Street Food Diaries: London

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Street Food, Camden Lock, London

Being vegetarian should not stop you from enjoying street food in London. Read on the entire post at Mouthfuls from Jhakal to know more 🙂

Did you know you can enjoy amazing street food in London even if you are vegetarian? You can, For real! I was amazed at the variety we discovered and it’s about time I share it here. The two primary locations where you can eat to your heart’s content are Borough Market and Camden Lock. Borough […]

via Street Food Diaries: London — Mouthfuls from Jhakal

Timelapses from the Scottish Highlands

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Blue skies in Scotland

We just received the timelapse videos from our road trip in Scotland earlier this year!!! You see, our cousin had purchased a new action camera and the trip became his testing ground.

The videos are awesome and we just had to share them here. It really helps you witness how picturesque the highlands are!

We’ve combined some of them into one video. It starts with the day we were driving in to Fort William, moves onto the second day when we went exploring on an overcast day, proceeds to our last day there when we were driving out on a brighter day and the last bit is when we stopped at Dalwhinnie Distillery on the way to Edinburgh.

Check em out! 😀

London from a Different Lens

Change of Guard ceremony

Change of Guard ceremony

Hello fellow bloggers, I’m back to share the last post from my trip to UK earlier this year.

After Central England, Scottish Highlands and Edinburgh, London was our final stop! Our trip to UK would have been incomplete if we didn’t visit this city. We just had to spend a few days here and we squeezed in a few things “off the beaten track”.

London, for sure needs no introduction and has its world famous landmarks that we did visit – The Buckingham Palace (and the change of guard ceremony), The Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, Piccadilly Circus, Covent Garden and Hyde Park.

However, instead of spending too much time at the above, we explored the not so touristy side. These are still touristy I guess but less so. This list includes – Street Art in East London, Old Spitalfields Market, Borough Market and Camden Lock.

Let me tell you a bit about each of these to give you a better idea.

Street Art in East Londonthe east end of London is quite the hipster area with plenty of artwork to explore. Artwork is mainly in the form of murals and graffiti and best way to understand more about it is to go for a free walking tour. We took one and the guide walked us around pointing out different styles and naming some of the popular and upcoming street artists. There is more to street art than meets the eye. I would recommend a guided tour for a more well directed tour. You can of course explore on your own, on foot or bicycles. The neighborhoods covered include Whitechapel, Shoreditch and Brick Lane. A stop at the Nomadic Communities in Shoreditch was a nice touch.

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London Street Art

Mural

Mural

Reptile made from old tyres at Nomadic Communities garden

Reptile made from old tyres at Nomadic Communities garden

Old Spitalfields Market was a chance find for us. We came across it just as we finished the street art tour. Its in this huge Victorian market hall that was constructed in 1876. Its great for purchasing antique odds and ends. I’m talking about everything from cutlery from the 60s to old photographs, candle stands and vinyl records. It was intriguing just to look at the stuff and if you are a collector, this place is for you! Remember to bargain 😉

Old Spitalfields

Old Spitalfields

Old Spitalfields

Old Spitalfields

Borough Market – this place is great for food lovers! Its a huge market built under a railway station and has food stalls of all kinds. Cheeses, breads, fruits and vegetables, meat, tea, spices and so on. There are live food stalls as well and you can easily have a great lunch here sampling things from the numerous vendors. If you do plan to visit, check the timings and events roster.

Borough Market

Borough Market

Fresh olives at Borough Market

Fresh olives at Borough Market

Camden Lock – there are two sides to Camden – a market selling stuff like souvenirs, t-shirts, caps, postcards and the like. And the other side that we absolutely loved was the street food market! This place is heaven for foodies with a mind boggling array of food and drink choices. Be sure to include this in the itinerary if you are a food lover. Explore all the stalls before you decide to dig into something. We were too hasty in ordering stuff and regreted later. As always make sure to check the opening hours when you plan.

Camden Lock Food Market

Camden Lock Food Market

Camden Lock Food Market

Camden Lock Food Market

Camden Lock Food Market

Camden Lock Food Market

So this was our slightly off-beat approach to exploring London. Hopefully, it gives you a few ideas on what you can plan!

Cheers and bon voyage people!

 

Steeped in History the place that is Edinburgh

Edinburgh from Castle Hill

Edinburgh from Castle Hill

I know I’m so late in posting all that I wanted to share on the UK trip. Nonetheless, here goes …

Having covered some parts of the Scottish Highlands, we now drove to Edinburgh. After checking in we strolled around and visited the Edinburgh Castle. Thereafter, walked along the Royal Mile and picked up some souvenirs the best out of which were the lamb’s wool Scottish mufflers.

Street performance at the Royal Mile

Street performance at the Royal Mile

A bit later in the evening we landed at this great bar called The Devil’s Advocate in the old town area. This place has a reputation for serving great cocktails and according to us it holds up to this reputation. It was an amazing evening spent trying out some of the whisky selection and a couple of cocktails. In the cold weather, this was just what we needed.

The next morning, our day started with a proper English breakfast. This was something we had not had a chance to enjoy yet and so that’s what we did. A full breakfast (vegetarian option also available) of beans, toast with butter, grilled mushrooms etc. and of course, a pot of tea.

More architectural beauty at the Royal Mile

More architectural beauty at the Royal Mile

Next up, we opted for one of those free city walking tours, which turned out to be very informative and an enjoyable experience. I recommend it to everyone who is visiting a place for the first time. It gives you a sense of the place with some historical references and the company of other tourists. Once you’ve toured around on foot, you can decide where you want to come back to and spend more time.

Enjoying a walking tour

Enjoying a walking tour

The location of Diagon'd Alley from Harry Potter

The location of Diagon’s Alley from Harry Potter

The walking tour started at the Royal Mile, with a brief introduction of Edinburgh then onto certain buildings on the Royal Mile itself, some alleys, a cemetery called the Greyfriars Kirkyard and culminated at the Edinburgh National Museum. The guide was quite knowledgeable sharing plenty of history and references to Harry Potter and Game of Thrones series and inspirations for the authors dotted around town. If you are a fan, you will surely enjoy this.

Greyfriars Kirkyard

Greyfriars Kirkyard

The school which was the inspiration for Hogwarts

The school which was the inspiration for Hogwarts

The inspiration for 'He who must not be named'. He was actually an import-export trader

The inspiration for ‘He who must not be named’. He was actually an import-export trader

The walking tour made me realize how steeped in history Edinburgh truly is! It does have a pretty bloody and ruthless history though with plenty conspiracies, murders, executions and wars. There was so much history to take in that my mind just gave up keeping up after a while and instead diverted to soaking in the beautiful architecture, sounds and sights (aka men in kilts ;-)). See this short video I made to give you a feel of the old town. Can you hear the bagpipe?

In all, its a 2 hour tour with a 15 min break in between. At the end of the tour your are free to tip an amount you think is good for the guide’s effort.

Also, another tip – all museums in the UK are free of charge! 😀

So that was Edinburgh – old, charming and beautiful. One time is just not enough and I would love to go back there and discover more of this magical town!

Magical Edinburgh

Magical Edinburgh

Up next – London! I’ll see you soon 🙂

Road Tripping to the Scottish Highlands

Laggan Dam, Scottish Highlands

Laggan Dam, Scottish Highlands

Are you planning a trip to the Scottish Highlands? Don’t think twice because you won’t be disappointed.

Some people take day trips from Edinburgh for the highlands but if you can drive down and spend a few days or even a couple of days there, its going to be so worth it!

We drove down to the highlands from Leeds and the journey itself is wonderful. You pass by the English countryside with rolling fields and a sheep farm every few kilometers and blue open skies (when its not raining, it absolutely stunning). The sheep are so cute and chubby, you can’t help feel getting down and cuddling them. In the distance they are like white polka dots on a green canvas.

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English Countryside

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Sheep Farm, England

As you enter the highlands the landscape changes to peaks, mountains and Lochs. Lochs. lochs, lochs everywhere in the highlands. Along the way we also stopped at Loch Lomond and a another waterfall site called Falls of Falloch. And there are many many viewpoints with breathtaking scenery to feast your eyes upon.

Somewhere in the highlands

Somewhere in the highlands

We stayed close to Fort William at this campsite called Bunroy Park. As March is still winters we opted for the camping pod instead of carrying and pitching our own tent and this proved to be very practical in the cold and wet weather that’s notorious in the region.

Bunroy Park

Bunroy Park

The campsite is quite good with the usual facilities, a flowing stream a stone throw’s away and hills in the backdrop. This actually turned out to be a great way to enjoy the highlands.

We drove around quite a bit and visited/passed by so many Lochs, I don’t even remember the names now. We visited the Glenfinan Viaduct (the bridge in Harry Potter where the Hogwarts Express crosses, see here). You can even time your visit to see a train pass by!

At a Loch in the highlands

At a Loch in the highlands

Laggan Dam is a place worth mentioning. Winters I guess had cast its own hues and shades and transformed the place so beautifully. See below.

Laggan Dam, Scotland

Laggan Dam, Scotland

We also visited the Eilean Donan Castle and it was quite interesting in my opinion. Its located at the intersection of three Lochs and was a strategic location for the clan Mackenzie.

We then went onwards to Isle of Skye and back via taking a ride on the barge along with the car on board.

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle

And oh, we also did a Whisky distillery tour at Dalwhinnie! Dalwhinnie is such a cute hamlet and we were told its the coldest village in the highlands – as cold as Iceland. We were in fact almost at level with the snow capped mountains there and it had even snowed the previous night.

Dalwhinnie

Dalwhinnie

As we were driving back to Edinburgh, we stopped at this awesome chocolatier which was highly recommended. This is located at Grandtully and goes by the name of Iain Burnett – The Highland Chocolatier. Its in a traditional bungalow and houses a cafe and a shop. We tried their Hot Chocolate and it was the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had! The sandwiches were good too!

Iain Burnett

Iain Burnett

Overall, we spent just about 2.5 days in the highlands but it was so amazing! I hope my experience gives you a few good tips on how you want to spend your time there.

More on the UK trip coming soon!

Blue skies

Blue skies and the countryside

Day Trips to York and Liverpool

As we walk towards York Minster

As we walk towards York Minster

As I mentioned in the previous post, we were staying in Leeds for the first few days and not wanting to waste time before we embarked on our road trip to Scotland, we did a couple of great day trips to York and Liverpool. I’d like to share some of the best things from these places in case you are looking for some things to do in these cities.

For York, we drove down till we arrived at a park and ride and took a bus for the rest of the way. I didn’t know what to expect but York turned out to be an enchanting little town. It used to be a walled city and that’s the first thing we noticed about the place. These days you can walk on it and take in the sights.

The most distinguishing feature of the town is York Minster. It’s quite a grand structure now but has seen its fair share of destructions, constructions and restorations. Currently, its an active cathedral with daily services. You can even time your visit to coincide with a service. A museum inside the building will give you further history of the site.

York Minster

York Minster

The town itself is very rustic with a heightened old world charm. There are several alleys to be explored with cafes, restaurants and all kinds of stores. There are even “haunted” pubs and we visited a 16th century pub called the Golden Fleece.

At York

At York


See the Golden Fleece?

See the Golden Fleece?

As it was a weekend and the sun was out, there was an open market running as well. Stalls selling everything from woollen caps to burgers. It was the perfect day trip with a lovely weather and the music from a street musician complementing the vibe of the place.

At York

At York

Liverpool was a different story. We visited on a very gloomy day and had to put up with rain till noon. Visited Albert Dock to soak in some views and had a nice lunch at one of many options at the dock itself.

At the Albert Dock

At the Albert Dock


Liverpool official buildings at the dock

Liverpool official buildings at the dock

We aren’t big Beatles fans but we ended up taking the Magical Mystery Tour. A tour dedicated to The Beatles with anecdotes about the band, how the four lads met, how the group was formed and so on. The tour turned out to be a great city tour as well as we went around visiting the family homes of all four Beatles and also places that have inspired some of their songs such as Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane.

McCartney Family Home, Liverpool

McCartney Family Home, Liverpool


Strawberry Fields Forever

Strawberry Fields Forever!

The tour ended at Matthew Street and we enjoyed some music and drinks at The Cavern Club. This is where The Beatles used to play before they became popular. The Cavern has become extremely popular over the years with several great artists and bands visiting and performing here.

The Cavern Club, Liverpool

The Cavern Club, Liverpool

As it turned out, we ended up enjoying both places. Now, I can even say that I like The Beatles music and even have a few favorites on my Spotify list!

More on the UK trip in upcoming posts. Till then, Cheers!

Happy Surprises in Central England

Leeds city center

Leeds city center

Once more, one thing led to another and we embarked on Euro Trip 3.0 this March. The best thing this time though was that my cousin was there to help plan our itinerary and so we encountered several happy surprises. We visited places that we wouldn’t have, had we been on our own. So let me first share some experiences from Leeds and Harrogate where we spent the first few days. It might give you some ideas if you plan a trip to England.

Right from the day we landed, we were on the go. As we were spending sometime with my cousin in Leeds, we got an opportunity to visit a few places around. I was actually quite surprised by the charm in central Leeds. The area almost seems like a movie set with several old buildings beautifully preserved alongside more modern structures. It’s so well done that things don’t seem out of place at all. I loved the Leeds Kirkgate Market, construction of which had started in 1875.  This is still a market primarily selling food products with a few eateries, a florist and some other stalls.

Leeds Kirkgate Market

Leeds Kirkgate Market

Inside for the Kirkgate Market

Inside for the Kirkgate Market

Lovely flowers at Kirkgate

Lovely flowers at Kirkgate

The next best thing was the Corn Exchange where grains were traded in the mid 1800s. The building has now been converted into a shopping center with boutique stores and a cafe.

The dome shaped corn exchange at the end of the road

The dome shaped corn exchange at the end of the road

Beautiful interiors at Leeds Corn Exchange

Beautiful interiors at Leeds Corn Exchange

One of the days, we ventured to the outskirts and visited the Harewood House. This is a country home with acres of landscaped gardens, constructed by a wealthy plantation owner in the 1700s. It’s still home to the same family and is open to public.

At the Harewood estate

At the Harewood estate

From Harewood House, we made our way to a nearby small town called Harrogate popular for its spas. For our first time in England all these towns and neighborhoods were simply amazing and an altogether different world. For the most part in UK, it felt like stepping back into medieval times really.

Harrogate!

Harrogate!

We enjoyed an extremely satiating English afternoon tea experience at this place called Betty’s Cafe Tea Rooms (scones and clotted cream … woot!) and then took a stroll in one of their beautiful public gardens, I think this was in Harlow.

Betty's Tea Room , Harrogate

Betty’s Tea Room , Harrogate

High Tea :-D

High Tea 😀

We were surprised to discover the several museums in Leeds most notably the Royal Armories Museum amongst others, a few shopping malls and decent food and drinks options.

If you are around Manchester or York and looking for something to do, a half to one day trip to Leeds won’t be such a bad idea.

More on the UK trip in upcoming posts. I have a lot to share!