The Caley Picture House in Edinburgh – REVIEW

While traveling in Edinburgh for just a few days, I wanted to keep a budget because we were returning to London after a few days in Portugal. So I was pretty stoked that we were brought to this place, which definitely was a cheaper way of eating in Edinburgh!

We found The Caley Picture House, which used to be a movie theatre back in the day. It was totally up my alley because I majored in Film Studies, so I was getting a lot of nostalgic vibes after entering the restaurant, which is quite large!

A photo of Caley Picture House's interior, with a staircase on the right, and the stage on the left. Many light fixtures are hanging from the ceiling.

Brunch

We actually went to this place two times in one day! We went for brunch just before 10am and the place was pretty empty. I got a half size of a traditional Scottish breakfast, which was only about £4. The prices were super reasonable for the amount of food that you get. It reminded me of El Furniture Warehouse here in Calgary, where every dish is just under $6.

My favorite part about my dish was the sweet potato cake/pastie. I’ve never had anything like it! It was crispy on the outside, and the inside was not too sweet and had mashed sweet potato inside.

A sunnyside egg, saucy beans, bacon, sausage and a pasti on a plate
Traditional Scottish breakfast with beans, sausage, bacon, an egg and sweet potato cake!
A photo of the menu which lists the different breakfast items at The Caley Picture House
The menu

I believe it’s so cheap because if you want any kind of drink (coffee, tea, non-alcoholic, alcoholic), you actually don’t get table service and have to place your order at the counter and get your drinks at the counter. The only table service you get is when the food is brought to your table and cleared. However, if you don’t want to get up and grab their own drinks/pay at the counter before getting their food, you can download their app on your phone, and place your order, then you’ll be brought your food/drinks directly from a server! Since it wasn’t busy at lunch, I don’t think a lot of people would use this feature at that time.

The food I had was really tasty and it filled me up even though it was a half-size (and I usually eat a lot!).

Evening Eats

Dinner time/late night was a different story. The restaurant is packed on both floors, and it was a bit tough at first to find a table. I ordered their standard veggie burger with chips (fries), but it wasn’t that great. The burger was deep fried, and dry… I should have opted for the luxury veggie burger instead. The burger I had was about £6 but it did come with a free drink.

Fries and veggie burger on a plate, next to beer on a black table
Haggis pizza and a veggie burger

There were a lot of younger people at the restaurant during this time, and it was only a weeknight!

The Verdict…

The prices are super affordable, you get a lot for what you pay for, and that the breakfast menu is great! Since my dinner wasn’t what I had hoped it to be, I would definitely be open to trying their other menu items!

If you’ve been to The Caley Picture House before, let me know in the comments about your experience!

Want to read more content like this? Take a look at my travel posts!

Edinburgh Castle & Double Tree Hilton – REVIEW

Edinburgh Castle

Our hotel was conveniently located near Edinburgh Castle. It’s an attraction that used to be a part of Scotland’s rich history. We spent the entire day learning about the times of war, such as how people were put in prison, the kinds of tactics that were used in the war and how Scotland used to be ruled back in the day. Plenty of ground to cover!

Castle entrance

The various buildings of the castle were remarkable! Here’s a photo of the Great Hall where banquets were held… it was massive! I would love a party space like this in my house.

The Great Hall

We also got to see where the crown jewels were held in Scotland. After entering a snug room that could hold about 10 – 12 people, we saw the jewels! They were so polished that they glistened in glass display cases. From what I remember, there was a crown, a few scepters, and some jewelry as well.

Entrance to the crown jewels
One of many windows around the castle entrance

Throughout the castle they had various gift shops, that sold a variety of Scottish souvenirs and drinks. There was even a little cafe and a high tea restaurant, but we didn’t try these as it was a little bit pricey! It probably would have been a very highlighting experience for those with a bigger budget or who only had some time to explore the castle and not nearby places for dinner.

Amazing art and architecture
The view from the castle

We probably spent a good 3 – 4 hours at Edinburgh Castle, and learned so much about the deep wartime history of Scotland. I would recommend going here for a day of learning and sightseeing.

Hotel

Like I mentioned previously, our hotel was near the castle. We stayed at the Double Tree Hilton in downtown Edinburgh.

I have to give a special shout out to them because at both check-in and check-out the concierge would pull out fresh and warm chocolate cookies from their drawer to give to us as a treat. The cookies were chewy and super delicious!

The lobby

I didn’t take a photo of our room right away as we headed out ASAP to The Scotch Whisky Experience.

The room was very spacious and the beds were so comfy! I fell asleep quite fast each evening while being in Edinburgh for two nights. Our room had a smaller bathroom with a powerful shower head, and I learned that hotels in Europe have little bags on the side of the toilet for feminine products. I thought that was a really unique and a good way to keep things sanitary.

They also had a set of instant tea and coffee packets with shortbread and a kettle, as well as two bottles of complimentary water (sparkling and still) included in the refrigerator. There were also a set of comfy and fluffy robes for us to use to get cozy during the evenings!

They also had a continental breakfast offer for
£12, which was a pretty decent price as you could eat as much as you wanted. We didn’t end up going with this, but it was really nice to know that was an option.

I would recommend staying at the Double Tree Hilton if you’re looking to walk around a lot in Edinburgh. There is no parking available though, but they do give you a discount on parking in a parkade just a few minutes away from the hotel!

If you went to Edinburgh, where would you go? Let me know in the comments!

The Scotch Whisky Experience – Edinburgh (REVIEW)

I recently went traveling in Europe and our first stop was to Scotland. One of the places we went to was Edinburgh, a city full of rich architecture, history, and a lot of sights to take in!

It was very much an impromptu road trip. We had not researched Edinburgh much (and I am usually someone who researches reviews and everything before planning things) so we were definitely in for a surprise.

In my next few posts, I will share some of the places we went to so that you can see what Edinburgh has to offer!

The Scotch Whisky Experience

When checking out places to check out first while we still had a little bit of daylight left, we decided to head on over to The Scotch Whisky Experience to learn how whisky was made.

Going into a barrel ride…

Instead of a traditional walking tour of the facilities, we rode in a barrel ride that stopped at different areas of the attraction. Each stop had a short video of the different steps it takes to make whisky.

The barrel in front of us

Scratch and sniff!

After the ride, we watched a semi-IMAX experience like video to learn about the different types of whisky produced in Scotland, and even got a cool scratch ‘n’ sniff card that allowed us to smell the flavours of each region. There are five different regions: Highland, Islay, Speyside, Lowland and Campbeltown.

After the video, we headed into the tasting room where projectors made little circles appear on our tables. To select the whisky we wanted to sample, we had to place our cup on top of the colour of the region. Neat!

Into the whisky room…

They also had really cool holograms of whisky bottles projected in various areas of the room. It was really neat and reminded me of Harry Potter.

Afterwards, we were brought into their whisky room. There were lots of glass displays with tons of whisky bottles, it was quite colourful and felt like we were in a movie, looking at all of them… priced in the lows and highs!

Time to taste!

Did you know that every year, 2% of whisky evaporates from the bottle? They showed us one whisky bottle in the corner of the room that was unopened, but had no whisky in it. This is because whisky just fades away every year! So if you want to have your whisky, don’t leave it for too long!

When the tour was finished, we ended up in the cafe area where you could order more whisky or get a flight if you held a gold ticket.

I thought it was a pretty unique experience. I would have liked a more personal tour of the facilities, but this is not really a distillery, so they don’t actually make anything at this location. If you like whisky, or want to learn more about it and try something new, I recommend giving this attraction a try!

Have you ever had whisky before? Let me know in the comments!

Road Trip Essentials

Hi! It’s been a while since my last post. I was on vacation in Kelowna and now I am back in town. During my road trip there, I thought I would write up a post about the items that I take with me and just some tips of what to bring…. so here it is, a week later!

I’m writing this post while on a road trip. As I sat here wondering why our dog doesn’t want to hang out with me, I realized that I could write a post of my essentials on a road trip! Thanks for the idea, Tofu!

Entertainment

The number one thing I think about if I’m going on a road trip is how I will entertain myself for hours. There’s a variety of things you can do, the easiest one is to socialize with your car mates. But if that’s not really an option (most people would probably fall asleep and not have to worry about entertaining themselves, lucky people!) then you have to find other fun things to do!

I’m typing this entry on my phone, so I bring that of course. I don’t have data throughout the province (please extend your range, Freedom!), so I’ll edit some photos through Snapseed and listen to music with headphones or earbuds so that I don’t distract anyone. If there’s any offline games I can play (not really) then I’ll play those too.

Of course I’ll probably run out of ideas and photos to edit, so another essential is my Nintendo 3DS. Consider bringing your favourite console and make sure it’s fully charged! I don’t play my 3DS as often, so I usually bring one game cartridge and play whatever trials or games I have installed on my SD card/device. This helps lessen the amount of stuff you need to bring. If you’re curious, I’m currently playing Pokemon Shuffle!

3DS

Bring a book! Or an ebook! I’ve brought my KOBO Glo ebook with me preloaded with some books. I prefer ebooks since I only need to bring one item and not multiple books that could take up a lot of space. Once I have access to Internet, I can always download some more books.

ebook

Sleeping is also another option. I envy people who can sleep almost the entire ride! I usually like staying awake so that I’m aware of my surroundings, but it is nice to sneak in a nap or two.

Hygiene

If you’re somewhat of a germaphobe like me, this will probably be a priority!

If you will not be stopping at places with washrooms and sinks with soap and paper towels, I recommend bringing some hand sanitizer (73% or more!), paper soap, a few bottles of water, wet wipes and towels. We usually use hand sanitizer and wet wipes after using the outhouse. But if you have paper soap or regular soap and some water bottles that you can use to wash your hands, it would be more effective!

sanitizer

I also bring some Lysol wipes with me to wipe down my phone and other devices, and anything else that isn’t my hands to disinfect. It’s great to have in the car!

lysol

Prepare some food!

Pack some food that won’t need a cooler and pack food that will actually keep you full throughout the ride. We usually get some Vietnamese subs and pack apples and bananas. And of course, pack water! I would not recommend freezing water bottles as they make take long to melt. If you want your water to be cool, just put some ice cubes inside a reusable water bottle instead of disposable one.

What are your road trip essentials? Let me know in the comments below!

Links included are Amazon affiliate links.

Japan Day 7

image

Mmm, ryokan Japanese Breakfast.

We went to Himeji castle today. It is a beautiful castle. We had to climb up and down many steep stairs, right now I feel like I have strong thighs but am really sore as well.

image

We also got some Kobe beef as well. Very expensive price, but Kobe beef is super famous. I really enjoyed the fillet as it was really soft and buttery! We also got soup and salad and the service was really great.

Japan Day 6

We went to check out the Hells of Beppu and an onsen yesterday.

The Hells of Beppu are several different areas of steaming hot water at 98 degrees Celsius. The steam rises really high and some of the different hells have coloured water. I’m not sure if it’s artificial colouring or just sulphur, but we saw red, green and blue water.

Afterwards, we spent a good amount of time trying to locate the Kanawa Onsen, as we tried to ask for directions, but were given answers that told us the entire area was named Kanawa Onsen. We were trying to find the biggest onsen, but settled for a smaller place because we couldn’t find the bigger one.

The onsen we tried was a little expensive, but luckily we only had to pay per room. I shared with two of my female friends. We had one hour of time for 2000 yen in the inside onsen. Little did we know, that time would be somewhat wasted. Trying to step in, we discovered that the water was waaay too hot. Our feet were red trying to go into the water. We should have asked for a different room… The water was so hot, we decided to just collect the water in batches and cool it with cold water and splash it on ourselves.

When we got back to our ryokan, I decided to take a night shower since the baths would not be open until 6am, and I needed to get ready for breakfast before 6:30. Half an hour would be rushing it, so I quickly showered and them soaked in the public onsen for a bit. The temperature was much better than the other place!

For dinner, we went to an izakaya and had many yakitori and appetizers. We ordered tendon skewers and we ordered it since we didn’t know what it was, but after everyone saw it, they didn’t want it. I love tendon, so I ate most of them… Yummy!

Japan Day 5

Yesterday was quite the adventurous day!

image

We went to a theme park town called Huis Ten Bosch. It is a dutch town with many different things to do, with an intense admission price of 62,000 yen, or around $62 CAD. It was definitely worth the price we paid for, but we didn’t get a chance to do everything we could in the town. It’s a two day trip worth of stuff to do!

image

The Flower Ice cafe was filled with flowers in ice cases inside a room that was -10 degrees Celsius. We gad hot cocoa and cold drinks while we sat in this icical oasis. I was wearing a dress, but growing up in Canadiam weather, -10 just felt like a breeze! It was refreshing. The cold drinks came inside a cup made of ice. It was placed in a bag to make it easier to drink.

We checked out the Thriller part of the theme park, it was freaky, but so much fun. First we went into this musical theatre house. No photos or cameras were allowed, so I couldn’t record the experience. We had to navigate through a haunted corridor and the staff would pop out occasionally. We all had a good laugh at the ridiculousness of the experience.

Afterwards, we checked out an interactive haunted wedding. Basically, we had to choose a button from three bells. If we chose the right bell, the wedding bells would ring. If we got many wedding bells, then the couple would be happy and could get married. But I wonder what happens if no or not the desired amount of wedding bells ring?

We then checked out the Zombie Lab, which was a scavenger hunt where you were equipped with a headset and tablet and had to shoot zombies and pick up items, etc., in order to get the vaccine to cure the zombie virus. It reminded me very much of GoldenEye 007 on the N64. I liked it a lot since we got to be on a team, co-op style with out friends.

image

We also checked out the One Piece ride, trick museum, 360 domeshooter (lasers, pew pew) and much more.

We stayed until the park was closed and headed back to our hotel.

Japan Day 4

image

We went to Gunkanjima yesterday. It’s an abandoned battleship island that is also known as Hashima island. This photo reflects part of the tour we went on. I have many photos on my micro DSLR so I’ll post a few on here once I get home.

The tour was amazing! First we boarded onto a small boat and rode it for about two hours while the guides explained the history of the island. We then disembarked on the island and got to see what was left of Hashima. It’s such a lovely sight but has a really rich history behind it. It was coal mining town and one of the most advanced islands in Japan back in the day. We took lots of photos and after the tour of the island itself, we headed back to our boat. Instead of sitting in the inside of the ship, I opted to sit on the top deck and there were prizes being given out. We all had to play rock, paper, scissors with the guide. I didn’t win anything but the prizes were neat and included sweets!

After Gunkanjima we checked in at our hotel in the JR Nagasaki station and also went to Suwa Shrine, where we explored and then found out that it may be a shrine for child birth… But we looked it up afterwards and it was for success… I think.

image

We went back to our hotel for dinner. We had some skewers and soba. Very delicious! Then the group went to the arcade while I slept. I was pretty tuckered out and ready to pass out after dinner.

Japan Day 3

Today, we went to a few places: Marine World Park (can’t remember the exact name), Marine World, and Momochi Town for the Fukuoka Tower.

image

The park was vast and had many lush green trees and grass everywhere. I took a solo walk for the first part of the park, as I really like to explore quiet places while reflecting on my self-being. Afterwards, we checked out the children part of the park and had some soft cream.

image

I was looking forward to soft cream during this trip, so I was ecstatic to have some!

We even got to ride bikes while at the park. That was really enjoyable! I actually have never rode a bike before, so a kind gentleman (boyfriend) allowed me on the back of his bike to help pedal a two-person bike.

After much exploring, we headed over to Marine World and had some food. I had my first katsu curry on this trip and it was surprisingly very good.

image

Marine World was pretty interesting. Although we didn’t read the vast majority of Japanese text on the exhibits, we did get to see a lot of cool marine life. We watched a feeding show, where divers fed whole fish to sharks and much more. We also got to watch a cool sea otter and dolphin show. Got splashed quite a bit but was it fun!

image

image

image

We then took a small commuter boat to Momochi town. Our plan was to go to the Robot Museum, but we ended up going to the Fukuoka Tower for a bit, and the museum was already closed by the time we were done.

image

The tower had this special love sanctuary where you pay 1000 yen and receive a lock you and your significant other can write/draw on. Usually you would write the date and your names, then decorate it however you would like. The couples in our group took part in this, we all locked our locks onto the love sanctuary and even included 5 yen coins for good luck. 🙂

After the tower, we headed back to our place, had some ramen at the Yatai stalls, went to Bic Camera (I was trying to find 500 yen selfie sticks) and then called it a night.

Japan Day 2

For breakfast, we headed out to the Family Mart near our hotel and picked up some onigiri, curry bread and some othet glorious goods such as Boss coffee. Simply one of the best canned/bottled coffee.

image

We didn’t do very much today as we wre riding trains for most of the day. We took the shinkansen to get to Fukuoka.

image

image

When we got to Fukuoka, we immediately went to the place we are staying in, dropped off our bags and left for Canal City.

image

But first, we got some famous Hakata ramen at Hakata Zen Ramen in the Tenjin Media Mall. Great food for really cheap. I only paid 380 yen, and got a huge bowl. My boyfriend had to help me finish half my noodles because I didn’t realize I had ordered the bigger version haha… I was way too tired to figure out any Japanese at that point.

image

We got to Canal City to shop around for an hour. I went to this place called Muji, hoping to find stationary as I saw a few photos of their stationary… I was excited, but found none. It was more like a small Ikea.

Afterwards we tiredly headed back to our place and slept. Off to be legit tourists tomorrow!