Category Archives: United Kingdom

Royal Edinburgh Ticket: How to Save Money on Edinburgh’s Royal Attractions

Holyrood Palace Royal Edinburgh Ticket

The Royal Edinburgh Ticket is a great way to save money when visiting the top royal attractions in Edinburgh Scotland! The ticket covers all three of our favorite royal sites in Edinburgh: the mighty and historic Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace (official Scottish residence of the royal family), and Royal Yacht Britannia (royal yacht used by the royal family from 1954 to 1997). Not only are these the three most important royal attractions in Edinburgh, they are three of the most popular and visited attractions in the city. If you want to visit all three during your trip to Edinburgh, you can save up to 25% by using the Royal Edinburgh Ticket versus buying each entrance ticket separately. The ticket also includes unlimited hop-on hop-off bus transportation around the city for 48 hours! We’ll tell you how to purchase and collect the pass, what it covers, how to calculate your cost Read the Rest…

Comprehensive Guide to the Top Harry Potter Sites in Edinburgh Scotland

Royal Mile Harry Potter sites in Edinburgh Scotland J.K. Rowling

Edinburgh has a deep connection with the wizardly world of Harry Potter and there are several Harry Potter sites in Edinburgh that fans can visit. Most notably, it was the home of J.K. Rowling when she wrote the majority of the Harry Potter books. Rowling has acknowledged her connection to the city stating that “…Edinburgh is very much home for me and is the place where Harry evolved over seven books and many, many hours of writing in its cafés.” Want to sit and sip coffee in the same café that J.K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter books? See turreted buildings that may have been the inspiration for Hogwarts? See graves and streets that may have influenced the names of Harry Potter characters? Drink a pint of butterbeer in a local pub? We’ll provide all you need to know to find these places on your own or visit them on a Read the Rest…

Visiting Wentworth Woodhouse: The Largest Private House in England

visit Wentworth Woodhouse tour Palladian east front

Wentworth Woodhouse is the largest private home in the United Kingdom and it has the longest façade of any country home in Europe; however, very few people have ever heard of this spectacular English house! Starting as a modest Jacobean house in the 17th century, it would be rebuilt and expanded to enormous proportions by a series of aristocratic families. The house would become the seat of the Earls Fitzwilliam who would rise to be one of the wealthiest families in England due to profits from the coal industry. At one time, over 1,000 staff members would be employed to run and look after the 300+ room house and the vast estate. However, a series of scandals, inheritance fights, untimely deaths, and the nationalization of coal would soon lead to both the end of the Earl Fitzwilliam line and the shuttering of this great house. This grand Yorkshire house was closed to Read the Rest…

5 Day Isle of Skye and Scottish Highlands Itinerary

Glencoe Isle of Skye and Scottish Highlands itinerary trip Scotland

In August, I had my very first look at the beautiful Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Skye! Spectacular landscapes, castles, mysterious lochs, waterfalls, tasty seafood dinners, and Highland coos are a few of the many treasured memories associated with our Scottish Highlands itinerary. The Highlands make up the northwestern part of Scotland, and designate a primarily historical divide with the Lowlands area where there were once much larger cultural and language divides. Although a huge land area, the Highlands and the northern islands of Scotland are sparsely populated, primarily rural, rugged, and full of biodiversity. This area is perfect for those looking for natural beauty and an escape from cities. We did this first trip to the Highlands and Isle of Skye with Edinburgh-based small tour operator Rabbie’s Travel, and we’ll share our own trip experiences and lots of photos on that tour! We’ll also provide a general Scottish Read the Rest…

Tips for Buying and Using the Oyster Card in London

London Oyster Card

London is one of the top travel destinations in the world, but navigating this large city can be overwhelming for a first time visitor. Using an Oyster card, a credit card sized transport smartcard, is an easy way to save time and money if you are planning to use public transportation in London. An Oyster card can be used on just about every form of transport within London including public bus, tram, and rail services within the city. Our goal is help you decide if an Oyster card is a good fit for you and to help you effectively use your card on public transportation in London. First we’ll cover the main types of Oyster cards that are available, how to choose the best one, and how to buy an Oyster card. Then we’ll talk about where you can use them, how to use them for travel, how to recharge Read the Rest…

Hidden Edinburgh Attractions: 28 Lesser Known Things to Do in Edinburgh

Dean Village hidden top Edinburgh attractions Scotland

There are so many fantastic Edinburgh attractions and we keep discovering new ones as we delve deeper into this historical city. A first time visitor to Edinburgh will generally stay busy exploring the city’s many highlights such as Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace, most of these main attractions are located within the UNESCO designated Old Town and New Town. However, for those visitors who have already seen the highlights, there is much more to see beyond these top Edinburgh attractions. So whether you have a long stay in Edinburgh or are visiting for the second or twelfth time, we’ll share some Edinburgh attractions we think are worth visiting that you may have not yet visited. These lesser known attractions include Edinburgh’s second castle, small museums on the Royal Mile, two National Trust sites, hidden gardens, walking paths, mysterious underground passages, local markets, and even a beach! We’ll also talk about lesser Read the Rest…

Edinburgh Festivals in August: An Essential Planning Guide to 6 Festivals

Edinburgh festivals in August guide festival Edinburgh festivals in August guide

Edinburgh festivals are well-known around the world, lending the city one of its nicknames, Festival City. But did you know that six major festivals take place in Edinburgh during the month of August? Edinburgh is home to 12 major festivals each year, and half of these festivals take place in August. These six festivals celebrate art, theater, world cultures, books, and even the performance of military bands. Events range from the traditional (opera) to the intellectual (talks by famous authors) to the downright zany (performance of an acrobat doing handstands on eggs)! August is a busy but special time in Edinburgh as the historical capital city welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world. There are hundreds of events and performances each day in the city during August, and in one day we actually attended events from five different Edinburgh festivals! We’ll share our own experience of attending the Read the Rest…

21 Things to do in Edinburgh Scotland: The Highlights

top 21 things to do in Edinburgh Scotland

There are so many things to do in Edinburgh Scotland! We have been living in a village near Edinburgh since February and are still discovering so many new things each time we visit. But I wanted to share a guide to some of the top things to see in Edinburgh for those planning a visit. A first time visitor naturally wants to see some of the highlights of this gorgeous city that holds two UNESCO designations for its higgledy-piggledy medieval Old Town and its well-planned Georgian New Town. Our recommendations include visiting the city’s iconic medieval castle, climbing an extinct volcano, visiting the world’s largest monument to a writer, seeing Scotland’s crown jewels, sipping whisky, going underground to explore some of the city’s medieval past, viewing world-class art, and paying homage to a famous little dog. If you have control over the timing of your visit, you may want to plan Read the Rest…

Bucolic Beauty in Scotland: Best of the Scottish Borders with Rabbie’s Tours

Scott's View Scottish Borders highlights travel Rabbies

A visit to the Scottish Borders is an easy day trip from Edinburgh, and allows visitors to get a glimpse into a relatively unknown region of Scotland. The Scottish Borders is region located in the southeast part of Scotland, with the Southern section forming part of the border with England. It is sparsely populated, largely rural, and covered with rolling hills, wild moorland and meandering rivers. Like in many regions of Scotland, you’ll find historic towns, ruined abbeys, castles, footpaths, gardens, and farmland. Just south of the Borders, you can also visit the UNESCO heritage site Hadrian’s Wall and loads of places steeped in Roman history. The Scottish Borders is well known for its agricultural and food products, often referred to as Scotland’s natural larder and fresh local produce and farm-to-table meals are easy to find here. Short and long distance walking paths crisscross the entire region and are a great way to Read the Rest…

London Day Trip: Visiting Blenheim Palace and the Cotswolds with Zestrip

Zestrip day trip from London Blenheim Palace Cotswolds Lacock Abbey

Recently Laurence and I were invited to go on a London day trip to Blenheim Palace and the Cotswolds with ZesTrip. London is one of those cities in which you can keep returning and still find plenty of new things to do, but it is also a city that makes a great base for some really interesting day trips. We prefer to actually overnight in the places we visit; however, sometimes we are short on time and a day trip is a very convenient way to see places that you would not otherwise have time to visit. ZesTrip is a marketplace for tours in several locations that are designed and led by local experts, with activities ranging from city walks to hot air balloon rides to sit-down dinners. We were very excited to visit Blenheim Palace and a few of the Cotswolds villages on our private tour by car with Read the Rest…

Tips on Using & Buying the London Pass: Is it Worth It?

buying The London Pass tips advice

If you are planning a trip to London and want to spend some time admiring great artwork and visiting grand royal palaces, you’ll likely save money and time by purchasing the London Pass. The London Pass not only allows for free admission to over 60 of the top-visited attractions in London (i.e., Windsor Castle, Tower of London, Westminster Abbey), but it also allows you to skip the long entrance lines at several of these attractions and includes a 1-day free Hop on Hop Off Bus Tour ticket. In many cases, the London Pass is a good value and will save you money; however, in some cases, the London Pass may not be a good deal for you, especially if this is not your first visit to London or you have very limited time in the city. We’ll help provide all the information you need to know to decide if the Read the Rest…

Attending the Edinburgh International Science Festival in the World’s Festival City

street art Edinburgh International Science Festival City Festivals in Edinburgh

We recently attended the Edinburgh International Science Festival which kicks off the annual festival activities in Edinburgh. Scotland may bring to mind images of rugged castles, grazing Highland cattle, lush green glens, sheep, bagpipes, haggis, and men in kilts. However, Edinburgh, the country’s capital, also lays claim to being the world’s leading festival city. Edinburgh is currently host to 12 major festivals held throughout the year, celebrating art, music, dance, storytelling, books, military tattoos, science, and even the arrival of the New Year. The Edinburgh International Science Festival is the first of these festivals, held for 2 weeks each Spring, and was founded in 1988 as the world’s first public science festival! The science festival hosts a variety of fun and informative workshops, demonstrations, and talks celebrating science and technology with events geared towards both children and adults. We attended several festival events around the city during the science festival Read the Rest…

Planning an Oxford Day Trip: A Perfect Day Trip from London

Exeter College chapel Oxford day trip from London England UK

Oxford is a university city situated about 60 miles from London, making a Oxford day trip an ideal way to get out of the bustling capital for a day or weekend to explore this compact historical city. Nicknamed the City of Dreaming Spires, Oxford is best known as the home of England’s oldest university, the University of Oxford, which is still one of the most respected in the country. However, while a trip to Oxford wouldn’t be complete without touring a couple of university buildings, Oxford has much else to offer. A visitor might go on a walking tour of the downtown, browse for souvenirs at the Covered Market, go punting on the River Cherwell, take a tour of a medieval castle, stroll in a pretty garden, enjoy a drink in a historical tavern, or even take a short drive to visit one of England’s most beautiful and famous country Read the Rest…

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express Train: A Luxury Train Journey from London to Venice

Belmond Venice Simplon Orient Express

This past October we had the pleasure of riding the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train from London to Venice where we held our wedding ceremony. The original Orient Express train service ran from 1883 to 2009, and its name became associated with glamour, luxury, intrigue, and even murder! In its heyday, it was the most luxurious train in Europe and today this tradition lives on with Belmond’s Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (VSOE). The VSOE makes regular luxury train journeys across Europe, offering gourmet meals, private overnight cabins, and attentive staff within its wonderfully restored historical train carriages. The signature trip is the 36-hour luxury train journey from London to Venice which has to be one of the most elegant ways to arrive in Venice! We’ll share all you need to know to decide if this trip is a good fit for you, from the historical background of the Orient Express to how to book Read the Rest…

Wedding at Sea: Our Cunard Queen Mary 2 Wedding

Cunard Queen Mary 2 wedding at sea cruise

I have been wanting to write a post about our Queen Mary 2 wedding at sea for a few months. In August, Laurence and I got married at sea aboard the Cunard Queen Mary 2 ship as we sailed from New York City to England. We had struggled for a few months to decide on a wedding location given that we have different nationalities, residences, and family and friends spread out across the world. We already wanted to do a transatlantic cruise aboard the RMS Queen Mary 2 as a way to get to the UK and once we booked this, we decided to also hold our wedding here. We were married by the ship’s captain, Captain Kevin Oprey, about halfway between the United States and England while sailing on the high seas of the Atlantic Ocean. It was a wonderful experience for us, but a wedding at sea is not for Read the Rest…