Cotswolds and Edinburgh


#21

Day 10:

We walked what seemed like forever to find the Dynamic Earth museum (and walked by a place called Loudon which was very crowded and looked rather tempting… Didn’t feel like stopping in since we were lost and on a mission to find the museum).

When we finally arrived, we decided to have lunch there. Big, BIG mistake. I had an onion, cheese, and mayo sandwich, which is exactly as unappetizing as it sounds. Partner had a lasagna that was made w/ cheese wiz. He thought it was gross. The green drink, IIRC, was supposed to be mint flavor. I think it had a rather strong medicinal flavor. Bleh.

We had an early dinner in one of the pop-villages around the city center (which I assume were there only for the festivals). Had a chickpea and coriander burger from Butcher Boy, which was odd (interior was VERY creamy) but good.

Partner wanted a coffee, so we stopped at Willians & Johnson Coffee Co. in Waverely Mall. He said the coffee was very good, and I thought the polenta lemon cake was excellent! I didn’t think to ask them where the cake came from, but, for some reason, I feel that it wasn’t made in house (although perhaps I’m wrong?).

Late dinnner after The Silk Road (which was very good, but the venue was UNBEARABLY warm and stuff) at Maki and Ramen This place is totally legit and delicious. I knew it was going to be good when the staff handed me a Ramune when I asked for a Lemonade. The ramen was rich (but not disgustingly so) and would be a welcome addition to Sawtelle. Highly recommended.

Gyoza tasted a lot like the ones my mom made when I was a kid (thin skins and all), which was a plus in my book (I don’t always want the thicker dough).




#22

Day 11:

A client of mine had recommend The Witchery (hotel and restaurant) as a fun place to eat. They serve meals for breakfast (or brunch? And maybe only for hotel guests?), lunch, and dinner. The resaturant’s claim to fame (I think) is the gothic-y, candelit dining room. There’s a “Secret Garden” room, as well. We decided to drop in for lunch (since it’s more affordable) and were seated in the Secret Garden rooom. Nobody seems to say that the food here is great, so I was assuming that it’d be expensive and only okay. And, it was (for the price; in an absolute sense, the food was actually pretty good).

The Secret Garden room is beautiful.



I think afternoon tea might be the way to go here (so various tea trays flying around, and tea trays always look so tempting). The gravalax, for example, had a totally unnecessary addition of rye “sand,” which did nothing texturally or tastewise (although it certainly looked pretty). Partner’s vegetable starter (can’t recall the name, and the posted menu has already changed) was fairly bland (and not refreshing).

The cheese was generously portioned, but it was TOO big (which isn’t something ever said about a cheese course anywhere). The longest piece was seriously the length of my eating utensils. Hate wasting food, and I can’t imagine anyone being able to eat all of that.

While I don’t highly recommend the place, I do highly recommend you make reservations for dinner, or if you want to eat in the candelit room for any meal.




We then to the Scotch Whiskey Experience, which is virtually next door. It’s a fun experience, and you get a sample of one whiskey toward the end of the tour (while viewing the largest private whiskey collection in the world). I skipped the sample since hard liquor doesn’t agree w/ me. Of course, you exit through the gift shop. We were looking at the pictured small sample until some guy from Glendora (very friendly) pointed out that we could buy it BevMo (!!!). Partner decided on Eradour, and he says he likes it very much.

@LeeByTheSea: we made it to Mother India! Or, at least, I think we did, b/c there were 2 on my map. We went to the one on Infirmary Street. We had the lamb achari, chicken on th ebone, aubergine fritters, and saag paneer. I thought Maharaja was slightly better (maybe b/c the flavor profiles were new to me); @SpockSpork liked Mother India better. The food comes out shockingly quickly, and it was delicious. How nice to saag that actually tastes somewhat like a vegetable… Place is huge and packed.

We went to dinner after Nina Conti is Monkey. She is BRILLIANT!!! I was laughing and crying the nearly the entire time!


#23

Day 12:

Final day in Edinburgh. :cry:

We decided to give another try to “museum” food, this time at Holyrood Palace. Dining space is lovely. The scone was a bit dense (but held up nicely to the cream), as was the carrot cake.

I saw The Oink (https://www.oinkhogroast.co.uk) in Grassmarket while taking a bus tour a previous day and thought it looked quite tempting. We tried the one near Holyrood. The put a whole pig roast in the window in then serve customers from it. We got there too late in the day for crackling (argh!!!). Place is delicious, and I’d welcome having one in LA (although it won’t make you forget about Bludso’s at its peak).



We wandered around Edinburgh trying to find a place for a late bit (I think it was a Sunday?) b/f taking our sleeper train to London. We had actually seen Wahaca in London a few yrs ago but hadn’t tried it. The place was open and bustling, so we stopped in.

Server was from Guatemala, used to work for Google, and ended up marrying a man from Scotland who thought that Ireland (where Google has offices) was still too far from Scotland.

Server politely steered me away from cactus and courgette and instead recommended the sweet potato and feta taquitos. All the dishes we had were pretty good (the taquitos, empanadas, pork pibil), although none of it tasted particularly similar to the Oaxacan food I’ve had in LA.






#24

You didn’t take the leftover cheese - and anything else :slight_smile: - with you? We’ve had many last night meals in our hotel room on leftovers.


#25

How long does cheese stay good for (if left out at room temp)? The problem is that we weren’t planning to go back to the hotel room for a few hours, and I wasn’t sure if the cheese would be okay. And the backpack I would’ve stored the cheese in is black (and gets pretty hot)

The other part of it was that the cheese at The Witchery wasn’t amazing. We walked around w/ a soft, unpasturized cheese (that was YUMMY) for a couple of hours in London a few days later (report on that coming soon)… :wink:

There weren’t really leftovers otherwise. I have a big appetite. :smiley: And I hate seeing perfectly edible food go to waste.


#26

Well, forget it then :slight_smile:

And I’ve never thought about cheese “going bad.” I wonder what happens.

BTW loving your posts.


#27

I’ll start a new thread for the 2 days in London (brief report).

Forgot to mention that we saw Simon Callow in De Profundis on our final day in Edinburgh. An amazing performance.

Travel tips (I’m not a very experienced traveler, so that the following w/ a grain of salt):

  • We stayed in Moss Cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon. It’s a 10-15 min walk from the city center, which was only annoying b/c we hit the tail end of one of the heat waves. During “normal” weather, it’s a nice walk and it’s actually relaxing to have a place away from the crowds. I didn’t particularly enjoy the Royal Shakespeare Company’s re-imagined version of The Merry Wives of Windsor (combining it w/ “The Only Way is Essex”), although I appreciated the attempt. I’m not familiar w/ the source material, but one of hour B&B hosts WAS familiar w/ the play, and he didn’t enjoy it, either. The breakfast at Moss Cottage was very good, and I’d happily stay there again.

  • We stayed on Lowerfield Farm for our Cotswolds stay. It was absolutely lovely, esp since we had one of the biggest rooms (heh). Breakfast was even better than Moss Cottage, although it’s an unfair comparison b/c much of what you’re eating comes from the farm itself. Very gracious hosts at both Moss and Lowerfield.

  • Renting a car is generally recommended for the Cotswolds. If that isn’t an option, I think I read on-line or in a guidebook that Circencester (located in the southern part of the Cotswolds) is a good choice b/c you can catch buses from there and b/c it’s a town (vs. a village). Not much (if any) of the famed honey-colored stone there, although I still found it fairly charming (certainly more so than Cheltenham).

  • Driving was a bit terrifying… Not just b/c we had to drive on the other side of the road, but also b/c the roads are very narrow (and even modern compact cars are fairly wide), the hedges can be quite tall (leading to blind curves), and b/c, if there’s no posted speed limit, apparently the speed limit defaults to the national speed limit, which is 60 MPH! Yikes.

  • Remember that everything in the countryside closes early.

  • We thought that flying from Birmingham to Edinburgh would save us time… Perhaps not so much, if your flights gets delayed 2-3 hours. :frowning:

  • We stayed in Cityroomz in Edinburgh, which was conveniently located (near several bus stops) and had a decent continental breakfast. The rooms are pretty spacious (for Europe), but the feeling of the place is very much that of a college dorm. It’s relatively close to the city center, but still not close enough that you’d want to walk, IMO (vs. taking a bus). And, if you’re going to take the bus, you might as well see if one of the B&Bs recommended by Rick Steve (located further from the city center) might work better for you.

  • The M-ticket app and the Lothian Bus app (for Edinburgh) are a mess and difficult to use (esp since you have to purchase at least £10 to make a credit-card purchase. Bleh. Contactless payment is not yet standard on all buses. The single fare tickets have to be used w/i 5 mins (!!!) of activation (IIRC), and the single-day tickets are only good until the END of the day, not for a full 24-hr period.

  • The Edinburgh Bus Tour and CitySightseeing Bus Tours are both run by Lothian, and the 48-hour pass (which is actually good for a full 48 hours) is a good value if you can hit most of the big sites (e.g., the Castle, Holyrood Palace). It also allows you to bypass the ticket line at the Castle. We basically used the tour bus as a less crowded way to get around the city since it runs until a decently late time (5 or 7PM?).

  • We purchased Royal Oak membership (since it gives the same discount to UK attractions that members of the UK National Trust have). We didn’t realize, though, that the National Trust and English Heritage are 2 different sites and that sites are belong one to org or the other. And you don’t get a discount when you try to purchase tickets on-line.

  • If you want to leave your luggage at Waverley train station, MAKE A RESERVATION!!! The no-reservation line is huge. W/ a reservation, you can get to use a different (and exponentially shorter) line altogether.

  • The Caledonian sleeper train was miserable. I thought we were going to take the Orient Express; it was more like a bunk-bed coffin w/ decor from the 1980s. Tip: if you have any luggage (since very little of that will fit in the cabin should you also be in the cabin at the same time), you can ask to put your luggage in the storage train (where they also keep bikes). The best thing to do is to become unconscious as soon as possible upon boarding.

  • T-Mobile has a roaming agreement in the UK, and you can purchase a limited amount of high-speed data for a reasonable price. Good luck finding how to do that in the T-Mobile app, though.


#28

You have to purchase international data add-on from t-mobile website. Cannot on the app. WTF??!!?!

Even with the add, speeds are not as fast as we are accustomed. Popping a local SIM into your phone or MIFI is the easiest, cheapest and fastest solution.


#29

Those are GREAT tips! Let’s face it, there really is more to traveling than ‘just’ the food.

We were in England with another couple many years ago. We each got our own car…we warned him to get the smallest possible but, oh no, so they drove through nightmares.


#30

I’ve really never understood why one needs their phone.


#31

There’s a recent invention called “Google Maps”.


#32

Yep. And there can be problems. We were in Tuscany last year and Verizon said we could use our phone. So we didn’t get GPS for our rental car. Well, it didn’t work. At all. Even communicated with Verizon and they had no idea what the problem was. We couldn’t find a detailed map and we got lost EVERY DAY. Getting to our hotel in Milan to fly out the following morning, we got lost FIVE effing times :slight_smile:


#33

Frankly, the basic “free included” international service from T-Mobile and Sprint leaves much to be desired. I added the ATT international travel package two years ago in London, sucked so bad, I called them up to cancel and ATT did not charge for the 10 hours I “used”. Earlier this year, again in London, our free T-Mobile international data was barely workable, very spotty.

I don’t bring my Garmin when I travel anymore, domestic or International. If the data where I’m at is so bad that Maps don’t work, I just buy a local SIM card and usually get full speed at a reasonable price. Especially in Asia.


#34

You actually can on the app, but it’s totally unintuitive b/c you have to wade through a few sub-menus, and, at 2G speeds, it can take awhile to load.

You’re SUPPOSED to get a text message welcoming you to the country and giving you a link to purchase high speed data. I got all that, but the website never loaded properly. So I had to use the chat function to ask a T-Mobile employee to add the data. Argh.

The high speed add-on, while not quite 4G or LTE, was totally useable for at least navigation and maps.

The rental car, thankfully, had built-in navigation, and it did a much better job w/ roundabouts then did the native phone apps.

We did the SIM-buying thing when we were in Europe 5 yrs ago, and it worked very well. It’s also nice to have a local number.

“Need?” No, I agree it’s not necessary. Is it a really nice convenience? I think so. We were only in English-speaking countries, but I imagine a smartphone might facilitate things, if you go to a country where you don’t speak the language. Using my own phone and SIM card also allowed me to receive text messages for free from the US, and there was a personal reason why, during that the last few mos, this was a very desirable feature for me. Additionally, I like not having to carry around huge fold-out maps. :wink:

@SpockSpork thought that using the phone for navigation was a bit annoying b/c, back in the day, you’d simply ask a local and make a new acquaintance. And there is something to be said for that…


#35

A few years ago we were in Barcelona and looking for a particular shop. I speak a minute amount of Spanish but was concerned about Catalon. I walked up to a young (that’s important!) man and said “habla ingles”? He said “how can I help you?” LOL. I find the majority of people in Western Europe, at least in the cities, speak English.


#36

Yes, but I always try to muddle my way through at least a few phrases in their native language. :wink: Usually, they will take pity on me to start speaking English (and perhaps b/c they don’t want to hear me mangling their language anymore!).


#37

I say that you’ll never go hungry or thirsty with me in Spanish or Portuguese speaking countries. I also took a lot of Latin in high school so I can read way more than I can speak.


#38

I took a good amount of Spanish. However, being from LA, I can understand Mexican people decently but can barely understand people from Spain. :frowning:


#39

And I speak way better than I understand. Life is good :slight_smile:


#40

Cotswold vehicle of choice - Range Rover

And as the Cotswolds swells in popularity, so it absorbs more of west London, so the tribes subdivide. On Friday evenings Range Rovers stretch the length of the M40, now dubbed ‘the west London corridor’, to this patch of England 25 miles across and 75 miles long. ‘It used to be proper countryside,’ grumbles one early settler. ‘Now it is a suburb of London.’”