Ideas of civilisation…or our travels to Europe part 3

And so we moved on to the last two stops on our European trip – Glasgow and Edinburgh.  I’m from Edinburgh, but also lived and worked in Glasgow, so both towns are kind of home to me.  We flew to Edinburgh from Copenhagen, though our luggage didn’t, not arriving until 60 hours later, which was unbelievably annoying (especially as it sat at Edinburgh airport for 36 hours).  Anyway…here’s a bit about our days in Scotland.

1 The weather

I grew up in Scotland, so I know the weather can be lovely with blue skies and sun, or absolutely dreadful . Unfortunately, it was the latter during our stay.  There had been snow a couple of days before we arrived, and there was still a dusting of white on the hills as we crossed east to west.  It was grey most of the time we were there, with some ghastly haar or sea fog in Edinburgh, so dense the castle could not be seen. It was also really cold. It was dreich as we say in Scotland!

View from the bus

2. Glasgow

We had a long weekend stop over in Glasgow, staying with friends and catching up with other friends, and my nephew and children who drove down from Aberdeen. Glasgow is a great place for a long weekend, with shops and restaurants aplenty, and some great museums and galleries.


The Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow.  The statue of Wellington always has a cone on his head.

This trip, I went to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, pictured below, where there is everything from Egyptian mummies to works of art.  It is free too, except for the occasional special exhibition.  It is also worth taking time to walk through Kelvingrove Park too, if the weather allows it.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and  Museum 

3. Edinburgh

Edinburgh is my home town, and I’ve seen it looking lovely and I’ve seen it looking grey and gloomy.  Unfortunately this trip most of the time it was the latter, though I did capture this moment of blue skies one day.

A moment of blue skies

As I have said, most of the time though the weather was atrocious, and the haar or sea fog was so dense one day, that you couldn’t see the castle from Princes Street. We popped into the Scottish National Gallery on The Mound, and saw paintings and art works I grew up with.  It was a real moment of cultural nostalgia. If you are in Edinburgh, it is well worth a visit, along with the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery (housed in a wonderful Victorian building).  There is even a wee bus to take you to each of the galleries.

No castle…

4.  The new and the old

In a previous post, I complained about the new tourist guide invented habit of touching the nose of Greyfriar’s Bobby, a trend deplored by the locals. I was also shocked by the sheer volume of tourists heading to the castle.  Apparently, you now have to book in advance…gosh, how different from the days when it was free and one could just wander up and take a stroll around!  Anyway, the area around the castle in that part of the Royal Mile is just so unpleasant these days, and full of tourist tat. It is a pity as the castle is really worth a visit.  There is so much more to Edinburgh: take a stroll around the New Town, and admire the town planning of the eighteenth century, go to the Botanic Gardens, or head down to Leith.

Since I was last in Edinburgh, a commemorative statue to Wojtek the bear, the mascot of the Polish Second Corps, has been erected in Princes Street Gardens.  He held the rank of private, liked beer and ended his days in Edinburgh Zoo. The statue is also a great way to remember the Polish troops who ended up in Scotland during and after World War II.


5. Lunches

Edinburgh – you really need to up your game regarding nice cafés in the city centre. Far too many Costas and Starbucks, not enough nice places to sit and read a book.  I did, however, have lunch one day down at Söderberg café in Stockbridge. As well as picking up bread and wonderful Swedish buns, you can enjoy a sandwich such the one I enjoyed with shrimp and egg.  The cardamom bun was heavenly. On our last day in Edinburgh, we had lunch at Chez Jules on Hanover Street,  which offers a prix fixe lunch.  We went for the two course option (only £7.90 which is a bargain). Bread, olives, salami and a green salad come to the table automatically. Both of us started with the terrine served with an onion chutney, and I had a good coq au vin and Karl the steak frites, all washed down with some house red wine.  A great wee place, obviously popular too.

Cardamom bun

6. Dining out

In Glasgow, we had an excellent dinner at Mora Bar and Kitchen on Argyle Street.  Really good food (can recommend the pappardelle, beef and veal shin ragu) and good service.

A friend and I treated ourselves to dinner at The Gardener’s Cottage one evening.  We hadn’t seen each other in six years, so a treat to celebrate was in order.  There is a seven course degustation menu, with every dish a delight, and the small garden outside provides some of the ingredients.

The Gardener’s Cottage 

The wild garlic soup was a firm favourite for both of us, along with the lamb and the rhubarb desert, but all in all it was an excellent set of dishes, with good wine and first class service.  It is not a place for every day dining, but well worth it if you wish to push the boat out a little.


And then it was time to fly back….with many hours spent in the sky until we finally got back to Wellington.  It was a good trip, with a lot of catching up with friends and family, but it was also good to get home.

Title of post? Voltaire wrote that “We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation.”  No comment….

You can find Thistles and Kiwis on Facebook, and also on Instagram@thistleandkiwis.  As for Twitter….am totally inactive these days.  If you want to get in touch, email me on




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.