Edinburgh’s Castle & The Royal Mile | Edinburgh, Scotland | One of the many attractions. I got to see during my visit to Edinburgh, was the Edinburgh’s Castle, after a lovely 10 minutes stroll along The Royal Mile. The Castle itself looks beautiful and omnipresent, from most points around the city, now once you cross the gates and inside the fortress, I found it to be a bit of a wua wua moment. Mea Culpa, I must admit, I was in a rush and had not time to take one of their self guided tours, which perhaps would have changed my entire experience. But I found it quite boring and staged. My sole purpose of coming all the way up Castlehill wast to explore The Royal Mile and once inside the castle, get to see the Honours of Scotland including the glittering crown jewels and the historic Stone of Destiny (with which I am totally obsessed, and beyond happy I’ve got to see). Aslo I found quite interesting visiting St. Margaret’s Chapel , the oldest building in all Edinburgh. Continue reading Edinburgh’s Castle & The Royal Mile
TOWER Restaurant | Edinburgh, Scotland | Spectacular views of Edinburgh‘s castle and the city skyline feature on the menu of James Thomson’s rooftop Tower Restaurant above Edinburgh‘s National Museum of Scotland. Exceptional food, an inventive menu, deft service and inspirational wines in a chic and glamorous setting are Tower trademarks. This is rooftop dining at its most spectacular – with brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner every day. Sister property of my other favorite in town, Rubharb Restaurant. Located steps away from the famous Royal Mile and minutes from Edinburgh‘s castle. Continue reading TOWER Restaurant
Balmoral Hotel Edinburgh | Edinburgh, Scotland | During my recent visit to charming medieval Edinburgh, I stayed at two hotels, the lovely, boutiki and quaint Nira Caledonia and the Grand Dame of Edinburgh, The Balmoral Hotel by Rocco Forte, which happens to be the official hotel and headquarters for my next experience The Royal Scotsman luxury train by Orient-Express, due to its proximity to Waverley Station. Right off Prince Street, with stunning views of Arthur’s Seat Hill, the Royal Mile and Edinburgh’s Castle, I was hosted on the 5th floor, very close to Suite 552 chosen by J. K. Rowling to withdraw to write the last sequel of Harry Potter. Continue reading Balmoral Hotel Edinburgh
The Pompadour Restaurant | Edinburgh, Scotland | One of the things which quite strike me during my recent visit to Edinburgh, Scotland, was the number of FABULOUS restaurants available, for such a lovely but tiny destination. The Pompadour Restaurant was not an exception, on the contrary was pretty much on my top 05 rule. I guess I could define myself as a foodie, but what I truly enjoy, is the experience overall. I am not a gourmet connoisseur, but I do know how to create experiences and tell a travel or gourmet story, and The Pompadour, has quite and interesting one, lead by this legion of young professionals, who will blow you away with the style, knowledge and artistry, and make your dining experience a truly memorable one. Continue reading The Pompadour Restaurant
The Royal Yacht Britannia | Edinburgh, Scotland | One of the very interesting tours I took during my late visit to Edinburgh, Scotland, was the visit to the Royal Yacht Britannia. Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia is the former Royal Yacht of the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. She was the 83rd such vessel since the restoration of King Charles II in 1660. Experience Scotland’s Best Visitor Attraction. The Royal Yacht Britannia was home to Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family for over 40 years, sailing over 1,000,000 miles around the world. Now berthed in Edinburgh, you can follow in the footsteps of Royalty to discover the heart and soul of this most special of Royal residences. Continue reading The Royal Yacht Britannia
Life onboard The Royal ScotsmanTrain | Scotland | Traditional style and elegant comfort provide an unparalleled way to explore the very best of Scotland and the Highlands. Here is my photo album and videos of the daily life onboard the luxury train “The Royal Scotsman” by Belmond, traveling from/to Edinburgh across the Highlands. I spent 5 fabulous days onboard, and I have to say, it is without a doubt a true travel experience. The train itself becomes your destination, and the most sophisticated and comfortable way to explore the breathtaking wonders of this amazing country. Continue reading Life onboard The Royal Scotsman Train
NIRA Caledonia Luxury Boutique Hotel | Edinburgh, Scotland | NIRA Caledonia was my first hotel stay while in Edinburgh, and it was the best introduction I could have had to this lovely charming town. No tartan. No stuffed deer heads. No prints of Bonnie Prince Charlie. Nira Caledonia, this boutique hotel blends Bohemian chic with contemporary comfort. Located just minutes away from Prince Street and the main attractions, at Gloucester Place, it allows you to experience the best Edinburgh has to offer only a stroll away to retrieve to the tranquility surrounded by cobbled streets and neo-classical elegance. Continue reading NIRA Caledonia Luxury Boutique Hotel
GPS Carlos Melia The Royal Scotsman | Edinburgh, Scotland | OUT OF THE OFFICE in Full Style. !!!! Good morning everyone from The Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, the official starting and check in point for The Royal Scotsman luxury train by Belmond, to me my hone, hotel and destination for the next few days, on an exclusive journey across and along Scotland, in full style and luxury. A pretty exciting itinerary, full of surprises that I will be reporting upon return. The Royal Scotsman train is a non WiFi train, therefore I will be offline for the next five days. Please bare with me till them. I am sure we will all enjoy of a little break. Do not miss me to much, I will be fine…. in the expert hands of Belmond, yet once again. Cheers from Scotland. Carlos Melia Luxury Travel Curator – www.carlosmelia.com Continue reading GPS Carlos Melia The Royal Scotsman
Rubharb Restaurant Scottish Experience | Edinburgh, Scotland | It has been already two month since I began second world tour of 2013, taking me from South America, North America and now Europe, and every single night I feel the same way, this might be the best restaurant I have ever tried. The the honest truth is that they have all been amazing, and each of them are different and unique on its kind. This time, I have been captivate by the true and deep Scottish nature of Rubharb Restaurant, at the lovely Prestonfield House Hotel. Rubharb pays homage to Sir Alexander Dick, an early 18th century Baron of Prestonfield. He ferried rhubarb seeds back from China, turning Prestonfield into the first estate in Scotland ever to cultivate rhubarb. He received a medal from the Royal Society for his innovative horticultural endeavours. Continue reading Rubharb Restaurant Scottish Experience
GermanWings my own tragic experience | Airline | So this is what happens when you decide to go cheap trying to save some money when traveling within Europe. I had to fly from Venice, Italy to Edinburgh, Scotland, my next destination. Those of you who have been to Venice, and Marco Polo Airport, know very well that it is not the most friendly nor efficient airport in the world. To top that, the airport is too small for the 23 million tourist this lovely city receives every year. For that you must always keep in mind two three things: (1) arrive to the airport way in advance, knowing that the boat ride from Venice to the Airport or the boat + shuttle, will take at least 40 minutes. Once you get there the lines for check in are endless and same with the security check points. (2) If your flight is delayed, know that most airlines use local handlers. This handlers represent at least 10 airlines each, so trying to talk to one of the agents will be a daunting, and almost impossible experience. (3) If your flight gets cancelled, ACT FAST or you will be stranded for days, or paying ridiculous prices for your flights, and if you get stranded, most airlines will make your life impossible to compensate your hotel stay, and trust me last minute hotel bookings at busy Venice, can get extremely expensive.
Being all these said, for my flight from Venice to Edinburgh, I researched into the many available low cost airlines, and found that the best option price-route-connection wise was GermanWings, well so I thought.
Always when I travel within Europe I have two huge concerns, first Baggage Weight, and second Flight Cancellations, specially when flying low cost airlines. But since I read some reviews online, and the fact that GermanWings belongs to the Lufthansa Group, one of my favorite airlines, I felt very comfortable to choose them over EasyJet, Vueling and many others in the market.
I must say I was quite excited to try a new airline, so this morning I got ready for a great experience… well silly me. The flight was scheduled for 8.40AM. So at 5.30AM I was picked up by a private riva at my hotel in central Venice. All was perfect, checked in and proceeded to the gate.
The nightmare began, and I will make it very short, not to bore you and to get the exact message straight. First announcement was that the flight was delayed. Therefore being that I had a connection, I was not making my second flight. Then I found out that Cologne to Edinburgh only flies once a day, meaning I would be stranded in Cologne. Asked the agent at the gate and she, in a very polite way told me F..K OFF that she was just a handler and that Germwings had no representatives in Venice, that I would have to wait till arriving to Cologne to have more information. PERFECT Customer Service, way to go AVIAPARTNER. Handing me next a lousy voucher for a crapy breakfast at a filthy cafeteria. But I decided to remain positive, and thought… Well if worst comes worst, I will have to sleep over in Cologne, city I do like and been there before, hoping they would take care of my transfers and accommodation. So sat close to the agents to check on them.
Almost two hours passed and they could not careless about the complaints and needs of my fellow passengers, specially those like me missing their connections, being stranded in Cologne, since the network of connections by GermanWings is very limited. I overheard, the flight is CANCELLED. Public announcement they did almost 30 minutes later, playing with the time, lives and opportunities of their clients.
I stopped for a minute, took a deep breath and said.!!! I need to get out of here now. GermanWings will not help me or any other grounded passengers, and I will be on waiting-list for the following day with only one already sold out flight and connection and many angry passengers trying to fly out. Ran to the first Internet machine at the airport. Logged into my Travel Agent booking engine, and searched for the first flight out of Venice to Edinburgh, either with optimal connections or even heading to London, Manchester or Glasgow. I would rather take a train next, than having to trust any other low cost European Airline.
I found a flight to Lufthansa Venice / Frankfurt / Edinburgh. It seems my fate today was tied to Lufthansa Group, the one I have always love and trusted blinded, but no so much anymore. Ran to the ticketing counter, hoping there would be seats available yet, and that my poor other fellow victims of GermanWings, wouldn’t have done the same.
INSIDER Travel Agent TIP: when this happens, if you can, get hold of your travel agent, he/she will know exactly what to do. If that is not an option, buy a round trip ticket. Round trips are usually cheaper than One Ways when booking last minute. This was the case with mine, saving over USD 200.
Thank God and the travel agent angels, there were still a few seats available. So I explained to the Lufthansa agent the situation, trying to see, being both airlines part of the same group, if they will extend any courtesy, special fare…. anything. Her answer was …” GermanWings is Lufthansa Group but it is not Lufthansa…” Hmmmmm still trying to understand what she meant with that? If you do, please let me know.
To end the story, EUR 275 and over 7 hours delayed from my original flight schedule, I made it to Edinburgh. The great news is, by Lufthansa being part of Star Alliance, I got miles with UNITED Airlines…. Fabulous worst US carrier. Really can it get any worst? Now I have more miles to fly United.
The whole point of this post is to make you aware that not usually LOW Cost ends up being HIGH Cost, read my other experience a year ago when flying AirBaltic from Paris to Stockholm. Most times cheaper is not the best option.
I am not complaining nor furious about the fact that the flight was first delayed and them cancelled, that happens everyday, even to the best airlines in the world. The important part is how the airline, their employees and handlers deal with it, and help travelers with their disrupted itineraries, hopes and needs. What I AM complaining about is the lack of professionalism, empathy, communication, and customer service by GermanWings. It was despicable, rude and inoperative. I am beyond surprised and disappointed, to learn that a group like Lufthansa Group is behind this negligent airline and partner.
That’s why I always choose, when in Europe to travel by speed trains.
Of course my flight with Lufthansa was perfect as usual, departing sharply on time and arriving way before schedule.
Stay away from GermanWings, Advise by experience, or better said lack of it. Today travel is all about experiences and GermanWings is not fitted to be part of any. GermanWings Flight 0815 – Venice / Cologne / Edinburgh. CM @ Carlos Melia Recommends
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