travel tips on the UK
GENERAL: Edinburgh, Scotland
Stunning, incredible, wonderful city. it's divided in 2 parts - the new part and the old part. Let's start with the new part, which is actually at least one century old: little lanes and streets full of restaurants and bars, charming buildings (georgian?) and a main road full of shops. The old part is divided from the new part by some gardens - and well, it's much older although not always necessarily nicer. Yes the castle and the Royal Mile are wonderful but crammed with tourists - let's say that ultimate beauty comes at a price: crowds. I love both sides of Edinburgh - but for a stroll, the new part is more to my taste.
Places to Visit: - The Castle, Holyrood Palace, the Royal Mile, the Gardens, the Dynamic Earth Exhibition, the Camera Oscura, Arthur's Steat, the alleys in the New Town.
GENERAL: London, England
The Capital... and like most Capitals.. it's traffic congested, it's grey... you either love them or hate them. In the case of London I hate it, but in a very friendly way, since I find myself going back sort of regularily. Amid all uglyness I always manage to find something nice - or different - or interesting. And when I come home I always find out I have missed something fantastic, so I start longing to going back.
Places to Visit: - Camden, Soho, Victoria, the Westminster, the National Gallery, the Church of Saint Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square, Brixton, the Docklands, Elephant and Castle.
GENERAL: Windsor, England
It's a day trip from London and there's no other reason to go there to witness a country's folly: the Monarchy. Stuck in London during the floods, i was getting tired of the hustle-and-bustle of the city - and one of the few roads opened was the one to Windsor.. so why not? To see so much money wasted on the residence of one single family was definitely worth it: it gave me another ground to despise yet another Monarchy.
Places to Visit: - Windsor Castle, Saint Gerge Hall in Windor Castle, the Gardens.
GENERAL: Reading, England
Why, oh why do I have so many friends there? Ok, let's admit it - reading is not much to see, but to be fair it's surely a greeat place to live: near London, relatively small and quiet... it really has it all, except when you are visiting... in that case after a short while you are stuck for things to do and end up either pub--crawling or going to the movies.
Places to Visit: - the Reading Jail (where Wilde was imprisoned), the Lion Statue.
GENERAL: Stratford-upon-Avon, England
Why, oh why do I have so many friends there? Ok, let's The home of the Bard: William Shakespeare... How could I miss not to go there? I couldn't... I did the Shakespeare tour and enjoyed the atmosphere of the little town too. There are plenty of old and charming half-timbered buildings, and there's a nice canal with a peaceful walk on its banks. Of the Bard himself, very little except the memory remains... but it was really worth the trip.
Places to Visit: - Shakespeare's Birthplace, Anne Hathaway's cottage, a walk by the River Avon, the old buildings, the Clock Monument.
GENERAL: Bath, England
The Roman Aqua Sulis. I learned to love Bath through Jane Austen's novels, even though she despised it. I wanted to see all the places I had found in books - and to my great happiness most of them were still there. For me it was a visit to fantasyland... I could imagine my favourite or most hated characters walking by, I remembered dialogues... finally my books came to life, at least for a few days.
Places to Visit: - the Pump Room, the Assembly Room, the Roman Baths, the Costume Museum, The Royal Crescent, Milton Street, Putney Bridge, Jane Austen Museum.
GENERAL: Orkey Islands, Scotland
Orkney mainland (as they call the biggest island) is largely flat and treeless, so by consequence very unscenic too (since i consider scenery as mountains). But from the stone age, to the iron age, bronze age and world war II age there's so much history and culture scattered about that one cannot possibly get bored. I visited all possible sorts of ancient houses, brochs, burial mounds, stone circles, rune stones and the like to last me for a lifetime. And when I had seen enough and was about to start to get bored I made my way to Highland Park distillery, took the guided tour, drank plenty of delicious single-malt whisky and was soon happy again.
Places to Visit: - Highland Park Distillery, Stromness, Maestowe, Kirkwall, the Italian Chapel, Ring of Brodgar.
GENERAL: Shetland Islands, Scotland
GENERAL: the Highlands, Scotland
Well, which highlands? I had only 6 days to spend there so I decided to pick an area and visit there. I chose the northwest Highlands - starting off and returning to its unofficial capital: Inverness. There were some buses there, and when I found no buses I used post buses. A post bus is a tiny mini-van driven by a postman (or post woman) which brings the mail and up to four passengers to the most remote communities, stopping at every house along the way (and believe me, they are not many). So first it was up to Lochinver, then further up north... then I cut inland, ending up at Laird and Culrain.
Places to Visit: - Lochinver, Western Ross, Eastern Ross, the Fidhorn Mountains, Inverness.
GENERAL: Isle of Syke, Scotland
Well, it was not in my plan to go to the Isle of Skye since all the tourist go there. But in a moment of desperation (read: miserable weather) I decided for it and jumped onto the first train there. I got off at the last stop (Kyle of Loclash) and took the bus to Kyleakin, which is just over the bridge and the gateway to Skye. As soon as I arrived there it felt like entering hell's gate. Feeling suicidal I decided to ride on to Portree and the beauty started. Anywhere I looked the scenery appeared to be magnificent and unique. Over the next few days the sun shone really hot and I took beautiful hikes in Glendale, visited the McLeod's Dunvegan Castle, went out by boat the view the seals (who appeared to smile and pose for us), and traveled around the northern peninsula, where I enjoyed a most perfect sunset sitting on the edge of a high cliff. Ironically, the day I was to leave Skye, it started to rain again.
Places to Visit: - Portree, Dunvegan Castle, all the Northern Part, Glendale
GENERAL: the Northwest Coast, Scotland
Dramatic seascapes there... at times rocky and barren, like one wuld expect them in Scotland, at times tropical-like, and you start to wonder what the hell are they doing there. I have seen one of the most scenic beaches in Europe (Durness) and cursed the wind and the cold for not having a dry suit to swim in there. Also, there is the great sea-life: puffind on sea-stacks, plenty of seals... and the occasional whale, too.
Places to Visit: - Durness, Tongue, Thurso, Wick.
GENERAL: Salisbury, England
To see the wonderful cathedral.. this is the reason I went there. In my ignorance I knew very little else.... so at every corner there was a surprise waiting for me... first it was the half-timbered houses, then theMarket Square, then the River Walk with the funniest duck I have ever seen, then the Close... and finally I got to the Cathedral... I looked at it outside, I admired it from the inside... and bang! Another surprise: the Magna Carta... one of the last 4 remaining copies was there on display.
Places to Visit: - the Close, the Market Square, the Old Houses, the Cathedral, the Riverwalk, Poultry Cross, Fish Row, Oatmeal Row, Silver Street.
GENERAL: Stonehenge, England
One of those mystical places I had to visit. It's in Salisbury Plain, about 1o miles north of Salisbury... so I combined this visit to the visit of Saisbury. Stonehenge was more or less liek I expected it to be, the Motorway nearby included - but I manages to ignore it. Some people resent the fact that one can't go near the monument anymore because the big stones are fenced off: I appreciated this decision - those stones, to me, are sacred... and there's no reason why people need to tuch them. About the energy of Stonehenge one is supposed to get at Stonehenge: it's all true - but it has nothing to do with touching and ruining a monument.
Places to Visit: - the Stone Circle, the Blue Stones, the Heel Stone, the Altar Stone, the Slaughter Stone.
GENERAL: Glastonbury, England
Another one of those mystical places I had to visit: I am a Pagan and I came to pray the Goddess. Glastonbury is a small market town in Somerset and a world famous spiritual centre of pilgrimage. What sets aside Glastonbury from other sacred places is the fact that many different beliefs and religions converge here. For Pagans it is the site where the mythical Isle of Avalon is located, for Christians it is the place where Joseph of Arimathea built the first church on the British Isles, while for New Age followers it’s where the ley lines (the meridians of the Earth) meet, entwine and diverge. All agree that it is a place of special spiritual energy.
Places to Visit: - the Tor, the Burial Site of Guinevere and King Arthur, Saint Patrick’s Chapel, the Chalice Well and Gardens.
GENERAL: Oxford, England
The famous college town... I had always been curious about it, so I decided to pay it a quick visit. One could stay for days, provided one is interested in visiting the colleges. It was not my main interest: I just wanted to see them from the outside (maybe count them too) and look at the people, which were like i expected them... nowhere frinedly to visitors. I dont quite blame them anyway: the town is swamped by crowds just off a bus-load... moving at a real snail pace and stopping every 20 yards or so.
Places to Visit: - Main Street, the Colleges (Magdalen College, Christchurch College, and so on), the Old School.
ACCOMMODATION: Edinburgh, Scotland
There was this song I used to listen to, by the Men They Couln't Hang, and it went: the boad rode south of Ailsa Craig in the waning of the light.... well, when it came to pick a hotel in Edinburgh they were only names to me. And because they were just names, i figured I might as well choose one with a name I liked and that brought back memories. Lucky me: the Ailsa Craig was central enough, in a quite and pretty location, near plenty of restaurants and attractions.
More details: - Ailsa Craig Hotel, 24 Royal Terrace, Edinburgh EH7 5AH. Tel: 131 5566055/1022, Fax: 131 5566055, Email: email@example.com
ACCOMMODATION: Inverness, Scotland
The Capital of the HIghlands.... it's quite an attractive small city or large town where one should spend a day or two. I happened to spend a night there before heading to the Northwest Highlands - and one afer i returned. I chose a hostel - quite central and near some pubs - not too far from the station but uphill. They also do laundry for you for a very small price. a real luxury!.
More details: - Bazpackers, 4 Culduthel Road, Inverness IV2 4AB. Tel: 146 371 7663
ACCOMMODATION: Portree, Isle of Skye - Scotland
A backpacker's hostel, right in the centre of Portree.. it's one of the few affordable options, except Bed and Breakfasts, which fill up very quickly if in town. There are several other ones in the area but you'll need a car. It was not my case - and the hostel was quite ok, if not exactly nice.
More details: - Portree Backpacker's Hostel,
Woodpark, Dunvegan Road, Portree, Isle of Skye IV51 9HQ. Tel: 01478 613641, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
ACCOMMODATION: Culrain, Scotland
An incredible hostel... actually the hostel to end all hostels.. There's not much to see or do in the area, but it's worth to go there just to spend a night. Why? Because in Culrain there's Carbisdale Castle Youth Hostel. Yes, you read it correctly: a hostel in a Castle... with paintings, statues, old furniture and so on! A truly wonderful place.
More details: - Carbisdale Castle Y.H.
Culrain, Sutherland - Scotland. Tel: 01549 421232.
ACCOMMODATION: London, England
Overexpensive, not too charming London... Anyway, sometimes I find a reason to go there. The last time, with a bit of luck, I also found an affordable place to stay - and in a great location - near Victoria Station and only a few minutes walk from Westminster. What more: with a bus stop right on the door step and really friendly owners.
More details: - Luna Simone Hotel,
47/49 Belgrave Road, London, U: Victoria Station. Tel: 20 7834 5897, Fax: 20 7828 2474, Email: email@example.com
ACCOMMODATION: Salisbury, England
I'm not quite sure if it's a Youth Hostel or a bed and breakfast without breakfast... Anyway i found this cosy private home, run by a young friendly couple, The Coats, about 5 minutes walk from theMarket Square, in a quiet safe corner of town... Jenny, also, is full of ideas and provides great information about Saisbury and the surrounding area.
More details: - Ron and Jenny Coats, 51 Salt Lane, Salisbury. Tel: 01722-327443
ACCOMMODATION: Bath, England
Although I wanted to stay in a Bed and Breakfast I happened to pass by this Hotel and decided there was something about it that I liked... I kept walking, tried the B&B where i was hoping to stay, it was full, I returned to the Hotel and decided it would be my home for a few days. The owner, an elderly man, is possibly one of the nicest persons in Bath... always smiling, giving vauable advice, keeping me company for a pint in the evening. What could one ask for more?.
More details: - George's Hotel,South Parade, Bath. Tel: 01722-327443
RESTAURANT: Edinburgh, Scotland
A real nepalese restaurant, owned and run by nepalese people. Food was just so delicious and the staff incredibly friendly - they also loved to talk about Nepal. Their real best is a starter: grilled yack cheese - you won't believe how great it is until you taste it
More details: - Gurka Brigade, 9 Antigua Street, near the Royal Terrace, Edinburgh. Tel: 0131 556 6446.
NIGHTLIFE: London, England
A place I remember fron my youth: the Intrepic Fox - but I still like going there occasionally. It's an alternative/goth place with excellent music and occasional theme nights. You'll feel more comfortable dressing in black and wearing a few crosses or having your hair back-combed.
More details: - Intrepic Fox, 99 Wardour Street, London (Soho).
NIGHTLIFE: London, England
It really depends on the night you go, but the Borderline is a great place for live gigs. my advice is to find out what kind of music the band plays - and see if it suits you. Don't think of it as anything fashionable: it's dark, smoky, dusty - and the music is definitely loud.
More details: - The Borderline, Orange Yard off Manette Street. U: Tottenham Court Road or Leicester Square. Tel: 0171 7342095.
NIGHTLIFE: Reading/Caversham, England
A really great pub - wonderful atmosphere - and delicious beer, especially the ales: there's a really good selection of them. What else? The interior... it's nothing like those posh pubs that seem to spring up everywhere - it's still looks like a traditional pub of the good old times. Thanks Sue for taking me there.
More details: - The Griffin, 10 - 12 Church Road, Caversham, Reading