Off to Auld Reekie- Adventures in Edinburgh

“To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.” -Robert Louis Stevenson

The next day I woke up early and had breakfast at my hostel before setting out by train to Edinburgh. I took a train from Liverpool over to Wigan and then from there all the way to Edinburgh.

As it was holiday season, the train to Edinburgh was quite full. There was even a full bachelorette party going on in one of the cars, complete with champagne. It was quite amusing to watch.

Regardless I arrived in Edinburgh realizing that it was going to be a bit crazy what with Easter and all.

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I walked from the train station right to my hostel. It was quite close which was handy.

I stayed at Royal Mile Backpackers, which I think has been one of my favorite hostels of the trip. It’s right on the Royal Mile, a very central and important street that houses many of the tourist attractions in Edinburgh. On top of that, it’s clean and spacious. The beds all have their own chargers and reading lights and were very comfortable. Sadly no free breakfast, but you can buy one for two pounds, which isn’t bad all things considered.


The Gotham Room!

I left my luggage and headed off to explore.

I started by going up to the castle. The weather seemed okay, so I decided it might be a good time to do the castle and after I could see some of the other things. However, I was feeling a bit peckish, so I grabbed an ice cream outside the castle before heading off to go inside.

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It’s a bit pricey going in, but it’s a huge area and there’s lots to see. There are basically a collection of different museums there that you can go into. As it was Easter weekend it was quite crowded, so I had a hard time really seeing much of the museums, but it was still fun to walk around and explore.

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If I’d had more time I think I would have enjoyed either doing a guided tour or getting an audio guide. But feeling a bit rushed I decided it would be just as well to walk around myself.

After finishing up at the castle I headed down just a short distance to the Scotch Whiskey Experience.

I’m not much of a whiskey drinker… well in fact I had never tried whiskey before in my life. But I’m not one to pass up on a unique opportunity to learn something new about a particular region. If you read about my Spain trip you’ll remember I did a sherry bodega there too. Alcohol makes up part of the local culture and cuisine, and I like learning more about it if I can.

So whiskey it was!

Again quite crowded so I had to wait more than an hour to get in. However, once inside I had to admit it was a pretty fun experience. You do a short ride in a barrel…well not a real barrel, to learn more about the process of making whiskey. Then you go see a film about the different Scotland regions, complete with a sniff card so you can get a sense of the different flavors. And then you get to go try a glass of whichever region appeals to you most and learn more about blending whiskies.

If you pay more you get to sample more after, but for the poor people like me it’s just one, setting it on the colored circle of what region you want to try. The one was fine, because the shot of whiskey I had was… well let’s just say I don’t think whiskey is my stuff. Too strong for my tastes, although I at least do I have a little better sense of the drink itself and how to taste it.

The tour finished in the largest collection of Scotch Whiskey in the world, which was indeed quite impressive to see.

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I headed to the Real Mary King’s Close after I finished my tour. I’d seen good reviews on tripadvisor, so I thought I’d give it a try. However the Easter weekend problems continued. Turns out the tours were fully booked for the day, so I made a reservation for the next day hoping I could squeeze it in with everything else I wanted to do.

I walked around a bit after that, but most things were closed so there weren’t too many options of other places to go into.

So lastly was dinner. I asked at the desk about good options and the guy there mostly gave me like chips restaurants and such, so not necessarily what I was looking for, because after a full day with no food I needed something more balanced. So I headed off down the mile (well technically not a mile… since measurements have changed) looking for somewhere to eat.

Settled in a little place just off the mile called Villagers. It was a cute little pub that had decent reviews and lower prices. Portions were a bit small, but the staff was friendly and the food was quite good. So all in all I was quite pleased.

Then it was back to the hostel for the night. All in all quite a good day in Edinburgh!

Isle of Man to Liverpool

Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted. – John Lennon

Well, the pod AirBnB started as a nice idea… and quickly became a not so nice one.

As in, I woke up at about 1 AM freezing cold.

Normally if I’m cold I have options. Turn up the heat. Add another blanket. Put on another layer.

In a small pod in the garden with only a sleeping bag, those didn’t really exist.

On top of that I really had to use the bathroom.

So I stumbled out of the pod and down the garden path until I arrived at the guest house where I could use the toilet. It was cold, but I figured maybe the outside air would make me more appreciative of my little pod.


When I got back I realized the pod was pretty much the same temperature as the outside air. Not sure if it was because of the window doors, or just really poor insulation overall, or what had happened, but it was quite cold.

I slid on my fleece and snuggled back in the sleeping bag.

I woke up again around 3 shivering. So I got up, put on a pair of pants over my leggings and a sweater under the fleece and climbed back into bed.

Woke again at 5. Pulled on my rain jacket and another pair of socks and then crawled back in the sleeping bag, curling into the smallest ball I could. It was pretty much all the layers I had at that point, so I was hoping I didn’t get any colder.


I sound dramatic but that’s honestly what happened. I woke up again at 7, well before my alarm, still cold and miserable. So I ended up going to use the bathroom and realized it was warm in there. Which was how I ended up curling up next to the heater in the bathroom for twenty minutes trying to warm up.

Got back to the pod. I was basically already dressed. Opted to just leave the leggings on under the pants since I was still cold, and otherwise I was ready for the day. I made some coffee, put on gloves and did my best to warm up a bit.

Basically my lesson learned was to never do any kind of “camping” in England without the proper clothing and a really good sleeping bag, or extra blankets. Left a review on the pod to tell future travelers they might want warm clothes. Or maybe the owner will know better and provide more blankets next time or something. Or a small space heater. I cannot imagine what that must be like in winter.

Well, I used the early wakeup to go catch a bus back into town. My pass from the day before had expired so I purchased a ticket with cash. Unlike Dublin they actually will give you change, so that was nice. Regardless it was cheap and fairly easy. I got off a stop early by mistake, because they don’t announce them very often in Isle of Man, but regardless I managed to find it.


I walked to the ferry terminal and dropped my stuff in a locker there. Made it so I didn’t have to wander all the way back to my accommodation to pick up my backpack and such, but also didn’t have to drag it with me.

Then I headed over to the steam railway station.


There are several railway features in Isle of Man. They’re one of the things you’ll see advertised to do, which makes sense. They’re an easy transport and they are also incredibly fun and make it easy to go explore other parts of the island that might be more interesting than Douglas.

I’d decided I wanted to go to Castletown for the morning. There were two trains at decent times to be able to go there and back again. It seemed like a good option.

I bought the Go Explorer Heritage Pass for a day thinking that the pass gets you into attractions. It does not. Unless you buy the five day pass. So for any looking to use this, be warned. If you’re going to use lots of transport in one day, it’s a good deal, if not then I’d opt to just buy individual tickets and save your money. There is a pass that lets you into lots of the attractions on the island for like 14 days for only 20 euro, which is a very good deal, but obviously it wasn’t a good one for me being there only a day really.

Nonetheless I boarded the first train and quickly found out why these are recommended to do.

It’s a mix between Disneyland and a scenic drive. It felt sort of like a ride, but it was beautiful as well. You’d look out the windows and feel like you’d stepped back in time, rocking along in the carriage, steam billowing outside the windows. It was absolutely wonderful. I definitely enjoyed it to the max.

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I arrived in Castletown slightly later than expected. The problem is the conductors sell tickets too, so sometimes they take a while making sure everyone has a ticket before setting off. So be warned your train might not be precisely on time if you’re in a hurry.

Regardless I set out from the train to go explore Castle Rushen, the famed part of Castletown. You might understand why.

It’s a really well preserved castle. The exhibits are slightly dated looking, but all in all it’s quite a nice space, and that’s coming from a girl who’s seen castles all over France as a child.

My favorite element was that there were fantastic views from the top of the tallest tower, and you were allowed to climb all the way up and stare down at the city. On a beautiful sunny day it was perfect.

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After that I strolled through town quickly before heading back to catch the 12:27 train to Douglas. It was sad I had to cut my visit so short, but unfortunately it was needed

I enjoyed the rolling hills and beautiful scenery of the Isle of Man as I rode back. Again, if you’re on the Isle and have a chance to do the steam railways, especially on a nice day, it’s well worth it. The views are simply spectacular. You’ll see sheep and cows and pheasants. Views of the sea. Beautiful plants and farmland and so much more. And the steam engine is charming as well.

From Douglas I headed down to the ferry terminal. I technically had about 2 hours until my boat, but I knew trying to do much else would likely be pushing my luck, so I grabbed some coffee and tried to polish off the remaining Manx pounds I had on hand. Be warned if you go to the island that they use a different currency. If you’re coming from England they’ll still accept your British pounds, but for a visitor like me heading into England it was a problem because England won’t accept Isle of Man’s currency…which seems ridiculous, but definitely is something to be aware of.

The ferry was very similar to the one coming over. Quite nice overall. Cafes and shops and two cinemas showing films. It’s definitely a very comfortable way to travel (I’m writing this current post on a cramped train so you might understand why I say that).

From the ferry I had a mile walk to my hostel. I probably could have found transportation, but really didn’t want to mess with it. Thankfully it was a beautiful day so no problems on that front. I admired Liverpool’s lovely architecture as I walked.

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I arrived at Hatters Hostel. All in all my review of this place is quite good. It’s in this beautiful old building and quite cheap. On top of that you get free breakfast so I’m definitely not going to complain. The rooms were a bit cramped and they only had tiny lockers, so just could store valuables and that was it (not even a backpack would fit). But overall I was quite pleased.

I asked for dinner recommendations on the way out and was told that The Leaf on Bold Street was supposed to be quite good, so I decided I’d try it.

However, before heading there I figured I’d stop and see just a few things.

I arrived in Liverpool around six. So I knew everything I’d possibly want to see would be closed. Which meant I’d marked some more “public” spaces that I could still access as a tourist.

I started at St. George’s Hall which was a filming spot in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It wasn’t open of course, but I could still admire the beautiful outside.

The central library was also a stopping point for me. I love old libraries, and this one was very fun. It had been reconstructed, but the center room with triple layers of book shelves still seemed like the stuff out of movies, and the modern section was quite open and beautiful as well. On top of that it also has nice views from the roof. And again, it’s all free!

From there I headed to dinner as I was quite hungry.

The Leaf was popping, so it seemed worth a shot. I wish I’d gotten one of their teas, but it was a bit crowded and confusing and my server was training, so sadly didn’t get a chance to try any of that. I did have a Victorian Lemonade, and a dish of falafel with flatbread, which sounded quite good at the time.

The food all in all was decent, but definitely nothing spectacular. The flat bread was dry and the falafel itself pretty tasteless and the combo of flavors just left something to be desired. But it was cheap and filling and I do have to remember this is England… not exactly the center of fine cuisine.

Then back to the hostel for sleep. Unfortunately I should add this to my review of Hatters. Quite nice overall, but the fire alarm did go off for no apparent reason in the evening. When my roommate and I dashed out into the lobby, the receptionist said it was no problem and to not worry about it. But it continued going off for a good few minutes for no apparent reason. Definitely a bit strange. Didn’t help that we’d left our room key in our haste to get out. Thankfully they made us another one.

Then on for a good night’s sleep. Because the next morning I was off to Scotland!

Off to the Isle of Man

“Ah, you’ve come over the water. Powerful wet stuff, ain’t it?”
C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader”

When I was booking my trip to Ireland and the United Kingdom, I was doing so looking at a map. And on that map, Isle of Man caught my eye. This tiny little country between the two ones I was visiting seemed like the perfect stop over!

I should clarify that it’s not truly its own country as far as I know (I’m no expert on this political stuff). It still remains listed as a colony I believe, but regardless it has its own currency and flag and still seemed like an adventure.

So I set out from Dublin by bus over to the ferry port. And from there I took a ferry to Douglas, Isle of Man.

The ferry was decent value for the price. I booked my next trip in Greece and my word the ferry was expensive! Regardless it seemed like a fairly easy option for how to get to this island I was set on visiting.

I went for an Airbnb as there really aren’t really any hostels on the island and hotels weren’t cheap. I think if you’re more outdoorsy you could do camping or something, but I sadly don’t have the equipment with me to do so. So Airbnb it was.

I stayed in a garden pod on a lovely property not too far from Douglas, which was a very fun setting.

I will warn future visitors that you should probably just take a cab there, as it will be easier. I took the bus to quarter bridge road and then walked the rest of the way, but it is up a steep hill and was a little confusing to access, and the bus is across a very busy road.

Regardless I stopped in and dropped off my bags. The setup was very cute and again the best option for someone looking to stay only a night in a semi-cheap accommodation. It’s not glamorous, but it works.

After dropping my stuff I took the bus to head over to Peel, a town on the opposite coast of the island. It’s like a 30 minute ride from Douglas over, and I was hoping to head to the castle.


Sadly, I forgot the castle closes at 4, so no luck for me. But still I was able to wander along the coast and enjoy the sights and get some good shots of the castle from the outside. I also hiked up Peel Hill? Mountain? I cannot remember. The town itself was also very quaint and cute. Some pretty old churches and cottages and then the fun marina. It’s just a lovely place to visit, so if you’re on Isle of Man make sure to get over to Peel.

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I enjoyed the views. I was tempted to hike to a tower, but it was a fair distance away, and I was getting hungry. So I decided to take the bus back to Douglas for food. I walked around town a little, though again any museums or anything to see was closed at that point, but with the rain gone it was still nice to be able to explore a little bit and enjoy the town.

I ended up just going to one of the first places I could find, down near the harbor. It was a seafood place called Tanroagan Seafood Restaurant. I had some delicious local beer and fish and chips! The other more creative dishes looked amazing too, but I was trying to be budget. I loved that they brought different kinds of bread to your table and you chose which one you wanted. Very fun! Cute place and nice location. I was very pleased overall.

Then took the bus back to my Airbnb. Was pretty tired out and knew I needed to get an early night’s sleep to have some time in the morning to explore.

Day Two in Dublin

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
W.B. Yeats

My second day in Dublin made me fall even more in love with the city. It’s so fun and lively and there’s so much to see. Admittedly I was spoiled with fantastic weather, but still.

That morning I woke early (first out of my six person room early) and headed down to breakfast before catching the redline tram over to Kilmainham Gaol. I’d seen it listed on good things to do in Dublin, so I of course thought I’d check it out.

I had read online it was best to have a ticket booked ahead of time. Sure enough when I went on to check, several times for the day had already filled up. So I went ahead and booked a 10 o’clock ticket.

I arrived with plenty of time to spare, so had a bit of free time to look around at the museum area upfront. And then before too long the tour began.

It was pretty good overall. Our guide led us through the jail, telling us more about the history and what had happened at particular places. It was an interesting place to see, especially noting the changes between the older and the newer parts of the jail. I was in disbelief when I heard that during the famine period they had ten times their capacity, often putting 5 to a tiny cell. So insane.

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After an hour long tour we were allowed to look through the museum on our own time. It’s fairly small, but still a nice collection. I spent about a half an hour just browsing, not reading all the signs. But it does provide some additional insight into the jail.

Once I was finished at the jail I hopped on the rail to get back towards the Guinness Storehouse, my next stop.

Again, I’d seen it listed as a fun attraction, so I figured I’d try.


It’s quite pricey. And as someone who isn’t a big beer fan, it maybe wasn’t the best choice. However, I did still have fun. The facility is very nicely laid out. They make it very fun and interactive and you learn a lot. It’s just a pity that it’s so expensive and crowded, and of course that it basically just acts as one big advertisement for the beer. It reminds me of the Coca Cola museum in Atlanta, except that the coke museum at least has a fantastic tasting room at the end where you can try all kinds of different sodas.

At the end of the Guinness tour you just get a glass of the beer.

Not bad all in all, but definitely not to my taste in beer. And others agreed as I saw full glasses left scattered throughout the bar.

Well, up to you on whether or not you want to do it. It’s not my recommendation overall, but for Guinness or beer lovers this might be just the thing you need.

After that I was torn between going back to my hostel and resting for a bit and continuing on my way.

I’d already decided that my next stop needed to be the archaeology museum.

I ended up stopping at the natural history museum on my way. The place was free, so I figured why not since I had some spare time and since I was already there.

It’s two levels, but otherwise quite small. I’ve seen better natural history museums, but it still had a nice collection of animals and some fun things to see. And again, being donation only, it’s really not a bad pop in if you’re in the area.

I walked over to St. Stephen’s Green, a beautiful open park. I didn’t spend much time there, but on a beautiful sunny day it was certainly a sight to behold.

After that I headed to the right side of the block to enter the archaeology museum.

It’s definitely one of my top recommendations for Dublin. Lots of interesting artifacts, and my personal favorite, the bog bodies. Essentially they are mummified bodies that were preserved in the bogs of Ireland and are fascinating to behold! I’d never seen anything quite like them. I’m posting the least gruesome photo I have so you can see.

I was pretty much exhausted at that point, but I was close to the gallery so I figured I’d pop in since it was free.

Well, rather it advertises it is free.


Apparently when I was there they were having a special exhibition, meaning that most of the museum was not free as a result. Only two rooms were open to the public, one of which had children’s drawings, and the other which had a few sculptures. Not too impressive. So be warned you might need to pay to go in. Check if it’s an exhibition you want to see. I wasn’t all that interested in going if I had to pay.

I headed back towards my hostel. I’d thought about visiting the Dublin Writer’s Museum, but I was simply too tired after a full day to possibly go. So I went to the store and bought some snacks for the next few day’s lunches. I have a strict one paid meal per day policy. So I usually just get some snacks for breakfast or lunch (if my hostel doesn’t provide breakfast). So I stocked up for the coming days.


A swing through Trinity in the sun!

I took a quick break at my hostel before heading out to find dinner again.

Another recommendation from my tour guide the day before had been The Winding Stair, a restaurant along the river not far from the half-penny bridge.



The prices weren’t cheap, but for what was included it was a good deal. Besides, one meal policy leaves a little room for splurging in the evening. So I had the three course meal to spoil myself.

I started with a watercress and potato soup, then lamb with mint and yogurt sauce, potatoes and broccoli, and finally a slice of dark chocolate cherry brownie with vanilla ice cream.

It was exceptionally delicious.

After the meal I headed back to my hostel. I was lucky enough to arrive back in time to the hostel in order to use the steam room. It’s only open for three hours in the evening, and only two of those are open to girls (one girls, one mixed group).

Anyhow, changed into my suit and hopped in the sauna. It was ridiculously warm so I only lasted about 10-15 minutes, but it felt really good and refreshing. So here’s my plug for Isaac’s Hostel with their awesome steam room. Very cool feature!

Then on for a good night’s sleep. I needed to be well rested and prepared for my adventure the coming day. After all, I was about to leave the beautiful country of Ireland and venture off towards a new place… The Isle of Man.