Today started early! Gammy’s flight was super early and we wanted to let the kids sleep so she kissed them goodbye, and we headed off to the airport leaving them in Mommy’s care. On the way to the airport, Gammy asked, “Are you guys really going to go to Italy?” “I said I don’t think so, but I’m working on a plan that might take us somewhere else far away. We’ll see how it goes.” I said goodbye to Gammy and then headed back to the hotel to pack up with Mommy and the kids. We had a hearty breakfast and then headed east to Edinburgh.
Edinburgh was amazing and in our opinion better than Glasgow (no offense). The city had charm and reminded us of Prague meets Name Any Cute Small Local Town in Germany. The looming Edinburgh castle adorned a hill in the center of the city and was filled with twist and turns, secret passages, loads of history, Scotland’s crown jewels and to our surprise the queen herself was in attendance. Sienna had the chance to speak to the queen about what it was like to live in medieval times and the castle. After touring Edinburgh, we headed north and had a stopover at The Old Course at St. Andrews. I was not making a trip to Scotland without seeing St. Andrews and it was on the way to castle country near Aberdeen. We bought a few presents, snapped a few pics, I put my feet on the grass and walked the grounds and then we headed north once again. We had lunch at St. Michael’s Inn just north of St. Andrews.
Over a pint of Guinness, a glass of wine, and a delicious meal, the plan was finally hatched!
“So….Mylan and I were talking last night”…I said…as I turned my napkin over and borrowed one of the kid’s pencils from the coloring pack the waitress had dropped off…and then started drawing and talking.
I drew all of the mainland UK including Scotland, England and Wales and put an X near Aberdeen and St. Andrews and wrote You Are Here with a Star. I drew the mainland EU and said due to logistics, we can’t go here. But what if…..we find a place to stay in castle country this evening, wake up and go castle hunting again tomorrow and then head back east and south of Glasgow to the east coast of Scotland. We then get as far south as we can for the evening on the coast, stay the night and then in the morning (and then I drew Ireland and Northern Ireland), catch a ferry south of Glasgow from Cairnryan (Scotland) over to Belfast (Northern Ireland) and check out the Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills and the famous rope bridge.
Pause – On our last two trips to Ireland, we desperately wanted to head north from Dublin/Galway and the south of Ireland to see Northern Ireland and the Giant’s Causeway, but on both occasions ran out of time. We were so far north of England and south in Scotland that when looking at a map, it was a quick ferry ride over from Cairnryan to Belfast and at this point hard to pass up.
“Then what?” asked Cierra. “Then”, I said, and I drew an arrow up to the Giant’s Causeway, “we check out Northern Ireland for a 1.5 days before heading back south through Ireland to Dublin. We’ll either change our flight from London to Dublin if we can, or take the ferry back across the sea from Dublin to Hollyhead (Wales). We’ll drive from Wales back down to London, skirting by the Snowdonian Mountains, check out things to see along the way and then fly out of London as planned.”
We looked at each other, smiled and said emphatically, “Done!” With a big cheers of our glasses, we then laughed about the craziness of the plan and serendipities of the way we travel. We were going to Northern Ireland and Ireland and if we stayed the course through London would visit 5 countries (the entire British Isles) in just 2 days’ time.
With our new-found (and somewhat still tentative) plan scratched on the back of a napkin, we headed north to Aberdeen and found a resting spot at Castle Mercure Aberdeen Ardoe House (castle turned hotel for the evening). Castle Mercure Aberdeen Ardoe House was splendid and came complete with a golf course, country club and swimming pool. Having turned down swimming pools on a few occasions when Gammy was here, we decided to go for it, treat the kids and bought speedo swimsuits (tight – but cute, they worked) and wore the kids out swimming laps before having dinner and then crashing for the night.
Tomorrow it was castle hunting and time to trek back east towards Northern Ireland!