I’m officially back from the United Kingdom! Woo! It was so absolutely amazing, we went to London, drove the coast of Scotland, and explored Northern Ireland before flying out of Dublin. However, I’m definitely glad to be home and in my own bed (and not stuck in tiny apartments with my family who I love but slightly wanted to kill by the end of the 11 days). We didn’t stay in any hotels, but used AirBnB throughout the journey-which I seriously recommend.
Here’s a rough breakdown on the adventures we went on!
Day 1: Lots of excitement as the adventure starts! Neither Mom nor Dad had been out of the country before (excluding a family cruise to the Bahamas), and both were super excited about getting stamps in their passport. We flew to Atlanta, hung out for a couple of hours and met up with my brother and then got on the plane to London! This was by far the longest flight I had ever been on, and it was nothing like I expected. We flew Delta and it was pretty nice. Got lots of food throughout the ride and attempted to sleep since this was an overnight flight. When I say attempted, I mean failed. My mom and I are apparently not equipped to sleep sitting up.
Day 2: Arrived in London bright and early! Got our bags (which I WAYYYY overpacked) and started off on the adventure of finding our AirBnB. We decided not to pay for any out of the country fees, so we were without our phones-but more importantly Maps-for the trip. Luckily, friends of ours let us borrow their Garmin car GPS. So, we figured out the general location of our apartment, hoped on the Tube, and hoped for the best. Once off the Tube, we entered the address in Garmin and walked the rest of the way to the apartment. We seriously looked hilarious, the four of us dragging our luggage and holding this car GPS trying to find the street signs. After a while, found our ADORABLE little AirBnB and took a short nap. After waking up, we ate lunch and started exploring the city. We were planning on doing a bus tour the next day, so we ended up walking and wandering about the city until we were hungry and then heading back early to pass out.
*Fun tip to help jet lag: Planes dehydrate you! So make sure to drink lots of water before, during, and after your plane ride! This will help you combat some of the exhaustion of traveling.*
Day 3: This was perhaps my favorite day of the trip-I LOVE bus tours. I love listening to the people talk, watching all the other tourists, and I think its a great way to hit all the important sites. We did a Big Bus tour and I seriously recommend it. We hit everything from the Tower of London to Buckingham Palace to Borough Market and some of the many parks of London (30% of London is parks). Lots of little fun facts were learned and some great pictures were taken.
Day 4: So, visiting Stonehenge was a big debate for us. There’s a lot of people who say that its not worth the time and money to get there, however, I could not disagree more! It was seriously amazing to visit, especially when you consider how creating it was even possible. We took a train out to Salisbury and then a tour bus to Stonehenge with a recorded tour. After visiting the stones, we hopped back on the train and continued on to Bath. Here, we visited the Roman Bath houses and explored the city. Right after we got off the train, we experienced our first and ONLY 10 minutes of rain. That’s right. 10 minutes of rain in the 11 days we were there!! We got incredibly lucky with the weather. Even better, during our trip to Bath, a rugby game was going on so we got to watch some of that. After eating dinner, we got back on a train and headed to London to spend our last night there.
Day 5: Back to the train station we went, this time to take a longer train to Edinburgh. On the train, we meet this wonderful guy who told us all sort of things to watch for on the train ride (definitely make friends with random people you meet because they have tons of inside knowledge). *Fun fact: trains on the weekend are going to take longer. They do a lot of the engineering work on the weekend. BUT, if your train is delayed for over 30 minutes you can get some of your ticket money refused.* Once we arrived, we spend the rest of the day wandering about, visiting the castle and shopping.
Day 6: Here’s where the driving adventure started (luckily not mine, only Matthew drove). We did the coastal drive of Scotland, an absolutely beautiful route to take if you have the time. On the way, we stopped in Stirling Castle (think the movie Braveheart and William Wallace). This was the only castle we paid to go in, and it was completely worth it! It had a great interactive style and was very informative!! Then we hurried on to the real fun of the day: Glengoyne Distillery (this was recommended in a recent National Geographic’s 100 things to do to change your life). Here we did a tour of the distillery, learned how the whiskey was made, and then created 200 mL of our own single malt whiskey to bring home! If you’re ever in Scotland, you 100% need to do this! Afterwards we watched the sunset in Loch Lomond Park
Day 7: We flew to Belfast, rented a car and then drove to Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is very cool place and also a site of a Game of Thrones scene. Fishers used to cross a single rope across water to an island to fish. Now there is a rope and blank bridge almost 100 feet above the rocks below. We had planned to do the Dark Hedges this day but found there was not enough time in the day.
Day 8: Woke up in the morning and drove to the Dark Hedges-a road lined with Beech trees that creates an eerie look. While some of the tree (around 300 years old) have started to fall, its still a super impressive view. And it was also in Game of Thrones (we might or might not have specifically chosen some places because they were in GoT). After this, we drove straight to our AirBnB in Doonin-thank God for that because it took forever to find. Firstly, there was no street number. Then, the GPS coordinates we were given made Garmin think we were in the water. So we drove around in circles down very narrow, winding roads on mountains. Eventually, we stopped in a Pub to ask. The guy was like “oh yeah I know exactly who that is, this is his license plate number so you know you have the right house”. This clearly shows my favorite part about the trip-how small some of the towns were that they knew everyone and were able to be so helpful to us. This house was beautiful and on a tiny cliff on its own overlooking a beach.
Day 9: We explored Sliabh Liag Cliffs from both a boat and the top of the cliffs. If you’re every there, I would definitely recommend viewing them from a boat-seeing the cliffs from the bottom really put the size in perspective! The highest point is almost 2,000 feet. After the boat tour, we drove to the top of the cliffs to look out on to the water (and check out all of the sheep along the top of the cliffs). On a bad year, one or two of the sheep will fall off in to the water and die. Once, a lamb fell off from somewhere low, somehow survived the drop and manages to swim to a little rock. Our captain was lobster driving, saw him and scooped him up to take him home.
Day 10: Driving to Dublin. It took forever. At this point we were all highly sick of being in the back seat and driving and were slightly grumpy. But, we stayed in a super cool AirBnB right in the center of the city that was great walking distance to everything and had an amazing authentic Italian dinner.
Day 11: Walked around all of Dublin and visited Dublina, a great museum on the Vikings in Dublin. We also visited St Patrick’s Cathedral, the Christ Church, Dublin Castle, and a quirky little bar called Mulligan’s that supposedly has the best Guinness in Ireland. A fun random thing we did was create are our Magnum ice cream bars. Finished the trip off with a traditional Irish meal in a Pub with live Irish music.
Day 12: Flew home to Tampa. This took a long, long, long time. But since we did a day flight, it was a lot better than the flight over to London. After landing in Atlanta, we had a 5 hour layover UGH. I refused to sleep on any of the flights since I wanted to be able to get back on Florida time when we got home.
Overall, this was an amazing adventure and I couldn’t be more grateful to my parents for planning this and letting me come! If you ever go to any of these places, definitely check out some of the sites and stay in AirBnBs.
Comment below if you’ve had an experience across the pond!
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