Travel review: Dundee, Scotland

The Apex City Quay Hotel and Spa
The Apex City Quay Hotel and Spa

It was the meeting of the two tums – literally – and twice over. Would it drive us quackers or have us reaching for the cow pie – that was the conundrum.

Welcome to Dundee, a fabulous city bursting with life and fun. This Scottish town which sits on the bonnie banks of the River Tay is famous for marmalade, cake and of course comic heroes from The Beano and Dandy, including the main man, Desperate Dan and his massive cow pies!.

We travelled up by train with a journey through some lovely countryside culminating in the station being handy for the centre and also the waterfront, which is currently undergoing a major facelift.

A short walk along the front admiring the bridges which seem to stretch for miles over the water, saw us arrive at The Apex City Quay and Spa Hotel, where much to Ruaridh and Flora’s delight, we were met by a huge inflatable purple duck.

After a couple of selfies, the children accompanied by myself and their dad Kenny, headed into this four star hotel which has wall to ceiling windows to give you maximum views of the water.

The staff are fun and efficient and we were soon heading to our room on the third floor, which was equipped with all the mod cons a traveller wants these days, big screen television, Wi-Fi and comfy beds, with the added touch of another couple of smaller ducks which had made their way into the bathroom and some very impressive towel origami in the shape of a frog and a dog, which stayed on the edge of the children’s beds all weekend.

We enjoyed a hearty breakfast and were impressed to see that besides the normal continental and buffet style foods, guests were encouraged to order off the main menu and try out dishes ranging from Eggs Benedict to a Detox feast.

Then it was off (after a stroke of the giant duck of course, Flora was smitten!) for a bit of exercise, well for the children anyway. But first things first. After comparing whether Dad’s tum was a big as the duck’s, we thought we would seek out the statue of The Dandy hero Desperate Dan, which stands proudly on the High Street next to Flora’s double, Minnie the Minx and which has an even bigger tum!.

These cast iron statues not only pay homage to the comic characters, but remind visitors of the importance they and their friends have played in the heritage of Dundee.

Publishers DC Thomson have been in the town for what must seem like hundreds of years, their former sandstone headquarters have sadly been sold in favour of no doubt, a modern office on an industrial estate, but the brass plaque proudly bearing their name is still on the building which is being renovated.

Sitting across from the former office is the beautiful Dundee Arts Centre, which is guarded by Scotland’s famous cheeky boy Oor Wullie, who recently celebrated 80 years of making people laugh through his comic strip.

After our spot of nostalgia, we headed for the children’s exercise and Avertical World, a climber’s heaven. Ruaridh and Flora joined the Kids Club for the morning and after a slightly nervous start, they were soon enjoying the climbing challenges set to them by their easy-going instructors.

And what a difference an hour and a half makes. By the end, both novices were scampering up the high walls and abseiling down with ease.

The Kids Club gives children a chance to try out climbing, with all the equipment of shoes, helmets and ropes included and little ones who love it, can take courses to help them learn this noble art. As well as the high level climbing, there is bouldering, which is at a lower level, but with lots of challenges to solve.

After all that exercise (it was tiring for the adults too ,watching the children in action!), we wanted more excitement and headed to the nearby Dundee Science Centre for some hands on fun.

Our visit co-incided with a Meet the Expert event dealing with Magnificient Microbes, which is plain old germs to me and you.

We were fascinated as the team of scientists showed us the affects of bacteria and germs on our body and in such a fun way too.

The main exhibitions are great too, with the robot exhibitions and Don’t Do This At Home experiments the most popular with Ruaridh and Flora. It’s a great place to wile away a few hours and you learn such much into the bargain!

Dundee is a lovely city to just walk around and with a big student population, it has that laid back feel you need to help you enjoy a relaxing weekend.

We’ll be back soon – if only to compare those Desperate Dan and Apex duck tums with Kenny’s once more!

Factfile:

Accommodation: The Apex City Quay Hotel and Spa is right in the heart of the newly renovated waterfront in Dundee. You can’t miss it as a huge inflatable duck stands proudly at the main entrance The hotel is handy for the town centre and railway station. The 151 rooms have floor to ceiling windows so you can take in the lovely views of the water infront of you. All the rooms are up to their four star rating and have lovely Elemis toiletries for you to enjoy and a 42 inch screen and Wi-Fi to keep the children entertained, with free DVDs for the young ones to watch. There is also a great spa, complete with pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam room, so you can all chill out. Check out www.apexhotels.co.uk for hotel information, reservations and links to social media.

Activities: Dundee is a compact city and there are lots of places to visit. We headed for AVertical World, climbing walls for all ages and Ruaridh and Flora took to the climbing like ducks to water and loved the Kids Club session which gave them a taster of how to climb. Check out www.averticalworld.co.uk
Dundee Science Centre is a short walk from AVertical World and has hands on experiences for young and old alike to enjoy the magical world of science. Log onto www.dundeesciencecentre.org.uk

Travel feature on Dundee.