Our trip to London came much later than we expected. Not to take any experience for granted, but city center is only five hours by train you think one weekend we just would have gone. But in the insanity of this year, it just didn’t happen, and almost wouldn’t have. But we were given such an amazing gift when Jeff’s mom, Jodi and James visited us in early May. They had an extra room in their beautiful apartment, right by Paddington station. Despite a few papers that needed to be finished on the train, a pile of flashcards to review, and a job interview that happened in their living room, we gleefully made our way south to meet them. Just some advice you didn’t ask for: if you ever live anywhere else in Scotland besides Glasgow or Edinburgh, and need to get to London, always take the train. It is cheaper and faster, given the 2.5 hour bus ride to the airport and the hour train from London and the early arrival waiting around in the airport, even longer if you are flying ryanair/easy jet and your flight invariably gets delayed. It was a beautiful trip and so much more comfortable than flying.In our week in London, we got to be full on tourists. We had an incredible (American) Mother’s Day brunch atop the Shard, the tallest building in the European Union and home to cereal themed cocktails.
We took a trip on the London Eye,
and palm sweat inducing trips inside Tower bridge (I really hate heights).
However, the best of all was a chance to see Les Miserables live on the London stage. It was such a incredible gift Jeff cried. (This is slander. Do not believe her.) No really, when Fantine began to sing “I Dreamed a Dream,” there were clear sniffles in the seat next to me. He did keep it together better than the high school English/Theater teacher sitting behind us. He completely lost it, and at the end of the show his standing ovation was punctuated with a chorus of “Bravos!” that went along just a little too long. I appreciated his enthusiasm.
We mostly used the Tube, but one afternoon Jeff and I braved renting Borris bikes. It is a fantastic way to see the city, but I may not have been completely prepared for city bike riding. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it is hard to ride a bike on the left! I only got really honked a few times and managed to avoid causing any major accidents. It did take us four times longer to get where we were going than google originally estimated.
All in all London is a city where a week isn’t enough, but we are grateful for the chance to experience in with James and Jodi. They only made fun of us a little when Jeff insisted on traveling across the city to eat at an all cereal cafe (It’s delicious. You should go. Cereal Killer Cafe),
And even less when I took a picture with the Harry Potter Platform at Kings Cross, though they may have been more concerned with getting their first coffee of the day. It was an early train! In my defense, Harry Potter is my childhood and it was 6:30 am and no one was around, so we did not wait in the extremely long line to have the professional company take the photo. Some how that makes it better. (Does it?)
Our train that morning was 5 hours to Edinburgh, where we rented the largest car in Scotland and then drove another 6 hours straight to the Isle of Skye. This amount of driving may be crazy, but it meant fitting in views like these.
Scotland is beautiful and we just can’t let people leave without seeing just a glimpse of the rough, wild Highlands or Islands. We had such an incredible day to climb the Old Man of Stor. The visibility was amazing.
We also made it back to the Fairy Pools, which unsurprisingly had a few more people there since our trip in January. I know it is crazy, but even though it was so beautiful when we were there, part of me missed how empty everything was in January. It is odd to have Scotland feel crowded. However, one benefit of it not sleeting was we had a chance to take a dip. Jim joined us and Jodi, the sane one, captured the moment. I think my face says enough.
The other amazing part of this trip compared to our January visit with Trevor and Rachel, was the length of the days. When we visited last the sun was setting at like 3:30 pm. This photo was taken at 10:23 at night. The sunset takes forever now and the sky stays navy past midnight. It is pretty mind blowing. I actually think we mention it every night, but it is so strange to be at a friend’s house and it be 9:00 pm and it feel like 2:00 pm.
After Skye we took the long way back to St Andrews and later Edinburgh. There are a few less pictures of this section of the trip, namely because about half way through I started cramming for my Arabic exam. I actually spent the two days before the my exam holed up in our AirBnB in Edinburgh, which was about 1000 times nicer than our apartment. Jeff took charge as sole tour guide (and I had an exam that week) and showed Jodi and Jim all of Fife’s best, plus an extended stay in one of our favorite cities in the world.
It was an incredibly full trip, complete with amazing food and a lot of laughter. We are so lucky that Jim and Jodi braced the long flight to visit and so grateful for all we experienced with them. I may have to borrow a few pictures from them to add to our record. Especially those taken with Jodi’s Mother’s Day selfie stick.