Wednesday, April 30, 2014

You Say Haggis?

I say Yes!

Major life-changing discovery:  vegetarian haggis is yummy!  Who knew?

The Auld Hoose was another excellent choice for this evening's supper.

Stowford Press cider and Hobgoblin ruby ale on tap were both a wise choice.

Veg haggis with neeps & tatties, complemented with a brie panini, crisps, and rocket garnish.  Lovely.

Blimey!  Mold on me sammich!

Oh well.


Still being tired of fried bar food, we decided to try "Asian Noodle Bar" for something warm.

Veg-friendly, with rather large portions.  A good pick!

Afterward, we popped in a nearby Tesco express supermarket to stock up our hotel room.

The National Museum of Scotland

Another interesting eclectic mix of history-related items.

All well worth the price of admissions.  (free)


Edinborough is rife with photo ops.  Almost every streetcorner sports a view of something older than the U.S.

Our good-weather luck has run out, and we're now back to standard Edinborough rain / mist.  I'm no linguistic scholar, but I'd bet that the British English language has 50 words for "rain".

Nearby park view:
One hour later:

Breakfast at bbl

Or Breakfast, brunch & lunch, rather.
Only two blocks walk from our hotel, the bbl offers an excellent veggie breakfast selection for a nice price.
Unfortunately, they're all out of Hornig's veg haggis today, but methinks we'll be back again sometime this week.

The chair latte is so extraordinarily good, we had to order a second.

Take care if navigating here via GPS, as Google maps puts bbl inside the local university's volleyball center.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


We've arrived!  (finally)
A mix-up with a bus driver sent us 30 minutes in the wrong direction, but two other polite (and competent) drivers later and we got it all sorted.

Our hotel, Ten Hill Place, looks good at first sight.  We knew the "king bed" room we'd reserved was actually an American-sized queen, so no surprises there.  Otherwise, the modern decor works fine.  The WiFi actually works well too, which is a hard find for us in the UK so far.

The Holy Grail!  Our quest for the perfect faucet is complete.  A truly one-handed working faucet!  (This is an extremely rare find in the wild in the UK.)

And a shower fit for use by a homo sapien with opposable thumbs:

The only oddity with all this modern decor is that the bathroom door is completely clear glass, so that, coupled with the placement of the standard wall mirror, leaves privacy a little lacking...

The Last Train

We arrived at the rail station almost an hour early.  So we had plenty of time to get take-away for dinner on the train.  Or so we thought.
Apparently, one should wait on their exact platform, not just anywhere inside the station, because we didn't hear the arrival announcement so we missed our train by one minute.

Luckily, we sweet-talked a rail guard and were allowed passage on the next train an hour later.  Disaster averted!  Thanks to good ol' British politeness.

A shrubbery!


all fresco

For just a quick, light, and inexpensive lunch, we found a wonderful little take-away being run by two nice little old ladies.
A Ploughman's on brown bread, and egg salad on a baguette was perfect.  Luckily, we also went for the mocha brownie which was absolutely fabulous!

York Castle Museum

For a "castle museum", this was a bit of a let down.  Very little castley stuff to speak of.  This "museum" was really just an eclectic collection of modern items found throughout York during the last 50 years.

Clifford's Tower

Neat little tower, with a great 360° view of York.  Didn't quite seem like a £4.30 view, but it was a perfect weather day, so we gave it a go.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Piano


All vegan restaurant The Piano was all we had dreamed it would be.  Spanish style, breaded & fried tapas and fritters, all quite tasty.
A jug of Sangria is also recommended to wash it all down.

We're stuffed.

Jorvik Viking Center

Wow.  The Jorvik looks somewhat small on the outside, but it's surprisingly packed full of the latest viking tour tech on the inside.
It even includes a sit-down overhead-monorail-style ride.

Very informative.

York (not the patty)

The weather has been perfect today.  We arrived in York and took a £5.20 taxi from the station to our hotel, to save time.

The St Denys bed & breakfast is unbelievably immaculately brilliant.  The owners are immediately helpful, the room is quite large, and the bathroom is amazingly clean and perfectly furnished.  [My TripAdvisor review.]

A stonking towel-warmer.

And the pièce de résistance:

Breakfast at this B&B was equally wonderful.  Unfortunately, we had both overeaten at last night's dinner, so didn't have much of an appetite this morning.  A nice yogurt and cereal was much appreciated.

Da Train, Da Train!

Ironically, the only significant tube delay we experienced was just before our very last stop, ever.  So we stood for 15 minutes with our backpacks on, waiting to exit the tube and run for our morning train.  Luckily, all was sorted out well.

The train ride takes ~1.5 hours from London to York (we booked an express route).  Nice countryside views, but nothing breathtaking.  A few windmill farms, but not as many as you'd find nuke plants, oil wells, and fracker pumps comparatively in the U.S.

Checking Out (of London)

In a hurry this morn to catch the national rail to York, so we opted for breakfast at the hotel restaurant.  Jolly good choice!  A fair price for a full English breakfast.  Exactly the same entrée:  veg fried sausage, baked beans, fried egg (over very easy), mushrooms, and grilled tomato half.  Plus, it all included their already full standard continental breakfast.  So we filled ourselves to the gills.

The Burns Hotel was overall a fair value for your pounds.  Excellent staff & service, adequate rooms (although the single rooms looked very small).  The WiFi was annoyingly spotty, and the lower floors were a bit noisy in the early morning.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

inSpiral lounge

Camden Town is another hipster district.  Fun to walk about and people watch.  Loads of little tourist stores with crappy souvenir trinkets.

There are a number of good all-veggie restaurants in this area, so we simply picked the closest one to the tube line.

Spirulina and veg tofu stack with black beans.  Nothing much to look at, but quite hearty and tasty.  Washed down with vegan cheesecake and ice cream.

A nice little cafe.  Unexpectedly crowded tonight since it was open mic night.
Friendly locals mentioned we should try another amazing restaurant also: Vantra.  Unfortunately, we won't have time as tomorrow is our last day in London.

The British Museum of Natural History

Gargantuan specimens of imperialistic proportions!  An impressive collection of... everything.

Less Than Brilliant Lunch

Our midday repast at the local Golden Dragon was stonking sucky.
Very few veg-friendly items on the menu.  Service was a bit slow (although not much worse than the standard here).

What little we received did however taste quite good.  Chop suey (sub tofu for chicken & shrimp), and pak choy with mushrooms:

But a rather veggie-unfriendly place, and bad value for the money, so we shan't be returning.

Sunday in London

We're taking some time out this morning to rest up a bit, and do some laundry.  Quite exciting!

Whilst people-watching, we've discovered a new retro fashion trend.  The "top bun" is not just for strict librarians anymore.  We've counted 20 top buns on our trip so far (excluding back-buns).
The bun displayed above might appear to be a back-bun, but the official ruling is "top-bun" since its height protrudes above the top of the head.  Make note, so as not to count falsely!

Upon encountering this visage, we stopped counting; this more rare Megabun wins the prize (and clearly ends the game):

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Rochester Castle

Post-Dicken's World, after trekimg all the way out to Strood / Chatham, one simply must visit the castle.

Rochester Castle is quite old.  Quite.

As an 11th century Norman castle, there's a somewhat violent history.

There's also a wound-up cathedral next door: