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Category: Green

Enjoy This Drone Movie Of The Scottish Highlands, Including Isle Of Skye

A few days ago I gave you my best travel advice on how to spend 48 hours in Edinburgh. Although that’s a short time in Edinburgh, it’s an even bigger shame to visit Scotland and not make it to the Highlands. If these photos didn’t convince you, perhaps this drone movie guest starring the Isle of Skye will.

Legally, Scotland is one of the easiest places to fly a drone in the world but logistically, the weather can really test your skills. Thankfully, I didn’t crash into anything (this time) however if you’re a noive drone pilot, be sure to learn from these mistakes.

How To Spend 48 Hours In Edinburgh

Scotland’s capital city looks like a little storybook medieval tourist destination with plumbing our ancestors lived without. Many of the major tourist destinations are concentrated in the old part of Edinburgh, making it a walk-able city to explore without rushing, even if you only have 2 days.

I lived in town for a time and if you’re planning your first visit, here’s how to spend 48 hours in Edinburgh. You can see it all in the video above or read on.

On The Mile

The old part of Edinburgh at first sight is where you might go say to yourself, “oh I get it. Harry Potter makes a lot more sense now.” Not the magic, but the imagery. The Royal Mile is where you’ll spend a lot of your time since it’s the main corridor through the old city. Before planning anything though, know that the weather changes very, very frequently. In most other places a 5 day forecast can all happen in Edinburgh within an hour.

arthur's seat

Keeping that in mind, if you’re up for a solid amount of exercise, start your plans with a hike up Arthur’s Seat. The extinct volcano is a 20 minute walk from the Royal Mile, and another half hour to get to the top. Rain often closes down the main paths but if it’s dry for enough of the day, the views from Arthur’s Seat are beautiful. Warm weather? Sun? You can easily spend hours up there. Everyone else just in it for the views, set aside 2 hours – hopefully sometime in your 48 hours the paths to the top are clear.

Breakfast

Arthur’s Seat or not, enjoy breakfast at Southern Cross Cafe. They’ve got typical Scottish breakfast in vegetarian versions if you prefer, good coffee, with a nice atmosphere saturated with free wireless Internet. Plan to arrive around 10:30am at latest, it gets crowded closer to noon. Then walk down Cockburn (pronounced koh-burn you pervert) for shopping if you need to buy gifts.

southern cross cafe

Cockburn will lead you down Market Street, make a left, then walk 10 minutes up Ramsay Lane. At the top of the street you’ll find Camera Obscura, a good museum especially if you’re traveling with children. To the right is the Edinburgh Castle, not particularly interesting inside so stick to the courtyard in front for city photos to the right and left.

Working Up An Appetite

I’m burning some calories for you now toward Grassmarket (15 minute walk) where on weekends there are often food and other shopping stalls. Otherwise it’s a fairly bland blend of window gazing. From there you’re going to walk up toward Victoria Street, more shopping plus Instagram opportunities.

edinburgh castle

Like a lot of places here, JK Rowling may have been inspired by Victoria Street and nearby at the The Elephant House she wrote parts of the books. Many people just want a picture from outside so now’s your chance. Overpriced coffee with lousy service? Come back closer to 8pm, it’s much quieter then.

Assuming you didn’t eat at The Elephant House, walk up to Deacon Brodie’s Tavern and enjoy a late lunch with a beer with whisky dessert. You’re back now on the Royal Mile. Walk into St. Giles Cathedral, make a small donation for photos, tell your friends it’s where Avengers was filmed.

Planning The Rest

Hopefully you’ve read this far, because I suggest booking tickets to an underground ghost tour with Mercat. They meet right outside of St. Giles and take you to the vaults underneath Edinburgh. These walking tours are around an hour and a half, afterward you might be hungry again (I don’t blame you). The Albanach is right across the street.

st giles cathedral

This is a very full one day but the weather dictates a lot in Edinburgh. Anything outdoors (e.g. Arthur’s Seat) should be put first in your 48 hour schedule. Pepper in your plans a visit to Golden Hare Bookshop, whisky shopping at Royal Mile Whiskies, not to mention whiskey drinking at these 3 places.

Without a doubt, there’s a lot more to do than all I mentioned above. Warmer weather means more outdoors but bigger crowds and the cooler months ad-hoc planning with the weather (just like in Iceland). There are a few more suggestions here for your trip to Edinburgh, with a lot of reasons to visit the Scottish Highlands while you’re nearby.

Finally, remember it’s pronounced Edinburrah, a water drop or two in whisky is acceptable let me know if you have any questions in the comments below. Cheers!

Asen’s Fortress Is A Hidden Day Trip In Bulgaria

asen's fortress

More than a few visitors coming to Sofia or Plovdiv tend to miss Asen’s Fortress, an easy day trip from either city tucked away in Bulgaria’s mountains. Likely built by the Thracians roughly 2500 years ago, its unassuming remains obscure the fort’s interesting past. Only two hours away from Sofia and less than 30 from Plovdiv, there are several tour operators running shuttle buses here but if you’re up for it, renting a car gives you more options with fewer crowds.

asen's fort bulgaria

During the fall, winter, and colder days of spring you’re likely to be the only visitors around, having the entire fort to yourself. Walking around the grounds though might not be for everyone, there are a lot of stairs and steep climbs to be aware of. Even so, just stepping out to the front entrance can give you nice views of below.

asens fortress church

Well preserved and restored if you do make the climb up you’ll see the Church of the Holy Mother of God. Built in the 12th or 13th century, it was the only remaining part of Asen’s Fortress which was mostly destroyed in the 14th century.

asen's fortress

Asen’s Fortress was strategically located close enough to the Ottoman capital Istanbul to be a viable staging ground for competing brothers warring to become sultan. Fratricide was common through this era of Ottoman history meaning brothers would murder one another to become sultan.

Church of the Holy Mother of God

Seeing the obvious issues a place like Asen’s Fortress might cause, it is thought Sultan Suleiman destroyed it to prevent a figurative thorn in his western side.

bulgarian flag

You can often catch wonderful views, even on a cloudy day as the winds tend to carry breaks in between the mists of the mountainside below.

asens fort

Asen’s Fortress is open Wednesdays through Sundays from early in the morning through later in the day (8am-5pm). There’s a nominal fee to enter this beautiful place to explore. During the colder months remember to wear good shoes, watch your step, and make your plans around any potential snow.

Further north you can find Belogradchik, a fort built into the natural rock formations, climb Vitosha if you’re staying in Sofia, while all the time keeping in mind they nod backwards here. So when ordering one of these local dishes at a restaurant, they will be bringing you a coffee – unless they’re nodding up and down.

Scottish Highlands Photos Are Why You Need To Visit Right Now

scottish highlands

Scotland as a people and a nation is seductive in all the varieties of that word. The northern reaches of the country it’s mountainous Highlands have an effect visitors so common it may be telling the story of the human heart. Perhaps I’m overly romanticizing but spend as much time over as many visits to Scotland as I have – and the rain, stories of honorably hopeless battles – plus lots of whisky will do that to you too.

The weather forecast here should be given in quarter hours, otherwise it’s like a 12 month forecast most anywhere else.

eilean donan castle

It will rain, it will be windy. Chilly but just warm enough after a short walk to make your armpits sweat. Maybe all of this. Maybe none of it. Likely all at once or not at all.

scotland highlands

I could tell you of the history here. There’s a lot of it. But just look up and know that to have lived here the Scot’s ancestors had to be crazy, tough, and carry a good sense of humor.

eilean donan castle

Fighting off the world’s best armies, Nordic psychopaths whose descendants would later give us Dancing Queen, plus each other at times probably meant you had to enjoy the moment in between.

scotland mountains

Got 10 minutes of sun? Take advantage of it then when the rain hits, drink the night away. The same is still true today for locals and tourists alike.

scottish mountains

The Scottish Highlands are one of the least densely populated areas in Europe (roughly 8 people per square kilometer) which comes with its own gruesome history.

scotland waterfalls

When you arrive you’ll be welcomed. A Saturday night drink in a local Portree pub will have you talking with locals, in between singing sessions.

portree isle of skye

More people should come here you think. But not too many, they’ll just muck it up.

scottish mountains

The Highlands are a geography that are unforgiving. Welcoming too. If tales of warriors fighting to the last person against hopeless odds to defend their land makes you nostalgic for centuries when you (thankfully) weren’t alive… or cows that look like they smoke weed all day make you say “aww” – or both – then you’ll love this part of Scotland.

highland cattle

The landscape and culture here speak to many parts of the human experience which is why it’s so alluring. Scotland’s Highlands are endearing but like the weather, for reasons that are unpredictable. It’s a region with a rolling story across seasons that are just as varied.

eilean donan castle

I’ll have more practical information for you in the coming days on visiting Scotland’s Highlands but why you should visit is where you can start. The reason is somewhere in us all, which is why you’ll love it too.

The Best Filtered Water Bottles For Travel

filtered water bottle

Water is essential for biological life but also the biggest ripoff in an airport. Not to mention it’s usually sold in plastic containers so a filtered water bottle can not only save you money but creates less waste as well. There are a variety of options for travelers making a straightforward accessory a potentially complicated decision.

To make it easy, there are basically two types of filtered water bottles to be aware of and these are the best filtered water bottles of each to travel with.

In Short, Two Types

Basically there are two primary types of filtered water bottle – those designed for hikers and those for tap water. For most travelers, the latter is what you’re looking for. The majority of filtered water bottles are made to purify tap water, which is useful at airports, new cities, or at the gym. Essentially, they improve the taste of and eliminate the most common bacteria (down to 0.01 micron) you might come across in already treated water.

The SurviMate won’t filter heavy metals or viruses meaning you can’t just fill it up from a lake and chug. But it can help you get cleaner water from drinking fountains at airports plus has replaceable filters.

Straight Outta Nature

On the other hand if you’ll be hiking or know you won’t have access to treated water, the GRAYL filters out nearly all bacteria, viruses, and heavy metals. GRAYL uses a manual pump system that can remove larger sediments as well. It might be a bit overkill depending on where you’ll be traveling but for the best portable water protection, the GRAYL is worth the investment.

More Options To Choose From

Of all the filtered water bottles I tested, the primary differences between the types were small. Tap water filters generally have a .01 micron limit and many SurviMate knockoffs don’t have replaceable filters. (Many claim the filters are “coming soon” but SurviMate’s been around a while and have filters that last a year under regular use of 4 liters/1 gallon per day.)

As for the wilderness water filters, the prices generally go up based on the amount of water being filtered but for backpackers a typical water bottle size is ideal. Other options like UV pens I’ve found aren’t as reliable since they can’t remove large particles or heavy metals from water like the GRAYL. You can check this map to see where you can and can’t drink the local water, filter tap as you go, or GRAYL for the great outdoors.

How To Travel With CBD

You’ve probably been hearing more about CBD lately since changes in hemp laws are making it available in a growing number of countries worldwide. CBD is an active ingredient in cannabis that doesn’t have psychoactive effects and many claim it’s a remedy for a variety of issues, including jet lag.

Aside from its effectiveness there’s still a lot of confusion among travelers around if CBD is legal and how to travel with it. If you’re one of those travelers you can watch the video above or read on to learn more.

What Is CBD?

CBD is an acronym for cannabidiol, one of the two main compounds in marijuana. The other compound, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is the one that gets you high if you smoke or ingest it. CBD doesn’t get you high (unlike khat) and its popularity is based on its potentially therapeutic effects. Being sold in familiar foods such as chocolates and gummies also makes CBD easy to market. CBD oil is also sold separately which you can use to add to tea, for example.

CBD is extracted from industrial hemp, then the THC removed yet many CBD products have trace amounts of THC. So long as the CBD contains less than the local permitted amount of THC, it may be considered legal. In the United States CBD extracted from hemp is legal if the THC content is below .3% – at least in most states. Because CBD is not regulated, the amount of CBD as well as trace THC often varies from what the label says.

Depending on the legal status of marijuana where you are, CBD with THC may also be available. This is an important distinction in a lot of places and for this post, we’ll focus on just CBD. If you’re curious what the local marijuana laws are around the world, you can check this free map or download GrassFox on iOS or Android.

wifox ios app store     wifox google play android
How To Travel With CBD

Obviously a lot of these rules will depend on jurisdiction but for now the best advice is not to travel with CBD internationally. The rules regarding CBD and marijuana are a complicated mesh which may or may not be well understood, even by those enforcing them. Marijuana possession is a very serious offense in a lot of places and CBD branding or oil droppers can easily be mistaken for it. (Or just no distinction made between the different cannabinoids.) Don’t put yourself in unnecessary risk by bringing CBD on an international trip but it won’t hurt to have some before you head to the airport.

cbd airplane

Within the United States, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently clarified CBD derived from hemp (without THC) is legal to fly with. It’s important to note if you’re flying to one of the few states where CBD is not legal, you might run into trouble if you’re found with it. (At a traffic stop for instance.) National parks within the U.S. don’t allow CBD either because they are federal lands. Many theme parks as well as cruise lines prohibit CBD as well.

CBD is available in several European countries but again, since the rules may vary across international borders even within the Schengen Area, don’t go abroad with it.

Does CBD Help Jet Lag?

There is no cure for jet lag which is the result of a bombardment of things that muck up your sleep and body cycles. You can try shifting your body clock with peanuts or using these expert sleep tips but in both cases, the goal is to get good sleep at the right times. Although there’s not much clinical evidence of CBDs benefits, anecdotally it does help many people sleep better. Consumed in food, taking CBD an hour or two before you fly might help you doze off better.

CBD can’t make jet lag vanish but it has some promise for giving you improved sleep so you can more rapidly adapt to a new timezone. A lot is not known about CBDs benefits and side effects so be sure to do your own research and talk to a doctor if you’re unsure about trying it.

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