Recently I visited the city of Dundee in Scotland again. And this time I stayed in a hotel called the Malmaison.

Malmaison is a hotel chain in the United Kingdom. The group operates 13 hotels and was founded in 1994. It is named after the Chateau de Malmaison on the outskirts of Paris. Their brand premise is “Hotels that dare to be different”. There are thirteen hotels located in Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastel upon Tyne, Oxford and Reading. Each hotel has its own mini-site, these can be accessed by the main Malmaison hotel website which is https://www.malmaison.com/ .

What really appealed to me at first was the interior of the hotel. It was very stylish yet different from typical hotels. The main doors had these big horn-like handles which in my opinion suited very well with the overall look of the hotel. The stairway was in dark colors and there was this beautiful huge lamp. Of course there were lifts which were modified so that people with disabilities could easily use them also (for example the lift numbers were written in touch typing). And our room – I loved it. The beds were higher up than usual and on the bed there was this furry topping/cover which was so soft and warm. In the room the furniture was all black (which suited there very well and was very stylish). There was a big flat-screen TV and a small refrigerator full of snacks and drinks (of course you pay extra for that) and then there were two bottles of wine which you could drink if you want (again you pay extra if you want). The bathroom was up to all the standards – it was a big room and there was a shower, not a bath (to my disappointment).  The view from the big window was to the main street and we could see what was going on. It was lovely. The hotel also had a restaurant and a bar. And the hotel was situated exactly in city centre. As for the price… Usually it seems that the room rate for one night is pretty pricey but I had a lucky coincidence – they had a Christmas offer in which the room rate was lower than in the hotel I have stayed previously. That is also something I like about the Malmaison – the make campaigns during which time they lower the prices and that is a good way to attract new customers.  I was very satisfied with Malmaison hotel and would definitely stay there again and it really felt like I was a queen in the queens palace.

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But after staying in Dundee we had to travel to London and stay there for 2 nights. And as we were staying there only for two nights we looked for a cheap hotel because it seemed that it’s not worth paying a lot for just 2 nights. The hotel we stayed in was Fitzroy hotel.  When we first arrived we tried to get into the hotel and it was locked. Then we tried to ring the doorbell. Nothing happened. Then finally a strange looking man in plain clothes (meaning clothes you wear while your home not when you are a hotel staff) came from the underground and asked if we would like to come to the hotel. We said yes and then he said that he would let us in. When he finally opened the door he asked about the reservation and told us to come to the reception. Then we went downstairs to a very small room full of boxes and papers and on a small table there was this old computer. The weird guy typed something fast and made sure we had the reservation in his weird system also and then said that we can make the payment. We payed by credit card and he was puzzled why we are paying with a Swedish bank credit card when we are from Estonia. And then he said that he will give us a room that is on the top floor. It was on the top floor but there was no lift there. We had to carry our luggage to the top floor and he did not help us. And when I finally saw the room I said that I want to move to another hotel. The room was so tiny that two couldn’t turn around there. There was only one bed, the bed linen were clean but not new. The pillows were uncomfortable and the bed was also really uncomfortable. There wasn’t enough room to put your luggage. The TV was very small. The bathroom was horrible – it was cold, in some bits it was dirty and I didn’t want to use it at all. At the very first evening I really thought I had just registered myself into the Bates Motel. At first I really thought I’m going to another hotel but since the money had already been payed we stayed there. And the photos from the hotel website are totally photoshopped. Overall I would say it was a really bad experience and I would not recommend the Fitzroy Hotel to anyone.

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It’s been a long time since I last wrote here. And I’m truly sorry about it. Life has been truly hectic and I haven’t found the necessary time to write. But at least now I am again writing. In the beginning of July I went to Scotland again to visit my brother there. And I had a really good time there. That’s why I thought I will bring out some places to definitely visit while in Dundee and Edinburgh, Scotland. There are loads of places to visit and things to do but it’s just a small choice by me. And I also made some observations about the way of living I found to be funny.

  1. Edinburgh Castle – Edinburgh – when you arrive in Edinburgh old town it’s probably the first thing you see because its so big and just catches your eye. And it’s definitely worth a visit for anyone, not just for people who are interested in history, because inside you can see the crown jewels of Scotland, the One O’Clock Gun, Scottish National War Memorial Museum, Royal Palace and just enjoy the magnificent views.
  2. The Edinburgh Dungeons – Edinburgh –  The Dungeons brings together an amazing cast of theatrical actors, special effects, stages, scenes and rides in a truly unique and exciting walkthrough experience that you see, hear, touch, smell and feel. It’s hilarious fun and it’s sometimes a bit scary. I didn’t have the “balls” to visit the dungeons this time but it was something I thought about doing next time I visit Edinburgh 😉
  3. Princess Street Gardens – Edinburgh – just take some time, sit on the bench and look the nature around you and relax. And if you’re lucky one of the many squirrels there might come to you ask for a bite to eat 😉
  4. Royal Mile – Edinburgh – it is in the Old Town, the historic heart of the city, and guards the secrets to Scotland ‘s past. The best way to explore is on foot, although it is steep in parts, but there are also plenty of bus tour options. The Royal Mile, which is actually a little over a mile, boasts Edinburgh Castle at the very top and the Palace Of Holyroodhouse at the bottom.
  5. Scotch Whiskey Experience – Edinburgh – the hour-long tour remains the main attraction. Visitors are guided through a series of displays, exhibitions and finally a theme-park style ride, which together chart the history of whisky production since the 15th century. Scotland’s national drink is shown in all its constituent parts, with the tastes, smells and noises of its production cleverly intertwined in an educational (if light-hearted) sensory journey. If you’re over 18, the charge includes a dram, designed in part to entice drinkers down to the well-stocked bar below the exhibition.
  6. Hard Rock Cafe Edinburgh – Edinburgh – it’s not actually a place to visit, rather just a restaurant to dine in. It has memorabilia of famous rock stars and they play rock music there. Sadly the day I was visiting it they were playing quite old time rock, I would say soft rock music. But I guess this restaurant chain is not meant to be for hard rock fans, even though the name says so. But the service was impeccable and very friendly. Only the prices are not very cheap. So, if you just want to eat something and not to pay a very high price for it then it’s not the place for you. But if you want to go out, relax, enjoy a different atmosphere then it’s definitely a place for you. I had mixed feeling about the place. I was satisfied with the food/drinks and the service and yet the place wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for. The music and atmosphere was all too, how shall I put it, “mainstream”??? for me. I thought it would be hard rock cafe/pub but it was really like a family-oriented-come-all-restaurant. When I asked about the waitress about the directions where to find some cool rock/metal shops in Edinburgh she looked at me asked if I was looking for rock (stone) gift shops. I felt like I didn’t fit in there at all.
  7. Discovery Point – Dundee – at Discovery Point you can check out the ship what Robert Falcon Scott used to travel to Antarctica with. A trip to Discovery Point is an adventure in its own right as audiovisual shows, computer-based multimedia and displays of the actual artefacts of the crew transport you to Antarctica. A great gift shop is also there.
  8. The McManus Gallery – Dundee – contemporary art museum, very much worth a visit.
  9. Broughty Castle – Dundee – it’s an historic castle in Broughty Ferry. It was completed around 1495, although the site was earlier fortified in 1454 when George Douglas, 4th Earl of Angus received permission to build on the site. The museum contains fascinating displays on the life and times of Broughty Ferry, its people, the local environment and the wildlife. And it as magnificent views. And it is said there that with very clear day one can spot bottle nose dolphins there. I went there and unfortunately I didn’t notice any dolphins swimming around there. Sadly. I would have loved seeing one 🙂
  10.  HM Frigate Unicorn – Dundee – HMS UNICORN, of 46 guns, was built as a sailing frigate for the Royal Navy in Chatham dockyard and she was launched in 1824. Unicorn is now preserved as a historic ship and visitor attraction.  She is one of the six oldest ships in the world, is Scotland’s only preserved warship and is the most completely original ship in the entire world to have survived from the golden age of sail. It is definitely interesting to see it and worth a visit. Plus the scenery there is again very beautiful.
  11. Dundee Science Centre – Dundee – it is the only UK science centre based on the five senses. It brings science to life in dozens of imaginative ways. Especially interesting was the robots part. I loved visiting it. Again, worth a visit.
  12. Howff – Dundee  – Dundee’s 300-year-old graveyard used to be a garden in Grayfriars monastery, which was a gift to the town by Mary Stuart. Up until 1778 the Howff was the meeting place for the town’s nine craft guilds and the tradesmen’s marks and symbols can be seen on many of the gravestones. Interesting place to visit.
  13. Verdant Works – Dundee – Verdant Works is a jute textile museum and is a tale of two cities, both of them Dundee. For thousands in the 19th century it was a city of long working hours, poor pay and ill-health. For the privileged few it was a city of opportunity and wealth. At Verdant Works the rattle and roar of the original restored machinery, the juteopolis film show and computer displays transport you back over 100 years to an era when jute was king and Dundee was its realm.
  14. Battlefield Live Dundee – Dundee – this is something I haven’t tried but I think could potentially be interesting. Battlefield LIVE Dundee is Scotlands premier indoor combat simulation experience.  It’s modern laser tag with an environment that makes you believe you truly are  entering a combat zone.
  15. Just walking around in both cities because I have found many interesting places by just walking around.

And now for the observations I made

  • B000UNW8XY._V401595704_ British Faucets – I just don’t understand why they have to make bathroom facets like this. Why can’t the water come from just one place? Why does one side have to give totally hot water and the other side only totally cold water. It’s just silly. You can’t wash your hands there.
  • 5499050801_c7ffaf9190 Pull-cord switches in bathrooms – what is the deal with that? Why can’t there be normal light switches which I can turn on and off. This cord like thing is usually already used and dirty and disgusting to touch. Ours didn’t have that knob in the end that one can use for pulling, it was just the cord. And then the light didn’t turn on right away but about 10-20 seconds later.
  • Using no doorbell – that is something I don’t understand. Again. They just knock on doors. The mailman knocks on the door. But say that you are living on the third or fifth floor of the house and you just don’t hear the knocks on the first floor/ground floor? That’s why door bells were invented and should be used.
  • When trying on clothes in stores you get help from the shop assistant – the assistant immediately asks you how many clothes you want to try on and gives you a number and directs you to the changing room and after you can just return the clothes to the assistant. That is something I found quite interesting and refreshing. Not a bad idea at all.
  • When you want to get onto a bus you need to signal the bus driver by rising a hand or waving and you need to line yourself next the sideway so that the bus driver sees that you want to come onto the bus. I missed the first bus because I did not do so.
  • Pedestrians don’t follow the traffic lights and whenever the cars are not around the just cross the road. At first it seemed strange because here we do follow the traffic lights and can’t just cross the road “just like that” but after awhile I got used to it. The drivers were used to it also. And what’s more important – the drivers had respect for pedestrians!
  • People go to bars even during the day time – I saw people, mostly men, sitting in bars even at 01.00 pm already. And it made me think that don’t they have jobs or what’s going on, why are they in the bar so early? I know that the Scots and English have a great pub culture but I thought that it meant that they go there after work but it seems they go there whenever they have free time. That was interesting to see.
  • And regarding pubs and pub culture. Here when you go to a pub when you eat something the waiter comes to asks what you want and serves you. But there you select your seat, choose your things from the menu and then go to the bar counter and say your order to the bartenders. And go back to your seat and then the bartender comes with your things. But the pubs there are very cosy and people there very friendly.
  • Finally I wanted to say that the people still are very friendly. When looking around in Edinburgh we went in the wrong direction and were just looking at the map. And already a local man approached us and asked if we were lost and gave us the correct directions. Also in the shops, pubs, streets and etc the people were very approachable, friendly, compassionate and nice.

Again I had a great time there, I saw my brother, I saw Dundee and Edinburgh and I saw the Scots. And I’ll be back 😉

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I just finished reading Sofi Oksanen’s new book “When The Doves Disappeared”. “When the Doves Disappeared” is a story of occupation, resistance, and collaboration in Estonia during and after World War II. The novel follows the experiences of three characters: Roland, a principled independence fighter; his cousin Edgar, who will do almost anything to hide his secrets and maintain his connection to those in power; and Edgar’s wife Juudit, who is buffeted in turns by her love for a German officer, her fear of returning to her unhappy, unconsummated marriage, and her bond with the idealistic Roland.

The book is based on historical facts and switches between 1940’s and 1960’s. The biggest character is Edgar who is willing to do anything to stay in power and who collaborates with Germans in the beginning of WWII and then with Russians who also invade Estonia. Edgar hides all traces of him collaborating with Germans and starts to collaborate with Russians delivering to them lists of people who collaborated with the Germans. He is married to Juudit but in fact Edgar is homosexual. Edgar is a master at forging documents and making up backup stories. And he is also very paranoid about being discovered who he really is. Roland is a true Estonian man – brave, honest and loyal to his own country, he saves people when he can and has principles. Juudit is a complex character because she is unhappily married to a wrong man, then she starts an affair with a high German officer and then has a strong bond with Roland also. She also has a drinking problem and she stays with Edgar until the end.

This book is catchy because with every chapter you get a little piece of a puzzle and you just want to get the whole picture together and keep on reading. It’s also a complex story that switches through time and needs thinking along when reading. The ending is surprising and confusing at the same time. I think the reader must draw his/her own conclusion in the end.  I liked the story, I found the characters interesting and I had a lot to think about when I finished the book.

Here are some other reviews about Oksanens new book:

Oksanen masterfully constructs her world; paranoia and fear drip like sweat from the pages.

—   Me Naiset (Finland)

When the Doves Disappeared is powerful and convincing. Oksanen lives up to all the expectations… Oksanen unites political history, micro history, and fiction in an intelligent way. She explores how human kind adapts to ever-changing circumstances.
— MTV3 (Finland)

Sofi Oksanen’s new novel was worth waiting for… As in her previous works, the personal is strongly political also here. The individual, who is torn in the crossfire between different ideologies, crouches in the wings that conceal secrets, shame and fear. Although certain decisions can have terrifying consequences, they are not necessarily a result of evil. A betrayal can be the only route to survival. Oksanen is a master at rendering people in precisely those circumstances.
— Kaleva (Finland)

I definitely recommend this book. It’s something different 🙂

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10 Day Challenge – Day 10 – One confession

Well, it’s not easy to confess something. I am not a religious person and therefore I’ve never been to a confession before. I’ve never said the words “Forgive me Father for I have sinned”. And I’m not going admit a sin here also but I am going to confess a little about myself. I have stated that I find it hard to trust people and it takes time for me to let people in. That is  because my trust has been betrayed before and misused and I won’t let myself be made fool of twice. And this misuse has hurt me. To avoid getting hurt in the future I don’t trust people easily and kind of “test” them to see if they are worthy. Only then I can be sure that I won’t get hurt by trusting them. That is why I won’t let people get close to me easily and that’s why it takes time to get to know me. But once I am sure I can trust someone I will be with them until the end. Being loyal to someone is something I highly value.

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10 Day Challenge – Day 9 – Two books you like

“The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson

“Pride And Prejudice” by Jane Austen

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10 Days Challenge – Day 8 – Three turn ons

* intelligence and wittiness

* low, raspy (bass) voice

* has a good fragrance on

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10 Day Challenge – Day 7 – Four Turn Offs

* Trying too hard/trying to be someone else/trying to appear someone else than who you really are

* Being indecisive

* Being disrespectful

* Bad smell ( in general and also for example I don’t like it when guys wear soapy fragrance)