M & K in San Diego

the west coast adventures of two east coast kids

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Epic Uk Adventure: Day 7

The seventh day of our grand adventure was mostly devoted to traveling from St Andrews back to London, which took most of the day. We caught the train on a morning that dawned clear and bright - we could have been sad to miss the gorgeous weather, but instead chose to value our True Scottish Experience (rain) and look ahead to a fun night out in London!

The train only carried semi-edible snacks and we were stuck on it straight through lunch, so by the time we got back to London, checked into our hotel, and quickly freshened up, we were MORE than ready for some food. Claudia got a recommendation from our hotel’s concierge for a place down the street and we practically ran there. Look how tired and hungry we were:

Which is why we what? Ordered alcohol, like any good family on vacation. Whoo!

The last half of the trip, we extensively documented our alcohol intake. You, faithful reader, may have already noticed this trend.

Anyway! Our little group had an engagement that night: we had tickets to a show! Now, we were in London. London theater is legendary. You might assume we would take the opportunity to go see a headline musical, like Wicked, Les Mis, or something of the sort. But K’s dad wanted to see something new, something out of the ordinary, and so, we saw…

In case you can’t read that, it says “Priscilla: Queen of the Desert”! It’s a show about a drag queen who travels across Australia singing disco and it. was. AWESOME. We (that is, K & M & Michael) were skeptical at first, but we were blown away. We had a great time, and the performances were superb! We got to the theater early and had drinks before the show, and then when it was all over, we weren’t finished having fun so we headed to Covent Garden and had some food and drink at a restaurant in the square. We may have spent most of the day traveling, but we made up for it in the fun we had that night!

Filed under travel epic UK adventure family trip train st andrews scotland london england theatre priscilla queen of the desert musical

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Epic UK Adventure: Day 6

On the morning of our first (and only) full day in St Andrews, we awoke to the heavy fog and light drizzle that is so well known in Scotland. M & K were geared up for our own adventure while K’s dad and brother headed over to the Old Course to realize a golfer’s dream of playing the course where the game was invented. Claudia tagged along with the golfers for a while, then wandered the streets of St Andrews enjoying the scenery of a small, picturesque Scottish village. But back to our story: first thing, in spite of the extremely limited visibility, M & K went sightseeing! We wanted to tour the ruins of St Andrews Castle, and the fog almost made it even cooler to wander the site. We climbed around the remains of the walls and foundation of the castle, peered out over the small cliffs to the water below, and learned some Scottish history.

One of our favorite parts of touring the ruins was getting to explore the underground mines - tunnels which were dug hundreds of years ago during a siege on the castle in the 1500s. The attackers had the advantage and hacked steadily away, creating a cavernous tunnel in which men could walk upright - they could even fit pack animals inside to carry all of their tools and weapons for when they made it to the castle. Meanwhile, the castle’s defenders worked feverishly, trying to locate the attackers’ tunnel by sound. All over the castle site, there are entrances to failed mines - locations where the defenders tried to dig down and intercept the attackers but eventually realized they were in the wrong place. But then! Success! The castle’s defenders managed to intercept the tunnel and fight off the underground attack. And part of that two-way tunnel still exists - you can crawl down through the tiny passage cut by the castle defenders, and eventually you make your way to the point of interception where the mine really opens up. The difference is amazing. It’s a pretty incredible piece of history.

When we emerged from underground, it had begun to rain somewhat more earnestly. But we gamely opened our umbrellas and moved on to the next stop on our list: the ruins of a medieval cathedral just down the road from the castle. (A lot of ruins in St Andrews - they were too distracted by golf to keep up with anything else, apparently! Ha, ha.) It’s really very sad that the cathedral was ransacked and destroyed by Protestant reformers several hundred years ago - it dates back to the 12th century and would have been an amazing example of medieval religious architecture. As it is, a few walls are still standing and you can still see the outline of the cross marked by the foundations in the ground, but beyond that the only thing that has survived is the graveyard and a standalone tower (unrelated to the cathedral). We climbed that tower, of course, and tried to imagine what the cathedral must have looked like nearly a thousand years ago.

After a long morning of wandering and climbing a fair number of stairs, we were ready for food. We lunched at a cafe-type place called Little John’s, where K enjoyed a cold Guinness and M sampled Scottish soda - which is, incidentally, apparently the only nationally made soda which outsells Coke within its own country. It’s called IrnBru (pronounced “iron brew”) and M thought it was pretty delicious! (Maybe not quite as good as Coke though.)

We had arranged to meet K’s dad and brother at the 18th hole to watch them finish, so we booked it over there after lunch, hoping we had all guessed accurately on the timing. It worked out perfectly! Through the rain, we could just make out my brother’s yellow jacket as they approached the tee.

The three of us (M, K, and Claudia) whispered excitedly to one another about this cool opportunity for Michael and K’s dad as the two of them conferred with their caddies.

Then - the swing! We followed the group down the fairway, over the famous Swilken Bridge, to the final moments on the green. K’s brother Michael had an especially terrific finish, making his putt to birdie the 18th hole!

What a great day. Although it was only midafternoon, the golfers hadn’t had anything to eat since a very early breakfast, so we traipsed over to a fish market for some fish ‘n’ chips and, of course, adult beverages to toast our adventures in St Andrews.

Then, because eating at a weird time threw off our schedule and we weren’t hungry for dinner, after some relaxation time at the bed and breakfast we simply decided to go out for more drinks! K’s dad was a fan of this decision. And, of course, at the bar, we watched golf.

Filed under travel epic UK adventure family trip st andrews scotland golf old course st andrews links st andrews castle st andrews cathedral tourists irn bru swilken bridge

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Epic UK Adventure: Day 5

We could have stayed in Edinburgh for several more days and fully enjoyed every minute, but the next day, we had a train to catch to St Andrews. It didn’t leave until the afternoon, though, so we decided not to waste our morning. Instead, we hiked up Calton Hill, where there are beautiful panoramic views of the city as well as a few monuments to climb on.

To get the best views, we all climbed to the top of the Nelson Monument. We then clambered up onto the National Monument, mostly for the photo ops.

By now we were getting a bit peckish, so we headed down the other side of the hill via some ivy-covered stairs, wandered through a graveyard, and finally made it to Tolbooth Tavern for some yummy food and beer.

After lunch, we said a fond farewell to Edinburgh as we headed to St Andrews. We got there with plenty of time to wander around, and we especially enjoyed taking a look at the famous Old Course, since K’s dad and her brother Michael were able to get a tee time for the next morning! We were all thrilled for them, it was an amazing opportunity.

For dinner that night, we ended up at a little place called The Doll’s House, where Michael fell briefly in love with our adorable Scottish waitress, we all fell in love with the beautiful evening and delicious food, and we all got perhaps a tiny bit tipsy.

Filed under travel epic UK adventure family trip edinburgh st andrews train tourists calton hill nelson monument scotland national monument tolbooth tavern old course golf the doll's house