Living in Scotland, I had the opportunity last week to go on a one day guided tour of some of the most iconic film locations featured in the television series, ‘Outlander’. If you haven’t heard of Outlander, where have you been? 😉
Hopefully some of you are fans, and will enjoy coming along with me on this journey as I take you through a series of posts of the places I visited and of the fascinating facts I learned and interesting people I met along the way.
The tour was by a Scottish company named ‘Discover Scotland’, and the key highlights included:
A visit to Doune Castle, which featured as Castle Leoch in Outlander.
A photo stop at Midhope Castle (Lallybroch).
A visit to Blackness Castle.
A few hours spent in Falkland and Culross, which featured Geillis Duncan’s House, the town square where Jamie was flogged, and where a little boy had his ear nailed to a wooden post, Claire’s herb gardens, and some other iconic scenes which you can see as we go along 🙂
I hope that you are ready to step back in time with me to visit these places, and to share your experiences of any similar travels that you have been on. More to follow soon …stay tuned, Outlander fans!! 🙂
Wednesday 16th August 2017
Welcome back. For earlier episodes in my ‘Travel Snaps’ series, to bring you up to date, just visit my previous posts by clicking on the ‘Travel’ tab in my main menu.
What is time to the traveller? Do our experiences ebb and flow, fading into a faint memory that eventually disappears as a bubble bursting on a stream? Over two months have passed since my travels, and everyday life at home has resumed. It is Sunday 29th October 2017, and I realise it has been a while since I last sat down to write my blog, and share some of my thoughts and experiences with you. Perhaps I am feeling reflective about time because the clocks went back an hour today, and for a usually rainy and wintry place, it was surprisingly sunny and summery today, with a hint of autumn in the air, and crisp golden leaves scattered on the ground.
As I write I can hear the hum of my washing machine in the background, and I am curled up on my sofa looking at a beautiful city scape with the sky fading from blue to beige to yellow to grey as night falls. Lights from the traffic over the motorway blink incessantly as car after car blurs one into another. I wonder at my sense of anxiety and nostalgia about my experiences. Do you also ever fear forgetting?
Musings aside, let’s return once more to the Hotel Diplomat in Prague. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, as they say. The evening meal was a buffet meal. I sat with my two friends, the couple that I had met earlier on the trip, at a table for four. However, I was asked to move by the coach driver, who wanted to make place for two ladies to be able to sit with each other and nearer to their friends, so he showed me to a window table where he sat with two other girls. I had, as many others did, presumed that these two young ladies were friends, perhaps teenagers on a trip together, but it turned out that they were a very youthful looking mother and her mature looking thirteen year old daughter.
Sometimes what might at first seem like an inconvenience and a move out of our comfort zone, such as being asked to move tables away from new friends, can turn out to be a happy little piece of serendipity on our journeys through countries and through life. The ‘girls’ turned out to be very friendly, and the ‘little one’ an inquisitive, smart and funny chatterbox, both of whom I have kept in touch with, with the daughter showing more interest in maintaining a friendship, perhaps because of being more well versed with the world of social media 🙂
So my travels progressed from being a single, solo traveller, knowing no one on the trip, to making new friendships that I am hopeful will last long into our new, and perhaps once more, shared adventures.
So keep an eye out friends, for the ways in which those little ‘inconveniences’ in your day may actually turn out for the best.
For previous ‘travel snaps’ of my adventures, please click on the ‘Travel’ tab in my main menu 🙂
Wednesday 16th August 2017
As you will know, if you have been following on with my travel adventure series, arrival at our hotel was not without a little bit of drama! 🙂
However, it was lovely to at last get off the bus, after being on the road for a few hours. It was just before dinner time, and the evening was sweet, sun-kissed and pleasant. I was beginning to feel the excitement of a traveller in a new place.
Before me in front of the hotel was a long straight main street, clean, and neat, except from the occasional glimpses of graffiti, with trams gliding past. A couple from my tour group who have travelled extensively throughout America said that it looked a lot like San Fransisco.
I was pleasantly surprised as I wandered into the hotel to check in. The lobby was vast, and nicely stylised. However, you may want to take a sneak peek into the hotel for yourself. 🙂
For previous adventures in this series, please click on my ‘Travel’ tab in my main menu.
And so, having finally disembarked after the earlier mini-drama, we were free to check into and explore our new surroundings, and ‘home’ for two nights – The Vienna House, Hotel Diplomat, Prague.
The hotel is situated in Praha 6 (or district 6) of Prague.
With the help of Wikipedia, here is a short overview of Prague’s districts:
“Prague has a local-government structure of two or three tiers, depending on the area of town. At the top is the Magistrate of the Capital City of Prague (Czech: Magistrát hlavního města Prahy), which is responsible for public transport; waste collection; municipal police; firefighting; ambulance services; cultural activities; care of historical sites; the Prague Zoo; and other activities of citywide significance.
Since 1990, the city has been divided into 56 (since 1992, 57) self-governing municipal districts (Czech: městské části). The districts are responsible for parks and environmental protection; ordering equipment for schools and volunteer firefighters; some cultural and sports activities; activities for seniors; some social and health programs; cemeteries; and collection of fees for dog tags and the like. Another important activity of the municipal districts is the ownership, maintenance and, sometimes, sale of public property, especially public housing.
Since 2001, the 57 municipal districts have been grouped into 22 numbered administrative districts (Czech: správní obvody), for national-government purposes. One municipal district in each administrative district has responsibility for providing certain services for the entire administrative district. Those services include providing business licenses, identity cards and passports. The municipal district with such responsibility shares a name with the administrative district it serves. For example, the municipal district of Prague 19 provides those services to the municipal districts of Prague 19, Prague-Čakovice, Prague-Satalice and Prague-Vinoř. Residents of Satalice can get dog tags in their neighborhood but must go to Kbely, home of the Prague 19 government, to get an identity card.
Both the citywide government and the municipal districts have elected councils and mayors. The mayor of the Capital City of Prague is known as the primátor, which is sometimes translated into English as “lord mayor” (even though the Czech title carries no connotations of nobility).
From 1960 to 1990, Prague was divided into 10 districts. Those 10 districts are still used for addressing and transportation purposes and, for example, the organisation of courts and prosecutions. Street signs additionally add the name of the cadastral area (Czech: katastrální území), which usually reflects the name of an old municipality before its assimilation into the city of Prague. Thus, a sign in Kbely will say “Praha 9-Kbely,” not “Praha 19.” Prague residents are much more likely to use the name of a cadastral area or a 1960 municipal district than the name of a post-1990 district in everyday communication.” (Source: Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Districts_of_Prague).
If you would like to follow along with my travel series charting my adventures from last month’s journey across Europe, particularly Prague, Budapest & Vienna, then please click on the ‘Travel’ tab on my main menu, and you will find all of my travel related posts there! However, as these are ‘Travel Snaps’, you should be able to enjoy them as stand-alone entries too.
So to summarise, we were previously on the road by coach from Rotterdam to Frankfurt, with a brief stop at Moselle overlooking the Moselle River & Valley (en route to Prague), after which I stayed overnight on Tuesday 15th August 2017 at the NH Hotel in Frankfurt, Germany.
For anyone considering staying at this hotel, and for anyone else who is simply interested, here are a few facts:
- There appears to be 5 NH Hotels in Frankfurt, including one located at Frankfurt Airport, however there may be more that I am not aware of. I am not entirely sure which branch of the hotel I stayed at, however I would imagine that they are all fairly similar in style.
- The Hotels rate themselves as between 4 and 4 and a half stars out of a 5 star ranking.
- They are modern, clean, neat, ‘unfussy’, and offer guests the use of free Wi-Fi, and have all of the usual facilities that you would expect from a modern chain-hotel.
- With regards to price, as my overnight at the NH Hotel was included in the price of a coach tour, I am not able to provide an exact amount, however, prices on the internet seem to range from between £53.00 to £100.00 (GBP) depending on location, with the average cost being around £68.00 (GBP).
My impressions of the hotel were that it was modern, neat, minimalist. I found the staff to be friendly and helpful, and at the evening meal had to request vegetarian food as the driver / tour guide for our coach hadn’t been notified by the travel company of my dietary requirements for some reason. However the staff obliged, and I had a nice healthy and tasty vegetarian option. I found the lobby to be a nice relaxing area, and there was a bar as well which was also quite modern and neat. The breakfast was buffet style with plenty of choice. For one evening and morning in the hotel I didn’t have a lot of time to explore things that one might make use of during a longer stay such as the gym and other facilities, but for an overnight stop it was quite pleasant and very functional.
On a more personal note, at this stage of the coach tour with spending most of the time on the road with brief stops at service stations along the way, I still hadn’t had the opportunity to engage in more than just ‘small talk’ with the other people on the tour. I don’t mind this too much as I am just as happy to be in my own company most of the time as I am to be in good company with others.
So on arrival in the hotel, I unpacked the essentials, showered, got changed into some nice but not too formal evening clothes, and settled in during the hour or so before the evening meal. Being on my own, I was seated at one of the smaller tables for four guests, as opposed to the larger round tables that were there where most others in the group were directed to. I was met by a lovely couple who were semi-retired, but still quite young in their ways. They asked to sit with me, and I was quite happy to have their company. We talked and laughed about our many and varied travel adventures, shared stories about our families and our lives at home, and also chatted about our future travel goals, the films we liked (including a shared love of the Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson film, ‘The Bucket List’ that I watched on my Kindle Fire while on the bus) and other such things. We were joined by the bus driver shortly afterwards, who later turned out to be quite a character and a nice chap to have around, however my first impression of his company was not very pleasant due to the fact that he talked a lot about his friends’ experiences of getting the cane (being beaten) in school to the tune of a classical piece that he was playing to us on the bus. As some of you may know, I have Post Traumatic Stress from being bullied as a child, and the conversation got to the point where I had to mention it, however he continued, and with tears in my eyes I actually had to leave and take some time in the lobby. The couple I had been chatting to urged me to come back after I had a break, and I promised that I would.
I’m writing this, as well as anecdotally, to encourage anyone who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress, anxiety, panic attacks or other such conditions, who may fear traveling whether that be alone or with others. My advice is to just go ahead and do it. You will always find a way to manage, and sometimes you will be surprised at your own resilience and at the kindness of strangers who then become friends. Some of you may also know that I have a relationship with God, so while in the lobby drying my eyes and trying to calm my breathing and settle the ‘flashbacks’ (and at this point I noticed that the lobby was quite tastefully decorated in style with long couches and a black marble counter at reception, as an aside 😉 ) I prayed for God to comfort me, and a few seconds later a lady arrived and sat on the sofa opposite me with her tiny granddaughter, a beautiful baby who was at the stage where she was still too young to speak. Her grandmother spoke to her in German, but despite the language barrier, I was able to smile and wave to her and we made eye contact. It was a lovely moment, and a blessing. I did eventually rejoin the group, and as mentioned previously had a lovely vegetarian meal, with some kind of raspberry cream sorbet for desert.
I chatted with the couple I had met over a drink (a hot chocolate for me) after dinner at the bar, and the husband was inspired by some black and white prints of the Golden Gate Bridge on the walls to tell me about their road trips as a large family through the United States, including to San Fransisco. And so concluded my first night of the holiday on land (as opposed to the overnight on the ferry), and the beginning of some new friendships…
Here are a few pictures that I took of my hotel room while I was there:
My journey really began on Monday 14th August and involved a taxi, bus and overnight ferry. However, fast-forwarding on from that the next stretch of travel is from arrival in Europort / Rotterdam and a coach journey to an overnight stop in Frankfurt en route to Prague.
As you may have guessed, this travel adventure involves an organised coach tour. As a single female solo traveller I find that it is a bit safer to do things this way, and considerably reduces the amount of things to worry about or organise such as being the sole person in charge of ensuring that all connections are met and not getting lost in an unfamiliar place! So, it works for me, however, I would like to branch out some day to a more ‘organic’ form of solo traveling when I’m less dependant on a tour company organising things for me.
En route to Frankfurt, one of the service stops was at Moselle, which afforded a beautiful view overlooking the Moselle river and valley, where the famous Moselle grapes are grown.
As a bit of background, Mosel or Moselle is one of 13 German wine regions (Weinbaugebiete) for quality wines and takes its name from the Mosel River (French: Moselle. Luxembourgish: Musel.). (Wikipedia).
I’ve included a link to a ‘Lonely Planet’ guide to The Moselle Valley should you wish to discover more about the area in greater detail, or perhaps plan a visit there: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/germany/rhineland-palatinate/moselle-valley
So before we take to the road once again, here are some travel snaps from my brief stop at Moselle. Let me know what you think! 🙂