Edinburgh – Isle of Skye – Portree – Glasgow, Scotland – 2019 – Day 25-29

10/05/19

Isle of Skye, Scotland

The start of the roadtrop – Edinburgh to Isle of Skye. We booked a car rental and picked up our car at the Train Station (Note – there is an extra service fee renting from the train station) and we got upgraded to an MG car. Needed a little calibrating to driving on the left side of the road but also the speed being in miles instead of kilometers. Roads are very narrow here with roundabouts and at times, the roads become single-laned streets with little passing sections to go aside to let the car opposite direction pass.

Along the way, we stopped by the small village of Glencoe and Fort William. The Wildcat in Fort Williamis a vegan cafe serving ample variety of food, pastries and coffee as well as a shopping section for eco-friendly products in the back. We saw many chilis go out but I settled for the full vegan breakfast – chestnut & herb sausage, haggis, scrambled tofu, potato rosti, avocano, baked beans, mushrooms, baked tomatoes, wilted spinach and sourdough bread.

We continued on the road stopping by Eilean Donan Castle. It is the most photographed castle in Scotland apparently and to this day, the family does on occasion still reside in the property. It has its own bridge to get to the castle as well.

Seeing as we were making good time and weather was somewhat cooperating, we decided to go and see more. We drove to the Fairy Pools and did the walk down from Glucagon na Sithichean. The winds were brutal with mist lightly covering everything. The waters were so clear and from above. We also drove down the road to see another fairy pool on the side of the road. There is a beach further in but no point in going when it’s super wet, windy and dark outside. Please also watch out for roaming sheep.

The sun went down so we checked into our hostel – Skyewalker Hostel. Dropped all our things and drove 30 minutes to get into Portree (kudos to Winnie driving in the dark and rain). Had dinner at the Caley Bar – I got the burger that comes with fries, onion rings and coleslaw.

10/06/19

Isle of Skye, Scotland

Our first full day in Skye, we started our day back in Portree stocking up on groceries at the Co-op before hitting the open road. We drove to the Fairy Glen (many miniature cone-shaped hills). Next stop was Quiraing where the sun started to come out but we didn’t realize where we had stopped in that parking lot was the entrance to the 6-8KM trail. We drove down the bends to see the other side to realize this. At that point, there was no turning back. We just kept going.

Stopped by Cuith-Raing – a lookout point.

With the gorgeous sun out, we stopped by Kilt Rock with his waterfall before making it over to Old Man of Storr. We hiked to the top and we were so happy the weather cooperated. When we were heading down from our hike, the rain started up so we were lucky. We drove back to Portree and wandered the town a bit going to stores like Or and the Gathering Hall Market.

Since we didn’t really have a proper meal that day (minus the tons of snacking) we chose to stay in Portree for dinner. We went to Prince of India – I ordered the lamb Tikka Biryani and the special Pakura.

We were able to drive back to Port na Long while the sun was still up (much easier than pitch darkness and rain). Our hostel featured a see-through dome where you can relax and look upon the stars but only when the sky is clear which sadly it wasn’t.

10/07/19

Isle of Skye, Scotland

We kept checking the weather going into this trip and this day in particular was suppose to be raining 15-20mm. The Scottish have a word – dreich meaning wet, dull, gloomy, dreary at its most miserable of weather.

Today however, the rain for the most part stayed away and we got some golden rays.

We drove over to Dunvegan Castle – the clan of MacLeod. It is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and goes back at least 800 years. The garden was super lovely to walk through as well.

The rays of sun were strong as we drove to our next destination – Neist Point Lighthouse. It did get dark and gloomy along the way and traffic came to a halt because of the cows. We got to the top and waited in our car until the clouds pushed away a bit. Windy but we made the climb down and up to the lighthouse.

Considering we thought the day would be rained out, we stopped into a Cafe and asked about any other hikes and a couple mentioned Coral Beach in Claigan. The walk down to the beach is easy going (about 25 mins each way). The best part was climbing up to the top of the cliff after you’ve made it to the beach. It was incredibly windy and ever more so up top.

We drove back to Portree for dinner and grabbed some classic fish and chips at Chippy’s. The rest of the night was spent trying to untangle my hair. A lot of hair was lost that night.

10/08/19

Isle of Skye – Glasgow – Edinburgh, Scotland

Isle of Skye was great timing for us in terms of weather especially. We left in the morning and the rain just kept pummelling down.

We drove back to Edinburgh but of course with stopovers in Fort William for lunch at Wildcat Cafe once again. I got the miso peanut butter tofu wrap. We also decided to detour and check out Glasgow on our way back.

The weather wasn’t ideal but we did manage to walk around a bit to see the church (outside because it closed before we arrived) and around the square, part of campus and the famous shopping area and arcade. I even found a Tardis. We also stopped by a piece of home – Tim Hortons (but no honey cruellers so we carried on). We made it back in Edinburgh and made a nice stirfry to end this chapter of our time in Scotland with Nuala and Maya.

10/09/19

Edinburgh to London to Barcelona

Early morning train ride from Edinburgh to London Euston. Of course we had loads of snacks to get us through our travels. Winnie and myself parted ways once we got into Euston. I went to explore the city and run some errands and she went to exchange clothing at her friend’s place where she was storing her larger luggage.

In my few hours walking around, I went to Novelty Automation, Oxford Street, Carnaby, the Burlington Arcade (still has its own private police in big hats and capes), and Goodwin’s court in Covent Garden.

Walked over to London Bridge train station and we both hopped onto the train to Gatwick airport using our oyster cards. It was a long ride especially with rush hour travellers.

The flight with Vueling to Barcelona was super smooth. Since we arrived late in the evening, we decided to sleep in the airport. We found an outlet behind a machine so we plugged in and slept on the floor.

Itinerary – Europe – 2019

#urowiz

The original plan was to go to Australia & New Zealand for Sept/Oct 2019 with my friend Winnie. We were hoping for a flight deal to come along. Unfortunately no deal came by the deadline we gave ourselves so we decided to go to Europe together instead. Our itinerary is all over the place zig –zagging all over Europe. We narrowed down our top 10 countries we wanted to visit in the time period we had and researched where we could fly to for a bargain. From there, we chose to go to the warmer destinations first to extend our summer. The last leg of the trip was originally going to be staying in London/UK but we decided during the trip to go somewhere warm because let’s be fair, the heat makes things happier especially being in chilly and wet weather for awhile.

Now, before you get to the itinerary (all the way at the bottom), I am posting some (hopefully) helpful tips and information that came up during our trip.

 

Money – STACK (Pre-paid Mastercard)
36 days of travelling to multiple countries with different currencies takes a lot of organizing. When I travel, I usually carry a good amount of cash on me and pay that way so I don’t incur high conversion fees using my credit card. I made sure I knew what countries I was going to and calculated roughly how much I would be spending per day and got cash for certain countries I knew I would be in for a longer duration.

I tried to average about $60CAD/day. Prior to setting off on this trip, we tried to book our Airbnb’s, car rentals and flights in advance so at least those costs were covered.

My brother told me about this card called STACK, which is a conversion fee pre-paid Mastercard. With this card, you Interac transfer money from your bank account to the card account via the app using the special custom question and answer the app provides you with. Say you decide to transfer $200 to the card, if the card gets stolen, the card is not linked to your actual bank account and if say only $200 is on the card that is the limit that can be used. This card comes as a physical card but is also a virtual card via the app.

What I liked about using this card is that it was a very fast and secure way of paying for things abroad and the app also notifies you when a transaction has been made and will convert it automatically to your main currency so you don’t have to calculate the conversion yourself. And it is conversion fee free!

I used this card more so in the Scandinavian countries because they have started to adopt the cash-less transactions method but I still used cash in many of the other countries we travelled to.

Use my referral link and you’ll get $5 in your account when you activate your card.
Download STACK now: https://getstackco.app.link/fuqEmfMNH1 (this link only works on your phone via the app once its downloaded)

 

Ryanair
Yes Ryanair has super cheap flights BUT many hidden costs or steps. We decided to go to many countries because of how cheap the flights were (12£ one-way to go from London (Stansted) to Copenhagen (CPH) is a real good price). We also booked early. These cheap tickets have many drawbacks. First off, many of the airports you fly out of or into are not usually the main airports and are usually smaller airports outside of the city centre which adds more travel time.

More recently, Ryanair changed their luggage requirements from what use to be a free carry-on (still smaller than regulation size on other airlines) and now the only free luggage you can have must be 40x20x25CM. Depending on the airport and the staff, they don’t really check the size of your bag. I got the size compliant bag (Swissgear – https://www.shopbentley.com/en/escape-collection-travel-tote-swiss-gear-1016684.html) and it sits under the seat no problem with room to spare. The staff didn’t really check so you could get away with a slightly larger bag or a bag that can squish.

REMEMBER TO ALWAYS CHECK IN ONLINE. You can do this up to 48 hours. For non-EU passengers, you must print your documents, as they will not issue you a boarding pass. I found that with flights not connected to the UK, the boarding pass will be issued to your Ryanair App however, if you are flying out of or into UK, you must print your boarding pass to get a Visa check and stamp. I have heard that if you don’t print it and ask at the check-in desk, there is an expensive fee for them to print for you.

Easyjet, Air Europa, Norwegian and Vueling are also other cheap airline operators and their restrictions are not severe as Ryanair for luggage or protocol. I usually use Momondo or Skyscanner to help me check for better deals on flights.

 

Car rentals – International Driver’s License
As a Canadian, you are required to have your International Driver’s License to rent a car in Spain.

 

Sim Card
Travelling throughout many countries in Europe for over a month, trying to find a SIM card plan that works in all the countries and for that period of time was a challenge but there are definitely options out there beside “roaming” with your phone plan back home as that can be costly.

For my 36 day Eurotrip, I purchased this 30 day SIM card that works throughout 71 European countries with 12GB + 3000 minutes + 3000 texts. You are also able to top up this plan when in the UK by purchasing in-store.

Photo & Video Storage – SSD & USB – I brought an external to back up my photos from my DSLR and my phone every night. I also bring a USB for back-up to the back-up of the external for peace of mind since my phone internal storage is not large enough to store all the photos from the trip for the entirety of 36 days. I would suggest bringing another USB (64GB should suffice) to be the back up to the back up for the phone photos so you can clear space.

You can also use cloud storage but I am not a fan of that so these are my alternatives.

 

Hikes

Alltrails is amazing for finding hikes around the world. People review or comment on each hike and also you can see the difficulty and lengths. You can also download the app.

 

Groceries
To be honest, we ate out a lot this trip. When we could, we tried to make some meals with friends. We also stocked up on snacks like fruit and breakfast (skyr, yogurt, granola etc). You will find that there are many grocery stores but some are superior to others in terms of quality for the price. Budget friendly grocery stores you should be on the lookout for are Aldi & LIDL.

 

Overview

Spain – Euro
-Tipping is not common but you can tip if you want (5-10%)

Eating times
Different times for eating. They take siesta very seriously and will take hour long lunches where the kids will go home as well to eat with family. Dinner usually starts around 8PM.
Desayuno – breakfast – 7-9AM
-a Spanish classic is a toasted baguette with olive oil and crushed tomatoes
-other breakfast foods consist of churros and chocolate or pastries like croissants.
Almuerzo – Mid-morning snack – 1030-11AM – Coffee with a muffin or a croissant with ham and cheese
La Comida – Lunch – 2-330PM – Most important meal of the day.
Merienda – Mid-after snack – 530-730PM – More about socializing – more drinks than food. Churros are popular at this time of day or a small meat and cheese sandwich.
La hora del aperitivo – Tapas Hour – 830-10PM
La Cena – Dinner time – 9-11PM – Dinner is usually much lighter than a standard dinner meal. Traditional Spanish dinners are shared plates.

-Try Clara – beer with lemonade or lemon Fanta
-Try Tinto de verano – Red wine with Sprite or Fanta (very popular in Spain) – very similar to sangria

Common Phrases
-Hola – Ola – Hello
-Adios – bye
-Si – Yes
-No – No

-Pardon or Disculpa – Excuse me
-Por Favor – Please
-Gracias – Thank you
-De nada – You’re Welcome
-Lo SIento – Sorry
-Factura – Bill
-Salud – Cheers
-Camamos – Let’s eat

 

Portugal – Euro
-Tipping is not common but you can tip if you want (5-10%)
-You need to try some pastel de nata (Portugese Egg Tarts)
-Ola – Hello
-Oi – Hi
-Tchau – Bye
-Sim – Yes
-Nao – No
-Por Vaor – Please
-Obrigado – Thank you
-De nada – You’re Welcome
-Desculpe – I’m Sorry
-Perdao – Pardon me
-Saúde – Cheers
-vamos comer – Let’s eat!

 

Sweden – Stockholm – SEK – Swedish Krone
-Open drinking on the streets is not allowed.
-Physical cash transaction is not common here.
-Tap and Swish (E-Transfer) is the common transaction types
-Stockholm is made up of many little islands connected by bridges
-Tipping is not common however, it is common to round up the total to the nearest big number as a tip.
-Access is their tap transport card – I got the 72-hour card. You can take all the forms of transportation ranging from bus, train, tram and ferry.
-Fika – an important part of Swedish culture. Fika – coffee break

-Hej – Hello
-adjö – bye
-Ja – Yes
-Nej – No
-Ursäkta – Excuse me
-snälla du – Please
-Tack or Tack tack – Thank you
-Varsågod – You’re welcome
-Förlåt – Sorry
-räkningen – Bill
-Skål – Cheers
-låt oss äta – Let’s eat

 

Denmark – Copenhagen – DKK – Krone
-Open drinking on the streets is not allowed.
-Tipping is not common however, it is common to round up the total to the nearest big number as a tip
-Biking is taken very seriously and has its own road rules just like driving a car.
-Copenhagen Card – You can use the calculator on their website to see if it is worth it to purchase this card. We purchased it but mainly for the unlimited travel. We purchased the 72 hours card. It’s sort of an honour system in a sense as you have to write in your start date and time on the card. You don’t tap it when boarding trains/buses etc but there may be a fare/ticket checker on some of your rides and must show your card. I wish we used the erasable pen we had instead so we could adjust it as we were in Copenhagen for a little bit more than 72 hours and it would have been nice to not have to purchase a day pass for the last few hours. The card gets you into many attractions and discounts on many other things.

-Make sure you check if certain attractiions are open on specific days
-Expensive country

-Hej – Hello
-adjö – bye
-Ja – Yes
-Ingen – No
-undskyld mig- Excuse me
-Vær venlig (vair-vin-lee)– Please
-Tack or Tack tack – Thank you
-Selv tak (sell tack) – You’re welcome
-Beklager (bi-clay-er) – Sorry
-regning – Bill
-Skål (skuul) – Cheers
-Lad os spise- Let’s eat

 

Germany – Euro
-Tipping is not common but you can tip if you want (10%)
-Drinking is allowed in public
-Many flea markets on Sundays!
-Many stores are closed
-Grocery stores are closed Sundays however the ones in bus/train stations are exceptions

-Hallo – Hello
-Tschüss – (choose) bye
-Ja – Yes
-Nein – No
-Entschuldigen Sie – Excuse me
-bitte – Please
-Dankeschön– Thank you
-Bitte – You’re welcome
-Es tut uns leid (astudentslight) – Sorry
-Rechnung – Bill
-Prost- Cheers
-Lass uns essen- Let’s eat

 

London – Pound – £
-Oyster Card – train/subway/bus system is very intricate but can get you everywhere.
-Tip is around 10%

 

Scotland – Pound- £
-Similar to Quebec to the rest of Canada, Scotland is the United Kingdom’s counterpart whereby at a certain point, they wanted to separate to become a country of their own.
Edinburgh
-It doesn’t really snow here but the temperature remains an average low of maybe 5C
-Edinburgh seems to be a popular for international students to study

 

Congratulations, you have made it to the piece de resistance – My Itinerary for 36 days in Europe. We did move around things we did on certain days in certain cities but for the most part, this is what we did and they are grouped by areas in each city to maximize your days.

 

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3 & 4
Week 5 & 6
All the places we went