Author Archives: Karen Bryan

About Karen Bryan

Hello, I'm Karen Bryan, I created Europe a la Carte in 2002 to highlight the best places to visit in Europe with travel tips, photos and no fluff reviews. I’m also an artist; my artworks are often inspired by my travels

Walking Around the Seafront in Anstruther, Scotland

I stayed in Anstruther on the Fife coast in Scotland on a Sunday night in Novembmer. I arrived in Anstruther around 3pm to check in at The Waterfront. It free to park in the car parks in Anstruther in the low season. The short stay car park close to The Waterfron was full. But I found a space at the long stay car park a bit further along.

After checking in at The Waterfront, I decided to go out for stroll along the seafront and have some fish and chips before dark.

It was really sunny when I first went out.

You can take a boat trip out the Isle of May from Anstruther. The trips had finished for the day. In any case, I get seasick, so wouldn’t be going out on a boat.

The Anstruther Fish Bar is well known locally and has won many awards.

There was such a good view from where I had parked my car, that I decided to have a take-away to eat in the car.

Even on a Sunday evening, there was a long queue at the Anstruther Fish Bar. My haddock and chips cost £6.65. For around £9 you could eat in the restaurant. That price included a hot drink and bread and butter.

My fish supper was large, consisting of one and half haddock fillets. It was really tasty. I opened all the car windows to allow for a good airing after finishing my fish supper, when I moved the car down to the short stay car park

The following morning, as heavy rain was forecast. I decided to go for another walk along Anstruther seafront to see the sun rise before breakfast.

It was of a grey morning, but Anstruther still looked pretty, It was so quiet compared the previous evening.

I recommend a visit to Anstruther, preferably on a bright day in low season, as it gets very busy in the Summer.

Review of the Station Hotel Perth, Scotland

I stayed at the Station Hotel In Perth on a Thursday night in November. It cost £40 for the night for a double room including breakfast, booked through the ebookers travel website.

The Station Hotel is a grand Victorian building. There is free parking for guests at the rear of the hotel. You need to get a permit from reception when you check in.

The dark wood staircase from the lobby up to the bedrooms had beautiful flower shaped carvings.

There were also lovely stained glass windows by the staircase.

I had a fair degree of difficulty unlocking the door of my room. My first floor room was pretty large for a standard room. I was happy that it was at the side of hotel. Although that meant that the view was over the railway station roof, it was nice and quiet. I reckoned that you might hear some road noise when staying in the superior rooms located nearer the front of the hotel.

The desk had plenty of space, I could have my Chromebook, both mobile phones charging and paperwork laid out and still have space to boil the kettle. It was also great to have a light directly above the desk.

The shower room was a bit tight. I could hardly wash my face in the sink due to the shelf above the sink.

Initially I thought that the firm bed was really comfortable, but I woke up in a sweat, to discover that there was a plastic backed mattress cover on the bed. I appreciate that hotels want to prolong the life of their mattresses, but I can’t sleep on a bed with plastic underneath me.

The restaurant was nicely done, with grey wooden tables and chairs, and fresh flowers on every table.

The buffet breakfast was really good, with a wide selection of fresh fruit.

In summary, I thought that the Station Hotel offered good value for money at £40 a night for two guests, including breakfast. The room was large and quiet. The only real negative was the plastic mattress cover.

5 Travel Tips to Stay Safe with a Medical Condition

Having a medical condition need not prevent you from travelling, in fact a spot of travelling may do you the world of good, but for your peace of mind and the peace of mind of your family and friends it makes sense to think through carefully the journey that you are about to undertake.

Look up where you can get medical care near to where you’re travelling

Don’t just assume that you’ll be able to sort it all out, if and when the need arises. Do your research in advance. If your condition suddenly deteriorates you need to be able to get help as quickly as possible, you don’t want to waste time trying to find the nearest suitable facilities, a process likely to be complicated by trying to communicate in a foreign language.

Make sure that you have a European Health Insurance Card

The EHIC is available for free from the NHS so don’t be fooled by unofficial sites which try and charge you. The EHIC gives you access to state provided health care in any European Economic Area Country and Switzerland, although once Brexit comes into effect, UK citizens will no longer have free access to European Health Care, unless some kind of special deal is struck. The card covers you for all necessary treatment until the date you had planned to return and the care is provided to you like it would be to a resident of the country. You need to be aware that some countries require patients to pay a percentage of the cost of their treatment. You are therefore strongly advised to find a good travel insurance deal from a provider that can specialise your cover for your medical needs. The EHIC is not valid on cruises or for ski resort mountain rescue nor will it cover the cost of flying you back to the UK.

Talk to your doctor before you travel

Before you book anything, talk to your doctor about your intentions. Be truthful about where you intend to go and what you intend to do and don’t ignore the advice you are given.

Bring ample medication and a doctor’s letter detailing your condition

Make sure that you have acquired ample medication well before you are due to set off on your travels. Your medication may contain ingredients which are illegal in some countries so check beforehand. You and your doctor may need to complete a Medical Information Form (MEDIF). This form is valid for only one trip and can only be used for the flights and dates shown on the ticket.

Arrange early boarding and special arrangements with the airline

All airlines are required by law to make special provision for passengers with disabilities or medical conditions, but it is up to you to notify them well in advance and establish exactly what special provision you may require.

Review of the Fisherman’s Tavern in Broughty Ferry

I stayed at the Fisherman’s Tavern in Broughty Ferry, a suburb of Dundee, in Scotland on a Monday night in November 2017. I paid £34 for the night, including breakfast, booked through the Expedia website during their sale.

I’d been keen to stay the night in Broughty Ferry for a few months, but I was waiting for the combination a cheap room and dry, bright weather.

The Firsherman’s Tavern is located in Fort Street, a one minute walk from the seafront. There is free parking in Fort Street and on the seafront, but it is hard to find a space during to park during the day.

Check in time at the Fisherman’s Tavern was 2pm. As I wanted to make the most of the day light, with a long walk along the seafront towards Monfieth, I checked in around 3pm.

The Fisherman’s Tavern stretches across three adjacent buildings.

My twin room was located in the middle part, on the second (top) floor, facing the garden and storeroom at the rear.

There was view of the Tay Estuary over the roofs when I stood right next to one of the windows.

I liked the fact that the desk area was situated at the back corner of the room. next to one of the two windows. The downside was that the desk area was up a step, which I forgot about a couple of times. There were plenty of teabags and coffee sachets. Some hotels, Travelodge and Premier Inn spring to mind, only leave two teabags and two coffee sachets per roon.

The bed was comfortable. The WiFi in the Fisherman’s Tavern was supplied by The Cloud. As I had a good 4G signal and plenty data for tethering on the Three Mobile plan, I used that.

I felt that the room would have been a bit on the small side if there had been two guests staying there.

My main beef with the room was the state of the grouting in the shower cubicle. It really needed to be redone. One of the bedside lights wasn’t working. I did report this on my departure.

Breakfast on a weekday was served between 7am – 9am. I went down around 8.15am. There was a lovely real fire burning in the breakfast area. There was self service fruit juice, cereal  and fresh fruit.

The cooked part of the breakfast was prepared to order. It was very good with tasty bacon.

I wasn’t sure of the check-out time. On my Expedia itinerary it said 11am, but on the back of the door in my room it said 10.15am. I didn’t bother asking for clarification about this, as I intended to leave by around 10am.

In summary, I thought that the Fisherman’s Tavern in Broughty Ferry offered good value for money for £34 for the night. It’s in a good location near the seafront, convenient for a stroll along the waterfront, either towards Broughty Ferry Castle and Monfieith, or towards Dundee. If you came to Broughty Ferry by train, it would only take you a few minutes to walk down from the railway station. The staff were all friendly, the room comfortable and the breakfast was good. The main negative was the poor condition of the shower cubicle in my twin room.

Click here to check price and availability at the Fisherman’s Tavern on the HotelsCombined price comparison website.

Holiday Home Search Tips

Feeling in the vacation mood already? And do you wish to take a trip to for example Spain this summer? Get inspired by vacation home websites that show you all the great villas or apartments that could be yours. Whether you are interested in buying a vacation home so you take a break whenever you want or if you would like to rent a place for some weeks, the options are overwhelming. If you visit a specialist website such as www.immoabroad.com, you’ll see thousands and thousands of potential listings for your dream holiday home abroad.

All the potential is wonderful, but you want to condense your search as much as possible. With these simple tips you’ll be able to find your dream home in the sun without letting your budget run away with you – that holiday home really can be yours! So let’s discuss three simple, yet effective tips.

Write Down Your Requirements

Spend a few hours before writing down on a piece of paper the various needs you have of your dream home. Potential locations, number of bedrooms, whether you’re going to rent or buy, do you want a pool, a community garden etc. – no detail is too small. You will quickly see you have a lot of choice available, so you’re able to be fussy and specific. It’s your money you’re spending; make sure it’s what you really want.

Plan Your Budget

When thinking of buying or renting your next home in the sun you need to think hard about how much you’re willing and able to spend. Set yourself a maximum limit and then account for a little more overrun again for unforeseen expenses. Most importantly, when you find your budget – stick to it! You may find the home of your dreams but if you can’t afford it you might jeopardise yourself trying to get it.

Know Your Region

Not only do you have to consider the property, but also some research on the regions you would like to go holidaying will help. Think about the process of going there; is it easy to get there by plane for example? Do they speak English? Are there proper amenities like supermarkets or gyms? Spain for example is a great country to visit, but also remember that English is not the best spoken language there.

With these simple tips you will not only narrow down the field of thousands of potential dream homes, you’ll also make sure that when you do find the one you want that your trip is easy and stress free!

Now Three at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Edinburgh

The third instalment of the Now contemporary art exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh runs until 16 September 2018.

Jenny Saville’s paintings dominate the exhibition. Not just because of their large than life human subjects, but the gallery space given over to Saville’s work.

I was less keen on Saville’s most recent paintings. They had lots of what looked like scribbles all over them.

I loved Catherine Street’s work, which isn’t that surprising, given that I am a fan of collage.

I also liked Sara Barker’s fusion of painting and metal sculpture.

Catherine Borland’s foam sculptures weren’t my cup of tea.

I liked Robin Rhode’s colourful pieces, which adorned the walls of the corridor.

If you’re a fan of contemporary art, I recommend a visit to the Now Three exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Art. Its’ free to enter and the gallery is open seven days a week from 10am to 5pm.

Tips For Preparing a Long Road Trip

It is important you check all the components of your car and be sure they are in top shape before embarking on a road trip. There are some personal checks you can carry out. The brake system of a car is the most important component. Regular checks should be carried out to confirm the state of the brake discs. Car brake pads will lose quality and elasticity by frequent use, in adverse weather conditions or by accidents. This leads to a breaking distance becoming longer and posting a security risk to the driver, passengers, and others. Brake discs that cost: £12.66  can be purchased from well-known manufacturers such as ATE online shops. This is a combination of brand quality at a low price while reducing the brake distance.

8 steps (with pictures) to check a vehicle before a long road trip

Car fluid in working condition. The fluid in the brake, windscreen wash levels, car oil and the coolant keeps the car running smoothly preventing unexpected breakdowns and accidents. The owner’s manual will give more instructions about different locations of fluid like in the power steering and the clutch (which works same as brake fluid).

Air pressure on the tyre. On the side of the tyre, the max air pressure level will be written. It should not be exceeded. Also, on the owner’s manual or a sticker where the driver’s door shuts, the maximum air pressure will also be indicated. Furthermore, check your spare tyre to be sure it is in a good working condition.

Check and change the oil. Long trips put additional strain on a car. If it is almost time to change the oil, then, it is good to change the oil before embarking on a trip. The oil filter should be replaced if it carries the old fluid. Adding new oil will not make it work properly because there will still be a residue of the old fluid in the filter. The sludge in the old filter makes the new oil not to work properly.

Use a penny or tread gauge to check for tyre wear. Have at least a tread of 1/16th inch or 1.6mm. In cases where the tread is less than 1/12th inch or 2.5mm, it is best to replace the tyre. This is because the tyre will wear down quickly. On long trips, tyres can blowout because they have been heated up.

Ensure car’s air filter is free. If there is a sufficient supply of air to the vehicle’s engine, the performance improves. The car’s cabin filter is another source of air supply and should be checked regularly.

Wash the vehicle. A clean window improves visibility. If possible, wash the entire car. The wiper blades should be checked as well and if they do not wok properly, they should be replaced.

Confirm all lights and signals are in good working condition. To check for lights, you will need the help of another person. Turn on lights and ask if they are working or not. Replace all bulbs that are not functional. If possible, carry extra bulbs in case you might need them along the way. For example, for each light you carry at least one bulb, reverse lights, tail lights, headlights, indicators and so forth.

It is still possible the car does not work because a fuse needs replacing. Check for headlights alignment and do adjust the alignments accordingly. If the headlight alignment is poor, it will reduce visibility at night on unlit roads.

Ascertain if all emergency equipments are available in the vehicle and everything works.

Emergency equipments range from a cell phone, spare tyres, to an up-to-date map. A puncture repair kit can be a good idea although not always necessary.  Also have emergency tools like screwdrivers, pliers, flashlight, and an adjustable spanner. Fire extinguishers, medical kits, and flares are needed in worse case scenarios. A reflective warning triangle is mandatory in an EU member state. If your trip will take you through a country where you change lanes, for example from a right-hand drive to a left-hand drive country, see if the beam deflectors are compulsory for your headlights. This ensures other road users are not dazzled by your headlights. For example, you are travelling from the UK to mainland Europe.

If you cannot carry out some of the checks by yourself, you can get, perhaps, a commercial oil change facility to do this for you at a reasonable price.

Clean the car of trash and other things that may cause a stench.

If you cannot get all the toolkit, ensure you have at least a flashlight and medical kits since they will prove to be most essential.

If your trip will take you to a remote area, have plenty of fuel in your tank, enough bottled water, and let someone know how long you will be gone.

High Tea at the Royal George Hotel Perth

I’d been wanting to have High Tea at the Royal George Hotel in Perth for ages. High Tea is a Scottish meal, usually eaten between 4-7pm, which consists of a hot main course, followed by a selection of scones and cakes, served with either tea or coffee.

I’d previously had High Tea in Perth at both Summer’s restaurant (now closed) and Willow’s (how have now stopped serving High Tea in favour of a more expensive and less substantial Afternoon Tea).

The restaurant at the Royal George is located in the conservatory at the rear of the hotel, which overlooks the River Tay. However it was dark when I went for High Tea, so I couldn’t see the river, just the illuminated bridge,

I hadn’t booked a table. I was lucky to get a table as the restaurant was busy. Obviously their High Teas are very popular.

My Steak Pie main course was very good. The chips were some of the tastiest that I’ve ever eaten, the meat was tender with plenty of gravy. I would have liked to have had 2 or 3 different veg served with the main course, there were just a few sliced carrots.

I was rather disappointed with what followed. In other establishments serving High Tea there has been a selection of cakes. At the Royal George, there were only scones and a meringue. I wasn’t impressed by the scones. they were small, a bit hard and too sweet. The cream meringue was fantastic, crisp on the exterior and gooey in the interior.

Overall, my High Tea at the Royal George in Perth was a mixed bag. The main course was slightly let down by the paucity of vegetables. In my opinion, a wider selection of cakes should be served.

Royal Scottish Academy Annual Exhibition 2018

The Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) Annual Exhibition in Edinburgh runs until 6 June 2018.

There’s an admission charge of £6 for adults (£4 for concessionary tickets). This price includes a catalogue. However, you can get free entry on Mondays, but you have to pay £3 if you wish to have a catalogue.

Below are some of my favourite pieces from the RSA Annual Exhibition 2018.

I really enjoyed the RSA Annual Exhibition 2018.