6 Days in Berlin (Days 1-3)

For our latest trip, we decided to visit Berlin, I’d never been to Germany before so was really excited! I’m sure like me, you have heard good things about Berlin, so we booked our flights back in February and two days before flying we picked a hotel. Flying from Edinburgh went smoothly as usual and we took around two hours to fly into the German capital.

Day 1

Once we reached the terminal in Berlin, we realised this airport was much busier and warmer than in the UK. Thankfully we managed to find our way to the bus stop and an English speaking member of staff helped us use the ticket machine. We boarded the airport bus like sardines, packed in even though the bus arrived every 6 minutes. On the hot bus I wasn’t in the best mood, but the sun was shining and I couldn’t be annoyed for long!

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We walked a few minutes to our hotel and were pleasantly surprised to find our hotel in a small courtyard near lots of restaurants. We stayed at CALMA Berlin Mitte which was a modern, minimalist, lovely place to stay. When we arrived we hadn’t eaten so we found a local shop and picked up a few essentials (by that I mean some german meats, cheeses and soft pretzels) to snack on before we went for Asian food that night. On our way home we decided to stop off for our first taste of German beer, we bought a Berliner each and enjoyed the sun for a while.

That evening, we walked to a nearby restaurant which I had pre booked for our first night in the city. We walked to Nordbahnhof Two Buddha’s which exceeded our expectations entirely! We had prawns, fish, vegetables and a little bit of sushi. I loved the decor and there was a huge wine menu which made it the perfect place in my mind!

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Even though we were in Berlin, after eating we managed to stumble across a Brewdog bar. We decided to spend the evening here, sitting on wooden boxes, dog spotting and looking at which attractions we wanted to visit during our stay.

Day 2

Our first full day in Germany was filled with sightseeing and visiting attractions. We started out at the South of the city and visited the German Museum of Technology. We had to visit at least one place where Jamie could see aeroplanes and helicopters so we chose here. We had a fab time! There was so much to see, from planes and trains to computers and telephones. If it’s electronic it probably makes an appearance in this museum.

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The best part was reaching the top floor which showcased lots of aeroplanes, including some from WW2. We could walk out onto the top of the building and see a huge aeroplane set over the edge of the museum.

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One aspect of the museum we hadn’t expected was walking through the trains and finding a carriage from the Holocaust. We were able to walk into the old wooden cart and see where so many innocent people walked to their deaths. It was such a profound, unexpected experience that even though it was empty I felt a little claustrophobic!

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Once we left the museum, we walked along the river and decided to visit some more popular attractions like the Topography of Terror. Much busier than the museum, but thankfully due to the time of year, it wasn’t too busy. We were able to see everything we wanted. We spent around 2 hours walking through the exhibit which displays a huge amount of information about the Nazi’s reign of terror across Europe. Starting with the beginnings of intimidating opposition, we followed the journey of persecution and murder through to the end of the war. This attraction isn’t for the faint hearted, some pictures were distressing and individual stories were heartbreaking. The attraction is super informative though and we learnt so much about the realities of the war. Although heavy and sometimes upsetting, I can’t recommend this place enough. The information covers all groups who were persecuted (not just Jewish groups) and really describes how day-to-day life was impacted by the war.

Outside the building we also got to see our first glimpse of the Berlin Wall, although not particularly artistic (it wasn’t the East Side Gallery after all) it was interesting to see and we were able to read some basic information about the wall.

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Only a few minutes walk away, we visited the infamous Checkpoint Charlie. Now I don’t know what I expected, but it definitely wasn’t a small shack in the middle of a busy road! I was a tad disappointed, but I guess I had set my expectations too high! None the less, it was interesting to stop by on our way to the underground station.

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After a day of walking, we headed back to our hotel to change before dinner. I had booked a restaurant called Clarchens Ballhaus which I had read about online. Internet reviews described the place as fun and one of Berlin’s best kept secrets, so I couldn’t wait to visit! When we arrived I was so happy we had booked, outside tables were filled with food, fairy lights hung overhead and you could hear the music from inside. We had booked a table inside the old ballroom and walked in to see a ballroom dancing lesson in action on the dance floor!

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We were taken to our table and still able to watch the lesson, the place was packed, people of all ages were eating, drinking and dancing. The place had an amazing atmosphere and we were completely drawn in. The menu at the Ballhaus was traditional German food, I managed to take a photo of our starters but when the main arrived we had already drunk a few too many glasses of wine and I forgot!

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Our food was delicious, I chose slow roasted beef which was amazing. I do need to mention now that if you plan to visit here, you should set aside the whole night for the experience. There was a significant amount of time between courses, but it made the night more social and the food felt freshly prepared. When we were eating our mains, the dance teacher encouraged people from the tables to join his lesson and taught more people to dance. Unfortunately we were eating so didn’t take up his offer!

Once we had eaten, a DJ was setting up and people of all ages were dancing. We were people watching and drinking for a while before we decided to join in. Being so full of food, we thought we would be dancing for about 10 minutes… but 3 hours later we were still dancing and a live band was setting up! By around 10pm, all younger people had left and it was only Adults, there was still a huge range of people and ages which made the night even more fun!

After 10pm the Ballhaus charges people to enter like a club, but if you are there earlier no charges apply. So thankfully we spent all night there for free. After midnight, as I said, a band set up and we danced for another hour or two before deciding our feet hurt too much to carry on. According to my fitbit we had walked nearly 30,000 steps so that was a sign it was time to head home and take off our shoes! When we stepped outside we realised that we had been shouting and singing so much we could barely talk and we were partially deaf from the music. I can’t recommend this venue enough, the Ballhaus was one of the highlights of the trip, me and Jamie had the best night. We had planned to only stay for a few hours and were there until the early hours of the morning. If we hadn’t been so active in the day we would have stayed even longer. If I go back to Berlin this will be one of the first things I prebook!

Day 3

After some much needed sleep, we woke up a little worse for wear (I blame the wine) but thankfully because we had breakfast included in our booking, that motivated us to still get up early and head down for some food. Ok I say that but after eating lots for breakfast we got back up to the room and I ended up having a nap instead of getting ready for the day!

After a well deserved nap (at least thats what I tell myself) we ventured to Museum Island to see the Cathedral and visit the Neues Museum. We took our first trip on a tram and learnt the hard way that you need to use coins to pay. We only had enough money to pay for 1 ticket but thankfully no one checked! We were dropped off at the end of the line and walked over the bridges to the beautiful Island.

The first thing you notice is how amazing the architecture is. We arrived at the south of the island so were immediately able to see the beautiful Cathedral. The sun was shining, people were singing, playing guitars and blowing bubbles. I felt like we were living in the 1980’s and I was loving it!

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We walked over to the water fountain and around all of the nearby buildings to see how impressive they were up close. I also wanted to walk around in the sun to tan more, but thats another story.  We walked through a huge pillared walkway and eventually found ourselves at the Neues Museum. The majority of this museum includes collections from Ancient Egypt (something I find particularly interesting) which is why we chose to visit, but there are so many to choose from, you can find one which piques your own interests.

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Thankfully we didn’t need to queue for tickets due to the time of year. But if you visit in the summer, I would recommend pre-booking because it can become crazy busy. We had a great time at this museum, again the architecture and building interior were stunning. It included the best collections I had ever seen. From original papyrus to golden sarcophagi, we saw so many well preserved pieces and learnt lots of new facts. I think the highlight of the museum for me was the Queen Nefertiti bust which is world famous. We weren’t able to take photos in that exhibition but if you google it, you will know which statue I mean!

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We managed to make our way around all of the museum despite the time I lost napping earlier that day. When we left at 5, the sun was still shining so we decided to walk along the river and visit the north side of the Island to see the beautiful Bode museum. There was a busker outside the museum so we sat with the crowds on the walls of the bridge and soaked up the sun. It was a beautiful place to relax and I was sat next to a one-eyed dog so I couldn’t have been happier!

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Once it reached around 7pm we decided to walk back towards the hotel and stopped off for sushi along the way. We had a lovely time at Kuchi Mitte which served us lots of good sushi. It’s useful to know that the staff are happy to speak English too if you’re worried about ordering sushi in German!

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We spent the rest of the evening having a few drinks and relaxing, it was so nice to be out in the sun until the late evening. I hope you enjoyed reading about the first part of our action-packed trip. I will post next week about the second half of our Berlin adventure which was even busier than the first!

Competition Time with Old English Company

Old English Company got in touch with me so that my readers could discover their products and enter a competition to win some free goodies!

A cute stationary and gift shop, Old English co. have created everything from planners to homeware. I have selected a couple of my favourite products below and you can check out the competition link at the end of this post!

Firstly, I need these pillow covers! How adorable? I think these will be my first purchase! There are lots of other cute pairs but these are my favourites!

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The next item which caught my eye was this baby pink planner which I am tempted to buy later in the year.

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Thirdly I love this keyring. I’m all for girl power and I think this keyring would give me a little pick me up everyday when leaving the house and locking the door!

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Lastly, I love all of their cute Enamel Pin designs! There are so many to choose from and I can relate to lots, especially these two.

 

Now what are you waiting for? Go enter their latest competition here to win some cute pins! Hurry, the competition ends May 30th!

 

A weekend at Loch Ness

To celebrate my 25th birthday Jamie treated me to a long weekend at Loch Ness! Having never been to this area of Scotland before I couldn’t wait to visit. We were booked in to The Lovat hotel in Fort Augustus which is South of Loch Ness, turns out this is a great location if you are planning to visit!

 

Friday

Travelling to Loch Ness takes around 3 hours from Aberdeen, we took the country roads to reach the west of the Loch and then took the loch side road to the hotel. The journey was so beautiful, especially along the shores of the Loch, we saw the castle we would visit the next day, lots of small villages and boat tours out on the water.

We arrived at around 4 and had dinner booked for 7.30 so we went to the room to get settled. Jamie had surprised me by getting the hotel to set up balloons and a birthday card. After a while the staff arrived with my second surprise, a beautiful bouquet of flowers!

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We went down to the restaurant in the hotel for dinner and had high hopes after reading reviews online. Thankfully we weren’t disappointed! To start I had a smoked salmon dish which was amazing.

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We were given free homemade bread and the staff were friendly and helpful. All of this was followed by a lamb dish which I chose for my main. The food was so good that we didn’t even have room for dessert!

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Instead of more food, we had a glass of wine and visited some of the other rooms in the hotel. We loved that there were lots of public areas, one room was filled with bookshelves and knick-knacks. There were even some games like chess to play later in the evening. We settled in the front room which had a piano and fireplace, the perfect end to a lovely day!

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Saturday

Our first full day started early, with a hotel breakfast included, we were ready to go and explore Loch Ness. Firstly, we drove to Urquhart Castle which is an ancient castle on the backs of the Loch. We parked in the carpark which is way above the castle, thankfully you buy tickets at this level and can take easy stairs/a lift down to the castle instead of having to scramble down a steep hill!

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We were shown a short introductory video which briefly described how the site became a castle and was besieged multiple times throughout history. Unfortunately the last inhabitants blew up the gateway to prevent invaders using the castle, but there are still plenty of things to see on the site. We walked down past the castle and visited the Loch first (since that’s what the trip was all about!) We sat for a while to appreciate the beautiful views.

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Once you enter the castle you can climb down to where ships would arrive and sit on the shore to see more views. We were lucky to get really sunny weather too so we were happy to sit and relax by the water.

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Once we had the opportunity to take in the natural beauty, we climbed through the castle and visited all of the areas. It took us around an hour to explore everything and there were lots of ruins to climb through.

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We were lucky to visit at this time of year, there were no queues or crowds of people. We didn’t need to wait to climb the towers and we could easily watch the actors who told us about medieval weapons. The castle was one of the most beautiful I have ever visited, I think it’s safe to say it had the most picturesque views too!

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Once we had finished at the castle, we decided to visit the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition. Now when we first arrived and went inside, we weren’t sure what to expect. The decor was outdated and because we visited before the summer we were the only people in the entrance hall. We decided to go ahead and visit anyway since it was around £7 to enter and we actually didn’t know anything about the history of Loch Ness. If you’re the same, and don’t know much about the Loch, I would recommend the attraction, we walked through different rooms and watched videos which described how the legend of Nessie began and how the Loch Ness Monster was researched by scientists. I don’t want to spoil anything, but we learnt lots. I have to say though, I think Nessie is more imaginary than real!

After stopping off for a snack which we got around the corner from the Exhibition, we decided to stop off at a harbour we passed on the way to our hotel the day before. Although lots of people do visit Loch Ness, there are a few abandoned boats which can be seen if you walk along the shores. We also walked to a small island which is located just off the shores of the Loch.

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Since it was such a sunny day, we still hadn’t had enough of exploring. We travelled back to Fort Augustus where our hotel was and walked along the canals which separate Loch Ness from the other Loch’s in the area. We walked for around half an hour until I saw a trail through the woods which could take us down to the parallel river.

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Sounds like a good idea right? Walking through the woods to a beautiful river. We even found a bench when we got there, which made us think that the path must have been followed quite often…. But we were wrong! We walked along the river until the grass ran into the river, walked through the trees trying to find a path and spent the following half hour walking through the woods and ended up in running between lodges in a private park!

Although we hadn’t planned the detour, we found some abandoned campsites and spied a few small waterfalls between the trees, so I guess it had been worth it! We decided to walk back along the canal and stop off in a beer garden to end our evening after lots and lots of walking!

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Sunday

For our last full day at the Loch, we decided to visit the east coast and stopped in a small village called Foyers. This area is well known because of the Falls of Foyers which is a tall waterfall and large river which meets Loch Ness. We started to climb down, reached the waterfall relatively easily and felt like we could easily follow the river along to where it meets the Loch.

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We started out following a clearly marked path and took in the beautiful views, we could easily follow the river until we reached a road which blocked our views of the river.

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What then ensued was a four mile detour in which we couldn’t rejoin our original path! We made a wrong turn and walked into a caravan park, walked back and thankfully somehow managed to walk through a forest to reach the banks of Loch Ness. This was one of my favourite parts of the trip, we still hadn’t found our path, but had found a make shift camp site with tree stump seats, a rope swing and burnt out fires. We had the place all to ourselves and it was one of the most peaceful places in the world (until we decided to try out the rope swing!)

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We shamefully ended up using google maps to find our way back to the car after a few miles of walking in the wrong direction! We had to climb up tiny steep paths with overgrown plants. At one point I thought I may die out there in the wilderness (kidding) but we made it back and were looking forward to visiting a tea room we had spotted on our way there.

When we arrived at the tea rooms I immediately fell in love, highland cows, deer, ducks and geese were all living in the surrounding area. A deer with a limp was being nursed to health and we got to see them up close!

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Once we had some soup to warm us up again after the weather took a rainy turn when we were walking, we walked out to find these guys waiting for us too!

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After being lucky enough to see all of these animals, we took the country roads back to our hotel. We stopped at the top of a hill and were lucky enough to have stopped just as a rainbow had formed.

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Although it can’t really be seen in this photo, we we could actually see both ends of the rainbow! Sadly there was no pot of gold but we got to share the most beautiful view together! Just when you think that Loch Ness couldn’t get any prettier, I guess a rainbow has to appear to prove you wrong.

Once back at our hotel, we wanted to take a much needed break from hiking up and down hills. We decided to take a look around Fort Augustus and we found a viewing point at the end of the village harbour.

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This was one of my favourite views, the most southern point of Loch Ness, we were able to look between the hills and see miles of the Loch. A duck even decided to photobomb my photo and make it even better too! The village had a few small pubs and cafes, our hotel was on the next road to two of the main pubs. We stopped by there for dinner before heading back to out hotel. I snapped a photo outside before we went back inside for a night cap.

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Each night we had been greeted by bunnies on the lawn outside the hotel too, so if you were unsure about staying there, the fact that you can see bunnies every night must sway your opinion!

After a wonderful stay, Jamie had paid for a late check out so we could sleep in on Monday. We were even given cookies for our journey home by the hotel manager. Everything from the hotel to the walks and views were amazing on this trip. I have to say that Loch Ness surpassed all of my expectations, both the loch itself and the surrounding land is the most beautiful I have ever seen. I can’t wait to go back and see more of the countryside, waterfalls and to sunbathe on the shores of the loch again!

 

3 Scottish Castles You Should Visit

Scotland is home to some of the most beautiful castles in the world.

I’ve picked out three beautiful castles from my travels around Scotland which need to be visited by you!

Dunnottar Castle

Dunnottar Castle would easily fit into the title sequence of Game of Thrones. Located on a clifftop off the North East coast of Scotland, the castle appears to be built on it’s own island. Thankfully no boat trips are necessary, looking down from the edge of the cliffs you can see the steps which descend down one cliff and up again to the castle.

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You may need to take a break during the climb to the castle, but thankfully when you reach the bottom you can take a break on the beach before taking the next set of stairs up to the castle.

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A word of warning, the remains of the castle are just that, ruins. There are lots of stone steps with no hand rails, so watch your step! We saw someone take a small fall when we visited (she was ok though!).

Once you make it to the castle, you can visit all of the ruins and are given a map to navigate. The history of Dunnottar started around the 3rd century, meaning that the castle is filled with history and legends you will learn about on your visit.

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Dunnottar is one of the most beautiful places in Scotland, so definitely worth a visit!

Edinburgh Castle 

My second choice is one of the most well known in Scotland – Edinburgh Castle. Set in the centre of the city, this castle is even more unique because it is still active with a military presence. Every day at 1 in the afternoon a cannon is fired to keep time across the city, this is fun to watch so make sure you arrive before 1!

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Edinburgh Castle is filled with lots of different exhibitions, when we visited we spent hours visiting all of the buildings and checking out the beautiful views of the city.

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There are cannons, prisons, museums and ruins all in the same place here, you you’re guaranteed to have a fun time! Another great thing about this castle is that over 10 of the city’s attractions are on the road leading up to the castle so you will have plenty to do if you visit!

Craigievar Castle

My final choice is one of my favourite castles in the world. Craigievar Castle is said to have inspired Walt Disney when he designed Cinderella’s castle. With a pink exterior, this castle is completely unique and so picturesque!

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You can visit the grounds and have a guided tour of the castle. The guides are extremely knowledgeable and friendly. During our visit we even decided to invest in a National Trust membership so that we could visit more castles like this on the Aberdeenshire Castle Trail.

One thing we particularly liked outside of the castle was the surrounding wildlife walks. We walked through fields along streams and in forests after our tour, which was lovely thanks to the sunny weather!

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Craigievar Castle is located out in the beautiful Aberdeenshire countryside so if you visit you can expect lots of winding country roads and fields along the way. Inside the castle is filled with possessions from the previous owners which are interesting to see and the tour guides will tell you when the castle was built and the inhabitants throughout history.

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We had a great day out at Craigievar Castle which is why it had to be featured on this list!

Visiting a Cat Cafe

Since it was my birthday this week (I’m now 25 which I can’t quite believe) I decided to visit my local cat cafe in Aberdeen. My boyfriend booked us a one hour time slot at The Cat in the Window cafe which I had been looking forward to all week!

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We arrived 5 minutes early so we would be ready for our time slot. We were asked to take off our shoes and jackets before the staff told us a few rules to make sure the cats were comfortable. When we were allowed inside I wasn’t disappointed, one cat tried to escape while we chose a place to sit among the sofas and bean bags. The decor was cute and I wanted to take the furniture (and cats) home with me!

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Cat friendly furniture

When we first arrived most of the cats were ironically sat in the windows (remember the name of the cafe?). They were either looking out for birds or had found a bed to snooze in. Thankfully before each group of guests the cats have a small break. We had also arrived just after a meal so they had more energy than usual.

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Cat in the Window

There were 9 cats in the cafe and during our visit only 6 humans were visiting, this meant that we had a good cat:human ratio and we managed to pet all of the cats! The first to approach us was Ninja, she is the newest cat in the cafe who had sadly been in a rescue centre for over a year before she was adopted!

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Ninja scoping out the visitors

Ninja sat next to our table while we ordered drinks and cake (maybe she heard us talk about cake and wanted to wait around). Within the first 10 minutes only Ninja and Theodore were walking around the cafe, turns out food motivates cats as much as dogs and once food was served the other cats were suddenly interested!

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Theodore wanted humans to visit his beanbag

We ate a quick snack and were able to watch the cats climbing around. If you take a look on my Instagram you’ll see a photo of Theodore begging for food. He even climbed on the table in an effort to eat our crumbs!

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Loved this cat mug

After eating we abandoned the table and moved over to the sofas to sit next to the cats who seemed to prefer beanbags over cat beds!

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We ended up back with our first cat friend Ninja and got the chance to read through the cafe book which introduced each of the cats.

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Posing Ninja

Once we were about half way through our time we had been speaking to the other visitors and had the chance to switch places with them to see the other cats.

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Mickey waking up

It was at this point Jamie managed to take one of my favourite photos of the trip – Mickey checking on us from his bed. I don’t know what we did to annoy him, but I think he had a case of resting grumpy face!

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Feels like someone is watching us..

Actually, now I look back at my phone maybe it was the mini photoshoot he had to endure. He was really happy when we scratched behind his ears though so it was a fair exchange!

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Obligatory Cat Selfie

The cafe had provided us with lots of different toys and activities for the cats to play with, but I think they enjoyed annoying each other most! When one would climb furniture, another would follow to catch their tail or play.

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Princess Pancakes (right) and Napoleon (left)

Before I finish the cat photos, I have to do a shout out to my spirit animal Zeus who didn’t move an inch during our whole visit!

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Zeus too comfortable to move

I had the most relaxing time visiting the cafe, we had an hour filled with cat watching and petting. I find that cat cafes are a nice escape because there is no loud music playing or people shouting.

Jamie had even managed to organise a surprise for my birthday and I was given a goodie bag of gifts from my furry friends at the cafe!

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Birthday Surprise

I was given a card ‘signed’ by all of the cats and managed to bag myself one of the cute cat mugs I had been talking about earlier!

I think visiting a cat cafe is fun for almost everyone (as long as you’re not scared of cats!) and I loved my time getting to meet them. I always find that the staff are kind and chatty at this type of cafe and they help you to interact with the animals if you’re a little unsure.

Even though I only visited yesterday I am already trying to plan my next visit!

Visiting a Harry Potter Bar

The Pop Up Geeks opened Perilous Potions in February, their fourth themed pop-up bar. Previous themes included Game of Thrones and Stranger Things, I had been wanting to visit but hadn’t had the opportunity. Each bar runs for around 3 months before the theme changes, so I’d missed a few before finally making plans to visit.

As soon as we saw the promotions on social media myself and some friends from work booked a two hour slot to experience the Harry Potter inspired bar. After the move to Aberdeen, I booked a weekend back in Edinburgh to catch up with friends and of course visit the bar!

I walked along The Arches until I spotted the bar, a small building with less than 10 tables. I wasn’t sure what to expect at first since the building was so small, but the inside was transformed into a bar filled with Harry Potter decorations!

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Maybe my Hogwarts Letter ended up here

We sat below the Hogwarts acceptance letters and took some time to appreciate the broomsticks hanging from the ceiling, the candles perched on the walls and cauldrons on the shelves. I was amazed when we were given drinks menus inspired by class books, it seemed like the creators had thought of everything!

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Drink Menu’s

I used the book of Advanced Spells to pick a drink. I knew I wanted to buy one of the Conjure It Yourself cocktails which you created at the table. Each cocktail had a ‘difficulty level’ depending upon how long it took to create the drink. I chose the Gravitas Transverso drink which was based upon a bellini by combining ‘wine of the merpeople’, ‘liquified pixie eggs’ and ‘petrification potion’. The bar tender took our drinks order, dressed in a wizards cape and we waited for our cocktail ingredients to be prepared.

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Time to create my own cocktail

The ingredients and equipment arrived along with instructions so that we could create all of our own drinks.

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How to create Gravitas Transverso

The instructions were written with the harry potter theme in mind to completely immerse us in the experience, which I absolutely loved! To create my drink I had to pipette liquid into a strainer to create small red ‘pixie eggs’. I then scooped the eggs into a champagne flute where the eggs reacted with the fizzy prosecco and floated through the drink. A bonus was that the drink was really nice, I’d created strawberry eggs so the drink tasted like a strawberry bellini as I’d hoped. The eggs added to the drink because they remained solid until I popped them in my mouth to release the strawberry flavour!

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Our first round of drinks

While we finished our first drinks we had more time to appreciate the decor and got the chance to watch other tables create drinks we hadn’t ordered. The bar was fun to watch too since there were lots of drinks being prepared in test tubes and beakers!

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Drinks in prep

We decided to get another create your own cocktail since we had so much fun the first time. Both me and Elaine decided to order the Draught of Delirium drink since we worked together on Delirium research at the hospital!

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Draught of Delirium ingredients

We weren’t disappointed when we received our drinks! Again complete with instructions we were able to mix up our own cocktails. The Delirium drink included a few unusual ingredients including Unicorn Mane and Basilisk Venom. I loved that this drink came with candy floss too!

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How to create Draught of Delirium

We hadn’t realised before we mixed the drinks, but they contained an ingredient which made every glass become a different colour! Mine was red and Elaine’s turned silver. They also had a metallic tint to them, which made it look more magical!

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We found making the cocktails so much fun that we didn’t even get a chance to try out the drinks mixed up by the bartender. The menu had lots of different choices, each with a different spirit or type of alcohol to choose from. You could even buy a bottle of butterbeer which came in it’s own butterbeer bottle!

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Bar Proclamations

One of the last things I managed to take a photo of was the proclamations displayed on the walls.  It felt like The Pop Up Geeks had thought of everything when it came to designing the bar, from the drinks to the decor everything was Potter related!

I wish I could visit all over again, I loved the experience so much! I would definitely recommend a trip to anyone that enjoys Harry Potter, I wish we had booked more time since we were limited to two hours.

If anyone isn’t so crazy about Harry Potter, from the end of April the theme will change to Rick and Morty and later Lord of the Rings. I think there is something for everyone over the next few months!

 

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Omakase in Scotland

Omakase is a style of Japanese dining which I only recently heard about. After an online search, we decided to try it at Yatai Izakaya a Japanese restaurant in Aberdeen. Their website stated that Omakase means ‘trust us’ and leads to a unique dining experience where your waiter picks all the food you eat. We were excited to try this style of dining as we hoped to try new dishes we wouldn’t usually pick and maybe find some new favourites!

We arrived at the restaurant at 5.30 on the dot meaning that we had all evening to try out as many foods as possible. The restaurant was small but thankfully we had booked a table in the fully booked restaurant.

We were seated at a two-seat table, however if you visit as a group of four you can be seated right next to the grill and watch as food is made. We were happy to be away from the grill as it meant that all of our food was a surprise. We had no idea what to expect until the waiter arrived at the table!

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I loved the décor, a mixture of geisha artwork, Japanese drink advertising and traditional calligraphy. As we walked into the restaurant some of the herbs the restaurant grows were also on display.

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We ordered drinks and chose to eat Omakase style, for those who wouldn’t want to risk it, you can select food from an a la carte menu. The waiter asked if we had any dietary requirements and whether we had any likes or dislikes. We decided not to emphasise any favourites in the hope we would get a broad selection of foods. We were then asked how much money we would like to spend (approximately) per person. Since it was our first time, they suggested we set a limit of £35 per person and simply ask if we wanted more or less as the food arrived. It transpired that £35 was the perfect amount for us. We were full by the end and felt like we had tried lots of different food.

We sat (im)patiently for our first course to arrive and thankfully we weren’t disappointed. We were given a food we had never tried before! Unfortunately named Octopus Balls, we were given dough combined with octopus which was fried and topped with ginger, katsu mayo and bonito flakes.

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Octopus Balls

They were crispy on the outside, but doughy on the inside, kind of like an octopus doughnut. I would have never ordered this from the menu and having 3 each was quite a heavy way to begin the meal, but it was fun to try and I would actually order them again too!

Our second course was quite a safe option – Squid Tempura. Thankfully, the squid was cooked perfectly and a small amount of batter was used to make this choice much lighter than the last! The dish was served with salt and lime which was the perfect accompaniment.

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Squid Tempura ft. Jamie

Before we’d managed to finish the Tempura, our next selection was brought to us. My personal favourite Salmon Maki Rolls were delivered! To add a small twist, the roll was accompanied with pickled cucumber which added a zingy twist to this simple dish.

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Salmon Maki Roll

When I had been browsing the menu when waiting to order, I noticed a salmon based dish topped with a sweet miso dressing. This was something I had been wanting to try and I was excited when it arrived. Unfortunately, I was disappointed and this was one dish I couldn’t get behind. The salmon was perfectly cooked on a skewer, but the miso sauce was the texture and thickness of strawberry jam. The flavours were nice, but I couldn’t finish my skewer, the texture just didn’t work for me!

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Salmon with Sweet Miso

Our next dish was one of the restaurant’s daily specials, a full fried soft shell crab served in a steamed bun with Sriracha cream sauce. Now, I had mixed feelings about this. First, I’ll put the picture below so you can see what the dish looked like.

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Fried Soft Shell Crab Bun

So literally a crab, fried and put onto a bun. I had to psych myself up to eat this one. Now I like crab – when it’s from a hard shell and you’re not expected to eat the shell. This crab was still fully dressed in his shell and I had to eat the tiny legs and claws! So, turns out, soft shell crab legs taste as you would expect. Like a fried shell. Pretty awful and bland. Thankfully the body made up for it, I quickly pulled off the legs and claws to the dismay of the lady on the next table and ate the rest of the course.

I’m actually glad we got to try this dish. Firstly because it was a special, so next time we might not get the chance and secondly because I can’t say I’ve ever eaten a crab inside it’s shell before. I do have to admit though, I won’t be ordering this dish again soon!

I need to admit that at this point in the meal I needed a break. I had just eaten a pretty large steamed bun and plenty of food before that. Somehow it seemed that the waiting staff knew and we were given a short break before our last couple of dishes were cooked.

After our break, we were sharing our fifth dish which was Prawn Katsu Maki Rolls. I’m greatful that we were only given 4 pieces to share, since some restaurants serve 8-10 Maki pieces! This dish was tasty as expected and was a kind of sushi I would have ordered if we’d chosen the a la carte option.

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Prawn Maki Roll

Our sushi was followed by our first and only chicken dish of chicken meatballs. Sounds simple enough right? But in the small dish next to our skewers we were presented with a raw egg yolk on top of soy sauce. Immediately my salmonella alarm was making me think twice about the dipping sauce. But Jamie mixed it and tried it first, promising that it didn’t taste like the chicken was covered with raw egg.

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Chicken Meatballs

It transpired that if you mix soy sauce and egg yolk it pretty much tastes like extra salty soy sauce (at least it did to me). I can also report a day later that I don’t have salmonella if you were wondering..

Now I have to admit, our last course was a seared salmon nigiri, it was amazing but as soon as it arrived, we threw it in our mouths and forgot to take a picture! This was one of our favourite dishes (and it obviously looked amazing too!) but we demolished it in one bite!

After getting over excited about the sushi, we had reached our £35 limit. It was up to us whether we wanted to continue or finish. We of course chose to finish since we were completely full!

Well, I say that, but we were tempted by the homemade truffles and decided to finish with a glass of wine and truffles.

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Homemade Truffles

When we left, we realised we had been at the restaurant for over 2 hours! The staff were great with us and checked whether we enjoyed each course. The Omakase style was perfect for us since we love to try new food. I would recommend the experience to anyone who wants to try something different or find new favourites. But, handing over the choice to your waiter is definitely risky if you are a fussy eater!

We can’t wait to go back to the restaurant and try it all over again! We love this type of dining experience, so let me know if you have visited anywhere fun like this yourself!