November 5, 2018

Slow Travel: Dundee, Scotland

V&A and the Discovery in Dundee, Scotland

Dundee is a coastal city, situated on the Firth of Tay estuary in the eastern part of Scotland. It’s (supposedly) the sunniest city in Scotland and is known for the three J’s which are jute, jam and journalism. I also know it for it’s Dundee Cake (thanks Mum) which has a rich, fruity flavour. It’s a city with a troubled past but is very much up and coming and a place that I’m growing quite fond of.

How to get there

As I’m based in Edinburgh, I find it quickest to catch a train to Dundee, which takes just over an hour (all being well with the signalling). It’s around 1 hour and 20 minutes in a car or you can fly to Dundee Airport. Personally, I would recommend the train if you’re based in Scotland as it’s located right in the city centre and just a stone’s throw away from the fabulous V&A centre – more on this later!

The sun setting over one of Edinburgh's main bridges

Sunset on the train journey to Dundee

First stop: Brunch

The Flame Tree Cafe would be my number one recommendation for brunch. It’s a fairly small cafe with a lovely relaxed vibe and does a particularly tasty breakfast smoothie. Hugely affordable and a good amount of choice available this is a great place to start you day. If anyone happens to have tried the Belgian Waffles or Rainbow Bagel, let me know as these are high on my ‘to-try’ list!

Next stop: Explore Dundee High-street

If you’re into your brands and clothes shopping then I’ll be honest, Dundee isn’t the best place for this – Edinburgh or particularly Glasgow has much more to offer in this field! What Dundee high-street does have however, is a quirky array of independent shops which I love. The first place that caught my eye was The Rosebud which had such a gorgeous selection of flowers hanging in the window and displayed outside. Given my track record with plants I didn’t purchase any on this occasion as am desperately trying to keep alive the plants I do have in my flat but if you’re slightly more green-fingers and are looking for some house plants, be sure to pop into this gem of a flower shop.

Just a few doors down, is Lefreak records. I could have easily spent an entire morning in here, browsing it’s extensive range of old and new records. My record player is sadly still in England (I am yet to find a way to get it up to Edinburgh as it’s too bulky to put in hand luggage on a plane and I wouldn’t trust leaving it to the fate of the hold luggage. It’s also a bit too awkward to take on a 6 hour+ train journey.) At some point however, I’m sure I will find a way to get it to Edinburgh and when I do, I’ll be able to play my most recent purchase which was a Now record from the eighties! Highly, highly recommend this little record shop of dreams.

Writing about dreamy shops, a final mention has to go to This Way Up bookshop. I love a good second-hand bookshop, and this one definitely rivals some of my favourite bookshops in Edinburgh (have a read here). As a past English Literature student, I definitely felt that this bookshop catered to the needs of English students (which makes sense as Dundee University isn’t all that far away from here). There was the classic Norton Anthology, a tonne of poetry books, Victorian literature and a good amount of modern classics. What’s more, it also had a record, tape section and an entire bookcase dedicated to Penguin classics. A must-visit for any fellow book-lovers out there!

The Arts Stop: Wander around Dundee Contemporary Arts

This is a great central Arts Centre which has two contemporary art galleries, a two-screen cinema, a print studio and a bustling café bar. We ran out of time to look around the art gallery but did manage to squeeze in a coffee and cake here which was delicious. A particularly great place to explore on one of the more rainier Dundee days!

The Main Event: V&A

I can’t write this post without mentioning the V&A Dundee. Let’s start with the physical building which is architecturally stunning and very striking – it’s one of the first things you see when you come out of the station and sits right next to the RRS Discovery. It is also situated next to the Tay and is a beautiful place to stroll around (both inside and out). Inside there are two exhibitions – one is free entry and the other is ticketed. The free entry section has some real gems that are definitely worth a visit, notably Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s The Oak Room, a beautiful wedding gown and an incredibly detailed model of the Scott Monument (which is located in Edinburgh). Compared to the National Museum of Scotland it really is quite small – there’s not a huge amount to see given the vast space of the V&A. Despite this, I definitely think it’s worth popping into and should be a compulsory part of any day trip to Dundee!

Final stop: Dine in Bridgeview Station Restaurant

Located in a beautifully converted Victorian railway station, Bridgeview Station Restaurant offers delicious modern European cuisine and boasts stunning estuary views from its large windows. We had a really lovely meal here at a reasonable price-tag, the highlight for me being the white chocolate and pear cheesecake!

Have you been to Dundee? Where is your favourite place to visit? Let me know in the comments below!

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