Monday, November 28, 2016

The UK Trip - Edinburgh (or my favorite city in the world...)

The North Sea as seen from Holyrood Park

We've finally made it! The beautiful of sheep, kilts, bangers and mash and my love affair with a city. Seriously, the majority of our family picked Edinburgh as their favorite city on the trip. I'd go as far as to say it is one of my favorite cities that I have ever visited. I love Florence (so far, my favorite Italian city) and I love Destin (my favorite Floridian city)...but Edinburgh sunk its teeth in and grabbed hold. I am already trying to convince Joe that we need to go back for our 20th anniversary. If you see him, put in a good word for me. ;)

In order to appreciate Edinburgh, I want to describe our drive there. We left Newcastle in the morning and headed north. I have to say, as you head north through England, the landscape gets more and more beautiful. It becomes more hilly, the grass turns a more vibrant green, sheep are reminded me of Kentucky, but with more of a pop. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the KY rolling hills and scenery. This was that, but more of it. And the sheep were a fun addition. And I have to can't do it justice. They just can't.
Welcome to Scotland! (look at those cute shadows) 
Scotland!!! The sun shines bright on my old...oops, wrong location
 Seriously, you can't see Scotland without seeing bagpipes...and lots of them. Almost became old hat while we were there.
Edinburgh Castle...we stayed a 5 minute walk from here. We never went inside. :)
 View from an Edinburgh street

 The Hub - about 2 minutes from our lodging
The Hub, from the back?!?! I can't remember

 2 cutie pies at the bottom of the Scott Monument
The Scott Monument
 Scottish humor
 View of the city from Princess Street Gardens
Another view of the city
 National Museum of Scotland
My beautiful baby girl
 This guy loves Carnival masks
His arch nemesis

Goofing around at the art museum
Queen's Gallery
 Holyrood Hill
 Holyrood House (someone was tired and miserable at this point)
 Joe climbing the trail with a loch in the background
 View from Holyrood Park

 Protesters outside Holyrood Park

Confession time: half of us did not make the trek to Holyrood Park. We were tired, had sore legs and just wanted to take a nap or watch tv. So, we went back to the apartment while the others saw the spectacular views. Well, 2 of the others. One of them sat on a bench at the bottom of the trail. She also had a struggle when we went out for dinner that night. When in Europe, you walk. Everywhere. Her legs were sore for days.

Here are a few pics of the apartment we rented for the 2 nights. It was in the perfect location, just above the Jolly Judge pub. ;)

 Kids' room/Living room
 Master bedroom
 NARROW kitchen
 Boys' futon
 View from the living room windows
View from the living room windows (sorry for poor focused on the dirt on the windows)

So, the food we had in Edinburgh was the most interesting. LOL. We ate American food. Almost exclusively American food. We had American pizza for lunch the second day (sorry Italy...but it was nice having a thick crust and different toppings...we still love your pizza), American pub food for dinner, breakfast at the apartment, and our final dinner was at an English pub, of sorts. I am not sure what to call it. I had a jacket potato and Joe had some sort of meat pie. Pub sounds as good as anything. Joe and I also had a beer and cider at the Jolly Judge one night while J Jr. babysat. It is nice to have a teenager around. ;)

I never realized wings were attributed to Kentucky! We rock!! (at the American diner the first evening)

Goodbye Edinburgh...until we meet again...

Friday, November 18, 2016

The UK Trip - Durham and Newcastle upon Tyne

On the York post, I talked a little bit about our new friends at Jacob's Well. From what I remember, this was part of the Holy Trinity Church. While we were there, we told them we were headed to Newcastle next. Well, we were in luck because one of the gentlemen was from Durham and suggested we visit Durham and its Cathedral on the way. Durham was not part of our plan, but we stayed open to "locals" suggestions. Wow, I'm glad we didn't skip this treasure!

So, most people will not go to Durham, nor have they heard of it. It is off the beaten path, is sort of small and mainly boasts a Cathedral and Castle. Well, and a university, but so does every other city in the UK. I think they have more universities than people. Also, there must be more sheep than people, but I digress. If you are ever traveling between York and Newcastle, stop in Durham, see the Cathedral (it was impressive and free! We didn't pay for York Minster because we knew we were going to the free Cathedral the next day...and it did not disappoint!), get some tea and sweets at Be Tempted, walk around and soak up the British ambiance. It was a lovely little city. I wouldn't want to spend a week there, but a morning was just perfect!

After Durham, we headed back north to Newcastle upon Tyne. This city was SUCH a contrast to the other cities we had seen. It was more industrial and had more modern buildings. We found this to be true of all port/river cities. The Tyne River runs past Newcastle (upon Tyne) and is close to the North Sea, thus lots of imports go through here. We did get to see the Discovery Museum (excellent...and free!), visited St. Nicholas Cathedral, saw the Black Gate and ate at a traditional English pub. We arrived in Newcastle much later than we expected, so we didn't get to see and do what we had wanted. Honestly, I think Durham was worth missing some things in Newcastle. I am a bit biased for the small towns. I grew up in one. ;)

Our accommodations weren't the greatest in Newcastle. Well, honestly, they were in Gateshead, across the river. The area was nice, the rooms were good for us, it just was a smoky building. With all my allergies, it wasn't the best situation...but we were there only a short time, so it worked well. Another note, there seemed to be many smokers in the UK. I was surprised by this. I don't know why, but it surprised me. I felt like there were even more than in Italy. I am pretty sure that people in one city were smoking something a little stiffer than tobacco...but that's a story for another day. ;)

Here are a few pics of Durham and Newcastle upon Tyne. We didn't get as many pics in these cities. Not sure why...

 Our last morning in York...saying goodbye to the horses
 What you looking at?
This little guy fell in love with this little horse.
Guess where?
Some grumpy pants did not want his pic taken most of the trip
 Durham Cathedral

 Lunch at Be Tempted...someone is happy with their Pepsi
The girls by the River Wear

We missed seeing the late, dollar short
Although he didn't want his pic taken, a photobomb was perfectly acceptable
  St. Nicholas Cathedral
 St. Nicholas Cathedral
 How gorgeous is this? The bell tower of St. Nicholas Cathedral

Well, I am pretty sure these pictures are all mixed up from Newcastle. I know we went to the Discovery Museum first. Everything else is getting mixed up in my head!

I had planned to post a couple of pics from lunch and dinner this day, but they are on Joe's cell. Remembering to tell him to save them to the laptop isn't on the top of my priority list, obviously. So, here are Durham and Newcastle upon Tyne without food/drinks pictures. ;)

Speaking of food, for lunch we had soups, crisps (chips for us Americans) and sandwiches. For dinner, we had a variety. I had BBQ nachos, Joe had a lamb pie, KK had some sort of chicken wrap, blah, blah, blah. Blah, blah, blah means I don't remember the rest. ;)

Next will be my post on one of our favorite cities...Edinburgh!