4 Day guide to St Petersburg, (Russia).

St Petersburg was founded in 1703 by Tsar Peter the Great, who had a vision to turn a vast area of marshland into a vibrant city giving him a seaport to trade with Europe. The city has changed names from Petrograd to Leningrad and is now back to St Petersburg. Today it is the most Northern city in the world with more than a million people.

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photo@shutterstock

I visited St Petersburg in September 2017 and travelled from London Gatwick direct to Pulkovo with British Airways.  The return flights cost around £275 with luggage and took around 3hrs and 20 mins. The Visa application cost around £115 and biometric finger printing is required for all visa applications.

Everyone visiting Russia requires a visa whether it is tourist, business, student etc.  ( Full details on my other post and tips to navigate the application process. https://wp.me/p8JB3K-9K
Pulkovo, the nearest airport is located 23km south of Saint Petersburg and has no train connections to the city centre. The usual forms of transport are taxi, shuttle bus or local bus. The local bus does not go near the city centre and you will have to connect by metro. The city has a good network system but it can be confusing with four train stations in the city.  Details on rail links St Petersburg.com

We stayed at a fabulous hotel called the Astoria which had the best central location next to St Isaac’s Cathedral and two streets from the Hermitage, also known as the the Winter Palace. All the latest facilities and mod cons in the hotel and bedrooms.

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photo@shutterstock

Keen to explore the city we immediately set of to visit St Isaac’s Cathedral, a stunning piece of architecture with 100kg of pure gold on its domed roof….

It is worth the climb to the viewing station but as it was September and a bit cold and drizzly, we opted for the rooftop bar overlooking St Isaacs which had heaters, blankets and the best cocktails….it’s called the W Terrace. We did go back the next day to see the interior of St Isaac’s.

The inside is adorned with angels, sculptures and incredible murals. This building would be on my top 5 attractions in St Petersburg and very easy to access. We did not pre book and simply paid the entry fee at the door.

The Winter Palace

The next day we started early to tour the stunning Winter Palace. This was the home of the Russian Emperors from 1763-1917 and today is comprised of 5 buildings that make up the State Hermitage Museum.

The rooms are exquisite with artworks from Rembrandt, Leonardo Da Vinci, Monet and Picasso. It is a non stop visual feast and you really need a tour guide to appreciate all that is available.

We only had 4 hours and it was well spent with our guide.  Olga was amazing and had an incredible knowledge of the many State rooms and artefacts, as part of a private tour she guided as swiftly through the long entry queue and navigated us to the best parts of the museum, it could take at least 3 days to see everything in detail. There are 3 million pieces of art and world culture artefacts! A guide also lets you skip the very long queues and remember most of the tickets you book online need to be exchanged for bar coded tickets before entering.

The afternoon was spent on a boat tour of the Nevi travelling through 5 different canal routes, passing the Voronstov Palace, Bronze Horseman, Church on spilt Blood and many more architectural gems. We did not book the boat trip and just turned up at the Pier. The young guy was so chatty and helpful, we had a snack at the little cafe next to the pier, the Cafe Diner at 27 Nab Reki Fonatnki. This is also the meeting place for the free city walking tour daily from May 11th- sept starts at 10.30am. Details of the boat time table look up anglotourismo.com

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Photo of St Peter and Paul’s fortress.

Out in the middle of the river it is extremely cold, everyone gets a cosy blanket or the option of staying below deck. This would not be required in the summer months when it is much hotter.

Food and drink in Russia. The wine is super expensive and the food was good wherever we went. We did pre book restaurants for dinner but during the day, we just stopped if we liked the look of somewhere.

Luxury experience would be the Caviar bar at the Belmont Grand.
If you do not know your Beluga from your Sevruga from your Bester caviar, just look at the prices! When in doubt go for the sharing platter…this hotel does cater for gluten free, soya free, etc. If you get the chance try a cocktail….

All the young people were keen to speak or practise English and it was a really pleasant surprise, as we spoke no Russian and were relying on google and phrase books.

Other fabulous places to visit include: The Church on Spilled Blood which is both a historic monument and a work of art. This is the place where Emperor Alexander II was murdered. The site is marked inside by a special chapel, under the bell. The inside of this building is completely covered in mosaics.

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Photo of Catherine Palace also known as Tsarskoye Selo. The Tsars Village.

I could talk all day about these places but instead I would suggest that you spend a day in the city centre and see The Marble Palace and The Yuspov Palace also known as the Moika Palace. Tickets for this are limited, we used a guide who sorted the tickets and access.  The history is fascinating and the small  Rasputin Museum will fascinate you.
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Take a day to enjoy the shops and buy some souvenirs, the Russian Christmas baubles make a lovely inexpensive gift for family and friends. Of course you must buy a Russian doll set which children just adore. We were unable to visit the fountains at Peterhof but this place is definitely worth a visit and you can go by hydrofoil to add a bit more excitement to the day. Definitely go and see Catherine Palace, it is magnificent with beautiful grounds, a large pond and granite terrace and the Hermitage Pavilion. I’ts stunning.

Visit Vasilievsky island and the fabulous Mariinsky theatre. We had the most amazing night watching Romeo and Juliet.

Shopping: The streets are wide and pleasant to walk along, the main shopping area are Nevsky Prospekt, if you get the chance go to the Singer building. Bolshoi & Vladimrskyiy prospect.

Safety, money and tips

If booking a taxi it is advised to book at the taxi desk inside the terminal and pay then. This will eliminate any dispute over fares and cash. Alternatively book online in advance before departure. The currency is Roubles and other currencies are illegal. Most credit cards are accepted with the exception of American Express. The preference is Visa or MasterCard.

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I enjoyed walking around the outside of the Winter Palace taking photographs and I did not feel threatened at any point or unsafe during the day. I had a big clunky camera and a cross over bag and kept my bag closed at all times especially when  taking photo’s.  We did not walk alone in the dark at night through St Petersburg unless we were on the main thoroughfare which is really busy. For all my photo’s of Russia click here. http://www.shutterstock.com/g/louarmor?rid=174789014

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There are problems with pick pockets at the major tourist sites but it’s the same in the Vatican in Rome and on the Ramblas in Spain. Keep your wits about you. The person who is siddling up to your group  chatting on their phone may not be as distracted as they appear to be…

Keep your wallets at the bottom of rucksacks and don’t flash bundles of cash in public. Ask the hotel concierge or locals what is the average tip as hugely over tipping attracts attention. We tipped 10% on average.

Best time to visit

I had a fantastic time in St Petersburg and I would definitely return.  Visiting in September had the advantage of less crowds, cooler temperature and better hotel and flight prices. The Hermitage attracts millions of visitors but it was pleasant to tour in September. Late  September and early October you will find many things have shut down for the season.  This is the main reason that we were unable to see the fountains at Peterhof.

Families with children : pre school children, school age children and students with I.D are free of charge to the Winter Palace. Children will also love the museum of Soviet Arcade machines, near the Church of the Saviour on spilled blood. It also has a small cafe and English written instruction sheets. You get 15 old soviet coins to use on the machines, ice hockey, air ball games...discount with international student card.

Russia in miniature, kids will love the Grand Maket Russia Interactive Museum. Metro ride from city. 800 sq metres of the cities in Russia with moving cars and trains with special day and evening effects.  Address: Tsvetochnaya St., 16, St. Petersburg 196084. 

Have you been to St Petersburg, do you have any great tips?

Do you love take photo’s or filming locations, check out my film footage at POND5, if you want to upload or join a stock agency click here: Shutterstock. You can read my blog to help you understand what buyers are looking for. Earn money online

Thanks guys, I appreciate you reading this.

Take Care

Lou

This post contains affiliate links.

Visit to Russia from UK

Once you arrive in St Petersburg, the former capital of the Russian empire, you will think that you are in any European city, Amsterdam springs to mind.  The beautiful canals, the stunning architecture and the rich heritage, will both enchant and amaze you. However, you have to get there first, and this requires a visa if travelling from the UK. Russia has a reciprocal visa policy. There are 41 countries and territories with visa exemptions but many countries do require a visa. The UK is one of them.

Photo@shutterstock

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Understanding the Visa Requirements.

Travelling to Russia from the UK there are a few important points that you must consider before booking flights.  You will not be granted entry to Russia unless you have a Visa before you arrive in the country. The Visa application can be confusing.  I shall talk you through my experience travelling from the UK. The application can be different for other countries.

This is an update as of the new rules on the Russian National Tourist office. ” Starting from October 1, 2019, nationals of 53 foreign States may be granted an e-visa to enter the Russian Federation through air, naval, automobile, and pedestrian checkpoints located in the territory of Saint Petersburg and the Leningrad region. The list of countries that are eligible is quite extensive, please click here for details.

http://www.visitrussia.org.uk/visa

Exceptions 

The other exception to having a visa is if you arrive by Cruise ship or ferry.  If visiting a Russian sea port on a cruise or ferry for less than 72hrs and you are on a pre booked organised tour with a registered local tour operator, then no visa is required for St Petersburg and Vladivostok.

Photo@shutterstock

Applying for a Visa.

I was visiting St Petersburg for 5 days in late autumn and therefore required the standard tourist Visa, also known as a ‘Visa support’. It is a requirement that you have an ‘invitation’ with a voucher code from all the hotels that you have booked.  If you do not have this then you cannot complete the visa application form.

Once you have these letters of invitations from the hotels  you can then proceed to fill out the online application.  My letter of Invitation was in Russian and I was unable to understand it or find the MBT reference number. The Russian alphabet is not the same as the UK. My friends and I decided at this point that a travel company would be an easier option as they would instruct us on exactly what was required.

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Once I had the code I could proceed to complete the online form. This took me two hours to complete as it is extremely thorough. You can take a break and come back to it, make sure that you save your answers by recording your username and password generated by the online system and click save draft on page 2. This will allow you to re access your saved application.

The questions include all your trips abroad for the last 10 years. I fortunately had my old passports to hand and this was easy to look up. Your children details, mine were abroad but past mishaps have taught me to always keep a photocopy of their passports.  Other questions include – Parents/Where they were born, date/country and place of birth. These are just a few of the questions. Employment questions, social network accounts etc etc..

Once you have completed the form,  print it off and take it with one coloured passport size photo to the nearest Russian embassy. These can be found in Edinburgh, Manchester or London.  Please ensure that your passport is signed on the back page as signatures must match.  You will also need to have two blank pages free on the back of your passport as this is where the visa is attached.

The visa dates need to cover the entire period of your stay in Russia. There are many types of visa and it is easiest to follow the guidelines on VFS Global application centre, which has a FAQ section and a helpline number. (see bottom of blog).

The visa costs around £108 and takes 5 days to process or you pay an additional fee for next day approval, providing you have filled out the forms properly.  You must also be present for biometric finger prints.

It is NOT like popping over to Spain so please give yourself plenty of time to go through this procedure. You can apply for a Russian visa up to 6 months before your date of travel but in all honestly it took us under two weeks.

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Photo@shutterstock

If you are worried that you have not filled out the forms properly, there is a system in London to have your papers checked before you apply. This costs £18, which includes   fast track upon arrival at the Application centre. This information can be found at ru.vfsglobal.co.uk/additional services.

There is also a VIP premium service which costs £150 per application on top of the visa price. Details on above website. This allows you to have an appointment time and assistance with online form if required and access to VIP lounge. They cannot fill out the forms for you.

Letters or ‘invitations’ for AirBB.  Many people choose to stay with family or friends or do AirBB in Russia. In this case the host issues the invitation and registers you on arrival. They will need to provide you with the MBT number.

It may ultimately be simpler to use a recommended tourist operator such as: Way to Russia, Visa House, Go to Russia, iVisaonline  or Visatoruss.com. for the letters of Invitation.

Arriving at the Airport in Russia – When you arrive in Russia  you will then be issued with a migration card. This is in two parts, and both need to be completed before you go through passport control. Part A is kept by the authorities and you get part B. DO NOT  lose this document as you will need it to exit Russia and the police can ask to see your documents at any time. I kept mine tucked into the back of my passport.

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Photo@shutterstock

Once you arrive at your hotel, the hotel reception will register your visa. It is a legal requirement that all visa are registered with in 72hrs except for weekends and official holidays. The hotel will need the Migration card issued at the airport, so again do not lose your documents as fines may be issued.  Other info: Call centre has a helpline that is 55p per minute so have your questions pre written to save time and money. 8.30-5.30 Mon-Friday.  Tel: 0905 889 0149

Photo@shuttersock

It does sound like a lot of effort but I have been told many times by Russians in the UK that is what they have to do to bring friends or parents here to the UK for a holiday. Remember it is a reciprocal policy…

This is only a guideline and MY experience, please use the official website for further information. Once you get head around the procedure, it’s all systems go. To read my 4 day experience click here: https://wp.me/p8JB3K-ax

Thanks for reading, if anyone has tried the mobile biometric service I would love to hear how much it costs?

If you would like to see my photo they are available on shutterstock. Click here.

Would I go back? Definitely I need to see the fountains at Peterhof! 

Thanks for reading, I hope that you have a fabulous trip.

Take care

Lou.

(This post contains affiliate links.) 

 

RHS Chelsea Flower Show Guide.

Plan Ahead

If you would like to enjoy the beauty and creativity of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, then I highly recommend planning your trip in advance. This gives you the best prices on accommodation, train fares, transport and removes the stress of worrying about anything apart from the weather. The Royal Horticulture society have a list of other shows but this show at the Royal Hospital Chelsea is definitely one of the most popular.

Book your lunch or afternoon tea as soon  as possible as they are booked up very quickly. Dates for 2020 are

RHS Chelsea Flower Show – 19–23 May 2020. RHS Chatsworth Flower Show – 10–14 June 2020. RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival – 6–12 July 2020 (Preview 6 July) RHS Flower Show Tatton Park – 22–26 July 2020.

To see this years highlights, click this link for a 2 min video. https://wp.me/p8JB3K-6T
For low cost accommodation try Travel lodge, Premier Inn or student halls of residence, available through universities in London. http://www.universityroom.com.

The exhibition gardens are outdoors but there are plenty of very large marquees and the Grand Pavilion is indoors. London is usually very mild and pleasant in May and a light water-proof should be enough. Check out the weather on met office.gov.uk

Amazing flower display with teacups and saucers.
RHS Chelsea Flower Show Grand Pavilion display.

There is no specific layout at the Chelsea Flower Show,  you basically wander around at your leisure, there are plenty of info points and maps to guide you. Note where the toilets are because they can have long queues. If you see some that are quiet, just go.

The Chelsea Flower Show  is very busy but I found that waiting about 30 mins past our entry time prevented our party, (my mum is 70yr old) from standing in long queues.  We were scheduled for the 3.30 entry. This  does not mean that you have to leave at 5.30, which is the next entry time,  we were still there at 6.30. the show organisers realise than many of the all day ticket holders will leave around 4’ish onwards.

To clarify you can buy an all day ticket, a half day, which is cheaper either 3.30 or the later entry 5.30pm. You can join the RHS and benefit from the following:

Members of the Royal Horticulture Society, can enjoy a priority show ticket booking period every year before tickets go on general sale to the public.  Free entry to 4 RHS gardens and a monthly Garden magazine. They also benefit from attending the Members only day which is quieter and many of the show gardens are fresh and at their best visually.This year 2018, the Chelsea Flower show are extending the Friday night to a late night, with music, artisan food, stalls and garden views by twilight. Tickets are limited.

The show area is completely wheel chair friendly and all the exhibits are at eye level. This of course assumes the place is not water logged by rain. Be warned, check the weather first.

We arrived by tube at Sloane Square which is an easy 10 min walk to the show. The other options are Bus, Clipper boat or drive. Parking is available at Battersea Park and there is capacity for 2,000 cars, which can be pre booked but this means a 20 min walk to the show or take the park & ride service, for mobility issues there is a mobility bus. If driving to Battersea Park  use the postcode SW11 4BY.

We had the most amazing day and my mother was completed indulged by a wonderful Japanese garden designer who took her on a private tour of his show garden.  The garden designers actively encourage you to ask questions. After all they have spent a long time preparing the garden, applying and setting it up. They are usually very knowledgeable about their plants and can offer advice about any problems you may have growing these species etc.

We did not pre book a restaurant as we had lunch at Covent gardens first and only needed light refreshments, such as champagne and strawberries!

There is so much to see that we all split up, (a party of 5) and agreed a rendezvous point. Some people wanted to see all the merchandise stalls while others wanted to go back to certain gardens. This works for larger groups. Be warned I am not a particularly keen gardener but the shops are fabulous and I defy you to come away empty handed.

RHS Chelsea flower show
RHS Chelsea flower show@ shuttertstock

The Grand Pavilion is fabulous and give yourself plenty of time to enjoy this area. Take your phone or note pad when you see the most glorious flowers as you can order seeds at a later date from the nurseries. (you won’t remember all their names)

We stayed for about 3 hours and this was long enough for us as we were enjoying a few days of sight seeing. I cannot recommend the Chelsea Flower show highly enough and if you are spending a few days in London, pre book a theatre show and restaurants.

I can highly recommend the Tower of London, stay for the guided tour, its fascinating. Covent gardens, walk along the South Bank at night and enjoy all the street shows, vendors and attractions. .

Frequently asked Questions about the Chelsea Flower Show.

Dress code: there is a lot of ground to cover, I would be comfortable and definitely wear your favourite walking shoes, unless you plan on spending the day in the Champagne tent or if you have reserved a table at the Drawing Room, based on the Dorchester, floral afternoon tea or champagne breakfast, maybe not so scruffy here… some people do dress up but unless you are the Queen, I would opt for smart/casual.

Arrive by boat : Mercury Clipper at Cadagon Pier, RB6 service. thamesclipper.com. You can pay by using your Oyster card and you can prebook online and tickets are emailed to you. Fabulous way to arrive in style. Mon-Friday service.

By Train: Transport for London operates a shuttle service from Victoria Station to RHS Chelsea Flower Show. £4 adult single/£6 return. concessions available.Chelsea Flower Show Victoria Shuttle bus number 811

Transport in London
London – RHS Chelsea flower show transport.

seetickets.com are the official vendors for the Chelsea Flower show.

For ticketing queries please contact See Tickets on: 0844 995 9664

Prices at the start of the week for members are more expensive, £74 all day dropping to £51 as the week goes on. Non Members are only able to attend from Thursday. Price comparison on Thursday, members £51, all day £38 OR £29 dependant on entry time. Non members are £65, £43 and £37, depending on time of entry.
http://www.booking.com
Parking at Battersea – Sat nav direction
Parking at Battersea Park and using a sat nav,  use the postcode SW11 4BY which will take you straight to the Rosary Gate entrance.

Children: No babies, buggies or children under 5 are allowed entry.

Venue address
London Gate
Royal Hospital Road
Royal Hospital Chelsea
London, SW3 4SR

Thanks for reading. Details were correct at time of print, I hope you have a fabulous tour of the Chelsea Flower show, I can’t wait to go back.

Lou A.

RHS Chelsea flower show tips

Plan Ahead

If you would like to enjoy the beauty and creativity of this show I highly recommend planning your trip in advance. This gives you the best deals on accommodation, train fares, transport and removes the stress of worrying about anything apart from the weather.

Also book your lunch or afternoon tea now as these are booked up very quickly. Dates for May 2020 are as follows.

 Tuesday 19th to Friday 22nd May, the show will be open from 8am–8pm

Tues 19th and Weds 20th are for RHS members only

Thurs 21st and Fri 22nd are for RHS members and non-members

Saturday 23rd May is the final day, and the show will be open from 8am–5.30pm

On Sat 23rd at 4pm, the plant sell-off begins.

The exhibition gardens are outdoors but there are plenty of very large marquees and the Grand Pavilion is indoors. London is usually very mild and pleasant in May and a light water-proof should be enough. Check out the weather on met office.gov.uk

There is no specific layout, you basically wander around at your leisure, there are plenty of info points and maps to guide you. Note where the toilets are because they can have long queues.

RHS Chelsea flower show is very busy but I found that waiting about 30 mins past our entry time prevented our party, (my mum is 70yr old) from standing in long queues.  We were scheduled for the 3.30 entry. This  does not mean that you have to leave at 5.30, which is the next entry time,  we were still there at 6.30. the show organisers realise than many of the all day ticket holders will leave around 4’ish onwards.

To clarify you can buy an all day ticket, a half day, which is cheaper either 3.30 or the later entry 5.30pm. You can join the RHS and benefit from the following:IMG_6523

Members enjoy a priority show ticket booking period every year before tickets go on general sale to the public.  Free entry to 4 RHS gardens and a monthly Garden magazine. They also benefit from attending the Members only day which is quieter and many of the show gardens are fresh and at their best visually.

Chelsea Flower show are extending the Friday night to a late night, with music, artisan food, stalls and garden views by twilight. Tickets are limited.

The show area is completely wheel chair friendly and all the exhibits are at eye level. This of course assumes the place is not water logged by rain. Be warned, check the weather first.

FullSizeRender

We arrived by tube at Sloane Square which is an easy 10 min walk to the show. The other options are Bus, Clipper boat or drive. Parking is available at Battersea Park and there is capacity for 2,000 cars, which can be pre booked but this means a 20 min walk to the show or take the park & ride service, for mobility issues there is a mobility bus. If driving to Battersea Park  use the postcode SW11 4BY which will take you straight to the Rosary Gate entrance.

We had the most amazing day and my mother was completed indulged by a wonderful Japanese garden designer who took her on a private tour of his show garden.  The garden designers actively encourage you to ask questions. After all they have spent a long time preparing the garden, applying and setting it up. They are usually very knowledgeable about their plants and can offer advice about any problems you may have growing these species etc.

We did not pre book a restaurant as we had lunch at Covent gardens first and only needed light refreshments, such as champagne and strawberries!

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There is so much to see that we all split up, (a party of 5) and agreed a rendezvous point. Some people wanted to see all the merchandise stalls while others wanted to go back to certain gardens. This works for larger groups. Be warned I am not a particularly keen gardener but the shops are fabulous and I defy you to come away empty handed.

The Grand Pavilion is fabulous and give yourself plenty of time to enjoy this area. Take your phone or note pad when you see the most glorious flowers as you can order seeds at a later date from the nurseries. (you won’t remember all their names)

We stayed for about 3 hours and this was long enough for us as we were enjoying a few days of sight seeing. I cannot recommend the Chelsea Flower show highly enough and if you are spending a few days in London, pre book a theatre show and restaurants.

I can highly recommend the Tower of London, stay for the guided tour, its fascinating. Covent gardens, walk along the South Bank at night and enjoy all the street shows, vendors and attractions. Transport details, prices and more and tips see below.

Frequently asked Questions

Dress code: there is a lot of ground to cover, I would be comfortable and definitely wear your favourite walking shoes, unless you plan on spending the day in the Champagne tent or if you have reserved a table at the Drawing Room, based on the Dorchester, floral afternoon tea or champagne breakfast, maybe not so scruffy here… some people do dress up but unless you are the Queen, I would opt for smart/casual.

Arrive by boat : Mercury Clipper at Cadagon Pier, RB6 service. thamesclipper.com. You can pay by using your Oyster card and you can prebook online and tickets are emailed to you. Fabulous way to arrive in style. Mon-Friday service.

Attachmen
Mercury Clipper@thamesclipper.com

By Train: Transport for London operates a shuttle service from Victoria Station to RHS Chelsea Flower Show. £4 adult single/£6 return. concessions available.Chelsea Flower Show Victoria Shuttle bus number 811

seetickets.com are the official vendors for the Chelsea Flower show.

For ticketing queries please contact See Tickets on: 0844 995 9664

Prices at the start of the week for members are more expensive, £74 all day dropping to £51 as the week goes on.

Price comparison on Thursday, members £51, all day £38 OR £29 dependant on entry time. Non members are £65, £43 and £37, depending on time of entry.

Parking at Battersea – Sat nav direction
Parking at Battersea Park and using a sat nav,  use the postcode SW11 4BY which will take you straight to the Rosary Gate entrance.

Children: No babies, buggies or children under 5 are allowed entry.

Venue address
London Gate
Royal Hospital Road
Royal Hospital Chelsea
London, SW3 4SR

Enjoy your day, its such a lovely occasion.

Pearl Harbor Memorial, Free tickets

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Entrance to Pearl Harbor visitor centre. @shutterstock

Pearl Harbour can be found on the island of Oahu, and is a US naval base near Honolulu in the North Pacific. Famously known for the surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air service, on the morning of December 7th 1941. The attack led to the entry of America in World War II on December 8th. The devastating attack lasting just over 2 hours left over 2,000 dead with hundreds more wounded. All eight US Navy battleships were damaged, and four were sunk.

Pearl Harbour today is comprised of five historical sites, which are accessed from the base and include the USS Arizona memorial, a battleship that sunk with the loss of 1,177 crewmen, of which 229 bodies were recovered. The ship was never raised due to the catastrophic damage and all sailors unrecovered were left onboard as it was too difficult to remove them in a respectful manner.

Today the USS Arizona memorial is a place of quiet reflection that can be visited from Pearl Harbour visitor centre by boat. This memorial sits over the sunken battleship where she fell and was designed by Honolulu architect Alfred Preis.

The other sites at Pearl Harbor include the USS Bowfin Submarine & Museum park, Battleship Missouri Memorial, Pacific Aviation Authority, and museum and visitor centre.

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USS Arizona Memorial, sitting above the sunken warship @shutterstock

Transport, bags, dress code at Pearl Harbour

1. Transport

Many people pre book a tour and arrive by coach. This can be a long day as often the coaches are picking up from multiple locations, I would check the transfer times before booking. However, the coach drivers can be very informative and offer useful insights into the day ahead.

We arrived at the base by using an Uber taxi which was very easy to book and can be accessed via the telephone app, there are also regular buses from Waikiki. #20 OR #42. Buses run every 10-20mins and there are also buses to Honolulu- Ala Moana.
2. Dress codeThe base is part of an active military base and a War Memorial grave site. It is inappropriate to wear bikini and bathing suits or clothes showing excess amount of skin. There are however, plenty of people in shorts and tee shirts.

image of Battleship Missouri Pearl Harbor USA
Battle ship Missouri, known as the Mighty Mo, the last battleship ever built.The surrender of the Japanese here on deck with General Douglas MacArthur.

3 Pets There are no pets allowed at all except service animals.

4. Strollers & small children – Children are welcome at Pearl Harbour, and there were plenty when I visited in October 2017. However there are a few points to be aware of.

No bags whatsoever are allowed in Pearl Harbour visitor centre. You can hire a locker for $4 at the entrance and carry a nappy or diaper or small pouch with wipes in your hand. Once inside the base, go directly to the gift shop and buy a souvenir bag. Pop the nappy in here, then proceed directly to the small cafe next door and buy water and sandwiches or snacks as the selection dwindles as the day goes on and you cannot bring food into the park.

Make sure you sunblock your child before entering  and have a sun hat even on cloudy days.

Strollers are allowed around the park but are not allowed to the theatre to watch the film or allowed on the ferry to the Memorial, you will have to carry any children on this part of the journey.

Medicine bags: medicine has to be carried in a small clear bag.
Tickets: If on an organised tour be aware of what you are paying for.

The first 1300 people in the park every day get free access to the Memorial, which includes a 23 min film and a boat trip out to the memorial above the sunken USS Arizona. These tickets can be reserved online in advance at http://www.recreation.gov. If you are not sure what day you are visiting then just get up early and go. The park opens at 7 days a week from 7-5pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Dec 25th and Jan 1st. Free tickets to the memorial and film are on a first come basis.

Not included in the memorial ticket.

You have to pay extra for trip across the bridge to Battleship Missouri. This involves a 10 min shuttle ride. Buses are every 10 mins and once across you can only return by shuttle bus. It get very busy in the afternoon but there is a shaded area to sit and wait.

Battleship Missouri at Pearl Harbour USA
On Board the Battleship Missouri at Pearl Harbour USA

Tickets for the Bowfin Submarine and Pacific Aviation Museum are all at extra cost.

Military display at the Pearl Harbour military base in Hawaii, USA.
War Plane on display at Pearl Harbour visitor centre, Hawaii@shutterstock

Free access ticket : if you have entered the park and do not wish to pay for other museums/sights then buy the ear phones, they give a brilliant insight to what happened that day as you stroll along the harbour wall.

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Missile display and map in the museum at Pearl Harbour, Hawaii, USA.

If you are not on a pre booked guided tour for the Battleship Missouri then buy the ear phones and pay to tour the battle ship.

Conclusions: we travelled with three in our group, including my 15 year old. It was one of the highlights of our trip to Hawaii. Historically, it is an amazing place for children and adults. It is also a place of quiet peace and reflection and should be regarded as such.

Absolutely no one talks during the 23 min film about the ‘attack day’ and if you have small children I would consider doing the film in turns with a partner. Many people are upset watching the film, due to missing loved ones or memories of the second world war.

We paid extra to visit the Mighty Mo warship, which my daughter loved, its a pretty impressive ship. We arrived at 9am and were tired by 1.30pm, emotionally and physically. It was getting hot and my daughter was ready to leave. Families should discuss in advance what you would like to visit as there is a lot of walking and a lot to see. And finally…
Up until April 2017, survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack, are still being interred and reunited with their ship and fellow crewmen after their death. This is a very solemn place and should be respected at all times.

Quote from anonymous poem on the Missouri.

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This post contains affiliate links. I hope that you enjoy your day here. Thanks for reading.

If you would like to see more of my photographs they are available here on shutterstock. They are divided into sets, based on country. Click this link

For my video footage of Scotland click here. 

Thanks again and if visiting Hawaii, don’t forget to go to Hanauma Bay for turtles and tropical fish,

Lou

 

Pearl Harbor Memorial, tickets & tips (Hawaii).

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Entrance to Pearl Harbor visitor centre. @shutterstock

Pearl Harbour can be found on the island of Oahu, and is a US naval base near Honolulu in the North Pacific.  Famously known for the surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air service, on the morning of December 7th 1941. The attack led to the entry of America in World War II on December 8th. The devastating attack lasting just over 2 hours left over 2,000 dead with hundreds more wounded. All eight US Navy battleships were damaged, and four were sunk.

Pearl Harbour today is comprised of five historical sites, which are accessed from the base and include the USS Arizona memorial, a battleship that sunk with the loss of 1.177 crewmen, of which 229 bodies were recovered. The ship was never raised due to the catastrophic damage and all sailors unrecovered were left onboard as it was too difficult to remove them in a respectful manner.

Today the USS Arizona memorial is a place of quiet reflection that can be visited from Pearl Harbour visitor centre by boat. This memorial sits over the sunken battleship where she fell and was designed by Honolulu architect Alfred Preis.

The other sites include the USS Bowfin Submarine & Museum park, Battleship Missouri Memorial, Pacific Aviation Authority, and museum and visitor centre.CSC_0301 (1)

USS Arizona Memorial, sitting above the sunken warship @shutterstock

Transport, bags, dress code & more.

1. Transport

Many people pre book a tour and arrive by coach. This can be a long day as often the coaches are picking up from multiple locations, I would check the transfer times before booking. However, the coach drivers can be very informative and offer useful insights into the day ahead.

We arrived at the base by using an Uber taxi which was very easy to book and can be accessed via the telephone app, there are also regular buses from Waikiki. #20 OR #42. Buses run every 10-20mins and there are also buses to Honolulu- Ala Moana.

2. Dress code – The base is part of an active military base and a War Memorial grave site. It is inappropriate to wear bikini and bathing suits or clothes showing excess amount of skin. There are however, plenty of people in shorts and tee shirts.

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Battle ship Missouri, known as the Mighty Mo, the last battleship ever built.The surrender of the Japanese here on deck with General Douglas MacArthur.
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                                                                                                                       Photo Shutterstock

3 Pets There are no pets allowed at all except service animals.

4. Strollers & small children – Children are welcome at Pearl Harbour, and there were plenty when I visited in October 2017. However there are a few points to be aware of.

No bags whatsoever are allowed in Pearl Harbour visitor centre.  You can hire a locker for $4 at the entrance and carry a nappy or diaper or small pouch with wipes in your hand.  Once inside the base, go directly to the gift shop and buy a souvenir bag.  Pop the nappy in here. then proceed directly to the small cafe next door and buy water and sandwiches or snacks as the selection dwindles as the day goes on and you cannot bring food into the park.

Make sure you block your child up and have a sun hat even on cloudy days.

Strollers are allowed around the park but are not allowed to the theatre to watch the film or allowed on the ferry to the Memorial, you will have to carry any children on this part of the journey.

Medicine bags: medicine has to be carried in a small clear bag.

Tickets: If on an organised tour be aware of what you are paying for.

The first 1300 people in the park every day get free access to the Memorial, which includes a 23 min film and a boat trip out to the memorial above the sunken USS Arizona.  These tickets can be reserved online in advance at http://www.recreation.gov. If you are not sure what day you are visiting then just get up early and go. The park opens at 7 days a week from 7-5pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Dec 25th and Jan 1st. Free tickets to the memorial and film are on a first come basis. 

Not included in the memorial ticket.

You have to pay extra for trip across the bridge to Battleship Missouri. This involves a 10 min shuttle ride. Buses are every 10 mins and once across you can only return by shuttle bus. It get very busy in the afternoon but there is a shaded area to sit and wait.

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Tickets for the Bowfin Submarine and Pacific Aviation Museum are all at extra cost.

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Free access ticket : if you have entered the park and do not wish to pay for other museums/sights then buy the ear phones, they give a brilliant insight to what happened that day as you stroll along the harbour wall.

If you are not on a pre booked guided tour for the Battleship Missouri then buy the ear phones and pay to tour the battle ship. If you would like the full list of tours and activities click here:http://www.partner.viator.com/en/66703/Hawaii/d278-ttd
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Conclusions: we travelled with three in our group, including my 15 year old. It was one of the highlights of our trip to Hawaii.  Historically, it is an amazing place for children and adults.  It is also a place of quiet peace and reflection and should be regarded as such.

Absolutely no one talks during the 23 min film about the ‘attack day’ and if you have small children I would consider doing the film in turns with a partner.  Many people are upset watching the film, due to missing loved ones or memories of the second world war.

We paid extra to visit the Mighty Mo warship, which my daughter loved, its a pretty impressive ship. We arrived at 9am and were tired by 1.30pm,  emotionally and physically.  It was getting hot and my daughter was ready to leave. Families should discuss in advance what you would like to visit as there is a lot of walking and a lot to see. And finally…

Up until April 2017, survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack, are still being interred and reunited with their ship and fellow crewmen after their death.  This is a very solemn place and should be respected at all times. 

Quote from anonymous poem on the Missouri.

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This post contains affiliate links. I hope that you enjoy your day here. Thanks for reading.

Lou

The Kelpies, FREE public Artworks, Helix Falkirk

I have seen many photo’s of the Kelpies and passed them on the motorway often, but its really not the same as walking up to them and enjoying the workmanship of these 30 metre steel sculptures by Andy Scott.

Photo credit Lou Armor@shutterstock

I persuaded my reluctant husband to join me on a Saturday night ‘mystery tour’, offering to drive, (to keep him sweet) and we set off from Edinburgh to Falkirk on the M9, a 45 min journey.

I didn’t really expect much of a reaction from my husband, he is pretty hard to impress, but I was pleasantly surprised as he stopped in stunned silence to take in the incredible beauty of these free public equine sculptures.

(There are two car parks, at night I would drive straight to the closest one, just follow the signs from Helix Park to Kelpies. Once inside Helix Park (do not take the sign for Falkirk wheel, at the last mini roundabout go straight across).

The Kelpies change colours and this night they were red for head and neck cancer awareness.  Look out for green on St Patricks Day. (March)

The inspiration for the Kelpies was drawn from a combination of the Clydesdale horses and the mythical Scottish Kelpie, a water creature that had the ability to shift shape. Nessie the Loch Ness monster is an example of a Kelpie.

We stayed for about 40 mins, other people were still arriving and the car park was surprisingly busy for night fall. Keen photographers already had their favourite spots, tripods at the ready. The visitor centre was closed and we were unable to watch the short film about the construction of the Kelpies, but I returned and watched the video a month later. The cafe at the visitor centre has a good selection of food hot and cold and great souvenirs. Children will enjoy the lego display.

I couldn’t recommend visiting the Kelpies highly enough. Go in the day and experience the canals and visitor centre, make a day of it and visit Bo’ness and Kineil Railway.

Book the tour inside the Kelpies as it’s very informative and the guides make it interesting.  This is NOT free and you have to pay for a guided tour. It currently costs £7.50. You do not go higher than ground level as it is a hollow structure and is therefore wheelchair accessible. The tours should be booked in advance online or at the visitor centre. 

Public art: Free tourist attraction, The Kelpies, Scotland
Kelpies Helix Park. Lou Armor@shutterstock

Based in the green space of Falkirk Helix Park, there are plenty of other activities to keep a family and tourists happy.

  1. The tours are very popular and should be pre booked to avoid disappointment. The Kelpies are open 24 hours a day and in the evening they are lit up, and look amazing. Visitor centre:9.30-5pm.
  2. Tours of Kelpies: Adults £7.50, children under 5 free and 5-15 years £4. Concessions £6.50. family tickets available. Tel: 01324 590 600
  3. Wheel chair access: The entire area is completely wheel chair friendly.  There are blue badge holder car park spaces in the closest car park. (well done to the planners for making this so accessible).
  4. Once you have taken lots of photo of the Kelpies and canal, you can pop along to the Falkirk Wheel and let the kids let off steam at the Adventure Zone and Splash Play. Its a great facility and popular place for having picnics. The Lagoon also has water sport activities during the holidays. These can be found at thehelix.co.uk.     

Train: from Glasgow or Edinburgh to Falkirk High, taxi quickest way to connect if you have no car. Bus F14 from Falkirk high station to the Kelpies. Check times on First Bus 01324 602200.

  • By Car: Driving from Edinburgh take the M9 towards Stirling, exit at junction 5 for Falkirk/Grangemouth, follow brown signs for Kelpies.
  • From Glasgow: take the M80 towards Stirling, exit at junction 8 for M876 and join M9. exit at junction 6 for Falkirk and follow brown signs for Kelpies.

Safety: Please remember that the area surrounding the Kelpies has a working canal system and there is water everywhere, quite deep in places. Keep small children in sight at all times and if necessary keep on a wrist lead.

Dogs are welcome to walk around the park and there are plenty of walks and cycle paths. Sensible shoes, hat for rain or sun, sunblock and cagoule recommended, this is Scotland after all.

Further information: Falkirk Stadium Car Park to Plaza Café/Adventure Zone: 0.3 miles.  Helix Park Car Park to Plaza Café/Adventure Zone: 0.3 miles .

Parking: There is a small parking fee from March to October, but if you park at the furthest away car par its free and a short walk along boardwalk to the Kelpies.

Car par open daily, from Oct -March parking free. £3 other times of year.  Car park closed at 11pm, not re-entering until next morning. (Linlithgow palace photo).

Other interesting things to do around this area, include lunch at Calendar house or Afternoon tea. Visit the Antonine wall, hop on a steam train or visit Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway or Linlithgow Palace.  Check out the website if you have Thomas the Tank Engine fans.  Bkrailway.co.uk

Enjoy your tour of the Falkirk area, you will find folks very helpful and friendly. If visiting Linlithgow Palace you are a very short drive to Blackness Castle and Hopetoun House, great locations for Outlander fans. To see more of my Scottish photographs click here: Shutterstock

For film footage of Scotland click here: Pond 5

Information correct at time of print, tickets and prices may change in future. If you are in Falkirk, then visit nearby haunted Stirling castle and the stunning Wallace monument. Here is a quick tour of Stirling Castle, any further tips leave below. Many thanks.
https://youtu.be/3aBeYhAHyc0

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Continue reading “The Kelpies, FREE public Artworks, Helix Falkirk”

The Kelpies, FREE public Artworks & Guide ( 2018).

I have seen many photo’s of the Kelpies and passed them on the motorway often, but its really not the same as walking up to them and enjoying the workmanship of these 30 metre steel sculptures by Andy Scott.  photo@shutterstock

I persuaded my reluctant husband to join me on a Saturday night ‘mystery tour’, offering to drive, (to keep him sweet) and we set off from Edinburgh to Falkirk on the M9, a 45 min journey.

I didn’t really expect much of a reaction from my husband, he is pretty hard to impress, but I was pleasantly surprised as he stopped in stunned silence to take in the incredible beauty of these public sculptures.

(There are two car parks, at night I would drive straight to the closest one, just follow the signs from Helix Park to Kelpies. Once inside Helix Park (do not take the sign for Falkirk wheel, at the last mini roundabout go straight across).

The Kelpies change colours and this night they were red for head and neck cancer awareness.  Look out for green on St Patricks Day. (March)

The inspiration for the Kelpies was drawn from a combination of the Clydesdale horses and the mythical Scottish Kelpie, a water creature that had the ability to shift shape. Nessie the Loch Ness monster is an example of a Kelpie.

We stayed for about 40 mins, other people were still arriving and the car park was surprisingly busy for night fall. Keen photographers already had their favourite spots, tripods at the ready. The visitor centre was closed and we were unable to watch the short film about the construction of the Kelpies, but I returned and watched the video a month later. The cafe at the visitor centre has a good selection of food hot and cold and great souvenirs. Children will enjoy the lego display.

I couldn’t recommend visiting the Kelpies highly enough. Go in the day and experience the canals and visitor centre, make a day of it and visit Bo’ness and Kineil Railway.

Book the tour inside the Kelpies as it’s very informative and the guides make it interesting.  You do not go higher than ground level as it is a hollow structure and is therefore wheelchair accessible. The tours should be booked in advance online or at the visitor centre.

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look out for viewing stations to get the best photo@shutterstock

Tips.

  1. Based in the green space of Falkirk Helix Park, there are plenty of other activities to keep a family and tourists happy.
  2. The tours are very popular and should be pre booked to avoid disappointment. The Kelpies are open 24 hours a day and in the evening they are lit up, and look amazing. Visitor centre:9.30-5pm.
  3. Tours of Kelpies: Adults £7.50, children under 5 free and 5-15 years £4. Concessions £6.50. family tickets available. Tel: 01324 590 600
  4. Wheel chair access: The entire area is completely wheel chair friendly.  There are blue badge holder car park spaces in the closest car park. (well done to the planners for making this so accessible).
  5. Once you have taken lots of photo of the Kelpies and canal, you can pop along to the Falkirk Wheel and let the kids let off steam at the Adventure Zone and Splash Play. Its a great facility and popular place for having picnics. The Lagoon also has water sport activities during the holidays. These can be found at thehelix.co.uk.     Photo@shutterstock

Train: from Glasgow or Edinburgh to Falkirk High, taxi quickest way to connect if you have no car. Bus F14 from Falkirk high station to the Kelpies. Check times on First Bus 01324 602200.

  • By Car: Driving from Edinburgh take the M9 towards Stirling, exit at junction 5 for Falkirk/Grangemouth, follow brown signs for Kelpies.
  • From Glasgow: take the M80 towards Stirling, exit at junction 8 for M876 and join M9. exit at junction 6 for Falkirk and follow brown signs for Kelpies.

Safety: Please remember that the area surrounding the Kelpies has a working canal system and there is water everywhere, quite deep in places. Keep small children in sight at all times and if necessary keep on a wrist lead.

Dogs are welcome to walk around the park and there are plenty of walks and cycle paths. Sensible shoes, hat for rain or sun, sunblock and cagoule recommended, this is Scotland after all.

Further information: Falkirk Stadium Car Park to Plaza Café/Adventure Zone: 0.3 miles.  Helix Park Car Park to Plaza Café/Adventure Zone: 0.3 miles .

Parking: There is a small parking fee from March to October, but if you park at the furthest away car par its free and a short walk along boardwalk to the Kelpies.

Car par open daily, from Oct -March parking free. £3 other times of year.  Car park closed at 11pm, not re-entering until next morning. (Linlithgow palace photo).

Other interesting things to do around this area, include lunch at Calendar house or Afternoon tea. Visit the Antonine wall, hop on a steam train or visit Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway or Linlithgow Palace.  Check out the website if you have Thomas the Tank Engine fans.  Bkrailway.co.uk

Enjoy your tour of the Falkirk area, you will find folks very helpful and friendly.

Information correct at time of print, tickets and prices may change in future.

Visit nearby haunted Stirling castle and the stunning Wallace monument. Here what to expect. https://youtu.be/3aBeYhAHyc0

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Continue reading “The Kelpies, FREE public Artworks & Guide ( 2018).”

Rosslyn chapel, Knights Templar and Vin Diesel Fast & Furious 9.

I have always wanted to visit Rosslyn Chapel, this stunning building with its mysterious references to the Da Vinci code (made popular by Dan Browns novel), the Knight’s Templar and the Holy Grail.  It is a popular location for filming and has recently attracted more attention with the arrival of Vin Diesel in the city of Edinburgh filming Fast & Furious 9 directed by Justin Lin.

Vin Diesel the actor has released a short video stating that “he and the top executives from Universal had a sacred meeting about Fast 10 here at Rosslyn Chapel”.  With 57 million followers on Instagram, Rosslyn Chapel I suspect is only going to get very busy.

Rosslyn Chapel Edinburgh
Rosslyn Chapel Edinburgh@shutterstock

If you are expecting a large, imposing building you will be surprised to discover that it is in fact, quite small.  Rosslyn Chapel, formerly known as the Collegiate Chapel of St Matthew, is a 15th-century chapel.  Located in the village of Roslin, Midlothian it is around a 20 min drive from Edinburgh City.  Easy to reach from the city by car or local bus follow the brown tourist signs. The easiest place to catch the bus is on the Bridges (No 37) in the city centre. There are no trains to this location.

Rosslyn Chapel attracts attention in part to its elaborate carvings and  a sequence of 213 cubes or “boxes” protruding from pillars and arches with a selection of patterns on them. Many people believe that they are a coded message and the position on east of west facing walls are pieces of a bigger jigsaw as yet completed.

It is also believed that the Knights Templar, a Catholic military order known for their skill in fighting in the Crusades were connected to Rosslyn Chapel and that the treasures of Knights Templar were removed from Paris in secret and hidden in a Scottish Temple.

There is a village near Rosslyn called Temple, which was once the  genuine headquarters of the Scottish Knights Templar, the place was known as Balandtradoch.  This is from the Scottish Gaelic, ‘Baile nan Trodach’ which translates as “Town of Warriors”.

Green men in Rosslyn Chapel
Green men in Rosslyn Chapel

There are over 100 Green men inside and outside of Rosslyn Chapel a traditional feature of medieval churches.  It is said that the green man symbolise the capacity for great goodness and for significant evil. However, these faces  have also been found in important buildings since Roman Times… fuelling the theory that there is a historical connection.

The interior of the building is exquisite and has a fascinating history especially the Apprentice Pillar.  This stunning column has a sad story which I will not recount to you as it will spoil your visit but believe me you will love the ornate and beautiful carvings within Rosslyn Chapel.  Photographs or filming are not permitted inside the chapel or the Sacristy underneath. However you can film the exterior.

Ornate statue outside Rosslyn Chapel
Ornate statue outside Rosslyn Chapel

There is small visitors centre, shop with gift souvenirs and small cafe with outside decking looking over Roslin Glen.  I had lunch and the soup, tea and cakes were delicious.  There is a small interactive area but I think to get the most out of the chapel, a tour would be ideal, these are available throughout the day with the admission price.

The other connection that the Chapel has, is the discovery of sub terrain caves known as the Gilmerton Coves. Highlighted in the Edinburgh news, these caves run much further and deeper than originally thought. Some people think they are connected to the Chapel and that Mary Queen of Scots sought refuge in them before her imprisonment and secret tunnels were used by the Knights Templar.  Fact or fiction …or just another theory?

It’s a fascinating place and if you do visit remember that you can spend time walking through the Glen, looking at the many beautiful and fascinating graves and statues behind the Chapel.

To access the Castle ruins, follow the road down the side of the car park,  its a ten minute walk, steep and uneven, not suitable for dodgy legs or walking sticks or wheelchairs.DSC_0326

The Castle is a ruin but there is a  mansion within the castle walls, which can be rented from the Landmark Trust as a truly memorable Scottish accommodation, overlooking the Glen. The castle is virtually unseen unless you walk down into the pretty Glen where you will discover its true magnificence.

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If you walk into the Glen look our for Grandma tree and Grandpa tree, ancient trees that many travelling people say have special energies… they are pretty awesome and do not remove any of the fairies or pretty stones that you see hanging from the branches as you may incur the wrath of the tree spirits.

To see my full  portfolio click here on Shutterstock. 

Tips and notes

Rosslyn Chapel guides  provide talks throughout the day, which are included in the admission price. These are at Monday to Saturday:
10am, 11am, 12.15pm, 2pm, 3pm & 4pm. 

Sundays:
1pm, 2pm, 3pm

Opening hours are Sept – Dec – 9.30- 5pm and Sundays 12-4.45.

June – Aug – 9.30 – 6pm and Sundays 12 – 4,45pm.

It gets busy inside so mid week will be quieter.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your time.

Lou Armor

 

 

 

 

Haunted Mary Kings Close, Edinburgh Review. (Tourist attraction)

Haunted  graveyards in Edinburgh are pretty common, haunted streets, now that caught my eye. Mary Kings Close a popular tourist attraction tour on Edinburgh Royal Mile is said to be haunted by children trapped during the Plague and as I will reveal, many people have experienced strange encounters.

Tourists on the Royal Mile opposite Mary Kings close, Edinburgh
Tourists on the Royal Mile opposite Mary Kings close, Edinburgh

Not brave enough to go alone, I enlisted the help of my practical, no nonsense friend, Lynn for our tour.  Mary’s Kings Close is very easy to reach at the top of the Royal Mile, across from the magnificent St Giles Cathedral. Starting with a confidence boosting G&T in the famous pub Deacon Brodie, we were all set.

Our tour started at 7pm where we were introduced to our very theatrical guide in full Victorian costume. We started downstairs and I immediately felt very cold in the far corner of the first room we entered.  I insisted to my friend , we move back towards the door. There was definitely something cold and unworldly in that room.  It had begun…

The tour consists of walking through underground caves or small rooms, similar to wine cellars, some rooms have interactive ghosts on canvas which are rather cool and others have room stages.  ‘Plague victims’ etc.

The history is fascinating and  it is a bit scary, especially when all the lights go out for the  storytelling part. My companion screamed at the end which surprised most of the people on the tour and I am not really sure why that happened, to this day.

There is one very interesting room which has a collection of toys left by tourists, I won’t spoil the story for you but it does involve a ghostly encounter with a small child by a Japanese psychic.  Many other people have felt their hands being touched or clothes being tugged….I fortunately did not experience any of this but I was glad our tour was nearing the end.

Our guide was very entertaining with clever acting and theatrical quotes.

The highlight of course, is the actual Mary Kings Street which is incredibly steep and completely unique to anything I have seen before. A real piece of history preserved.

Mary Kings Close Tour Edinburgh
Mary Kings Close Tour Edinburgh

As it is so steep being in the bowels of a medieval building there is no wheelchair access. I, myself was struggling with the hill gradient, so be warned. Lots of steps and darkened rooms. It really is a fascinating place and the stories will send a chill up your spine. We both totally loved the tour.

Tours

These should be booked online before you arrive to guarantee a place. The tour lasts one hour. There is a cafe on site. Mary Kings Close has longer hours in the summer but as this is Dec, the hours are 10 – 5 Sunday to Thursday and 10-9pm, Friday and Saturday. Adult £14.95 discount for students and OAP.

If you love haunted places, Stirling castle is a must top tourist attraction in Scotland. Here is a quick 3 min video I made while looking for the ghostly Kilted Highlander.  https://youtu.be/3aBeYhAHyc0

Robert the bruce & Stirling Castle, Scotland
Robert the bruce & Stirling Castle, Scotland@shutterstock

Contact: realmarykingsclose.com or 0131 2250672. Information correct at time of print.

For other amazing things to see and do in Edinburgh click, https://youtu.be/kY9Oe9Oefws, here for my 3 min travel

EDINBURGH Castle, Scotland@shutterstock
Edinburgh Castle, Scotland@shutterstock