Hey, guys! On Monday, I got back from the United Kingdom, where I adventured around for two weeks with my family. I’ve just recently got over my jet lag and wanted to share what we did and where we went! It was an awesome experience (although totally exhausting), and I would totally recommend a lot of the places we visited.
We flew from Logan Airport in Boston to London Heathrow, and then took a train to Edinburgh, Scotland. (trains were our main mode of transportation–we bought a ticket that could be used multiple times in multiple places)
Edinburgh is BEAUTIFUL. We were there for three days (two nights), so we got to explore and shop a good amount. My sister and I climbed a monument (I may not be able to climb a spiral staircase for the rest of the year after that); we wandered around an art museum, a bookstore or two; had some good food and went to some nice markets! I would definitely recommend a visit.
Next up: Inverness. It’s a small city, but it was still really pretty. We walked around a lot and went up to a big castle overlooking the river (there were rabbits living near the castle. ‘Nuff said.). We left early the next morning for Orkney, which is a group of islands off the northern coast.
Orkney has a bunch of standing stone circles, which I would definitely recommend seeing (but maybe take a bus to them, because we walked A LOT, and there are some weird bugs near the water). I also made a new friend, aka this sheep that followed me around for like ten minutes. We stayed in Kirkwall, which was a super cute city, very small, but with an awesome main area that had shops and cafes. Go for: cool rocks, friendly sheep, vegetable soup. Avoid: drunk people singing really late at night, milkshakes (seriously, I had one good milkshake during this two-week trip).
My dad traced his heritage to Grantown, Scotland, which is this small town that is where the Grant family castle is. So, obviously, we had to see our castle. Sadly, we walked like eight thousand miles in the rain, and the castle was surrounded by a huge fence, with cameras, and apparently some Russian guy owns it? So we didn’t hop the fence (probably a good idea). We did see the guard house, some sheep, and some bunnies 🙂 We stayed at a Bed and Breakfast, ate at a restaurant called The Wee Puffin (best brownie sundae in the U.K. in my opinion), and bought souvenirs at a store called Ewe & Me! (I have discovered a love for sheep and sheep puns in the past few weeks and I love it) I am sad that we didn’t get to see the castle, but Grantown is a pretty swell place to have a castle in 🙂
Then, it was our free night (aka we didn’t have anything planned and were just winging it)! We ended up in Appleby (which I really don’t know much about), and stayed in the Appleby Castle for the night. Yes, it was a real castle. Yes, it was weird (but also super cool). We had some terrible hamburgers (note: I didn’t have one, but my mom referred to it as a meatloaf patty and didn’t finish hers (I had some lovely crisps and pistachios I had in my backpack)) and hung out in the pub, and the next day we had a tour of the castle! I now know a lot about Appleby and some kickass ladies who ruled there, and went in the dungeon (the spiders were HUGE). The whole thing was a combination of really cool and kind of weird, but I can say that I’ve slept in an eleventh century castle!
Next stop: Skipton (officially in England!) Another day, another B&B for the family. We spent the day on a narrow boat and went around the area via the canals!! Our boat was called Jim (I will never get over that), and I got to steer it (for like five minutes and then my dad took over). My sister and I played a LOT of go fish, listened to the Moana soundtrack probably 9 times, and opened bridges so the boat could go through! Also, there are a lot of swans in canals, and they are hungry (don’t get too close they’re kind of scary).
And then it was back on a train! We got into Bath and wandered around for the day (saw the Roman baths and went shopping–also bought some of the best fudge I’ve ever had) and then we went to stay with a family friend just outside of the city on her horse farm. We went to a horse show, rode, and went to Stonehenge during the days we were there.
And then it was time to go to London! Probably my favorite part of the trip (no surprise, I’m a city girl). We saw the Tower of London, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Picadilly Circus, Westminster Abbey, my sister and I went on the London Eye, I can’t even remember all the things we did and saw! We saw a show, Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, which was amazing; I got new Doc Marten boots (I had to mention that, they’re so beautiful); we rented Santander bikes and zoomed around on the last day before we had to go to Heathrow and fly home.
The first day, we got tickets for the Original Tour, and hopped on a double decker bus to see as much as we could, and then over the next few days, we went back to see more of what we only got a short look at on the bus, which was a good way to see as much of the city as possible (also, being on the top of a bus is fun, even if your hair is really bad when you get off). I loved London, and will definitely go back at some point, seeing as I already have a list of things to do again or try for the first time when I go back. 🙂
This trip was amazing (thanks Mom and Dad), and I know I’ll be back (at least to Edinburgh and London) again. Sometime this coming week, I’ll post about international travel tips and back to school (I go back Monday….ugh)!