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Whirlwind Tour!!

Trip Report

Itinerary

4/12 - Flights

4/13 - Edinburgh (Holyrood House, St. Giles, National Museum of Scotland

4/14 - Rabbie’s Highland Bus Tour

4/15 - Edinburgh Castle, more Royal Mile

4/16 - Train to York, Bettys Tea Room, Walk the Walls

4/17 - York Castle Museum, Railway Museum, York Minster, Evening train to London

4/18 - Buckingham Palace, Queen’s Gallery, Side trip to Oxford

4/19 - Churchill War Rooms, Westminster Abbey, Tea at the Ritz, Phantom of the Opera

4/20 - Tower of London, British Museum

4/21 - Eurostar to Paris, Opera House, Arc de Triomphe

4/22 - American Church in Paris, Musée d’ Orsay, Musée l’ Orangerie, Notre Dame & St. Chapelle

4/23 - Disneyland Paris

4/24 - City exploring, Eiffel Tower, Mont Marte

4/25 - Early Train to Brussels, spent afternoon in Brussels then got to Delft by 8:30

4/26 - Delft exploring + Keukenhof

4/27 - King’s Day in Amsterdam

4/28 - Flying home

Flights: booked with Fareboom. Very good experience. Flew into Edinburgh and out of Amsterdam. There was a change in flight schedule and they were proactive and prompt in booking us on the next flight with basically no inconvenience to us.

Gear: I had an Osprey Fairview backpack and my husband used the Osprey Farpoint. We each wore a trench coat and carried a personal item. I had a Vera Bradley bag that is technically a diaper bag but looks like a plain bag. My husband carried a Swiss Gear messenger bag.

About Me: I love shopping and vintage fashion. I did take a backpack but I packed a lot heavier than a lot of people. I bought a bag in Paris to check on the way back because I knew I was going to buy a lot of stuff to bring back with me. I traveled with my husband who I’ve been married to for 12 years and I thought I knew everything about him. I learned he hates taxis. We walked everywhere!!

Thursday, April 12th
Left the house at 4 a.m. to get to LAX. We flew LA to NY and had a three hour layover there. We booked British Airways but both legs flying to EDI were American. We stopped for a nice dinner in the airport. I watched two movies and three episodes of TV from LA to NY to keep myself from sleeping all day. We ate a late lunch at Drink Martini Bar at Terminal 8 in JFK. Unsurprisingly the drinks were good but the hamburger ended up with a soggy pretzel bun. Our plan was to sleep on the plane considering we landed in Edinburgh about 7-8 a.m. and had planned to try to immediately adjust to local time and start sight seeing. Of course we did not sleep very much on the plane. We were just very excited to be traveling as it was our first trip to Europe and also it really not very comfortable. My thought was that it is super easy for me to sleep in cars so a plane would be no problem. Well, that was almost true. I think I did manage about 4 hours of sleep on a 6 hour flight. Except the captain was running about 20 mins ahead of schedule. I was thinking NO... take your time ;)

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Friday, April 13th
We arrived at 7:30ish a.m. local time and spent some time freshening up in the airport before heading out. I needed some dry shampoo so I was looking for the Super Drug in the airport but it was on the wrong side of security. My husband led on and and we took the bus to where we were staying right off the Royal Mile. I picked the hub by Premier Inn and it’s a budget situation that’s kind of like staying in a little IKEA display. We dropped off our bags since it was only like just before 10 by the time we got there. I had shipped a package to the hotel as well so I let them know about it so it would be found by the time we came back to check in.

Bagless and excited to get going, we went off in the direction of the Royal Mile. Grabbed a coffee and marched off toward Holyrood House. We had pre-booked our tour. We did the audio tour and tried to stay ahead of a huge group of school kids. Afterwards we did John Knox’s house and toured St. Gile’s Cathedral. Unfortunately I couldn’t get the husband into the robe and hat. We then headed over to the National Museum. We weren’t there long before we were getting to the end of our ability to stay upright. We toured the early Scottish history sections and the special exhibit on fashion before heading back to the hotel (stopping at a different Super Drug) to check in and get settled. After some rest, we went back out for dinner.

Lunch: Oink. It was delicious. They have a full roast pig sitting in the window which is a cultural experience all on its own. I am much further removed from meat prep than that usually.
Dinner: Auld Hundred. We got lucky and didn’t have to wait too long for a table upstairs here. It’s a pretty popular spot and was recommended to us by a friend who had been there before. So delicious. I drank a pint of Edinburgh Gold and I proclaimed it the best beer I had ever had, but ratemybeer.com disagrees with me.

Saturday, April 14th
We had a Rabbie’s tour booked for this day. We left the hotel a bit early and had some light breakfast at their cafe and it was very good. We still had some time so we walked down the street to take a look at the Scott Monument. We had picked the tour that goes to the Kelpies, Loch Lomond & Stirling Castle. It was great to sit down for awhile since I decided to not exercise nearly enough in preparation for this trip. I felt like the trip was well paced and comfortable. I could have used more time at the castle. We took a tour at the castle and Andrew was our tour guide and his tour was absolutely a highlight.

Lunch: Pub in Aberfoyle. Delicious. More great beer and meat in puffed pastry.
Dinner: we were going to go to a pub recommended by our Rabbie’s tour guide but it was pretty busy. We just needed some food so we ended up at a French themed restaurant a couple doors down. It was kind of a silly situation but it was not expensive so that was a plus.

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Sunday, April 15th
We walked the Royal Mile the other direction. Our light dinner the night before prepared us for a full Scottish breakfast this morning. We went to church at a Free Church of Scotland church next to the Hub. We spent most of the afternoon at Edinburgh Castle. Visited the Weaving Mill. It’s all very touristy but it’s ok. I tried to find some vintage shops in the afternoon to fill time before our evening plans. I did find one but I didn’t care for my shopping experience. It was nice to walk around a different neighborhood though. We took in a orchestra performance at St. Gile’s which was replacing Evensong that night. Then we went to dinner.

Breakfast: The Edinburgh Larder (very pleasant!)
Lunch: skipped
Dinner: The Last Drop. It’s owned by a conglomerate but it was nevertheless a great dinner. Had a traditional Scottish dessert that was mostly cream so yum!

Monday, April 16th
We took a train to York and our tickets included a meal so that was really nice. I was again thankful to be sitting down. York is such a beautiful city to stroll around! We dropped off our bags at the B&B and went to explore the city. We had tea at Bettys and yes, there was a line but as advertised it moves pretty quickly. We walked down The Shambles and then I found a vintage shop (Bowler Vintage) that I had a lot of fun in. There was a recommended pub next door (the smallest one in York) so that’s where I dropped off the husband (The Blue Bell). We did the Jorvik Viking Centre which was interesting if not overpriced. My husband then dragged me to Indian food for dinner (I’m not very culinarily adventurous) and we went to bed early.

Lunch: Bettys (they lost their apostrophe about 50 years ago, so if you find it, be sure to let them know)
Dinner: Bombay Spice

Tuesday, April 17th
We stayed at the Ashberry Hotel and I cannot say enough positive things about this inn. It’s beautiful and spacious (except the shower) and the beds were comfortable. The full English breakfast in the morning was delicious and included in the price, which was only 70 pounds!! They held our bags the whole day on the day we checked out too.

We left after breakfast to go explore York some more. We started at the York Castle Museum and even though this museum gets mixed reviews I really really enjoyed it. Stopped at a bookstore on the way to the the York Minster. It was called The Minster Gate Bookshop and it was lovely. My husband climbed the tower at the Minster and I stayed downstairs, which was nice since (I’m not sure if I mentioned this) I am out of shape and I needed the rest after trying to keep up with my husband :) After lunch in a pub snuggled into one of the city walls we headed to the National Railway Museum. I knew I would enjoy this museum but I didn’t realize how much. It was a really nice time! We collected our bags and took an evening train to London, settling into our first AirBnB about 10 pm.

Late Lunch: The Lamb & Lion Inn (it was SO GOOD)
Dinner: Ate at the train station

Wednesday, April 18th
We started our first day in London by going down to take a peak at Buckingham Palace. The Queen was in town so we could only go inside the Queen’s Galley so we perused the exhibits there, including the current special Charles II: Art & Power. Afterwards we hopped on a train and headed to Oxford. We left from Paddington Station which was a real treat for me since I love that bear ;) We had booked a private walking tour with Experience Oxfordshire focusing on Tolkien and Lewis and it was a wonderful experience. After walking around Oxford for two hours we relaxed at the Eagle and Child in the Rabbit Room. I ordered the last pie of the day so husband had to order lamb (again!). Then we finally caught an Evensong service at Christ Church Cathedral before heading back to London.

Lunch: Pret A Manger at Paddington Station
Dinner: Eagle and Child Inn in Oxford

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Thursday, April 19th
Full English Breakfast next to our AirBnB. I don’t know that I would recommend this AirBnB to anyone. Well I would recommend it to college students. It was reasonably clean and extremely cheap. It was nice to save the money but I wouldn’t stay there again. There was zero living space and it was a shared flat.

The walk to Westminster Abbey was along the Thames and we crossed Westminster Bridge so it was quite scenic. We had some time before Westminster Abbey opened so we walked to Tragalgar Square and took a look around. Westminster Abbey was fantastic. Then we hung out around St. James’s Park for a bit until our time slot for the Churchill War Rooms rolled around. We didn’t see any pelicans unfortunately but spying Buckingham Palace through the trees was nice. The War Rooms were so interesting and I really had a nice time there. We headed back to the room to change because we had reservations for tea at the Ritz!

The Ritz was fantastic. They bring you tiny food until you tell them to stop and then the dessert cart rolls around. Almost all the waiters are French and they are so fun to talk to. It was a pre-theater dinner for us, and we headed right over to see Phantom of the Opera. I’ve seen it multiple times in LA but it didn’t compare to seeing it in London. It was so so so good!

Breakfast: The Queen’s Head
Lunch: St. Stevens Tavern
Dinner: Tea at the Ritz

Friday, April 20th
Last day in London included the Tower of London with Yeoman tour and Crown Jewels. Fish and Chips for lunch. Husband headed to the British Museum and I met him there after I visited another vintage shop! I think we walked the whole museum (stopping for a cream tea for energy). We stopped at the room for a small rest and then had dinner at the Black Prince pub, which was featured in Kingsman (and doesn’t actually look exactly like you would think if you only go by the movie lol).

Breakfast: Queen’s Head Tavern
Lunch: Ben’s Fish & Chips
Dinner: The Black Prince

Saturday, April 21st
We said goodbye to London and took the Eurostar to Paris. We were able to check into our second AirBnB upon arriving and I loved it! It’s beautiful and well appointed and unfortunately up 5 flights of stairs.
https://abnb.me/QuMFPlJwEM

We missed the English in person tours at the Palais Garnier but it was ok. Husband and I split an audio tour (yay for buying a Y-jack) and I got a kick out of seeing Box #5. Simply for kicks and because I liked the furniture, we stopped for dinner at Paris’s version of a 50s American Diner. It was truly a cultural experience! Our waiter was one of the only people we came across that did not speak English but we managed. They played (mostly vintage) country music instead of 50s rock and roll, and my Cobb salad came with a vinaigrette dressing.

We then strolled down the Champs-Élysées, ending at the Arc de Triomphe. I wanted to check out the Disney Store and the Louis Vuitton store. I didn’t go into the second store, because I was trying to be considerate to my husband. Vacation only half over and so so so much shopping had already occurred. I also was dying of thirst and ended up buying a $4 iced tea at the McDonalds. I was still not used to everyone checking bags in Paris. They check your bag before you go into a lot of places. Like the Disney Store and McDonald’s. We had planned to buy the Paris Museum pass at the Arc, and my husband had planned to climb the Arc. Turns out that you cannot buy the pass after 5 pm at the Arc and my husband was still tired from climbing the York Minster. We headed home and called it a night.

Breakfast: Eurostar
Lunch: skipped
Dinner: HD Diner

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Sunday, April 22nd
I’m starting to feel like I’m really in Paris because on the way to church at The American Church in Paris I can see the Eiffel Tower! We happened upon the life-size replica of the flame in the Statue of Liberty. I missed the last step on some stairs and completely wiped out. Europe is like full of tripping hazards. Like, they actually expect you to just watch out for yourself and not trip on things. Nothing is painted yellow! ;P We also walked past a statue of Thomas Jefferson. Running into Americans everywhere! After church we packed in two museums, Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle. We had an absolutely fantastic dinner in the Le Marais district. We snagged a seat next to the window upstairs at Le Colimaçon Marais and it was the perfect ending to the day. We ordered the duck and split a bottle of wine and the lava dessert was heavenly. Service was perfect and everyone was so friendly.

Breakfast: coffee and chocolate muffins in the Musée l’ Orangerie
Lunch: Fancy lunch in the restaurant in the Musée d’ Orsay (so beautiful!)

Monday, April 23rd
Disneyland Paris! My husband is a saint for taking me and I had a lot of fun. It’s beautiful. I took a Gazillion pictures. We got the full Paris Metro experience on the way to the route that takes you out to the Parks. Sardines in a can. If you would like to know more I will gladly volunteer more information.

Tuesday, April 24th
More Paris! More interesting metro experiences (accordion player aggressively asking for tips). This is the day that things did not go according to plan. I was starting to feel a bit run down and didn’t really wake up when I should have. When we got to the metro, there was a strike and only 1 out of 3 trains were running to Versailles. We would have had to wait 50 mins for the next one and then who knows if we could have planned the return train well enough to get back to the Eiffel Tower at 4 pm. So instead we went to see Napoleon’s tomb, visited the military history museum, and the Pantheon. We ended up having lunch at the Louvre mall but totally forgetting it was Tuesday and the museum was closed. So oops a few “wasted” hours. We did the Eiffel Tower at 4 and while you have to do it the hullabaloo surrounding it wasn’t any fun. We spent a small amount of time in the Musée du quai Branly before we headed to Montmartre to visit the Sacré-Cœur before an amazing dinner at La boite aux lettres.

Lunch: Louvre Mall Food Court (French place... had the quiche)
Dinner: La boite aux lettres

Wednesday, April 25th
It’s Day 13 and we start by grabbing a metro to take a Thalys train (so comfy!) to Brussels. We wedged in a beer pit stop for my husband. The Grand Place is really something to see. 8 hours in Brussels, and 7 beers for him (only 4 for me). Peeing boy was not costumed unfortunately. Ate some chocolate, bought some lace, got back on the train to Delft. Third AirBnB... arrived about 8:30 p.m. and went to bed early.

Establishments:
Moeder Lambic (beers)
Poechenellekelder (spaghetti bolognese and beers)
Delirium Cafe (multiple floors/rooms/beers)
Het Goudblommeke In Papier (beers)
Dinner at S’barro at the train station (ugh)

Thursday, April 26th
Here’s where we stayed in Delft. If you don’t mind that the owners come downstairs to do their laundry while you are out sightseeing it’s a simply lovely place to stay.
https://abnb.me/qJAaizOwEM

Explored Delft in the morning. Visiting the Royal Delft Factory. Hit the market, saw the New and Old Churches. Had a really nice lunch. Grabbed a train to Keukenhof. I had so much fun!! It was so pretty and it was a great day to enjoy the gardens. Found some traditional food for dinner.

Lunch: Cafe de Oude JAN
Dinner: Spijshuis de Dis

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Friday, April 27th
King’s Day in Amsterdam!! When we were planning this trip we had no idea we were planning to be in Amsterdam on King’s Day. In fact, we didn’t realize until the week before we left. We were looking into a tour that day and they didn’t have any available. And then my husband remembered that he couldn’t by Keukenhof tickets for that day either and googled the date. Weren’t we surprised! So we double checked that the Rijksmuseum would still be open and kept the rest of the day unplanned and left the house ready for adventure.

First adventure was that we couldn’t buy our dang train tickets from Delft to Amsterdam. You can’t use a credit card without chip and pin (and capitalone doesn’t do chip and pin yet) at their automated machines. You can buy with cash buy only coins. And the fare for both of us was about 40 euro... I wasn’t carrying that much coin. There’s also no ticket counter at the Delft train station. Luckily my husband found an app you can use to buy tickets. The app displays the QR code on the phone and you can scan that through the train entry gates.

Walking to the museum took a LONG time because the streets turn into a national flea market and it’s very busy in the morning. I loved this because I love garage sale-ing and flea markets. I didn’t end up buying anything due to shopping fatigue and shyness mostly. Had I known the locker situation at the museum I might have picked up some teacups & saucers.

We then did basically the entire museum and it took a long time because there’s a lot to see. We had lunch in the cafe and enjoyed a holiday-appropriate cocktail with orange bitters.

After we were done at the museum we walked around and watched people party. Had some Heineken in the street. Had some kibbeling from another corner. After two weeks I was dying... we went back to Delft early and I started packing and Hubby got us some take out from a Turkish place and it was so delicious.

Saturday, April 28th
We left early to get on a fairly early flight. The flight home was from AMS to Heathrow and then direct to LA. It was quite a long layover but it was ok because we had a great lunch at Huxley’s in the airport. Also, I had wanted to go to the Cath Kidston store and didn’t get a chance when we were in London.

I will say that I much prefer to stop in New York. The flight back was on a very nice Airbus and it’s a great plane but 11-12 hours is a little much for me. The ceilings are really high in this plane and maybe that’s why they don’t put an air jet in the ceiling. So at about hour 7 I wasn’t sure I was getting as much air as I would have liked. I got up and stood around the toilets for a bit and felt much better. I can’t say enough good things about British Airways though. Really pleasant experience.

The strategy was to stay awake on the plane so that we would be going to bed at a decent hour local time when we got home and it really worked. I was tired at work on Monday but I would say it was because of all the walking and and not as much jet lag.

I’m positive I have a lot to add to this report and I’m not sure I’ve made it very interesting so if you had it to the end, thank you for reading!!

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5026 posts

natalie, what, if anything, would you do differently?

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Stan, I would have more bought more at Cath Kidston (there were some mugs I wanted to buy but I was trying to be conservative). I would have spent more on the accommodations in London. I would have taken my big noise canceling head phones (i only took the small ones).

I really liked my trip. I got a good idea of where I would like to go back and the places I could wait a little longer to return to.

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679 posts

I am exhausted reading your trip report. WOW you really did a lot.

Posted by
1083 posts

Great trip report! I like your little humourous comments.
I don't think I would have made it in to work the day after I got home, like you did, though!!

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155 posts

Thank you for your report...interesting, and so informative!

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665 posts

What a geat report - thanks for taking the time to write it! You did SO much! It sounds like you did a lot of research and knew what you wanted to see and do - and enjoyed yourself!

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34 posts

I really enjoyed this report! Thanks so much for sharing!

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7685 posts

Love reading about your trip! And I love that you made me laugh.... Thanks for taking the time to write it up and post.

I think you all made a good decision on the Paris train strike day to stay nearby!

Have you started planning your next trip yet?

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I don't think I would have made it in to work the day after I got home, like you did, though!!

oh I didn't! We came back on Saturday... back to work Monday. I definitely couldn't have gone right back to work either :)

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118 posts

Have you started planning your next trip yet?

hi Pam! We are going to do Yellowstone for 2019 :)
Unfortunately husband will only plan one vacation at a time so Europe talks are temporarily halted. I'm trying to plan a weekend tent camping trip for mid July!

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2873 posts

Wow, you have a lot of energy! I read your itinerary and thought this trip would be a disaster but it seems like energy and a positive attitude is the way to go! I also found myself with train problems in NL at the tail ends of King's Day once...whoops. Glad you enjoyed York - I wish more people would go, the city itself is great as is the area around it. Glad you had a great time!

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100 posts

I love your trip report! Thank you so much for writing it, it was fun to read and informative. Very well written.

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118 posts

You know Sarah, I was just talking to a friend about how I wished I had taken a pedometer with me. I had forgotten all about my iPhone and the Health app. It was counting for me and I didn’t even realize!

Here are my totals!
4/12 - 4,380 steps
4/13 - 18,065 steps
4/14 - 14,286 steps
4/15 - 7,384 steps
4/16 - 14,181 steps
4/17 - 21,340 steps
4/18 - 20,027 steps
4/19 - 20,451 steps
4/20 - 22,088 steps
4/21 - 15,453 steps
4/22 - 17,982 steps
4/23 - 21,243 steps
4/24 - 26,650 steps
4/25 - 12,900 steps
4/26 - 20,015 steps
4/27 - 21,018 steps
4/28 - 8,770 steps

20,000+ days are 10 miles! No wonder I’m still tired 0.0