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A Route Through the Literary Capital

The beauty or darkness of some cities is capable of awakening the muses, spawning some unforgettable literary works. This is true of Edinburgh, with a literary impact that led it to be listed as the first UNESCO City of Literature in the world, in 2004. The honour is well deserved, bearing in mind the large number of writers who were born or lived here, in addition to fiction characters that have made their way into our lives. Ready to walk in the footsteps they have left in this city?

1. The Scott Monument

Sir Walter Scott is a prominent writer of British romanticism, famed for creating the historic novel genre. His major works include Ivanhoe, Rob Roy and Waverley. One of the most highly valued writer among Edinburghers themselves, his memory in the city is ever-present. This is attested by the Scott Monument,a Victorian Gothic temple built between 1840 and 1844. Being 61.1 metres high, it affords magnificent views over the city, although you have to climb 287 steps to get there. You have been warned!

2. Deacon Brodie’s Tavern

We are indebted to Robert Louis Stevenson for having taken us on a voyage to Treasure Island and created a character to delight any psychologist in the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. The protagonist of the latter is based on the figure of Deacon Brodie, a respectable businessman from the 18th century who suffered from the mental disorder of dual personality. Sited on the Royal Mile, Deacon Brodie’s Tavern is a pub which pays tribute to this novel and its main character. Don’t hesitate to go inside to have a few pints and taste their haggis, a Scottish delicacy based on spiced meat innards, served with turnip and mashed potato.

3. The Sherlock Holmes Statue

Who is the most famous detective of all time? The first person who comes to mind is bound to be Sherlock Holmes. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, his creator, was inspired by the figure of Professor Joseph Bell, famed for his analytical powers of deduction. The Sherlock Holmes Statue is located in Picardy Place, where the house in which Conan Doyle was born once stood. Also in that square is The Conan Doyle, a pub dedicated to the writer and the perfect excuse to savour the wonderful pints and magnificent whisky the city has to offer.

4. The Burns Monument

Robert Burns, a pioneer of the Romantic movement, is Scotland’s best known poet. His poem and – subsequently – song, Auld Lang Syne, is traditionally sung at farewells in English-speaking countries. The Burns Monument, a Greek-style templet built in 1830,is sited on Calton Hill, one of the most privileged spots in Edinburgh. It has become a veritable icon of the city and affords stunning views. Make sure you visit it!

5. The Leith Harbour District

Irvine Welsh is celebrated as the author of Trainspotting, a novel relating the irony of and miserable life led by heroin addicts. His straightforward style scored with slang led it to become a cult novel for a whole generation. The story is set in the Leith district, an area of strife at the time, as reflected in his book. Nowadays the district has changed quite a lot, although its still retains some of its roguish atmosphere. A local guided tour takes you to spots referenced in his novel which served the author with inspiration.

6. The Writers’ Museum

Those wishing to learn more about the figures of Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns and Robert Louis Stevenson should make sure they visit The Writers’ Museum. It is well worth visiting, if only for its location, as it is situated at the top end of the Royal Mile in Lady Stair’s Close. The museum houses manuscripts, books and the personal belongings of these three geniuses of Scottish literature.

7. The Elephant House

You shouldn’t leave Edinburgh without visiting The Elephant House, the tea and coffee shop where J.K. Rowling wrote some of the adventures of Harry Potter.

Ready to venture into the literary heart of Edinburgh? Check out your Vueling here.


Text by ISABELYLUIS Comunicación

Images by Raphaël Chekroun, Brian CK, Spixey, Alan Weir, Kyle Taylor


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In Search of the Best Scotch

Scotland offers many reasons for visiting – beautiful scenery, like in the Highlands, and beautiful lakes, like Lochs Lomond, Tummel, Duich and Ness, the latter with monster included. Not to mention such cultural events as the Edinburgh Festival, during which the city is filled with theatre, music and dance, and the chance to discover its writers, notably Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson and Irvine Welsh. And – you guessed it – the land’s magnificent whisky. Celtic in origin, this distillation is the epitome of Scottish identity traits – bagpipes and kilts notwithstanding. Scotch is also one of the country’s greatest moneyspinners and stands out as a major attraction for visitors to this land. Newcomers will have the opportunity to make their whisky debut in style, while connoisseurs have the unique occasion to become experts while treating themselves to the huge gamut of tastes and aromas.

Known as uisge beatha (water of life) in Gaelic, whisky is made from the distillation of fermented malt, generally barley, although other grains such as wheat, rye and corn can also be used. The distillation is aged in an oak cask for at least three years. Scotch is classified into the following types – single malt, vatted malt (or pure malt), blended and single grain, single malt being the most highly valued.

A good way of coming to grips with everything related to this popular Scottish beverage is by heading for Edinburgh to visit the Scotch Whisky Experience, a centre located in the Old Town, adjacent to Edinburgh Castle, where you can learn all the ins and outs of scotch. Once you have mastered the basics, you are ready to venture into one of the myriad distilleries scattered about the country. To help get your bearings, you should know that Scotland is divided into five whisky-producing regions. And, as in the case of wine, each region has its own characteristics.

In the region of the Lowlands, in the south of the country, the whisky they produce is mild, light and unsmoky, making it ideal for blends. As it lacks the malt character of the other regions, it is less popular and is produced by a fewer number of distilleries.

Speyside, named after the river Spey which traverses it, is the leading whisky-producing region and the venue for most organised distillery tours. The world’s most popular malts are produced here. One of the must-visit distilleries is Cardhu, located near Archiestown and founded by the whisky smuggler John Cumming in 1824. Glenfiddich, situated in Dufftown, is the only distillery where the distillation, ageing and bottling processes take place on the same premises. At Craigellachie we find the Macallan distillery, which also dates from 1824. Here, the whisky was originally aged in Spanish sherry casks. It set the record for having produced one of the most expensive bottles of liquor ever sold when it fetched $54,000 at an auction. Lastly, the Glenlivet distillery near Ballindalloch is considered to produce one of the finest malts in the region.

The largest region in terms of size and whisky output is the Highlands, situated in the north of Scotland. One of our favourite distilleries here is Oban, located in picturesque Oban Bay, opposite the seafront, which has been producing its excellent malt since 1794. Still in this area, we come to the sub-region known as The Islands which is worth visiting for two gems – the Jura distillery, sited on the island of the same name – an eminently family concern, which has been producing excellent malt whisky since 1810 – and Talisker, located on the priceless island of Skye.

Campbeltown, a region which once boasted up to thirty distilleries, now has only three distilleries in operation.

Lastly, we come to the region of Islay, located on Scotland’s west coast, which is known above all for its smoky whiskies. We recommend a visit to Bowmore, which has one of the first distilleries to be set up on the island, and where the malt is still produced using traditional methods, and Port Ellen, home to the Lagavulin distillery, built in 1816.

Now that you know some of the best whisky distilleries in Scotland, book your Vueling to Edinburgh and get to experience them first-hand.


Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Images by Cls With Attitude, Sem Shnaider, Rob Schulze, Kkonstan, Stephane Farenga, lynjardine, 82Gab

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Edinburgh Capital of the Scenic Arts

Edinburgh, one of the most charming cities in Europe, the cradle of literary scholars and the setting for many novels, has been hosting the Edinburgh International Festival (EIF), one of the most celebrated in the scenic arts, since 1947. During the festival, dance, opera, music and theatre don their finest raiment and reveal their myriad facets, from classical to innovative, turning the Scottish capital into a veritable crucible of inspiration and creativity that acts as a magnet, drawing huge audiences eager to try out new sensations and get carried away by the sheer size and variety of events on offer.

Like some “high feast of culture”, in addition to filling the major theatres and concert halls, the festival programme encompasses the whole city, so that even bars, shops, streets and any venue worth its salt is turned into yet another stage. A stroll along the Royal Mile, for instance, can end up becoming an adventure in itself, buzzing as it is with performances, concerts and shows of all kinds.

This year, the Edinburgh Festival runs from 5 to 29 August. On account of the large number of visitors concentrated in the city during that period, it is advisable to book accommodation some months in advance, to avoid having nowhere to sleep or ending up forking out a fortune for it. As for getting tickets for the host of different events – which first went on sale in January – you can buy them online on the festival website.

And There’s More Too!

While it might seem incredible, Edinburgh’s festival offerings go far beyond the big event itself. Indeed, it extends through the whole summer.  So, for those of you who haven’t had enough with the Edinburgh Festival proper, here are some of the other festivals where you can quench your thirst for more culture and more events:

- Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival. The ideal run-up to the Edinburgh Festival is a jazz festival! Make sure you don’t miss the street performances and celebrations which take place at the start of the festival and which, for one day, turn the Grassmarket area into a sort of New Orleans at the height of the Mardi Gras. From 15 to 24 July 2016.

- Edinburgh Art Festival. Local emerging art and new international art trends are the major draws at this event which is held in museums, art galleries and art studios around the city. From 28 July to 28 August 2016.

- Edinburgh Festival Fringe. An alternative version of the Edinburgh Festival which showcases new talent in the scenic arts. From 5 to 29 August 2016.

- Edinburgh International Book Festival. In a city of literary figures like Edinburgh – it was the first to be designated City of Literature by UNESCO – a festival dedicated to books would not be out of place. Charlotte Square is the main meeting point, the spot where exhibitors gather and numerous activities are held (talks, public lectures, book signings, etc.) From 13 to 29 August 2016.

- Edinburgh Mela Festival. All kinds of music and dance are hosted at this festival, organised by Edinburgh’s ethnic minorities. Held in Leith Links park, it is full of colour and good vibes. From 27 to 28 August 2016.

- Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Parades by military bands, bagpipe concerts and spectacular firework displays, held against the scenic backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. What more could you ask for? From 5 to 27 August 2016.

Come and discover Edinburgh and revel in its magnificent festivals – book your Vueling here!

Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

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A Trainspotting Route Through Edinburgh

Trainspotting, a movie that became a totem for a whole generation, is the screen adaptation of the novel of the same name by Irvine Welsh, one of the writers who most accurately portrayed the darker side of Edinburgh. To mark the twentieth anniversary of its release and on the verge of a rendezvous between Mark Renton, Sick Boy, Spud and Frank Begbie,we take you on a tour of some of the most significant spots in Edinburgh where the film was set.

Princes Street

Princes Street provides the setting for the opening scene in the movie, one of the most iconic sequences in 90s cinema. The heroin addicts yet well-educated Mark Renton and Spud, who have just been shoplifting in a bookstore, are chased along Princes Street by security to the pulsating rhythm of Lust for Life by Iggy Pop. Princes Street, which was laid at the end of the 18th century, is the main thoroughfare and shopping precinct in the Scottish capital. It runs for one and a half kilometres and joins Lothian Road in the west to Leith Street in the east.


Mark Renton’s flight from the security guards of the shop where he has just pinched a few books ends when he is hit by a car in the Cowgate. A historic street in Edinburgh’s Old Town, as may be inferred from its name, it was once the route taken by cattle on their way to market. Sited alongside the ever ebullient Grassmarket Square, it is now one of the busiest areas in the city and home to some of the best pubs in Edinburgh, namely The Three Sisters, The Last Drop and the Beehive Inn.

The Volley

The psychopath Frank Begbie spends much of Trainspotting’s footage clouting whoever gets in his way. One of these drubbings is set in a popular pub and billiards saloon in the city called The Volunteer Arms, although known to everyone as “The Volley”. The bar still stands on Leith Walk, an avenue running from the city centre to the harbour area. Now, however, it has been revamped as the Cask & Still, an upmarket whisky bar which serves the finest gin and whisky distilled in Scotland.

The Worst Toilet in Scotland

Mark Renton is in the grips of cold turkey and the only thing he can score in the “market” are some opium suppositories. To compound his woes, there is nowhere to hide and he is forced to take them in what he appropriately describes as “the worst toilet in Scotland”, a foul bog located at the back of a bookies in the Muirhouse shopping mall. Twenty years on, this shopping centre is in a spooky-looking area with most of the businesses boarded up.

The Meadows

With the city in full Edinburgh Festival swing and all the pubs full of festival-goers, Renton, Spud and Sick Boy find nothing better to do than to take some ecstasy and wander through The Meadows. They chat up two girls from a nearby private school but end up messing about with some squirrels. Located south of the city centre, The Meadows is one of the largest parks in Edinburgh, one of those endless green commons so typical of British cities, with recreational areas for children, croquet clubs, tennis courts and football and rugby fields.

Leith Central Station

After a sojourn in London, Renton returns to Leith for Christmas and meets up with his old pals. He visits Leith Central Station with one of them, Begbie and describes the station as “a barren, desolate hangar, which is soon to be demolished and replaced by a supermarket and swimming centre.” Leith Central Station was closed to passengers in the 50s and finally made redundant in 1972, after which the building became a haven for the city’s drug addicts. Years later, the area where the platforms once stood was turned into a Tesco superstore, while the terminal building was refurbished as a waterworld complex known as Leith Waterworld.

Easter Road

Although not physically present, theHibernian FC and its grounds, Easter Road, are referred to constantly in the novel and film. Founded in 1875 by Irish immigrants, the Hibernian is Leith’s harbour district club and the team supported by all the main characters in Trainspotting. Easter Road is the headquarters of the “Hibs”, as they call it, the stadium having being unveiled in 1893. That shoebox with its endearing musty smell characteristic of British football stadiums is known as The Holy Ground or the Leith San Siro by the club’s fans. While the Hibs of Irish extraction is the Catholic team, its opposite number in Edinburgh football is Heart of Midlothian Football Club or “Hearts”, most of whose supporters are Protestant, a situation which mirrors the rivalry between the two greats of Glasgow – Celtic and Rangers.


While Irvine Welsh’s novel is set entirely in Edinburgh, most of the screen adaptation was shot in… Glasgow! White lies of the seventh art. Two of the most significant settings in Trainspotting actually located in Glasgow include Volcano, the disco where Renton meets his very own Lolita, Diane. Located at 15 Benalder Street, near Kelvinhall Station, don’t bother to search for it as it was demolished some years ago. The other location, which you will still come across, is Rouken Glen Park, where Renton and Sick Boy discuss Sean Connery’s film career and shoot a Rottweiler in the behind with pellets.

Those of you interested in touring the settings where Trainspotting was filmed can either choose to do so on your own or else sign up for the laid-on Trainspotting Walking Tour hosted by Leith Walks. From Leith Central Station to the “worst toilet in Scotland”, a tour guide will reveal the main locations in Irvine Welsh’s novel as it was ported to the big screen by Danny Boyle.

If you happen to be in Edinburgh, be sure to wander around the haunts where that iconic movie was set. Check out your Vueling flight here.

Text by Oriol Rodríguez for Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Images by Naureen-s, Babatuel, Denna Jones, Joe Price, LHOON, GDU photography

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