20 February 2015

A Couple Days in Edinburgh, Scotland

(still waiting to be chosen-matched-picked by an expectant mother who wants to make an adoption plan for her baby...)

The title is descriptive enough.

After a couple of brilliantly sunny days in ol' London Town, we hopped a train to Edinburgh, Scotland.

Americans: Hear ye! Hear ye! Did you know there are four countries inside the United Kingdom?

England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

In case you were wondering why England has it's own national soccer team, that's why. Though I have no clue why the Olympics isn't done that way. I refuse to Google it, and instead plan to ask a Brit.

So, here we are, aboard the train to another land.



For our first trip, we decided just to stick to the Old Town in Edinburgh.
Cool old buildings.
The castle where legends like Robert the Bruce and William Wallace (aka-Braveheart) roamed.
The streets and nooks and crannies where uber famous writers stalked, drank, and wrote and failed and succeeded.
The well-preserved brownstone buildings stacked one after the other lining the steep and soulful cobblestone streets.Even the touristy and obviously stereotypical, but ever-so-charming, Scotsmen dressed in full kilt and colors playing away on a bagpipe are there waiting in Old Town Edinburgh. {sigh}

Travel Tip: Old Town Edinburgh is not stroller friendly. We used ours to help haul our luggage from the train station and back again. Otherwise it was useless.  

And the place we found to stay was beyond wonderful and smack dab in the middle of Old Edinburgh with views that couldn't be beat.

If you go, stay here:
Blackie House 

It was MORE than big enough for our party of 7. A delightful "Sir" owns the flat. He lived there as a student at the University of Edinburgh and later bought the place. You won't be sorry.



 

Edinburgh Castle.


 Heaven help me I have hardly been so torn in my life.

My mind was blowing apart to be walking among something so old. A place I've read about in history books and a place so flipping cool that Hollywood makes movies out of it. It was every BIT as romantic and dramatic as anyone could hope an old castle would be.

And then there was the physical side.
I'm from Florida and live on the equator in the tropics.
My blood is apparently weak and thin and bows down in abject surrender to the slightest of chills. I had a jacket and scarf. I thought I was prepared.
It was July. JOOO-LIE.
When else are you supposed to go when it can be warmer? You can't. It's Scotland and its chilly and breezy. Even in summer. (though it was still twilight at nearly 11pm so I forgave the wind later)
I caved, y'all. And my warm, thin-blooded children caved too. It was all we could do to walk outside in the chilly breeze to take in the sights that Kings and Queens and warriors have beheld.  We stayed indoors to inspect all we could, then would dash outside to the next room. It was NO way to see a castle. But you can't fight the misery of your children whining about the cold wind when your own teeth are chattering.
Still. Here are some of the photos we managed.
I love this first one of Birdie and Mom. The smiles say, "Yep. I'm in a castle. I'm a princess!"


 That face. Full of angst about the war within. CASTLE! vs COLD!


The top left shield in this window is William Wallace's. It glowed with Scottish sunshine and pushed my history nerd buttons, simultaneously.




That dude is King James I. I stood in the room where he was born. nbd.

This concludes the castle portion. There's not a photo of the dungeons... Americans and Spanish were kept in it's dungeons people! H-I-S-T-O-R-Y-R-O-C-K-S.
-------------------

Travel is totally for kids.

Camera Obscura. An old "illusion" interactive museum that is literally neighbors with Edinburgh Castle. Encased in brownstone it is an unassuming fun-wonder waiting for you and your kids.



More tricks with mirrors and lights than you can fit into a morning. Modern and some great classics.

While we went to the top to see the actual "Camera Obscura" a rare-in-a-lifetime thing happened.

WE SAW THE QUEEN! (and by "we" I mean Mom, Ivy strapped to me, and I...the boys were running around and Anthony was with Birdie in the bathroom dealing with some sort of epic poo mess. We tell the truth.)

See that teeny row of about 7 guards in black next to the statue? Her car is passing by them...when she rounded that corner, we saw her wave (because of course she had on gloves). 

And since Old Town just can't disappoint, here's another view from on top of Camera Obscura.

This next portion is the eating section. It's not that extensive, but it does have haggis.





Thumbs up on the Haggis! We didn't know what to expect, but turns out it's like a smushy sausage.




Some sit in the grass time at the Scott Memorial. Tallest memorial for a writer. Apparently the Scottish are passionate about a good story!





Is it any wonder that J.K. Rowling got her inspiration for the look of Hogwarts while writing the first Harry Potter novel in Edinburgh?




The next morning it was back on the train to London.



These last two photos are NOT from Edinburgh. After the train, we hit up the Princess Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens. It was PACKED. But it was also fun! On our walk to the playground we passed the "Peter Pan Statue."


 The next morning it was back on a plane to Miami. See you next time UK!

22 January 2015

London, England

We are smack dab in the middle of waiting to be chosen to receive a baby through adoption. Some days, like today, you just can't give it one. more. thought. Distraction is a must and since all the laundry is either done or being tumble dried, all bedrooms are cleaned- vacuumed even!, there was nothing else for me to do except post photos from our family vacation to the lovely United Kingdom.

From 6 months ago.

I give the people what they want, when I want.

Now. If you could all turn on your inner British-English accent voices in your head, we can proceed.

There will now be many more photos than any of you care to see of us standing in front of important British places where we can't touch them or are too thrifty to pay an extra quid to go inside.

And we're off. July 2014.

Malaysian Airlines
Non-stop flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to London, England
On board their top of the line A380. I daresay a more uneventful flight with 4 Littles in tow has never been.
Maybe you don't care to see how we still only occupy a very small smidge of space, no matter if the plane around us is the biggest one in the sky.
But I post this because a mere 2 weeks after these were taken 30-something thousand feet above the ground, a Malaysian airlines flight flying nearly this same route was shot down over the Ukrainian-Russian border.

The gravity of that reality gets me every time.
How many other Mama's took pictures of their sleeping babes aboard that aircraft and never got to show them off on a blog or to friends?

I post these because I feel a little more human by doing so.

And LESS mind blowing is that this was a 12? 13? hour flight. I have a friend who repeatedly shakes her head at the prospect of being on a plane for that long. Or maybe some of you can't imagine taking your kids on big trips. Well, this is what it looks like. You just kinda deal. (and pray you get a bulk-head)

You also have to deal with this. (granted we were MOVING back to the US temporarily...we don't normally take this much crap on a holiday)
Y'all. On the flip side of the EASE of being on a plane for 12 hours is the sheer Olympic EFFORT of getting those kids to WALK through flippin' Heathrow Airport while you have a baby strapped to you and push your bags ridiculously far and try not to be TOO loud with your Yank accent as you holler for the Bigs to "PLEASE. FOR THE LOVE, SON! JUST PUSH THE STROLLER!"

Y'all, we've had several moments over the years that got testy as we traveled. But lugging that luggage across 3 terminals with 4 kids all 6 of us jet-lagging. There's just no way to communicate that.

Near the end of the epic terminal trek we met GRANDMA! Yaaaaaaaay!

She timed her flight to near perfection and arrived about an hour or so after us.

We found the BEST cabbie in the world. (his name is Ray and we can put you into contact with him if you'd like) And once we made it safely to our hotel, got unpacked, and washed the "travel funk" off of us, things perked up. 


And now I'll stop with so many words and just get to the photos already....


Within 5 minutes we found a rundown, trash-filled, never used famous red phone booth!
The Tube. It should be noted that we have about 6 photos of Zayah and Grandma sitting together on the tube. :)

Big Ben! Just, right there!

And then across the street, Westminster Abbey (and all the cool buildings apart of it)




You don't need Big Ben in the frame, when these cuties are filling it so well. One of my favorites!
One thing that has changed irrevocably about us since moving overseas is that we are now "football" fans. And since we saw Chelsea play the Malaysian National Team, we decided to make Chelsea "ours." Blue is the Color and football is the game and we could not miss a chance to go to Stamford Bridge while in London. Sure, the players were on summer break and off doing things like playing the World Cup, but we braved the light London rain for some photo ops outside the Bridge. We love them. I will stop now. (but I miss David Luiz...and Mata...and Lampard...but I love Mourinho...ok really...done now...)


My babies in Hyde Park.

And the Queen's House.




Fish-n-chips (with vinegar!)
I realize this is flattering of none of us. Jet lag is REAL.
But when you get off the train and you're right there at the castle (aka- The Tower of London) where King Henry VIII kept a couple of his wives before he executed them... them jet-lags just shake right off. (Confession: I'm a history dork. HISTORYYYYYY!!!!)

JUMP FOR JANE! Well. At least we're all smiling!

The Tower Bridge (NOT the one with the song)

Fact: THIS is my favorite family picture of the whole trip.
Question: "Isaiah, what happened to you at the Tower Bridge in London?"
Isaiah: "A bird pooped on my head."
Question: "Why?"
Isaiah: "Because I was chasing birds everywhere I went."


And then we got our Harry Potter nerd on.
Y'all. I have ZERO problems being a touristy-tourist in a city where I have a ton of anonymity.

Guys, do y'all know that THIS was where Hagrid walked Harry to catch the Hogwart's Express in the very first movie?


No. Shame.

We're near the end. Just two left. (for this post)

This may be hard to believe, but travel isn't always cool playgrounds and magical luggage trolleys.

So much whining during this meal.
So much.
Such a cute, trendy, healthy little eating establishment, ruined by incessant crying.
Shortly after getting up from this table I had Ivy in the infant carrier facing me (because she had been crying so much at the table).
Then, she vomited.

Holy Hogsmeade Harry.

Travel Tip: King's Cross Station has a family restroom where, say, if you need to strip down to your knickers to wash your clothes out in the sink, there is one located just past the Harry Potter photo op behind the escalators. Paper towels for days. Take as long as you need.

The boys succumbed to the jet lag while I was de-puking myself, rounding out our big days in London.


Next up! A call from the adoption agency?!?! Scotland!