For the Love of Scotland
We decided to take a car trip up to Edinburgh (6+ hour journey) and we see a sign that says "scenic drive"....well, wouldn't you want to prolong your car trip with your kids for great views? This was only an extra 30 minutes, but completely WORTH it! Just look at those clouds and the cragginess of those hills....outstanding! Scotland has a rough, tough majestic beauty to it's countryside that adds to it's magic.
THE SCENIC ROUTE
The castle is jam packed with history, great views, and the Scottish crown jewels. It sits at the very center of Edinburgh and is the focal point of the city, which I'm sure you can see why! You may not be able to tell from the outside, but there is an entire city behind those walls. Homes, a prison, a cathedral, the royal residence and more. In fact, this is where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to her son James VI.
I'd love to tell you that we had a wonderful little jaunt through Holyrood Palace, listening to the tour guides, while my angelic little gentlemen respected history and others around us by impressing everyone with their quiet natures, but let's be real...that NEVER HAPPENS. My boys ran around 300 year old jewels, gifts from the Pope, sacred treasures, priceless art, and I had to practically yank my oldest from sitting on the queen's throne. But it's all worth it! Luc asked one of the docents a question, Liam can now recognize and say abbey in the appropriate context, and they got to see where history was and is being made. Winning!
Edinburgh is so historically interesting, but is also extremely hip and quirky. We stumbled upon a statue in the center of town of the Scottish philosopher David Hume. The statue has been turned green from age, but his right toe is bright and shiny. By rubbing the toe of Mr. Hume people hope to gain wisdom and knowledge.
The irony is that David Hume severely disliked superstition. Whoops.
THE TOE OF HUME
My love for Scotland is what made up 90% of my reasoning to move to England. We're only five hours away from the Scottish border...talk about one happy gal! 1) My family lineage hails from Scotland and I'd always wanted to see it. The pictures below are some of my favorites from our first trip there. 2) I'm a HUGE Outlander fan. I've had several girlfriends try to get me to read the book for years and I finally got on board about two years ago. Without going into too much detail (Which I should because the books are amazing!!! Go get yourself a copy STAT...and thank me later!), the main character finds herself in a foreign place and time and she's trying to figure out what her new life is going to look like and how to adapt; she finds herself and how strong she can really be...so if Claire Randall can figure it out...so could I. 3) My family and I always wanted to go to Scotland. It was on the "To Go" list for the longest. Well, we finally made it and it's incredible! Enjoy!
When traveling we come across so many people, moments, or short stories that we'd occasionally like to highlight. Like they say in France the "je na sais quoi"...of the trip.
"People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built." -Eleanor Roosevelt
Houston's Foodie Scene
I might be a bit bias, but Houston has some of the best selections of food and restaurants in the United States. There are so many restauranting (did I just create a new word?!) and take out choices! The five star, need to make reservations 3 months in advanced dinning or a a hole-in-the-wall that will get your taste buds tingling, to everything in between. Houston takes food seriously, it's a joy to sit down and eat. In most cases it's an event (fancy or casual). Food brings friends and families together, makes conversation flow, and can make any hangry problem disappear. During our latest trip to Houston we basically ate our way through the city. We ate BBQ, Vietnamese (banh-mi and dim sum), Italian, French, American, and Tex-Mex...just to name a few. Mmmmm...just writing this has gotten me hungry.
Brittany Ferries mini cruise
Growing up in southeast Texas, my only experience of a ferry could be described as being shipped from point A to point B on a cargo freighter. Nothing to do but stare at the scenery (which was always lovely) but after about 20 minutes or so I'm bored stiff. So when my husband booked passage from Portsmouth, England to Santander, Spain as our way of getting us and the camper van to Europe to start our insane two month European tour, I was very hesitant. To my very grateful surprise, we took the overnight ferry with Brittany Ferries, which was a far cry from anything resembling a cargo ship. There was lots to do...and inside play area for the kids, wine for mom, reading for dad, many different restaurants to choose from, a souveigner shop, nightclub, and pool available during the summer months. The boys had never slept on a ship before and they were loosing their minds excited. Gui was so proud that he upgraded our room and had a vision of us starting our European vacation in luxury, but as you can see in the picture below...his "suite" was more like luxury ship barracks...at first the only beds we could find were the two bottom, side by side, but Gui swore that the room was supposed to sleep 4. I almost broke a sweat imagining sharing a twin bed with my sleep twitchy toddler. How in the world were four of us going to sleep on two twin beds. He took one look at the ceiling and next thing I know, an additional two twins had appeared. Brilliant! The boys were up and down the bunk latter and they each had their own little place to rest their heads without one poking or kicking the other before bed. 3 of us got a little sea sick (it's the only thing that keeps all my guys down for the count), but by the time we woke up the next morning we were practically there. We landed in Santander, Spain around 11 a.m. and were off exploring country #1...Spain...family style!