The United Kingdom has the one of the highest number of Castles per capita in the world and since we are basically closet nerds and love visiting Historical sites then we are in our element in Scotland. With a number of Castles now under our belt we thought it would be a good idea to share a series of posts on the exploration of all the various Castles we visit around Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales and the rest of the World.
We start the series with the most visited castle in Scotland – Edinburgh Castle. With over 205,000 visiting during the month of August alone you will often find it packed with tourists. At a cost of £15 for adults its not cheap either. In fact, if you plan on being in Scotland even for a few days it is definitely worthwhile buying a Historic Scotland pass. We have the one year version and it only costs $45 which you can quickly pay off with just a few visits to various Castles.
In its dominating position overlooking the capital city, the grandeur and historical significance of Edinburgh Castle has made it a globally famous icon of Scotland and part of the Old and New Towns of the Edinburgh World Heritage Site. Know matter where you are in Edinburgh you can basically always see the Castle towering over the heart of the city. Its a great marker if you are either; a) A lost tourist or b) Stumbling home drunk.
There are three distinct ways to actually approach the Castle with the direct route up the guts along the slowly rising Royal Mile (its actually longer than a mile) or via the two steeper footpath-only access routes up either side. I would recommend heading up the Royal Mile with all the other tourists, just don’t fall for the guy dressed up as William Wallace, and then when you are finished head down the north side to Princes Street Gardens.
Due to its popularity the crowds can be annoying but there are plenty of secluded areas to enjoy a moments respite from the tourist hoards. The highlights for us were:
- The Crown Jewels known as the Honours of Scotland and the Stone of Destiny which was stolen by the English for over 700 years before being returned in 1996 (be prepared to line up for at least 20 minutes or so);
- The One O’Clock Gun salute which is fired every day apart from Sundays (take a guess what time it goes off…);
- Several Military Museums;
- One of only 2 dog graveyards in Scotland;
- St Margaret’s Chapel which was built around 1130 and is the oldest building in the whole of Edinburgh;
- One of the oldest cannons in the world “Mon’s Meg”;
- The Castle Vaults and a really cool Prisoners of War exhibition;
- The Royal Palace; and
- Last but not least, spectacular views out over Edinburgh.
Edinburgh Castle was actually the first traditional Castle I have ever been to. And unfortunately I was slightly disappointed. I have always pictured Castles as being half in ruins with huge turrets and traditional battlements across the walls. Putting that aside it is still a great Castle but I would choose others over it.
Overall we give it a 6 out of 10.
Yellow Hostel Rome Review
If you are visiting Rome then check out our Yellow Hostel Rome Review for your stay. A brilliant place to have a drink and rest your feet.
Yellow Hostel Rome reviews are overwhelmingly positive for the party hostel atmosphere, fun staff, and adventurous travelers that are easy to meet at the lending library and bar. We had been in Rome for ten minutes and were already dripping with sweat, grumpy, tired, and lost. Carrying your backpack around in the Italian summer is no fun at all.
As we turned the final corner, The Yellow Hostel Rome sign was like a beacon of light that got brighter as we saw the outside bar area and copious ice-cold pints.
Yellow Hostel Rome Review
Dumping our backpacks on the floor in reception, which was thankfully cool and shady, we were greeted by friendly staff who gave us a comprehensive rundown of the hostel. As well as the free drink token everyone gets when you check in.
Travel Tip: Also, “like” their Facebook page to earn another free drink after you check in!
Within minutes Fabio, the proud owner, came bounding down to meet us. If you get a chance to meet him, which is highly likely since he is always there, you will find that he is super passionate about The Yellow, Rome, and architecture, and he loves to dish out free advice on what to see in the city.
Fabio planned our itinerary, which was great as he knew we wanted to hit all the must-sees and top free attractions. We even found the best spots for pasta and gelato using his local knowledge. The best recommendation he gave us was Mama Angela’s restaurant right across the road, and it served delicious Italian food for a reasonable price.
The Yellow Hostel was voted Rome’s most popular hostel at the HostelWorld Hoscars by all its guests, and for a good reason. Yellow Hostel Rome is also highly ranked on TripAdvisor, too.
Yellow Hostel Rome Location
Its location is perfect as they are situated less than a mile from Rome’s city center. It’s just a two-minute walk from a metro stop, a ten-minute walk from the central train station, and a twenty-five-minute walk to visit the Ancient Roman Forum. Compared to other cities like London where you have to catch the tube for an hour, this hostel is perfect.
What amenities does The Yellow – Hostel provide?
There is free WiFi in the bar area and iPad rentals.
If you plan to stay here, make sure you are keen to have a good time. The Yellow Hostel tries to make sure they always have a super social environment which is pretty easy when you have beds for 200 people!
A massive bar area provides seating inside and out with top-notch yet budget-friendly wine (2 euros for a huge glass), happy hour deals, beer pong tables, nightly events, and after 11 pm, you can move downstairs to cut some sweet shapes with the in-house DJ.
The only flipside of this is that you shouldn’t expect to get much sleep if you are in a dorm. If you are lucky like us and stay in a private dorm, you won’t hear a peep from anyone—total bliss.
Don’t forget that and all the great things going on within the hostel. There is a pretty awesome city on your doorstep to explore. The Yellow has created a great map showcasing all the highlights, including Rome’s free excursions. We highly recommend speaking to their staff to get some travel tips on where to go and what to see.
Yellow Hostel Rome Food
Unfortunately, a huge downside is that breakfast is not included, and there is no kitchen. However, feel free to eat your food in the bar area as this is allowed anytime. They also have a cheap breakfast menu if you want one from 2.50 euro and up. Another thumbs up to go to their coffee with lattes, espressos, and cappuccinos (from a coffee machine) will help you get back on your feet after a night at The Yellow bar.
We were told that they are building a new kitchen area, so hopefully, that will be up and running in a few months.
Travel Tip: If you use FourSquare, make sure you “check-in” every morning and reward yourself with a free coffee.
The dinner that they provide is a highlight of the social scene. For a measly 3 euros, you can gorge yourself on homemade pasta, lasagne, pizza, rice, and broccoli. It’s a great way to save your pennies.
Yellow Hostel Rome Rooms
We stayed in a private double room, which was fantastic. Thankfully it was not above the bar. Peaceful and very spacious. The room came with its own newly refurbished bathroom, mini-fridge, a table to sit at, TV, soap, and ladies. There was even a hairdryer!
The only downside was that there was no safe and our air-conditioning was broken, so we had to stand right in front of the fan to get any relief from the heat.
Overall the Yellow Hostel in Rome is up there with being one of the best hostels we have ever stayed at. For a backpacking couple who wants to meet some friends on the road, enjoy a drink or two, or even chill out after an epic day sightseeing in Rome, then the Yellow Hostel is for you.
Disclaimer: HostelWorld kindly put us up for our stay, although, as always, our Yellow Hostel Rome review and thoughts are never influenced by them.
Medieval Towns with German Castles Near Munich & Frankfurt
Our favorite castles in Germany near Frankfurt and Munich:
We were crazy enough to visit Neuschwanstein Castle on a public holiday. This meant that along with all the Asian tourists, there were an awful lot of Germans. Plus, even though we arrived by 11 am, the soonest tickets we could buy were for the German tour at 2.30 pm, as the terms in English were sold out until 4 pm. So, if you don’t have German friends at hand to translate the tour for you, we recommend booking in advance online. The castle was impressive, and the time was undoubtedly fascinating! Don’t worry, I won’t spill the beans, but the manmade Grotto room made my jaw drop!
Mespelbrunn Castle is located on a pond between Frankfurt and Wurzburg. Unfortunately, we arrived 30 minutes after its closing time of 5 pm, but it looked cool from behind the fence!
Lichtenstein Castle is located on a clifftop near Stuttgart and costs 6 euros per person for a tour in German; however, they did give us a very informative written guide in English. This castle is small compared to Hohenzollern castle, but its story is fascinating. Tanks shelled it in World War II, and today you can still see the cracked mirror from where a small fragment of a tank grenade ricocheted!
Hohenzollern Castle is not too far from Lichtenstein Castle. It is located on a hilltop near Hechingen, and we enjoyed the guided tour. Along with getting to wear GIANT slippers, make sure you explore the casemates and secret passages. One sign made me want to learn more. It read, “Exactly where these steps lead to is unknown. More casemates and secret passageways are likely waiting to be discovered in the heart of the mountain”!
Heidelberg Castle was a lot larger than we expected! Unfortunately, we had spent far too much time at the Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim, so we did not have time to explore this castle. But if we get the chance, we will explore the town and its castle next time in Germany.
On our drive from Munich to Frankfurt, we also loved:
The beer garden at Andechs Monastery was just like Oktoberfest but amongst trees and more family-friendly. The beer was cheaper, and the food was great, including the giant pork knuckle, which Moss could not finish. It was also fun walking up multiple flights of stairs to the tower’s very top.
Three hours in Rothenburg was not enough to explore this wonderful medieval town! We recommend getting your hands on a city map from the tourist information office. We enjoyed Roder Gate, walking along the wall and exploring the 17th-century spital bastion, plus Moss lost me in the Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas shop for over half an hour, and I didn’t even buy anything!
The average person would Google Munich to Frankfurt and see that it only takes about 3 ½ hours depending on how fast you wish to drive on the autobahn! However, we are NOT typical. We took one look at train prices and decided that hiring a car wouldn’t cost too much more.
We aren’t going to tell you our exact route. Still, after surviving Oktoberfest in Munich, we did a giant zigzag to see as many castles and medieval towns as possible. So to save you doing so much driving, we have picked our favorite cities and castles. First of all, ‘Ausfahrt’ is not a destination accessible from every off-ramp! It means ‘Exit’! Another word of wisdom to keep in mind is that the autobahns with speed limits do have speed cameras… and the flash is blinding!
Running with the Bulls Video
Our shaky Running with the Bulls Video footage from the Festival de San Fermin in 2012. Experience it first hand in Pamplona. Enjoy.
We recently wrote about our life or death experience of Running with the Bulls this year at the Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona. On that run, I carried along with our GoPro video camera and tried to shoot some footage for our running with the video of the bull.
All our travel video shooting techniques went out the window when the bulls’ hooves started to shake the ground beneath our feet.
Once we had lined up for the running with the bulls, there was no escape from it as we were walled in by apartment blocks, shopfront windows, and 3-meter high wooden barriers packed with photographers along the entire length. At one end lay the relative safety of the bull ring pulsating with the cheers of the crowd who were still partying from the night before. Behind me, a dozen wild bulls pawed the stony ground looking for freedom.
Unfortunately, I was standing in their path.
What we ended up with is below. However, I think what we filmed for our running with the bull video captures the chaos, craziness, and complete madness a lot better than if I had stood my ground.
Enjoy it and watch for the guy that nearly gets trampled to death near the beginning!
Running with the Bulls Video
Would you ever consider running with the bulls?
While we are very aware that not all people agree that the San Fermin Festival should be allowed to go ahead mainly due to animal cruelty, we think there are two sides to every story. We wrote a post about the controversy surrounding Bullfighting in Spain and the Festival de San Fermin.
We would love to hear your thoughts on the Festival de San Fermin and whether you would ever consider running with the bulls.
Meet Cole and Adela
We have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...
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