What is an Aparthotel and why I love staying in one

August 19 ~ Liverpool, England

Near our hotel

Liverpool – Near our hotel

Our Tuesday train ride from Edinburgh to Liverpool was uneventful with only one change required in the village of Preston.  Both Tim and I commented on how much we have come to enjoy traveling throughout various countries via the rail system.  The UK in particular (most familiar with their system now) seems to have it well figured out.  The prices are reasonable (avoid London if you can to save money), the scheduling is frequent, helpful staff on hand at each station should you require assistance, and viewing the scenery along the way in a relaxed environment is just icing on the cake.

I have done most of my booking online using Thetrainline.com.  The site is easy to use and allows you to enter a variety of times to meet your needs or you can search for the best rates.  On longer journeys you can also reserve specific seats choosing from options such as which direction you want to face, sit in a window or aisle seat, a place with a table, near luggage racks, by the toilet, a quiet car, and even a seat with an outlet so you can charge your electronic gear.

Arriving in Liverpool at the Lime Street station, we had a very short 5 minute walk to our hotel.  We had booked online via Hotels.com a five night stay at the Adagio which is an apartment/hotel (or aparthotel) as they list it.  Our room is considered a studio unit.

Main room of the studio with bed open

Main room of the studio with bed open

Set up very similar to a hotel operation, but with a few more options.  Breakfast is included or not depending who you book through.  You can add-on the daily full buffet breakfast for £12 ($20) per person.

Since our studio is fully equipped with a fabulous (but diminutive) kitchen, we opted to not do the breakfast option.  A few blocks away is a Tesco supermarket where we stocked up on a few basics that would allow us to fix breakfast, a sandwich, have drinks or other snacks as needed.

The kitchen includes a microwave, large refrigerator, dishwasher, dishes for six, glasses, pots, pans, silverware, cooking utensils and more.

Complete service for six

Complete service for six

The room itself is spotless, modern and well laid out for the two of us.  The king size bed is a Murphy unit that can be easily lifted up against the wall during the daytime converting it into a comfortable sofa.

Bed folded up and converted into sofa

Bed folded up and converted into sofa

The desk unit has a table that slides underneath, that simply pulls out for meal time.

Table pulls out from under the desk

Table pulls out from under the desk

The roomy bathroom has modern sink, a shower/bathtub combo and good water pressure with plenty of hot water.

Modern bathroom fixtures

Modern bathroom fixtures

Oh, and did I mention FREE and FAST Internet!

Other niceties included in the room are a large flat screen TV, iPad docking station, iron and ironing board, several closets, a safe, hairdryer, hand soap, body wash and shampoo. There is also an onsite gym and laundry room available for guests to use.

Larger units are available for families or friends traveling together.

The only downside to be aware of is that daily cleaning is not included which for us is not a problem.  Full cleaning is done including linens and towels being changed weekly for those having a longer stay.

After experiencing what it was like living like a local in a modest situation in Scotland, it is nice to be pampered by some modern conveniences.

At the time of this writing there are 100 Adagio locations.  Being a French company, by far the majority are located in France, however they can also be found in Brazil, Germany, Austria, Italy, Monaco, Switzerland, UK, Belgium, Qatar, Russia, and United Arab Emirates.

And just in case you are wondering – NO, I am not getting anything for recommending the Adagio.  All comments and words are simply my own.  When I find something I like, I am happy to share it!

Gratitude Moment:  Today I am grateful for being able to adjust to whatever circumstances we settle into.  I am at home in a basic (rustic) setting or I can hobnob with the best of them in luxury.  Somewhere in-between the two extremes is where I feel most comfortable.  Home has become where ever we are at the moment.

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Are big changes on the horizon for Scotland?

August 18 ~ Our last full day in Edinburgh, Scotland

One final lunch together

One final lunch together

Today was Dick’s birthday.  Our three weeks in Scotland was coming to an end, but we had this one day left to enjoy this beautiful stone city.  Dick said that a big bowl of Bolognese pasta sounded good, so we suggested an Italian restaurant where we had eaten a delicious dinner a week earlier.

Unfortunately the menu was limited at lunchtime compared to the dinner offerings and we settled for the special of the day.  It was good, but not the memorable meal we had hoped for.

One of the things that had stood out for me on our previous visit was our waiter, Giovanni. He had questioned us as to where we were from, and hearing that we were from the Los Angeles area he informed us, “I knew it!  I watched Desperate Housewives, and I could tell you were from there”.

I’m still not sure if I should be flattered, insulted or both, but it certainly did give me a chuckle to think that his impression of someone from the USA, California and/or Los Angeles was based on him having watched that particular TV show.

He did make an effort to get us into the celebratory mood by bringing a candle to the table and setting it in front of Dick for the special occasion.

Happy birthday Dick!

Happy birthday Dick!

Once again we walked up and down the Royal Mile.  The Fringe Festival was still in full swing and hundreds of plays, musicals and one-man-shows were being performed all over the city.  The Royal Mile was the place to watch a sneak preview of an act, or to talk to individual actors that were hawking their particular show.  We were in search of a comedy to watch.

One that caught our eye was “An Evening With Dementia”.  Sadly it was being performed after we were leaving town or we would have selected it to see.  It was quite entertaining watching people on the street however.  The actor (man with sign on his back) was in character as he moved along the walkway.  People stared and often gave him a wide berth.

One n

An Evening With Dementia

We ended up choosing an improv show “Men with Coconuts” that was similar to the old Drew Carey show, “What’s my line”.

Improv show

Improv show

Although nowhere near the caliber of Drew Carey and crew, we still got some chuckles and enjoyed their creativity.

On a completely different note – Scotland has a HUGE vote coming up on the 18th of September.  The question being voted on is:

“Should Scotland be an independent country?”

I had an opportunity to speak to a couple of people while here to try to get a feel for which way the wind was blowing and came away with the impression that the vote will be a close one.  For more information about the Scottish Independence Referendum, 2014 you can click here and here.

“Scots are about to take the biggest decision of their lives in 300 years – a vote on independence, yes or no?”

If however I was to go by the percentage of “Yes” signs I saw posted in windows all over town, then I think the tide may swing in that direction.

"YES" signs in the windows

“YES” signs in the windows

This is one more reason that I love traveling.  It opens my eyes to different situations throughout the world.  When you have seen the place involved, talked to the people and read a bit about both sides of an issue, suddenly you become more involved, even if just to find out what the outcome will be.

It will be very interesting to follow this election.

I am both sad and happy to be leaving Scotland.  I have enjoyed the warm, friendly people and the amazing stone buildings dating back hundreds of years.  The music, culture, lively festival, gorgeous country (especially in the highlands) has been a treat I will not soon forget.  I even liked the haggis.

On the other hand, the weather here has made a mockery of my telling my husband that we would be following the sun. I am ready to be slowly making my way back toward home and with us turning south back to England seems to be a step in that direction.

Next stop:  Liverpool

We have less than two weeks before we depart from Warwick (near London) for our transatlantic cruise back to the states.

Gratitude Moment:  Today I am grateful to be watching history in the making.  I am also grateful that the people of Scotland are able to have their voices heard through how they vote in a free election next month.

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Another whirlwind day in Edinburgh with great friends

August 17 ~ Edinburgh, Scotland

Tim, Dick, Karen, Joanne

Tim, Dick, Karen, Joanne

Another busy, whirlwind of a day with Dick and Karen, starting off with a ride on a giant carousel that was installed just for the festival.

Giant carousel

Giant carousel

This was followed up with us climbing up 287 steps to the top of the Scott Monument to capture some amazing views of the city.

“The Scott Monument is a Victorian Gothic monument to Scottish author Sir Walter Scott. It is the largest monument to a writer in the world” ~ Wikipedia

Carousel and Scot's Monument

Carousel and Scott Monument

The monument is an intricate creation that requires a bit of endurance and athletic agility to climb all the way to the top.  Broken up with four different viewing levels, it provides an amazing opportunity to see both the old and new city in great detail.  The tricky part is how narrow and winding the staircase is.  Barely wide enough for one average size person to get through, look out if you happen to meet someone going down when you are on your way up (or vice versa).

Scott Monument

Scott Monument

Look at the details and tiny, narrow stairway

Look at the details and tiny, narrow stairway

Tim, Joanne, Dick, Karen at the Scott Memorial

Tim, Joanne, Dick, Karen at the Scott Monument

The views were worth the effort

The views were worth the effort

The hop-on hop-off bus was next on our list. Tim and I had used this same bus line last month when we stopped here on our British Isles cruise, but this time we took a different route for more of an overview of the city.

Here are a few random shots taken around town:

Edinburgh Castle side view

Edinburgh Castle side view

Edinburgh Castle from below

Edinburgh Castle from below

Unknown building (but I liked it)

Unknown building (but I liked it)

After lunch on the Royal Mile and completing the city route, we chose a second loop that would take us past the Royal Botanical Gardens and over to the port where the now retired vessel, the Royal Yacht Britannia, is permanently berthed and available to tour.

The Royal Yacht Britannia

The Royal Yacht Britannia

I was quite fascinated by the entire ship and took a lot of pictures.  I am including small thumbnail size prints so that this page will not take forever to load, but if you are interested in seeing more details, just click on the pictures and larger ones will pop up that you can easily scroll through.  We spent a couple of hours here and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing how the royal family lived while on board.

Launched in 1953 and in service for 44 years, she traveled over 1,000,000 miles around the globe, and was retired in 1997.

Gratitude Moment:  Today I am grateful for getting a glimpse into what life was like for the Royal Family on board the Royal Yacht.  I’m not really sure that I understand the fascination, but I, like so many others, have a curiosity about a life style so completely different from my own.  The titles, formalities and protocol are foreign on more than one level, but it was a treat to imagine, if only for a short time, what cruising in the lap of luxury would have been like.

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Company in Edinburgh!

August 16 – Edinburgh Scotland

Fringe Festival

Fringe Festival

Our good friends from Southern California, Dick and Karen, arrived on Friday to spend several days with us here in Edinburgh.  The last time we saw them (along with our other friends, Jan and Gary), was a couple of months ago when we met up on our Gate 1 trip in the Baltic countries of Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.

With being so busy, my time on the Internet was limited and my blog entries suffered.  So, in order to get caught up, I will be doing a quick recap primarily told through our pictures.

Truthfully I gladly sacrificed my writing time, to spend quality time with friends! Continue reading

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Looking for Nessie on Loch Ness, plus Glencoe and the Scottish Highlands

Wednesday August 13th ~ On a day trip to the Highlands of Scotland

Warning:  This is a long post from an even longer 13 hour tour…

Map of the area we would be covering

Map of the area we would be covering

The wind was howling this morning and we hung onto our belonging as we headed out the door just after 7:00.  Rain gear and umbrellas at the ready, we realized that if we did not just get out there, regardless of the weather, that our time in Scotland would be gone without us getting to some of the things we had come all this way to see.

We chose Scotline Tours for todays excursion.  The price was reasonable and although a long 13+ hour day was ahead, we were excited to finally be getting to the Highlands area. Scotline offers several one day trips, but we chose the Loch Ness, Glencoe and the Highlands journey for a couple of reasons: Continue reading

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Day trip in a CAR to Mellerstain House with FRIENDS!!!

Monday August 11 ~ Road trip in the Scottish countryside!

Charlie, Lise, Joanne, Tim (photo courtesy of Lise Brown)

Charlie, Lise, Joanne, Tim (photo courtesy of Lise Brown)

Now you might think that was a strange title for a post, and wonder why I was so excited about it.  But after being away from home for several months now, and being totally dependent upon local and hired transportation, and being just the two of us you may begin to understand why today was such a treat for us.

As much as I love Tim’s company (and I DO love his company, even 24/7), there is still a hole in our lives that can only be filled by sharing moments with friends and family.

We met Lise and Charlie on a Danube River cruise earlier this year.  I was unintentionally eavesdropping and overheard Charlie telling another passenger that he and his wife were traveling the world for the entire year.  My ears perked up and I knew that I had to meet this couple that were also following their dreams. Continue reading

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Rainy days and Sundays always get me down

Sunday August 10 ~ Stuck inside in Edinburgh

Abbey

Holyrood Abbey

Oh how it has rained, and rained today.  Without much effort, I talked Tim into simply staying inside where we are warm and dry.

The past couple of days we did get out for a few hours each day of walking and sightseeing. Where we are staying, is about a mile from the lower end of the Royal Mile so it takes us about a 15 minute walk to get to any of the “touristy” places.  Of course that translates into a 30 minute walk for me if I have my camera in my hand as I am often distracted or sidetracked by one more thing to take a picture of.   Continue reading

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