Braehead Shopping and Leisure Centre (Kings Inch Road, Glasgow) — Braehead has more than 100 stores across its shopping centre and retail park and there are plenty of options for dining too. Marks & Spencer, Primark, Apple, Hollister, Gap, Sainsbury’s, Monsoon and IKEA are just some of the stores at Braehead where there are also plenty of cafes, bars and restaurants.
Braehead is not just for shopping and eating out either. The Xscape leisure centre has the UK’s largest indoor real snow slope and the highest indoor freestanding climbing wall in Europe. There’s a state-of-the-art cinema and, also at Braehead, you can go ice skating and enjoy live concerts and sporting events at the Braehead Arena.
Ayr Racecourse (2-6 Whitletts Road, Ayr) — at this location (1 ½ hour drive southwest of Edinburgh, via route M8), both locals and visitors can see the most prestigious, high-quality races held in Scotland. Home to the Scottish Grand National and William Ayr Gold Cup Festival, it’s no surprise the 13 furlong length track – which was opened in 1907 – is often referred to as Scotland’s premier racecourse. Both Flat and National Hunting events are held at Ayr. The latter consists of races that branch to include either hurdles or steeplechase action.
All Bar One (29 George Street, Edinburgh) – this is a old school bar which prides itself on its selection of Scotch, as well as brews and wines. It also has an outdoor dining section, which is assuring for large groups passing through there. This is also a great place for visitors to chat with locals and learn more about Scottish culture.
Britannia Spice Indian Restaurant (150 Commercial St, Ocean Drive, Edinburgh) – located near the Royal Yacht Britannia, Ocean Terminal shopping centre and the Scottish Executive, this is a critically-acclaimed restaurant with multi-ethnic cuisine including Indian, Bangladeshi, Nepali, Thai dishes. It has often been declared the best Indian restaurant in Edinburgh. Meals there include tandoori lamb chops, chicken pakora, Kathmandu murgh (tender pieces of chicken marinated in spices), and macchi torkari (seasonal fresh water fish from Bangladesh), among others.
Antonine Wall — the Antonine Wall was constructed in the AD 140s on the orders of the Emperor Antoninus Pius; for a generation it was the north-western frontier of the Roman Empire. Running for 60 km from modern Old Kilpatrick on the north side of the River Clyde to Bo’ness on the Firth of Forth (across what is now the central belt of Scotland). In 2008 the Antonine Wall was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Antonine Wall World Heritage Site will form part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site, which includes Hadrian’s Wall in England and the German Limes. Although most of the wall has been destroyed over time, sections of the wall can still be seen in Cumbernauld and Kilsyth.
Note: many sites marked as part of the Antonine Wall tend to be limited to stone remains (which are usually at ground level). Certain spots along the remains of Antonine Wall, like Croy Hill, have more to see. Still, such sites don’t compare to the medieval castles that are still found throughout Scotland (and tend to remain in their original state).
Tourists visiting Scotland will surely come across a country with a lot of history. At least some of it goes back to the days of the Roman Empire, which extended as far northwest at England and Wales –then known as “Britannia” (occupying for periods of time portions of present-day Scotland, confirmed by the presence of various archaeological sites found in the countryside, including Antonine Wall in the central lowlands.
Since at least the 13th century, Scotland has battled to assert its independence from its southern neighbor (England), with varying success. This included the rise of Robert the Bruce – who became Scotland’s King Robert I in the early 1300s, and the later arrival of the Stewarts (who ruled over Scotland through much of the Middle Ages). Curiously, Scotland allied with France during the 15th century in order to maintain its independence from England (such ties with the French highlighted by Mary, Queen of Scots – who was a one-time queen of France). By the early 1700s, the parliaments of Scotland and England passed the Acts of Union, making Scotland part of the united Kingdom of Great Britain. The local economy thrived due to growing trade with Britain’s American colonies, with Scotland benefiting when the Industrial Revolution swept through Britain.
Along with the Industrial Revolution, the Scottish Enlightenment made the country something of an intellectual center of Britain, with the rise in prominence of 19th century writers such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle, JM Barrie, and George MacDonald.
These days, tourists come to Scotland to enjoy one of the country’s distinctive exports: Scotch Whisky. Local distilleries began making whisky (made from wheat and rye) in the late 18th century. Currently, popular brands include Dewar’s, Johnnie Walker, Chivas Regal, J&B, and Ballantine’s – enjoying success in various global markets (from the Americas to the Far East). History buffs enjoy touring Scotland’s various sites (from the medieval castles found throughout the country – each with their own story), to Roman settlement remains.
Of course, Scotland is also famed for being the country where golf was born. With variants of the game being playing in the Scottish countryside as far back as the 15th century, the game of golf as it’s known today started with the establishment of local golf clubs during the 1700s. The first Open Championship games were held at the Scottish town of Prestwick in 1860. Nowadays, Scotland has over 500 courses (liberally divided within the country’s 10 regions) – boasting more courses per head than anywhere else in the world. The game of golf is another reason why tourists visit the country, with regional airports never failing to receive golf club-totting travelers.
Going into the 21st century, the game of golf can be found throughout the world – driving the promotion of the sport with golf-themed real estate developments in various locations throughout the world, such as the land-rich Dominican Republic in the Caribbean (with resorts like Casa de Campo, PuntaCana Resort and Cap Cana attracting players to their seaside courses), China and elsewhere in the Far East, and now even Marxist Cuba is starting to move forward with golf-themed resorts & real estate ventures.