Tag Archives: united kingdom

2 Days in Edinburgh, Scotland

When our time in London came to a close, we headed north to Scotland.

To travel to Edinburgh, (Ed-in-bura) we took the train from London Kings Cross to Edinburgh Waverly station. The four hour trip was delightfully picturesque.

The UK is full of these bright yellow fields. It turns out they are rapeseed, aka Canola Oil.

Scotland is breathtaking. And (no offense citizens of England) the people there are much… jollier.

The token question – Yes, I ate Haggis. I knew it was some type of organs (turns out it’s lamb liver, lungs, and heart), but it was actually pretty good. Maybe that’s stretching it. Let’s just say it wasn’t bad.

We also enjoyed eating other Scottish fare like stovies, oatcakes, neeps and tatties. When in Rome Edinburgh.

We stopped at a local candy shoppe and got traditional Scottish candy (can’t remember the name). It is a brick of compressed confectioners sugar with a cinnamon coating. It packed a punch, but was tasty! (The candy clerk was kind enough to tell us that only old people like this candy. I guess we’re a couple of old souls.)

We walked out of town and hiked up Arthur’s Seat, in Holyrood Park. This was the most “adventurous” plan we had during our trip and by far was one of our favorite activities.

The trail is a little rough, but the views are totally worth it.

I had read a few other blogger’s mention what a trek this hike was, and, to be honest, I totally brushed it off. It’s only 3 or 4 miles! I thought. How bad could it be? Well, we almost quit halfway through. And we are supposedly in the prime of life. We persevered. And it rocked!

We hung out for a while (a.k.a. caught our breath) on a very green plateau (which is actually an extinct volcano) and enjoyed the views – amazing! You can see the North Sea and a 360 degree view of the whole city.

We stayed at the Travelodge Edinburgh right on the Royal Mile and the location was perfect! The Royal Mile is a fun place to stay, and is surprisingly quiet in the evenings. The Royal Mile is comprised of pubs, restaurants, and shops. There are approximately 857 places to buy a wool scarf, sweater or kilt on the Royal Mile.

The Royal Mile stretches from Edinburgh Castle at the top of the hill, all the way down to Holyrood House (the Queen’s official Scottish residence).

Next to Edinburgh Castle there is a Tartan Mill and you can go in for free. They have several machines weaving tartan fabrics. It’s crazy how many spools of thread are connected for just the one fabric!

We bought our trip “souvenirs” in Edinburgh – a Barbour jacket for the dude and a wool tartan blanket for moi. We were just barely able to fit them in our backpacks!

While we spent most of our time in Old Town, we spent one morning cruising, and by cruising I mean running away from the rain, in New Town walking past the modern shops, taste-testing teas in Willards (hot pink lemonade tea is delicious! who knew?) and, lastly, visiting Jenner’s. Jenner’s is the Harrod’s equivalent, and not too much to write home about if you ask me. (It is, however, a good place to use a free bathroom. I still think it’s so funny you have to pay to use the “loo”.)

Our favorite part of New Town was the Princess Street garden. It was immaculate. Not a leaf out of place.

And then we did a bit of exploring in Grassmarket, which is made up of fun shops and restaurants.

Lastly, while the food in the UK was better than I was expecting (based on the advice of friends, we came with low expectations), we managed to find some good restaurants. We particularly enjoyed Deacon Brodies Tavern – Deacon Brodie being the man who inspired the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

via Flickr – Bob the Lomond. I forgot to photograph this!

We got the Wild Boar and Chorizo burger. Yum. And the staple British dessert, Eaton Mess, was delicious too. (Can this become an American staple? Goodness it’s tasty.)

We loved Edinburgh and definitely hope to go back again someday!

Next stop, St. Andrew’s, Scotland – the home of Golf… and Wills&Kate!

London Baby! Our 3 days in London

London Baby! (I may or may not have said this a few times in the duration of our time in London.) Don’t know what that means? Watch here!We began and ended our trip in London. London Baby! Okay, that was the last time.

We spent 3 days in London and, while it was not nearly enough to experience everything, we were able to get a good , albeit brief, taste of the city.

London is wonderful. It’s busy and diverse in a way that no U.S. city is.

We were fortunate enough to have been gifted the London Pass by some generous friends of ours (thanks guys!!) before our trip and it was awesome! I would definitely recommend it if you are trying to squeeze a lot into a short period of time. The Pass lasts for 2 full days and there are no limits on how much you can use it. It will get you free admission in many locations, and will allow you to completely skip waiting in the queue in certain locations.

The London Pass allowed us to visit the Tower of London, walk the Tower Bridge Experience, go on a Thames River Boat Cruise, explore inside Westminster Abbey (with an audio guide) and visit the Churchill War Rooms.

The Tower of London was recommended to me by several friend and, being married to a lover of History, it was the first thing we did. It didn’t disappoint. We went on a guided tour with a Beefeater, more formally known as a “Yeomen Warder of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London”.

I’m sorry to say most of my knowledge about the Elizabethan times is from Phillipa Gregory historical fiction novels, but I found it quite interesting. We also saw the Crown Jewels (holy diamonds!) and toured the armory where we were able to see many old artifacts – like ancient Royal suits of armor worn.

We went on the Tower Bridge Exhibition– getting to walk across the building spanning the two towers. The views of the city were lovely! The Shard, the newest addition to the London skyline and soon-to-be tallest building in Europe, is nearly complete!

Funny anecdote. It rained frequently throughout our time in London. On the first day we rushed into a (very crowded) coffee shop to escape the rain. While we were sitting down a man backed into Moose (again, it was crowded) and knocked the mug of coffee out of his hands… and all over my pants. It was the first day and one of our three pants I packed for our entire trip was drenched in coffee. (Only a backpack, remember?) It’s funnier now. : )

From there we went on the Thames River Boat Cruise to take us from Tower Bridge to another port near the House of Parliament.

While I’m sure this is a lovely boat ride, it was raining buckets at this point. We stood by a crowded doorway to watch most of the destinations from the dry indoor cabin!

And of course we did the mainstays – we walked everywhere. I used this walking tour and it was great!

This walking tour took us about 6 hours – including the time we spent inside Westminster Abbey, Churchill War Rooms and some food breaks. We saw all the historic sites, including Trafalgar Square, London Bridge, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace and the Mall, St. James Park, Jermyn Street, Big Ben, House of Parliament and visited the National Portrait Gallery.

Westminster Abbey is beautiful. Once you get inside there are free audio guides that give an excellent tour. I hadn’t realized the Abbey was so extensive – waaaay beyond the part you saw in the Royal Wedding!

My favorite part was Lady Chapel.  (I have no photos from inside Westminster Abbey. I must not have been allowed to take any.) So beautiful! Check out the ceiling:

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One of my favorite things we did was the Churchill War Rooms. I won’t lie. I thought this was going to be super lame and I only went because my husband really wanted to go. I stand corrected – it was awesome and one of my favorite things we did in London.

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A lesser known London Attraction, this is a museum inside the underground complex that was Winston Churchill’s command center in World War II. Not only was it the command center, but it included the underground bedrooms provided for many people, from the Churchills down to the staff members. When the war ended the rooms were left untouched until the 1980s.

The site became a museum in 2005. There was even a wartime themed cafe in the old switchboard room. It was here we first tried the British sweet “flapjacks”. I can only best describe it as a maple syrupy granola bar you eat with a fork.

Other treats…

After feeling mercilessly tempted by all the photos on Pinterest, I went to Laduree! We got vanilla bean, salted caramel and raspberry macarons. Let’s just say it’s a good thing there is no Laduree in Boston! Divine.

I’m now just realizing I am missing all my photos from that afternoon! Let’s hope they got misplaced in another folder and not accidentally deleted!

Our last afternoon in London was spent in Regent’s Park. We walked there on a whim and we were pleasantly surprised. I had no idea Regent’s Park was so enormous!

Definitely go check it out. And then get croissants and the Chive and Onion cheddar cheese from the Food Cooperative (a chain market). It will change your world.

Lastly, we spent our final hours at the WB Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter. Amazing! I won’t go into depth because this topic will get it’s own post. It was magical.

Food:

Pret a Manger, a chain on-the-go cafe that makes homemade and all-natural (and delicious) food, is amazing! When are we getting one in Boston? We went to Pret a Manger regularly for a mid-day snack. They have an amazing array of healthy and affordable sandwiches and snacks.

Hotels:

During our time in London we stayed in two locations: we got a private room at Clink 78 Hostel (formerly a courthouse that employed Charles Dickens) and the Travelodge near Euston Station. They were both fairly underwhelming, but quite affordable. Although I should warn you, Clink78 feels a bit sketchy. Finding affordable housing in London was a bit challenging – it turns out we were there the weekend of the London Marathon, which I’m sure greatly contributed to this problem!

About Transportation

Looking back, we would have saved the money taking the fast train from Heathrow to downtown London and would have just taken the bus. The Express Train takes 20 minutes, but is pricey. On our way home we took the bus. It took an hour, but only cost three pounds.

By far the largest misconception (budget-wise) we went in with was the price of the underground. In Boston you can get on the subway and go virtually anywhere for $3. The underground was surprisingly expensive. We walked as often as we could.

Phew, if you are still reading… congratulations!

London was great! Next is on to Scotland!

Back to Boston (With a British Accent)

This morning I woke up to a text from my little brother. “Man, update that blog already!

If your little bro is asking for a update on your blog that usually focuses (erm, babbles) on topics  like yellow paint chips, espresso cups and rainboots… I guess it’s about time.

Before we headed to England and Scotland for our trip, I had the best of intentions of writing a few posts and setting them up to publish while I was gone. As you can see, that never happened! I unpacked and repacked by backpack so many times it slipped my mind.

(See how I slipped in the fact that I brought only a backpack like it was no big deal? Quite the accomplishment for a over-packer like myself.)

In a word, our trip was fantastic.

We did cities – London, Edinburgh and Oxford.

We did the countryside – Cotswold and the Lakes district.

I will happily go another 6 months before eating another piece of bacon. The jam, however, will be missed.

With the London Olympics and Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee coming up, the stores were packed with memorabilia and we spent our fair share of time shopping.

The “Keep Calm and Carry On” knock-offs are taking the UK by storm. While I still love the original, I’m ready for that trend to end.

Planes, trains and automobiles. And boats. We utilized them all. We drove on the “wrong” side of the road and survived. Although I may have had a few heart palpitations in the process.

While this is by no means a “travel blog”, I will be posting individually about each destination. Reading reviews and posts from other bloggers was the most helpful resource in planning this trip. If you are planning on visiting the UK soon, I found The Londoner, Aspiring Kennedy and Explore.Dream.Discover quite helpful.

Cheers! It’s good to be home.

UK Travel: Got Any Advice?


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One of the great things about being a part of this crazy blog-land is learning from and connecting with other people you would never encounter in your day-to-day life.

Therefore, I’d love to get some input from you – my awesome readers!

Moose and I are traveling to the UK next month! We’ve never been there before and I’d love to get any “must-see” suggestions or tips from you guys!

Obviously I’ll be meeting up with my bestie, the Duchess, and we’ll bond over our mutual love for cocker spaniel puppies.


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And of course I will be drinking tea. Properly.


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I’d love to get any travel suggestions if you’ve spent some time in the UK!

In particular, we will be spending time in London, Edinburgh, St. Andrew’s, the Lakes district (Windermere), the Cotswolds and Oxford.