We are back from Scotland and it was really amazing. “Awesome!” (as they would say in another part of the world). You can’t imagine how beautiful is the landscape, how rich is the biodiversity (although we were in the West, where they said “God had no earth left when he created Scottish Highlands”) and how kind are people.
We spent lovely nights at the Rowantree Cottage in Arrochar. It was the first time Neel called someone “The Gentleman” (Bill Thompson) and “The Lady” (Irene Thompson), our lovely hosts. And Charlie the cat was also very kind and patient with Neel.
In Rowantree Cottage
If you have time, we definitely also recommend The Ballyhennan restaurant, situated between Arrochar and Tarbet. In a beautifully renovated 18th Century former church (*), the service is very warm and the food excellent. Try it with or without your family, its food is really excellent and will please everyone!
(*) we learned and saw it’s very common in Scotland to transform lovely churches into restaurant, bed and breakfast or private houses.
In West Scotland, you can’t miss Loch (lakes) and mountains (and midges too, when it just rained and the sun appears). Driving there is very funny (especially on B type roads!). And everywhere you go, you want to stop and just look at the beautiful scenery around you.
Fun at the lake
In Ardnamurchan, we also spent lovely moments at Craig Na Shee, the Rock of Peace. When you arrive there, you wonder how they managed to fit all this comfort in a remote place. And then you sit, relax and enjoy the place! (We were so relaxed we even forgot to take a picture of the great house.) If you have the chance to have good weather conditions (i.e. not too much rain) – and we did, one day – go and visit Sanna Bay, a wonderful bay on the Atlantic ocean.
So you have to discover Scotland, it’s wonderful!
A small post to report three very interesting restaurants in Germany. The first one is in Berlin, on Potsdamer Platz: Ristorante Essenza (website). It’s a very stylish and very classy Italian restaurant. The decor is very sober, the ceiling is very high and I really liked the rugged wall with small cases for different wine bottles. The (English-speaking) service is impeccable and waiters are very tactful. But we don’t enter a restaurant only to enjoy the place … Food in Ristorante Essenza is also delicious, pizzas are served in good proportions and sea food is really nicely cooked. I didn’t have the opportunity to taste their wines (by choice; but they looked all very fine on the menu). Finally, icing on the cake, prices are really, really affordable for this advanced standing (Italian restaurants in Belgium will have many lessons to take in order to beat that standard).
A second interesting restaurant is a real German tavern, also in Berlin (on Alt-Reinickendorf, next to the Ibis hotel ; it’s name is simply Alt-Reinickendorf). It is so small it doesn’t have any website, not even visiting cards. But the atmosphere inside and the service are really warm, friendly and German at the same time (don’t ask me what is my definition of “German atmosphere”: I won’t be able to define it; you just have to know it’s positive). I guess there are many other places to taste real German food, cooked by Germans. But here the owner comes to welcome you and makes sure you have a non-smoking area (*), the waitress is speaking enough English to guide you in the menu and the service is very fast. If you want to taste native food, you have to go there.
Finally, the last restaurant we really liked in Germany is in Hannover, on Vahrenwalder StraÃŸe and it’s a Vietnamese one, Lotus. They don’t speak English (and I felt so bad not knowing a word of Vietnamese cuisine) but they have an English menu. The decor is classical for a South-Asian restaurant (I’m always wondering why Vietnamese restaurants are calling themselves “Chinese” although they don’t serve Chinese food). Pick whatever you want in the menu and it’ll be served fast (my suggestions: fried duck or chicken with plain rice ; sauces are served aside as it should be). And, of course, it’s tasty (we went there twice).
Enough! (I’m hungry now). I’m not a critique, these choices are of course personal but these are places I would certainly come back 🙂
(*) It’s one thing that was surprising in Germany: people can still smoke in public areas, including restaurants. In Belgium, it’s forbidden and we didn’t pay attention to this “detail” at first when we planned our trip.
My parents-in-law just came for some holidays in Belgium and they choose a nice, old-style house near Liège (Belgium), in Trooz. It’s called “Biche les prés“. It has plenty of rooms, a nice, well-kept garden, it’s clean and situated near a forest, away from the city (20 km from Liège) … and it has a computer with GNU/Linux (RedHat 9 in dual boot with MS-Windows) and an internet connection (modem). Of course, M. Spirlet won’t give you the root password 😉 but, at least, if you left your laptop at work (like I did), you can read your mail with your favorite operating system.