Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Cole's Notes version of Scotland

Our train ride to Edinburgh was glorious! Barton surprised us with First Class tickets and train travel is the way to go! The kids, who thought we’d be chugga-chugga-ing all the way to Scotland were mind blown; food, tables for games, free wifi and castles soaring past.

Our trip from the train station to our hotel was the moment we realized we’d packed improperly! When we travel we waffle between a few large bags, and everyone having their own bag. This would have been where each person having one backpack would have been perfect. If you haven’t been there - Edinburgh is steep. VERY steep. We lugged and dragged our heavy luggage through narrow passages and steep stairways. Our first impression is that Edinburgh is quite beautiful despite the sweat pouring down our faces. So old and quaint. We dropped our stuff in our AirBnB-rented apartment and hit the town. We walked and walked and walked - the theme of our trip! 

In Edinburgh we toured the Queen’s Scottish home, The Royal Palace of Holyroodhouse, which was amazing and we visited the Surgeon’s Museum, obviously the highlight of the kid’s trip. ;) We went into the Scottish parliament and hiked to the top of Arthur’s Seat for a stunning view!

We also visited the National Museum of Scotland, which was quite amazing... until the alarms went off and the huge steel doors dropped. Just like in a movie but we were split up!!! Once again we were part of an evacuation. Luckily I had just met up with two kids on their own. We all met at the front and carried on with our walk. 

Barely 48 hours after arriving we were back on the train to Glasgow for our flight home! 

And that was it! Another quick stop in Reykjavik, Iceland and we were back on Canadian soil. What a life changing experience - can I possibly say enough?  There are no words to describe how lucky and blessed we were to be able to travel to these incredible countries. 

Cole's Notes version of London, England

Hi! It’s been ages - whoops!!! I’m behind on this trip blog and still have so much to share!

After our relaxing trip to Diani Beach we took the Kenyan Air flight back to Nairobi, all 37 minutes of it! We had just a day to get our stuff packed back up and get ready to leave the beautiful continent that we had all fallen in love with. Our flight back to London was via Dubai again but the late night departure and super early arrival had us sleeping across the seats and floor of the airport. Our last stretch to London back in the glorious Emirates Air flight was long but enjoyable. 

We arrived in London just after lunch and hired a car to take us to the hotel. We had the interesting experience of a cab driver falling asleep at every red light. At first we thought he just was a little slow to start on the greens. Then when the snoring began we realized we had to jolt him awake each time. Barton tried valiantly to keep him in conversation while he drove. Nikolai matched his snores in the back seat while I tried to mask my giggles at the ridiculous situation. 

We did eventually reach our hotel safely. It was a beautiful spot overlooking the Thames and we got an upgrade to a beautiful 2 bedroom apartment. We took about an hour to rest and then hit the river walk. 

I’ve wanted to visit London for ages and ages. We walked the river and found some food. I was able to meet up with a friend I’d known for years online but had never met. We visited and walked and ate. 

In the late afternoon Riley and I went on an adventure! First time in London - we hit the tube all the way up to Stratford where we found our way to the Olympic Stadium, newly minted the Stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. With about a million other people we wandered our way in to watch an incredible performance by Justin Timberlake. As you might imagine the adrenaline stopped around 1am on the tube back! Haha. We did however make it, and thoroughly enjoyed how safe and busy the city was even at that time of the night. 

Day Two in London was the Coles Notes version as our train to Scotland departed the next day! We walked everywhere, we saw Buckingham Palace and happened to get there just in time for the Changing of the Guard. We saw St Mary’s, The London Eye, Tower Bridge, the parliament, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square etc etc etc!!!! We happened to be in London on the hottest and busiest day of the summer! There were more people in these places than we’ve probably encountered in our lives all together. But it was pretty awesome to soak it all in. Barton took off a bit early with Mattea to play in a park and the rest of us wandered through a bit more. We encountered a fire evacuation in a coffee shop (which would be the first of two in our trip!) and walked until our feet were numb and black with dirt! 

We crashed again that night and the next day with our bags packed we headed for King’s Cross Station. Yes THE King’s Cross Station. We might be Harry Potter geeks. Yet we avoided the tourist line to take a picture next to the cart in the wall - no where near platform 9&3/4.