The Boat House (South Queensferry, Scotland): Down By The Firth

The BoathouseFor the last year, this question has been the bane of D.B.’s life: When are we going to see the bridge?

I had become slightly obsessed with Scotland‘s Forth Bridge, an almost 8,300-foot, 1890 cantilever railway bridge that stretches across the scenic Firth of Forth, after spying it on a TV show. While I’m not a bridge buff by any means, something about this striking red structure stuck with me. And so the pestering of D.B. began.

Months passed and the question never went away. But just when I thought he might never take me, a nice-ish day appeared that conjured thoughts of sipping a glass of good wine by the water. Now that we had a mission, off we went …

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The Square & Compass (Worth Matravers, England): A Splendid Little Spot

The Square and Compass Pub A lazy drive along the Dorset Coast in southern England is just packed with delights.

There’s the English Channel of course, that endless expanse of intense powder blue that you can’t quite take your eyes off. The grass is an impossibly vibrant green. And when the sun’s just up there showing off to you on an early summer’s day, it starts to feel as if the moment couldn’t get any better.

But then, it does.

In a little speck of a village perched on the steep cliffs near Swanage, an inviting white stone building surrounded by swarms of bikers and daytrippers in shorts and flimsy sundresses appears. D.B. has promised me a good lunch and so here we are, at the charming Square and Compass …

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St. Giles’ Cafe (Oxford, England): A Literary Lunch

St. Giles' CafeSomewhere along my very first English roadtrip, as my finger trails our route on the map, a massive excitement starts to set in. I’ve realized two things:

1. We have to stop somewhere for lunch.

2. At about the place on the map where we have to stop, I find my finger hovering over a small dot that says “Oxford.”

There are many reasons I’ve long been fascinated with Oxford, though the increasingly sad truth was that I’ve never visited the place. As for the question of where to lunch, once I learned that W.H. Auden used to frequent a little greasyspoon called the St. Giles’ Cafe — well, that was that …

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4 Morningside Place (Edinburgh): Tasty Beginnings

4 Morningside Place

I’m not generally a big breakfast person in New Yorkon the road, however, that’s an entirely different matter.

If I am to face a new, strange city, a good start to the day is a must. In Edinburgh, a city that’s become less unfamiliar to me in the past year, I recently found a delightful place that offers delicious, healthy breakfasts and much much more.

Now, you know I don’t usually write about places where I’ve stayed on this blog — rather, I tend to do that for places like the Travel section of the New York Times. I’ll make an exception here though for a charming bed and breakfast I just discovered in Edinburgh’s leafy yet fashionable Morningside neighborhood — 4 Morningside Place …

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Snax Cafe (Edinburgh): A Scottish “Caff” Breakfast

Snax CafeDainty brioche buns and buttered toast with tea are fine and good for a few mornings. But as gray, drizzly Scotland morning Number Four revs up today, I feel a grumpiness setting in.

I tell D.B.: “I need something hot and meaty.”

What I’m craving is a greasy diner breakfast — eggs, meat, toast, burnt coffee. Fluorescent lighting and gruff service would be a plus. Where to find this in Edinburgh? I’m not entirely sure.

D.B. just packs me into a car and starts driving, however. Somewhere near the city center, barricaded by construction machinery and hard-hatted men, there it is, a beacon: A small neon “coffee” sign. Next to it, “SNAX CAFE. Famous for its breakfasts!”

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