Silk Road: Jia Yu Pass (Great Wall)

As one travelled along the Silk Road, one must admire the Great Wall. Along this Great Wall, stood the Jia Yu Pass (嘉峪關). The pass was a key waypoint of the ancient Silk Road….Jia Yu Pass is the first frontier fortress at the west end of the Ming dynasty Great Wall, near the city of Jiayuguan in Gansu province. Along […]

Silk Road: Jia Yu Pass (Great Wall)

This post about the Great Wall gave us major wanderlust, Chocoviv has a great blog check it out when you get the chance 😊.

Brianna and Iain


Throwback Thursday- Glasgow 2014

Happy Thursday everyone! We have almost made it to the weekend again – Facebook reminded us this week that six years ago we were in Glasgow! We love Glasgow as a city it reminds us of Belfast but bigger – there is so much to see and do, we will outline what we got up to on this trip below.

Brianna at the Kelvingrove museum.

Getting there

Getting to Glasgow from Ireland is not too difficult, you can go by ferry or plane – we usually opt to go on a flight as its only around 30 minutes from Belfast to Glasgow. It really is one of those flights where you get up into the sky, have a coffee and you are landing again!

 When you arrive in Glasgow there is a bus stop outside the airport terminal which takes you into the city, but we realised on this trip that it was only costing us £3-4 more to get an Uber.


For this visit to Glasgow we stayed in an apartment in the West End. This was a great place to stay it was close enough to the city centre that we could walk or get a bus into town, but also close to Glasgow university and the nice bars and restaurants in the west end. Here is a link to Airbnb’s in the area – Please note this is an affiliate link and we earn a small commission from any bookings.

We have visited Glasgow since then and stayed in hotels in the city centre which was also great – our last visit we stayed in Hampton by Hilton Glasgow Central. This was a great hotel, the rooms were clean and comfortable and it was right in the middle of everything.

What we got up to

There are a number of great things to see and do in Glasgow, during this stay we went shopping on Sauchiehall street – this was during the 2014 independence referendum, so most days there was something happening in this area and as a tourist it was interesting to observe.

Glasgow university

We spent time exploring the Kelvingrove museum which had some really cool displays when we were visiting. Just around the corner is Glasgow university – its worth a walk around as it has some really cool architecture – its cloisters have featured in a number of shows including one of our favourites – Outlander.

When thinking back about this visit we definitely spent the majority of our time enjoying food and drinks in a number of bars and restaurants, here are a few we really enjoyed:

Vino Valentino – this is a small wine bar we stumbled upon when exploring the West End – we really knew very little about wine back then but were made to feel very welcome.

Banana Leaf – This was a small Indian Restaurant we visited with Iain’s brother – for us this was a complete don’t judge a book by its cover meal. We squeezed into the little sitting area and ordered our food and it was some of the best Indian food we have ever eaten! To finish we had a Mango Lasse – we still talk about this place 6 years later.

Our meal in Tapolabamba

Tapolabamba – We love Mexican food and this is still one of Brianna’s favourite places to go for it, every time we visit Scotland we eat here.

Vodka Wodka – This was a bar in the Ashton lane area of the West end, the bar done some really nice cocktails and the area itself was cool to walk around and explore.

Brew Dog – We were laughing as Facebook reminded us that Brianna had her first ever pint of beer here. This is a craft pub chain and the last time we visited the lady behind the bar really knew her beers and was able to direct us to something we would enjoy. We also had lunch here, it was your typical pub grub, a good experience all around.

The Pot Still – As Iain loves his whisky this was a bar we had to check out, it has an amazing selection and is highly recommended for Whisky lovers.

Blue Dog Cocktail Bar – This was a cocktail bar in the city centre we stumbled upon one evening, it has a cool, jazz theme going on. We didn’t know a huge amount about cocktails back then other than the usual fare in student pubs but we discovered one of our favourite drinks – The Tom Collins.

Check out this recipe by Sam over at Sammitt.

Dessert in La Lanterna – delicious.

We also ate in two Italian restaurants during this stay, Sarti’s and La Lanterna – both were really good and comparable to any meal we had in Italy

We have been to Glasgow a few times subsequently and could probably add another 10-20 places to this list. But all-in-all as one of our first city breaks as a couple, we had an awesome time in Glasgow and would recommend a visit.

Stay safe and keep planning the next adventure!

Brianna and Iain

Shipquay Hotel, Derry – September 2020

In our previous blog post, we talked about our night in Carlingford. The next day we headed north again, but not before stopping off for some Irish Tayto and Cadbury. We had booked into Bishop’s Gate in Derry for a night, a city we’d been to once before for an hour or so, but never spent much time in.

Entering Derry in the car

We were really looking forward to our stay in the hotel, as it had so many positive reviews online. However, a problem arose as we approached the Glenshane Pass. A phone call came through from Bishop’s Gate to say they were unfortunately having to close for 48 hours due to 2 members of staff testing positive for Covid-19. They quickly reassured us however that they had a room available for us in the nearby Shipquay Hotel, should we want it. After pulling into a carpark and taking a quick look at it online, and seeing that it had the same level of high-praise reviews, we phoned back and confirmed our new booking.

The entrance to Shipquay Hotel

The hotel is a beautiful boutique hotel originally built in 1895, and is in a great location in the city. It was only a five-minute walk away from the car park on Bishop Street, and handy to a number of bars and restaurants; it was also close to the famous City Walls. We were a bit early, and our room wasn’t ready yet, so we left our bags off and went to grab some lunch. We stopped in at The Thirsty Goat, where they were continuing the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. After some stew for Iain, and bangers and mash for Brianna, we went to Blackbird bar around the corner for a drink, before going back to Shipquay, where our room was ready for us.

Bangers and Mash at The Thirsty Goat

The hotel had upgraded our room from a premium to a superior, and had brought our bags up to the room so we didn’t have to, which was a lovely touch.  Our package also included a glass of prosecco on arrival, which we enjoyed in our room with some delicious chocolate truffles and chocolate chip cookies. Already we were realising why the hotel had so many good reviews. An interesting touch about the rooms was that they were all named after different streets in Derry, rather than numbered. We were in the Silver Room, which was the original name of Shipquay Street. Our room was beautiful, with a lovely modern feel to it. There was a well-sized en-suite bathroom, with both a walk-in shower and freestanding bath. The room also had lovely soft bath robes and deliciously smelling Voya products.

Shipquay Room
VOYA products in the bathroom

When we had originally booked our stay at Bishop’s Gate we had a 2-course included into the price of our stay. Shipquay had upgraded us to a 3-course meal, which we loved. We had booked dinner for 8, but were ready an hour early, so we decided to head down to the restaurant early for a few pre-dinner drinks. There was a lovely buzz around the restaurant, with a mix of families and couples in having some food. We had a couple of cocktails each before dinner – a margarita for both of us, and then an whiskey sour for Iain, and an espresso martini for Brianna –  all of them delicious.


By then it was time for us to order our food. Both of us opted for the scallop starter, and for our mains Iain went for the Moroccan lamb, while Brianna had the fillet steak. We wrapped up our delicious meal with a chocolate brownie and a crème brulee. The whole dining experience was one of the best we’ve had in a long time. The food and drink were wonderful, and the serving staff were friendly and attentive. The great experience continued with breakfast the next day, where we had an Irish breakfast and avocado toast. We even received a glass of prosecco with it, which was a nice touch.

Scallop starters

Our stay in Shipquay was a wonderful. We had a lovely time from start to finish, from the warm and welcoming staff, the great food and drink, and the comfortable room, it was all great. We’re glad Bishop’s Gate were kind enough to arrange for us to stay. We left feeling refreshed and ready for the next stop – The Bushmills Inn.

Keep an eye out for our blog post about our night in The Bushmills Inn.

Until then, stay safe and keep planning the next adventure!

Brianna and Iain