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So you're visiting a new city and whoopsall of a sudden the weather changes and your plans for a walk and an alfresco meal get rained out. What do you do during days like these? Hit the museums, of course! If you're heading to the UK any time soon, there are two newly opened museum that should definitely be on your radar:
· Museum of Liverpool
This is not the sort of building you expect to see in Liverpool, but then you also wouldn't expect 13,234 visitors to have squeezed in there on opening day (July 19), but they did. The huge museum focuses on showing "Liverpool’s unique contribution to the world," including everything from the city's historic starts to its nautical heritage and especially its place in pop culture. Yes, there's Beatles stuff in there, but there's also a Ford Anglia, a totem pole, World War I items and a steam locomotive. And...umm...you can even donate your door for a future artwork. Entry is free!
Travel Tips / Five Cities Begging for Your Attention / Glasgow Travel / Scotland Travel / Chanize Thorpe / → All Tags
Call us champions of the underdog, but we’ve got an overall affinity for places that are often overlooked in the travel world. Some have had rough pasts or are a tad slow on the tourist track, but they just want a little love. Here’s the lowdown on five cities eager for the chance to win you over.
City 2 of 5: Glasgow, Scotland.
Why to go to Glasgow: It's got a gritty rep, sure, but Scotland’s biggest city is working hard to shed it. Glasgow's transforming former slums into it-spots and kick-ass dining has been introduced from the Gordon Ramsays and Jamie Olivers of the world. There’s also a banging music scene and top-notch shoppingvintage to high-fashionon Sauchiehall Street that’s more affordable than sometimes-stuffy Edinburgh. Sure, you can’t tell what Glaswegians are saying half the time due to that thick accent. But who cares? Nod, say “Aye” and it’s all good.
The dining room at 21212
Haggis, deep-fried Mars bars, mushy peas…the Scottish haven't really been known for their contributions to the culinary world. On our recent visit to Edinburgh, though, we found all that was changing thanks to a slew of new all-star chefs opening restaurants that at once embrace and evolve Scottish cuisine. Maybe that’s why this year is Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink, and the International Culinary Tourism Association described it as one of the most “unique, memorable, and interesting places for food and drink on the planet.”
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When we travel, one of our favorite things to do is to pop into a local grocery store and check out the food products and candies we'd never find anywhere else. So we're trying out this new feature, Foreign Grocery Friday, where each week we'll feature some of our (and your) favorite overseas treats. Got a recommendation? Let us know!
What's that bottle of nuclear-orange soft drink on the same shelf as Pepsi, Coke and other top-brand colas? Oh, it's just the best selling pop in Scotland: Irn Bru. Although we like to pronounce it by mumbling "urn bruh," the actual way to say is simply "Iron Brew." Irn Bru is not only hugely popular in the UK, but also in other places around the world where you'll find some Scots residing. For example, we recently ran across it in Nova Scotia. The entire history of this curious drink is of course available over at Wikipedia, and we're stunned to find that this stuff was first introduced back in 1901.
The taste: Don't be afraid to try some when you spy its bright orangeness up against the dark bottles of other colas. Irn Bru doesn't taste like orange pop, nor is it unpleasant. Our chief Irn Bru expert describes its taste "citrus-y, cream soda-y, energy drink-y without quite tasting like any one of the three." We agree. It's hard to pinpoint it as, you see, no one knows the full Irn Bru recipe aside from two folks at the top of the company.
Adventure Travel / Scotland Travel / Edinburgh Travel / Edinburgh Field Trip / Mountain Climbing / Mountains / → All Tags
What activities do you typically think of when planning a trip to Scotland? Well, there's trying haggis, maybe flirting with the idea of buying a kilt, and perhaps enjoying some nice highland scenery. But when we went to Edinburgh recently, we looked out the window of the hotel only to see a looming, misty dormant volcano in the distance; this is "Arthur's Seat" and it was calling our name.
A quick visit to the wiki page on Arthur's Seat verified that it is easily climbable, so we set out for what would become a most exhilaratingand at times, most dangeroushike. We cannot stress enough the importance of appropriate footwear!
After the jump, how to climb and what to see on Arthur's Seat
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Everything is turning to mobile app form these days, including one of our favorite topics: Movie Set Travel. The British Tourism Board, aka VisitBritain, is calling this type of tourism"Set-Jetting," and they've launched an app to help you follow your favorite movies around London and Scotland.
The app, downloadable from the iTunes store for free here, "allows users to discover and photograph the most iconic British film locations in cinematic history. It also shows the most famous film scenes on Google maps and allows users to search by film title."
Of course the most recent addition would be scenes from the new Sherlock Holmes movie, with locations ranging from a staricase in St. Paul's Cathedral to Tower Bridge. But the app includes oldies by goodies, like how to find the locations for Hogwart's in Harry Potter movies, and the locations of battlefields in Braveheart. The app will even let you capture photos and video and post them to Twitter and Facebook, perhaps to then later cross-reference to scenes from the movies? So now to discover where exactly we can find Mr. Darcy from Pride & Prejudice, eh?
[Photo: iTunes App Store]
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We really hate it when this happens, especially when it happened to Slovakia-based SkyEurope only a few months ago, but Scotland's LCC airline FlyGlobespan has shut down abruptly, stranding thousands of their passengers around Europe and canceling future flights and vacations. The airline stopped trading yesterday and entered administration; in laymen's terms they are bankrupt.
And just like with SkyEurope, other European airlines are doing their best to mobilize and rescue some 4,500 stranded former FlyGlobespan passengers trapped on holiday mainly in Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and Egypt. Ryanair was the first to jump on offering "Globespan Rescue" rates from 59 GBP ($96.50), which is pricey for the LCC but reasonable if you consider the last-minute, space-available nature of these rescue seats.
Though the skies are clear and the air mild for tourism in the hills of Scotland this time of year, right now is a lousy time to be a lamb there. Farmers in the Northwest highlands are reporting that 15 whitetail sea eagles, an endangered species, have wreaked havoc on the region, devouring more than 200 of their littlest sheep.
We're big fans of UNESCO's Creative Cities program which so far has quite rightly crowned Berlin as a City of Design and let Santa Fe don the cap of City of Folk Art. This month a new creative city has stepped up: Glasgow has been official christened a UNESCO City of Music.
Being a City of Music, according to UNESCO, is meant to help Glasgow preserve its music culture as well as make it an extra-attractive tourist destination. Home to great indie bands like Franz Ferdinand and Belle & Sebastian, and with a typical week of music in the city totalling 127 different gigs, you'd be hard pressed not to find something musical to entertain you on a night out in Glasgow.
· Glasgow's Music Scene Recognised with Rare Honour From UNESCO [The Independent]
· Take Me Out to Glasgow [Jaunted]
· UNESCO coverage [Jaunted]
[Photo: turquoise boy]
We have to confess to just a tiny crush on Colin Firth, that quintessential English gentleman who we adored in "Bridget Jones's Diary" and is starring in "Mamma Mia!" soon. This tiny crush means we are very, very open to the travel suggestions he made recently in the UK Times.
Colin's especially keen on the desert, like the stuff you find in the northern Sahara in Tunisia, but it sounds like the place on earth that he'd most recommend is the west of Scotland.
He's vacationed in that part of Britain more than once, but he's also spent time around Loch Fyne filming a movie and says it had an "impossibly romantic glow." Right: Adding west Scotland to our must-travel list now. We hope the charming Colin Firth will come along with us.
· My Hols: Colin Firth [UK Times]
· Anticipated Summer Movie Travel: Who Wants to Go to Greece? [Jaunted]
If Patrick "McDreamy" Dempsey knows one thing, it's how to appeal to his fan base. How else could we explain the strategic leaking to the press that, when Dempsey was filming his latest movie "Made of Honor" in Scotland, he decided to dress in a kilt. Briefless.
Too bad the "Grey's Anatomy" star claims he had to abandon this nod to tradition after getting some nasty fly bites. Between extraneous undershorts and putting DEET-y repellent on your naughty bits, we go for the shorts every time.
In "Made of Honor," which opens May 2, Dempsey plays a man who falls for his best lady friend (Michelle Monaghan) just as she's getting hitched. Sounds just like "My Best Friend's Wedding," but without Rupert Everett to make it all OK.