22 January 2018

On Saturday we headed to the Pentlands to make the most of the crisp, sunny day. There had been a reasonable amount of snow in the week before and it had blown into some quite impressive drifts. Around 400-450m, on the way up Scald Law, the snow even covered the top of the fence posts and someone had dug a snow cave of a few cubic metres. It was cold and windy on the summit but very pleasant in the sunshine lower down the hill.


We had visitors over the weekend and on Sunday pondered around some souvenir shops on the Royal Mile. I had the pleasant surprise of seeing one of my photos on the cover page of a book about the history of Edinburgh. This was the book and this is the photo used on the cover.



Mountain Biking at Glentress - posted 14 January 2018


Yesterday we went to Glentress for some mountain biking. Glentress is one of the best places for mountain biking in the UK and slightly under an hour from home by car. It was fairly busy for mid January, although it was relatively mild and next week is due to be colder.


The chicken burger and hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows at the cafe are both recommended!



Happy New Year! - posted 2 January 2018


I headed up to Calton Hill to view the fireworks on New Year's Eve. Quite a lot of people had the same idea but it wasn't overly crowded. I hadn't seen the Edinburgh fireworks for a few years and thought they were pretty impressive this year.


Wherever you spent New Year's Eve, I hope you had fun and have a very happy 2018!



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