We just got back from a “brilliant” (as the Brits would say) vacation to Scotland via London to celebrate the marriage of one of my favorite Mizzou ladies. Rebecca has the most open-hearted, enthusiastic spirit and it was amazing to meet her new husband, their baby boy and a bunch of their friends from all over.
The trip a long time in the making, and let me tell you — even with all of the plane/train/ferry/bike/bus connections, traveling without kids in tow was delightful. (Emmett and Eileen had a blast at Camp Grandma. We flew in and out of Chicago, where my mom lives and where flights are way cheaper.) Here are a few trip-related things I’m into:
Secondhand style: If I could only shop one brand (and money were no object) it would be cheerful-chic Boden. But I’m trying to make my clothing purchases secondhand and have fallen a little too hard for Poshmark, an app that makes secondhand shopping a little too easy. I picked up a few pre-trip pieces, including a fascinator ($8!), polka dot dress and my new favorite 3/4 sleeve sweatshirt (bottom photo).
Multi-modal travel: The weather was chilly and rainy for most of the trip, although we did see the sun a few times, like our last day, which we spent biking through London. They have a bike-share that only costs two pounds (about $2.30) a day, but the catch is that you have to return your bike to a dock before 30 minutes is up. But, you can take as many 30-minute trips as you like. It’s a great way to jump from park to park, and London’s green spaces are one of my absolute favorite things. We picked them up after snagging prime spots on the Victoria Monument for The Changing of the Guard, and zoomed down the bike lane along the Embankment to the Tower of London and back to Kensington to the V&A Museum. I seriously love the combination of tube-double decker bus-bike transit.
Fancy breakfast > Fancy dinner: I like to pepper in a few mini splurges within an otherwise budget-conscious trip. We stayed at a nice hotel on the Isle of Arran (so much tartan!)
We mostly do airbnbs and in Edinburgh stayed in an art college dorm (really!) because we were so rarely in our rooms, it was super-central and things are crazy booked during Fringe Fest. I take a similar approach to dining. We love exploring restaurants, but tend to try nicer places for breakfast or lunch. In London, we did The Ivy Chelsea Garden for breakfast at the recommendation of our airbnb host. I’m constantly taking surreptitious photos while Joe tries to just eat his meal.
We also loved the casual but fresh dinner at Fiddlers’ on the Isle of Arran. (We were able to sneak in before the reservation crowd and then crashed the town Cèilidh where we square danced with locals.)
Pink gin and comedy with a crowd: Move over rosé. Pink gin is all the rage in Edinburgh. Festival month means almost every town square and plaza was converted into an outdoor patio with food trucks and bars. We had a blast hopping from place to place, and I enjoyed the pre-show prosecco and Pimm’s cocktails, too. [Speaking of gin, we got a tour of the Tower of London from a real Beefeater and it was excellent. I had no idea their families lived on the Tower grounds in a little community!]
Unplanned moments: We put a fair amount of pre-planning into the trip, which mixed together a wedding + ‘buddymoon’ with out own side travels. I love that we had a structure of where we’d be, but not everything we’d do. There was a random seaside village karaoke night, climbing Arthur’s seat for an incredible city view, dancing in a town hall, bike rentals, urban fox sightings, and blind-selection comedy shows. (We went to Nina Conti among others.) I haven’t seen live performances with a big group in some time and it was great to share those experiences.
Reading & watching: Of course, we had lots of time on planes and trains. I read An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (lives up to the Oprah + Obama hype!) and Patron Saint of Liars (because you can’t go wrong with Anne Patchett). On the way home I read the weekend Guardian (minus the sports section) and shed tears watching The Post because apparently I was in the mood to love on newspapers.
I’m not going to post a total trip play-by-play, but let me know if you have any travel questions in the comments! In London, we stayed in the Kensington area, and although I wasn’t invited to high tea with the Queen, Kate and Meghan, I did swing by my old Earls Court neighborhood where I lived during my study abroad semester.