As I said in a previous review Dave currently has a contract in Edinburgh and I have come up to stay with him for a fortnight to keep him company and to get a break from my daily routine at home.
Last weekend we decided to go and see the Royal Yacht Britannia which is currently moored in the waters of the Firth of Forth at Leith in Edinburgh.
The last time we were in Edinburgh we drove out to see Britannia but didn't have time to actually go on board. She was moored next to a small building and car park and that was exactly what we expected to find when we got there on Saturday last.
Instead we found the yacht had been moved to the other side of the harbour next to a shopping mall called Ocean Terminal which I must say looked stunning from the outside, especially as it was all decorated ready for Christmas.
We went by car and parked in the large multi storey car park next to the mall and the parking here was free, which was a nice surprise. It is also possible to get to the Ocean Terminal by bus from Edinburgh City Centre using Lothian Bus number 1, 11, 22, 34 or 35.
Ocean Terminal forms part of the redevelopment of Leith and it is a centre containing over 70 shops, restaurants, leisure facilities and entrance to the Royal Yacht Britannia all under one roof.
On entering the centre I was struck by the bright, clean lines and classic look of the whole place. The Christmas decorations were stunning but understated making the whole area look smart and classy.
The 70 shops include many high street chains such as Marks and Spencer's, Debenhams, Boots, BHS, The Body Shop, Thornton's, Waterstones, Gap, and Lush to name but a few. As you may guess I was well pleased to see Lush as we don't have one in Llandudno so I do love to go in and at least have a mooch and a sniff even if I don't buy!
There is also a branch of Royal Bank of Scotland, a Build-a-Bear Workshop, card shops, phone shops, furniture shops and food shops. So, as you see, there is plenty of choice here and dare I say it, something for everyone.
There are no less than fourteen places to eat with many of them having stunning views out over the Firth of Forth and Britannia. They range from Marks and Spencer's Simply Food for sandwiches, cakes and tea and coffee to full blown restaurants and Chinese, Italian and Bistro dining.
The leisure facilities in the centre comprise of Molly Playcentre for the children, Transgression Park, an 'urban freesports facility' (skate park), Pure Spa for a good pampering, The Royal Yacht Britannia and a 12 screen Vue Cinema.
The Ocean Terminal also has a website at www.oceanterminal.com/home which gives all the details of what is there and also details of what's on at the centre. They have various events such as Farmer's Markets, Mall Walking (a fitness event based on walking round the mall) and special store events.
We began by working our way up the escalators to the third (top) floor in order to take our tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia. The entrance to the tour and the shop stand side by side and the shop is accessible directly from the mall without doing the tour.
After we had visited The Britannia we decided that, although we had bought and eaten fudge on board (tut, tut) we were hungry so we needed to choose somewhere to eat.
We chose Potters Bar and Kitchen. This was busy so we were asked to wait for ten to fifteen minutes but there was a comfy bar area in which to wait and we were given the menus to look at whilst we waited. Within five minutes we were shown to a table, the food was excellent and the service was top notch! Two main meals plus two pots of tea costs us £21 and was well worth the money. Incidentally we were seated right by the window with a lovely view of Britannia and the Forth which added to the experience.
We considered going to see a film but decided we didn't really feel like it so we spent some time having a good mooch around the various shops and then headed back to Swanston where we are staying.
All in all I would recommend the place. You get a clean, safe, classy place with a nice bustling atmosphere. There are all the shops you could wish for, plenty of choice of places to eat and free parking - what more do you want?
Incidentally the picture at the top of this review does not do the place justice! It makes it look more like a prison. Take a look at the website for a better idea of how it really looks.
We had to go through to Edinburgh today and had planned to go shopping afterwards. Edinburgh is not a car friendly city and after battling through the traffic to get to our original destination I decided to give Ocean Terminal a try rather than try and park in the city centre only to find myself battling through the chaos in Leith caused by a portion of the road being cordoned off to build the new tram lines.
Leith is an area which used to have a terrible reputation but has undergone massive redevelopment in recent years. Part of that development has been the massive Ocean Termional shopping centre offering 70 shops and leisure facilities under one roof.
The centre is situated beside the Leith waterfront and boasts fabulous views of the Royal Yaught Brittania and over the Forth to Fife which can be enjoyed from some of the eating spots inside the centre.
The 70 shops include many high street chains including Marks and Spencers, a huge Debenhams, The Body Shop and Lush. It is slightly more upscale than many shopping centres with none of the shops selling cheap tat around. Theres nothing particualrly exciting there to be honest.
While you are there you can also catch a film at the Vue cinema with plenty of showings during the day or visit a skatepark and kids play area. Theres plenty of eating places such as O'briens and Marks and Spencers simply food. You can also visit the acclaimed tourist attraction Brittania for an extra charge.
I've got to say visiting Ocean Terminal left me feeling underwhelmed. It is pretty bland, set over 3 floors of white boring corriders. While it has tried to incorporate a nautical feel to the decor using port hole type windows and wooden floors in some parts it really hasnt worked. It has a really souless feel, much the same as any other large shopping centre to be honest.
I wont be visiting again. Princes street is only a few miles away and offers much better choice and character but if you like having all the major chains under one roof with free parking then you might like Ocean Terminal.
Back in 2001 this lovely decorated card dropped through the door. "Edinburgh waterfront welcomes you to Ocean Terminal. Being curious we packed the children in to the car and headed down to ocean terminal for the first time. Sit back and enjoy my review
What is Ocean Terminal
Ocean Terminal is a large (half million sqft) shopping centre set on the lovely up and coming waterfront near to Leith in Edinburgh. Set over three floors, ocean terminal offers a wide variety of shops, restaurants, and bars not to forget about the 12 screen cinema. It's all under one roof at Ocean Terminal.
How to get there
Thanks to LRT (local bus company) Ocean terminal is served very well with buses, you will see buses leaving Ocean terminal every 5 mins at peak times. Buses will take to you princess street and other surrounding areas to allow to you either get a train or connect with another bus.
Car - If within Edinburgh you can expect to get to Ocean terminal with 30mins from most areas, Easy to follow signs from North and East Edinburgh will get you there in no time. Coming from the west of Edinburgh you are better to follow signs for Leith which will lead you to Ocean Terminal. Customers travelling from Fife will get to Ocean terminal within 40-50mins. Ocean terminal has over 1600 free car parking spaces available to use, all set within the indoor multi-storey car park. On arrival in to Ocean Terminal is may look like you have to pay however Ocean Terminal management have taken the choice not to charge customers.
Train - Nearest train station is Edinburgh Waverley which is approximately 10 mins away from Ocean Terminal by bus.
So you now have parked the car in your free space and now making your way in to the main shopping centre, depending on where you have parked you will either walk in through Debenhams or through the main entrance which will take you in to the main foyer.
A huge selection of shops are now at arm's length - Over 70 shops within the three story building.
Waterstones - Very spacious and staff are very professional and courtesy
Build a bear (previously bear factory) - A kids dream come - Staff are fantastic - Very pricey -
BHS - A very large store - Many bargains to be found - Not enough stuff -
Debenhams - Largest store in the centre - Staff are nice but too posh for me -
La-Senza - Wow what a shop - Girls I love ya
GAP - One of my favourite shops - Staff are fantastic - Layout of shop is great too
New Look - Always full of bargains - Plenty of staff -
Orange Shop - Staff are too pushy- Pity as the shop is bright and spacious and the range is great.
Phones4U - Fantastic staff - Helpful - Prices are competitive in comparison to other shops.
These are just a snippet of what is on offer at ocean terminal and how I find them. Other shops include HMV, O2, Claire's Accessories, Fat Shoes Day, Baby and Gift, Baxter, BHS, Debenhams, Xile Clothing, Wallis, White Clothing, Top Shop, Schuh, Rival, New Look, Joy, French Connection, D Perkins, Crew Clothing, Burton, Clinton, Thornton's, Boots, Perfume shop, Vision Express, H Samuel, Sunglass Hut, Goldsmiths, Faith Shoes and many more.
All the shops are very spacious and airy, bright and all easily accessible for people in wheel chairs.
Within Ocean Terminal there are many auto tellers and banks which include, RBS, BOS and nationwide. Banks are open normal hours and auto tellers are available onsite after they close. None of the banks charge for any withdrawals.
Now for the kids - On the 2nd floor of Ocean terminal they have a skate park which is open daily. The kids are supervised at all times by professional staff. This is very costly in my opinion and more information is available on Ocean Terminal website.
Molly's is a soft play area which you can pay for your child to go in to - Kids from birth to approx 8years old are allowed to use the facilities. Kids will love it, full of slides, ropes, balls and many climbing frames all set in a soft and safe environment. Adults need not worry when your kids are running wild you can sit back relax and enjoy a lovely cuppa whilst looking over to the Royal Yacht Brittania. Cost for Molly's is approx £2.50 for under 3's for 60 mins - £3.50 for children over the age.
Eating and Drinking - There are many fine establishments within Ocean terminal which include the likes of Cafe Expresso - Zizzi - Palace Chine - Ocean Bar - O'Briens - M&S Simply Food. From Ocean bar you have fantastic views of the Brittania. Most of these places are very pricey but you are paying for fantastic service, fantastic views and great surroundings.
Set on the top floor of the centre is a 12 screen vue cinema which is still like new to this date, Price are just what you pay at any other cinema. Staff are very professional and helpful.
As mentioned already you are also able to visit the Royal Yacht Brittania from Ocean terminal - For a small fee you can spend as much time as you like going through the ship. I have never been on the ship so I am unable to comment.
I have to say I would recommend Ocean Terminal to anyone that likes to wander around shops without being bugged by sales staff, lifts and escalators make is accessible for everyone and staff walking about the centre are always on hand to help if you need any assistance. I think it's fantastic that there is still somewhere you can shop in Edinburgh and park your car for free. The centre its self is very spacious, airy and well laid out. There are toilets within the centre also.
I visit the centre most months and on different days. Busy days are always Saturday, but even then it's not too busy.
Mon - Fri 10am - 8pm
Sat 10am - 7pm
Sun 11am - 6pm
Bars, restaurants and cinema open until midnight
T: 0131 555 8888
Don't you just love the build-up to Christmas? Don't you just love to go Christmas shopping? Carols playing softly in the background, twinkling lights and festive decor, excited children waiting their turn for Santa's Grotto and gazing in wonderment at the toys they hope he'll remember to bring them. Those seasonal displays with the little all-singing, all-dancing, animatronics in a sea of cotton wool liberally strewn with coins intended for the less fortunate. The hustle and bustle, the pushing and shoving, the arguing and barging, the rudeness, the stress, the blatant commercialism that verges on extortion, the knowledge that everyone's piling on more debt than they can possibly afford, and the realization that whatever you buy, come January it'll be half the price you paid - not to mention the hordes of shop-lifters, pick-pockets, fraudsters, muggers and all-round baddies that home in for the easy pickings.
And the worse thing is, this all starts around early November.
Reading between the lines, you might just detect the fact that my nick-name is not 'The Happy Shopper'.
So why do I do it?
Have you ever seen Mrs P looking disappointed and ever-so-slightly homicidal amongst a litter of 'not-what-I wanted gifts?' Neither have I, and I don't ever intend to.
This is why I found myself, one day last week, wandering aimlessly around a shopping mall. The mall in question was, OCEAN TERMINAL in Leith.
Edinburgh has almost always been a prosperous city, but with the opening of the Scottish Parliament, it has become something of a boom-town with several areas undergoing major development. Leith is just one of those.
The old port of Leith has seen a remarkable transformation in recent years from a crime-ridden, drug-infested, slum of urban decay and industrial degradation into one of the most cosmopolitan, chic, and desirable areas of Edinburgh. There are
exclusive new luxury housing developments, disused warehouses have been renovated into stylish apartments, art galleries and exclusive shopping all sit comfortably amongst the quay-sides and cobbled streets which somehow manage to co-exist alongside the harsher, gritty landscape that still pertains in much of Leith. This is especially true on the Waterfront.
Over the next few years, there are plans to further develop the Waterfront quite substantially with over 10,000 new homes, millions of square feet of office, retail and leisure space, and around 1,000 new hotel rooms.
OCEAN TERMINAL is a fairly new (2001) shopping and entertainment complex in the heart of the rejuvenated western dockland area of Leith.
Developed at a cost £120 million, it comprises department stores and other retail outlets, bars, restaurants and cafés, a 12-screen cinema and a cruise-ship terminal.
The whole shebang is centred around the Britannia Visitor Centre, where you can access the former Royal Yacht, which is permanently berthed here.
The complex is designed like a sleek, titanic ocean liner encompassing nearly half-a-million square feet on three floors, and with multi-storey parking for 1600 cars at the 'bow and stern'.
The building is extensively glazed and affords spectacular views over the surrounding waterfront, across the Firth of Forth, and into Fife.
There are around eighty retail units spread over the three floors and around the central gallery. Some of the cafés and bars are distributed in various locations, but the main food court in in the centre of the building and covers two floors. This area is completely glazed from floor to ceiling - in fact so is the ceiling - so it's almost impossible to not find a table with a sweeping view over the Forth.
DEPARTMENT STORES - BHS and Debenhams.
FASHION - Adams * Allsports * Burtons * Dorothy Perkins
* French Connection* GAP * La Senza * Logo * Prego Leather * S3 * Schuh * Top Shop * Trespass * Wallis.
BOOKS, GIFTS, CARDS, MUSIC & PHONES - Art * Athena * Bear Factory * Boredom Free Zone * Baxter's * Britannia Gift Shop * Clinton Cards * Earth Squared * Gadget Shop * HMV * Special Occasions * Thomas Kinkade * Waterstones's * Fonehouse * Orange * Phones 4 U.
HEALTH & BEAUTY - Aquaspace * Boots * Herbal Inn * The Body Shop * The Perfume Shop.
HOMES & INTERIORS - Athena * Au Naturalle * Viva Sofa.
JEWELLRY & ACCESSORIES - Chisholm Hunter * Claire's Accessories * Goldsmiths * H.Samuel * Sunglass Hut.
EATING & DRINKING - Baxters * Britannia View Restaurant * Cafe Expresso * Costa Coffee * M & S Simply Food * Ma Potters * O'Briens * Ocean Bar * Ocean Kitchen * Palace Chine * Starbucks * Zinc Bar & Grill * Zizzi.
On the top floor there is a 12 screen cinema.
It's very bright and airy inside which is due partly to the light-coloured walls, but mainly because of the huge amount of natural light emanating from the glass panels.
I parked in one of the multi-levels and it was quite awkward trying to enter the main mall. As far as I could tell, the only way in was by having to walk all the way through Debenhams. Not a major problem, but I hate being forced to negotiate my way through a department store whether I want to or not. I suppose I could use one of the other entrances the next time.
The complex has that brand-new feel about it even though it's been open a couple of years now. It's very roomy and very airy, but that may be because I was there on a Tuesday morning - Saturday afternoon is probably a whole different crowd-jostling experience.
ROYAL YACHT BRITTANIA
Close on a million people have visited the Britannia since it first opened to the public in October 1998. In February this year it was awarded a Five Star World Clas
s Visitor Attraction grading (impressive, eh?). It was also voted the Best New Attraction in the UK and is now one of the top visitor attractions in Scotland.
The Britannia was launched at John Brown's on 16th April, 1953. Not the John Brown whose body lies a'mouldering, I hasten to add, but the shipyard in Clydebank where it was built, as was the Queen Mary, The Queen Elizabeth and the QEII (I think it's fairly safe to assume that they knew a little bit about boat-building).
No longer in service, The Britannia is open to all visitors - even those who didn't pay for its upkeep through excessive tax duties. It's supposed to be pretty amazing, but I'm afraid I'm really not interested in having my face rubbed in the inequity of having a monarchy, so I didn't visit.
They also have a gift-shop in the mall.
Fair enough, but how do you get there?
Much of Fife, the Central Belt and the Borders are within a 45 minute drive. Follow signs for Leith / North Edinburgh and the brown tourist signs for Britannia.
Nearest train station is Waverley in Edinburgh city centre, then catch the bus and it's 10 minutes away. Leith will be serviced by the new tram system...whenever that's built!
There are buses every 5 minutes from Princes St. and surrounding areas - numbers 1, 11, 22 ,34, 35 & 36 will all bring you directly to the terminal. MacTours buses also stop outside the main entrance.
Ocean Terminal is approximately 20 minutes drive by car or taxi from Edinburgh airport.
Around 60 cruise liners are expected to dock at the terminal annually and plans are afoot for ferry services to mainland Europe.
Nah, I'm kidding...
Mon - Fri 10am - 8pm
Sat 10am - 7pm
Sun 11am - 6pm
The bars, restaurants and cinema are open until midnight.
Trivia: If anyone was watching the recent MTV awards (and I know I wasn't), the venue was in a temporary structure adjacent to Ocean Terminal. Somehow, I resisted the temptation to gawp at the celebrities.
The big question that's on everybody's mind is, did I manage to get something suitable and worthy for Mrs P's stocking....something she'll appreciate and thank me for with showers of wet, sloppy kisses?
I very much doubt it. But I did manage to severely dent my bank balance, so no-one's a loser....apart from me.
Thanks for reading