Europe 2019


Day 1

A long post for a looooooong day….

We are off on an adventure to the UK.

The first 24 hours of our adventure was rather uneventful with 2 x Singapore Airlines flights from MEL-SIN, SIN-LHR.

The seats were comfortable as far as flights on planes are concerned, & the entertainment & food was suitable.

Flight times were great allowing us to sleep for a reasonable time on our flight from Singapore to London.

Upon our early arrival in London we take a shuttle to the Hertz Car Rental company, hire our 7 seater car & we are OFF to Windsor to begin our Adventure. It’s handy that we obviously get many of our Australian traditions from the English, one being that we drive on the left side of the road.

Corey is the first to spot the castle. It is around 8:30am by now & we are ready for lunch! We see many excited faces in anticipation of their visit to Windsor Castle that we decide we want to visit the Castle too.

As we cannot check into our room until 3pm we find a 4 hour car park & explore Windsor. We start with lunch at 9am then we enter the Windsor Castle. I’ve never been to a castle & I’m pretty sure this is one of the best. The State Apartments which is still actively used & St Georges Chapel were definitely the highlights of my visit. The State Apartments visit was cut short with Kynan experiencing a blood nose – we had to get him out of there before he bled all over the walls & carpet. What would the Queen think?

The Changing of the Guards was a crowd pleaser as we watch the pompous and carry on. The Changing of the Guards did not disappoint and we managed some photos with the last guard standing.

By this time we are feeling rather weary & really would like to get into our room at Legoland Resort but it is still early so we opt for a 40 minute cruise along the River Thames. Here we have a different viewpoint of the scenery & the town. We also see one of the boats used in World War II to Dunkirk.

We then drive to our resort with the news that unfortunately our room is not ready until 3pm.

What to do?

We decide to try out the pool at the resort to fill in time for the next hour. This was a good & bad decision. Good because it fills in time & bad because the chlorine was super strong & affected Corey’s eyes particularly badly. So between lack of sleep, blood noses & sore eyes we were definitely ready for our room.

Our room is finally ready, bags are delivered to the wrong room but eventually all is well. The decor in the Legoland Rooms are ‘busy’ but definitely well themed. The kids are never too old for the Pirate Treasure Hunt where they get some Lego Creator packs. Kynan gets creative & adds ‘finishing touches’ to our Lego Pirate Friend on the wall.

Our room is Pirate Themed. Other themes are Lego Friends, Lego Adventure & Lego Kingdom.

We venture out for an early dinner to a restaurant situated on the waterfront. Browns Restaurant was perfect & we even saw The Queen’s Barge sail past. Unfortunately we were not quick enough to snap a photo.

Ice Creams for dessert & we are ready for bed.

At 7pm it is exciting because Lachlan, Albert & Betty arrive at the resort. They have been in Denmark & Germany.

We are very pleased to have our Lachie back but we will have to catch up in the morning as I am exhausted & need to sleep.

Day 2

We were up bright & early this morning. We met up with Albert & Betty at breakfast & I was SO happy to catch up with Lachie. Today is Legoland Day & we are meeting with The Carr Family.

We have priority access, being Resort Guests, & after getting a photo with the Pink Lego Brick & singing Happy Birthday to a few guests we enter the park & start by riding on what we nicknamed the ‘Dodgem Boats’. Kind of like the Dodgem Cars but in boats.

The Legoland crowd is predominantly catered for younger children so there were many occasions where my older children needed to be reminded of this – including Ian!

At 10am the main park opens & we meet my sister Alison, her husband, Rohan & Amy & Tristan who happen to be travelling to the UK at the same time as us.

We spend the rest of the day going on rides, admiring the Lego creations and saw the Lego Friends stage show. Oh dear. This stage show was a bit dismal but we tried our hardest to enjoy It.

It was a fun day with family but as far as Theme Parks go it was a little disappointing.

By the end of the day we were exhausted. Pizza for dinner & my head hit the pillow by 7:30pm. Think I’m still adjusting to the time difference.

Day 3

Last day in Windsor today. We start by going on rides at Legoland that we missed yesterday, in particular The Haunted House. We arrive at the special opening gate reserved for park guests & Brooke is first to enter the park. We go on the boats again while Kobi & Kynan ride through Lego City. THEN we experience The Haunted House which was closed for the majority of yesterday. It was unexpected fun. The ride was well themed but Legoland really does need Disney to assist them with storylines as the storylines are pretty weak.

We then check out & go into Windsor to look at the town. When we are looking for a park we find the road is blocked off & realise it is because of The Changing of the Guards. So much pompous & ceremony.

We watch the parade & find Amy & Tristan doing the same thing on the other side of the road. Coincidence! We then hang out with The Carr Family & go to the Long Mile, view MORE Changing of the Guards & do some shopping.

Ian & Corey drop our hire car back at Slough – nearest drop off point – while the rest of us hang out at Windsor & wait at the train station. SUCH A SMALL WORLD – John the Bus Driver from the kids school up until 2016 spots the kids in the main street of Windsor.

We train it into the city of London & get off at Waterloo Station which is just near our accommodation at Park Plaza County Hall.

Helloooooo London! The sun is shining. It is a beautiful day & the view is perfect from our room.

We are excited to be in London. Surreal being in a town we have seen on TV & our ancestors would have once been. We are easily pleased with the excitement of seeing names of streets & places on the Monopoly Board.

We have pre-booked tickets to MouseTrap on WestEnd so we walk to WestEnd, stopping at Silver Cross for dinner.

Further on we get to Mousetrap which we must not reveal the outcome. Only patrons in the theatre get to know WhoDunnit. The longest running play & we went to performance number 27870.

Exhausted, we take the easy way home & catch a cab.

We have now experienced a ride in an English Cab!

Day 4

Hop On Hop Off is necessary in all our travels. So it is, today we start our 3 Day Hop On Hop Off with The Big Bus.

Our first stop is St Paul’s Cathedral which I found quite surreal as I remember it so well from TV & in particular Charles & Diana’s Wedding. This is an amazing building like I have never seen in real life. We all conquered the 528 steps to the lookout for the reward of a spectacular view over London.

Next stop is the Tower of London. We really haven’t allowed ourselves enough time here but we are on a mission to fit in as many London highlights as possible while Lachlan is still with us.

The Tower of London was so much bigger than I imagined. We arrived just in time for a tour with one of the BeefEaters – BeefEater Dave. We were given the rather morbid History of the Tower of London including King Henry VIII. The highlight of my visit here was definitely seeing the Crown Jewels.

Now onto Euston Station where we catch a train to Watford Junction. From Watford Junction we catch the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studios Tour Bus to the place where Harry Potter was filmed. Here we spend over 3 hours viewing many of the sets, costumes & special effects used in the filming of the many Harry Potter movies. My highlight was definitely standing in The Great Hall.

‘Home’ to our hotel via bus/train/cab & we are ready to hit the pillow

Day 5

This morning we join the Big Bus Royal Walk Tour near Buckingham Palace. We walk through some of the beautiful parks of London to meet our guide & even witness a Royal Carriage drive straight into the Palace Gates. Our Tour Guide takes us to a spot to where the Guards & Band begin from. Seriously so much pomp & ceremony. The police are OK abut the men with serious looks & machetes actually scare me. There is a very high police presence around the Palace.

We learn and see where Charles and Camilla live as well as see the area where it will be announced that the Queen has passed. She is 94 Years Old now so she should have at least 5 years left!

The crowds at Buckingham Palace are so big & it is HOT so we opt to get back in the bus & sit there for well over 1 hour raking in the sites. Brooke & I quite enjoy playing ‘Monopoly’ & sporting all the properties.

Next stop is the London Dungeon. WOW! Lucky I didn’t know what I was in for. There was many scenes in darkness where we learn of the dark history of London including The Black Plague, The Great Fire of 1666 & Jack The Ripper. Kobi made an early escape from the experience & Brooke & I were known to scream on more than one occasion.

Following this experience we caught a ferry to Greenwich where we discovered time is measured. This was a quick visit as we only had 1 hour in Greenwich before the last ferry would leave. We may actually go back to Greenwich if we have time.

That is all for today. We are absolutely EXHAUSTED!

Lachie’s last day tomorrow. We MUST make the most of it.

Day 6

Ian, Corey & I caught a Taxi to Burgess Parkrun to start our day. This was fun but to get a taxi back was not so fun. We walked for quite sometime before

we found a taxi to take us back.

Eventually a taxi passed by & dropped is back to the hotel to meet ‘the others’.

We had a late breakfast & it is another beautiful sunny day. We experience The London Eye for spectacular views of the city.

We then bump into The Carr Family for a quick photo opportunity, but no time to lose, we have tickets to the Secret Diary if Adrian Mole & we have 1 hour to walk there.

Today is a massive PRIDE parade in the city & there are crowds & crowds & crowds of people everywhere in rainbow colours and glitter.

We eventually navigate our way through the crowd to our destination.

Adrian Mole was very entertaining & a good fun choice for Lachlan’s final activity before he goes home.

We walked back to our hotel – still crowds of PRIDE marchers.

We say goodbye to Lachlan, Albert & Betty who catch a plane tonight to arrive home first thing Monday morning.

We will miss them.

We have dinner at our new favourite Restaurant – Locale, & hit the pillow for another night after another busy day.

Day 7

Another big day in London.

Today we caught a taxi out to the Camden Markets which was a great day to start our Sunday. It did rain overnight – this is the first time since we arrived we have seen rain.

We had a lovely time at the markets, purchased a few little souvenirs & fresh orange juice – Kynan’s favourite.

We then caught a boat from Camden Lock to Little Venice. This was a lovely 50 minute boat ride.

From Little Venice we walked 2km+ to Kensington Gardens & Kensington Palace. The gardens were so relaxing & peaceful with lots of people, families, couples & friends enjoying the sunshine & open spaces. We found the Peter Pan statue.

It was nice to see the Princess Diana Memorial Playground & Memorial Fountain but was surprised to see lots of kids & parents wading through the fountain. Not quite the memorial I was expecting!

Kensington Palace was interesting but no sign of Wills & Kate. The history of the Palace was interesting, particularly the life of Queen Victoria, but much of the Palace is quite sparse & difficult to imagine the royalty that has lived there.

After having a rest on the grass outside Kensington Palace we walk towards Hyde Park & although we are tired we see the pedal boats out on the water & really think that it looks so relaxing that we walk all the way to the side where the paddle boats are & spend 30 minutes out in the water.

That was fun!

Catch a cab, eat dinner at a restaurant recommended by our cabbie called Black & Blue and we are ready for another early – ish night.

Day 8

An EARLY morning today for our Wimbledon Experience. Unless we went in the ballot of which there is no choice of day or showcourt, the next option is to line up bright & early to get ground passes. This is what we decided to do.

Breakfast was at 6:30am.

We then walked to Waterloo Station, purchased tickets to Wimbledon Return on the train. Arrived at Wimbledon Station, Paid for a Shuttle Bus Return to take us to ‘Wimbledon’.

We then walked & walked & walked to get to the end of the queue for tickets. Eventually we arrived & were shown to a yellow flag & were handed a queue ticket. Our tickets were #8007 – #8012.

Queues & Queues of people are already there. Some even camped out.

By this time it is around 8:30am.

The first game doesn’t start until 11am & we think they start letting people in at 10:30am.

We sit in the sun, chat to the locals, the boys juggle plastic water bottles & eventually we enter into the grounds at 12pm.

We watch 2 Gentlemen’s Doubles Matches & 1 Gentlemen’s Singles Match.

The second Doubles includes John Peers, our last Aussie standing. We sit & watch & cheer (sometimes I think we are the only Aussies in this Court). Time ticks by & by 7:30pm Ian & Corey really want to go home.

The rest of us want to see the outcome. Kobi in particular wants to try & score a new signature on his Australian Open cap.

As fate would have it – the match goes into 5 sets. At the start of the 5th set we leave to go back to our hotel.

We keep an eye on the scores & the match goes into 5-5 in the 5th set & the game is suspended due to darkness setting in.

The game will resume tomorrow so there is still no outcome!

We get ‘home’ just before 9:30pm.

Another big but successful day.

Wimbledon was fun. Next time, if there is a next time, I will dress a bit fancier. I felt like I was at the races & very underdressed in my jeans & t-shirt!

I learned that it is compulsory for the players to wear white outfits & shoes.

I learned that men are gentlemen, not just men, at Wimbledon.

Day 9

We have 2 more full days in London so we need to conquer. We begin by lining up for Churchill’s War Rooms. This is where Churchill & his staff spent much of their time during the Second World War. As well as seeing the sleeping quarters, offices, & kitchen used during that time we also got a very detailed history of the life of Winston Churchill.

My favourite display was the very detailed interactive timeline.

We do the Birdcage Walk to Buckingham Palace but stop along the way for ice creams. I hire a chair in the gardens for £2, which I was quite enjoying until the man selling the chairs told the kids off for playing with balls in a park in a wide open space!

Needless to say his only paying customer left 😄

So, we arrived at our next destination – Buckingham Palace, which was very much quieter than when we were here a few days ago. We got some good photos at the front of the Palace and even saw the Royal Mail Van leaving the premises which Brooke quite proudly said “that is full of letters for all the people turning 100”.

Behind Buckingham Palace is The Royal Mews. This is where the horses & carriages are housed, as well as the staff that work there. I enjoyed seeing all the carriages, particularly the 200 year old Gold Carriage used for Coronations.

Finally we walk to Harrods which is basically an indoor shopping Centre with lots of expensive items & many pretentious people. I did see a nice handbag – no price tag though & didn’t feel quite dressed well enough to get the attention of the sales assistant to ask.

On our walk to Harrods we passed the embassies & a few houses with blue plaques. These blue plaques indicate that certain famous people once lived there. The rules are they have to have been dead for at least 20 years before they get a plaque.

This was fun & we were going to eat dinner there but changed our mind when we saw the prices.

We cabbed back to our hotel & ate out at the Westminster Kitchen.

Day 10

We are on a mission to get as much done in London as we can.

St Thomas Hospital is around the corner from where we are staying & the Florence Nightingale Museum is something I really wanted to see.

The museum was small & informative. Apparently Florence spent the last 50 years of her life in bed. Oh dear. However before that she was a pioneer in modern nursing.

From here we walked to Westminster Abbey where we waited in a long queue. People everywhere! We were rushed through the payment station. £66 for all of us. We get our headsets & went on our way to explore Westminster Abbey.

People EVERYWHERE & we are not even allowed to take photos. The building is amazing but very difficult to appreciate with so many people.

It is very much like an indoor cemetery of Kings, Queens, Poets & more. It is mind boggling to think how old some of these graves are.

This is also where the coronations happen. We saw the coronation chair but didn’t see the The Queens Diamond Jubilee Galleries. This was an extra fee & there were way too many people.

I was impressed with the building but unimpressed with the cost & obvious money making exercise. St Paul’s Cathedral was much more pleasant.

We then catch a ferry to the Tower Bridge & even witness the bridge opening. BONUS.

I get butterflies in my tummy standing in the clear panel looking down at the traffic. The kids don’t seem so fussed.

We catch a ferry back to Westminster, grab some dinner at our fave restaurant – LOCALE, have 45 minutes rest, catch a cab to the Savoy Theatre to see Dolly Parton’s 9to5. The children are suitably brainwashed to appreciate Dolly Parton songs. 3 shows in 1 week – super privileged.

The final destination on our must-do list is M&Ms World. This is a 900m walk to Leicester Square. We enjoy M&Ms World, catch a cab home & that was the last of our adventures in London.

Tomorrow we are off to York.


Day 11

Transit day today. Goodbye London, Hello York.

Well today we experienced the London LNER Train Service. The train was leaving from Kings Cross at 11:06am. We arrived at 10:50am. Being new to this whole London train business we were concerned that we were running late. We hastily rush to the information Desk – by this time it is 10:55am – & the gentleman tells us that he doesn’t yet know what platform the train is on but to stand with the other commuters & check on the screen.

Well! We turn around & to our amusement we notice several hundred other people staring at a screen as if we are at the Stock Exchange.

We join the commuters & do as Londoners do & look up at the screen. We are sure to end up with a crick in our neck.

Eventually our Platform Number is announced & half the crowd dashed off to Platform 5. We have around 2 minutes to board the train.

Of course we are booked in Carriage C & there is a couple set up in our seats. Apparently they didn’t realise there were booked seats, which leads me to my other observation that the train tickets were not checked ONCE. Would be interesting how many commuters actually paid. Quite a bizarre system.

The train trip is pleasant through the countryside. In just over 2 hours we arrive to our destination – York.

York is very busy with many excited commuters. We wander aimlessly trying to find our Hertz Car Hire. We eventually realise it is a 700m walk from the station. The good thing is that our car is upgraded to a people mover – BONUS.

We drive to our accommodation at StayCity Apartments – BONUS, it is self contained.

We wander into town and have dinner st a nice little place called Cosy Cafe. Another early night…

Day 12

We start today by walking the wall that surrounds the City of York – such an interesting structure. We imagine Vikings ‘back in the day’ fighting the enemy, being shot by an arrow & falling back off the wall to their deaths!

We come to a museum about Richard III. Hmmmmm…..he seems to be a bit of a scoundrel thought to have killed his young nephews at the Tower of London. There was also a real skeleton on display here.

We continued our journey along the wall & detoured to YorkMinster. We really enjoyed looking through this church, particularly the underground museum display. It is mind- boggling how old this city dates back to. We saw a mural made 1600 years ago. The church has been their for 800 years.

We also climbed the 257 steps to the top of the church in a tight spiral staircase. This was also a highlight with views up the top worth the difficulty climbing the stairs.

Australia is such a baby!

We then find ourselves at The Shambles, with many, many cute shops including 5 x Harry Potter Shops. How quaint!

Hmmmmm…..I wonder if this is where J.K. Rowling got some of her inspiration. Perhaps?

Finally, we go to Clifford’s Tower – another Castle. Here we got 360 degree views of the City of York. I can’t help thinking that these are the kind of castles & countryside that Enid Blyton got her inspiration from too.

Everything is closing so we walk back to our apartment, stop at the supermarket & have an early night in.

Day 13

Ian, Corey & Myself start off the morning at Heslington Parkrun. So many runners, an uneven ground & 2 long laps at the end.

Back to the kids & we go to the National Railway Museum which has an impressive amount of trains & artifacts on display. This is a big area allocated to trains so we do a lot of walking & looking & learning about ALL sorts of trains including the Eurostar. I am amazed how the Eurostar runs under the water. I reckon it would be great to have an underwater train from Melbourne to Tasmania.

Kobi made a dream purchase – one of those counters that train drivers use to count their passengers. Kobi’s dream purchase = headaches for the rest of the family as Kobi counts EVERYTHING – steps, freckles, people, cracks in the pavement……the list goes on!

Next stop is Henry VII Museum where we learn MORE History about this intriguing era.

We are feeling museumed out with Kings, Queens, Princesses, Princes, Dukes, Duchesses, Lords, Ladies, Vikings & Plagues overloading our minds.

We make the decision to rest our brains & go to the York Maze which is ‘Corn’ Themed. This place was definitely ‘corny’. We somehow found ourselves on a tractor ride with very corny jokes & terrible actors but it was all fun. We were too late for the pig races & missed the ALL NEW ‘Stage Show’.

Instead we did obstacle courses, went down funny slides, found some illusions to exercise our brains, contributed to the communal mural, experiences the Jurassic Park Maze & the big finale was the BIG Corn Maze which was Lion King themed.

We spent 1 hour getting through the maze with Corey, Kynan & Kobi proving themselves as the more trustworthy maze guides.

So this park was definitely ‘corny’, and not great value for money but it certainly provided us with some unexpected entertainment & family bonding time.

We found some yummy dinner at The Coconut Lounge.

Tomorrow is our last day in York.

Day 14

It’s our last day in York and we are on a mission to get as much done in York as we can. We are amongst the first to arrive at York Castle Museum. This museum takes us back in time to fashions and toys over the years. There is also an exhibition where we could smell and experience life in York between 1800s -1900s. This was very good & taught us about the Quakers who created a safe non-alcohol family friendly haven for the locals in the Cocoa Room.

Then there was a local Doctor who never used to charge for his services but rather would ask his clients for payment by giving him ‘something’. All these ‘somethings’ are on display at the museum which makes for an incredible & random historic collection.

There was a sweet shop in the middle of the museum of which the kids decided to purchase a sugar mouse each. Corey was sorry for his choice as it gave him quite a tummy ache for the rest of the day.

When we went to Cliffords Castle we signed up for an Overseas membership so we can visit other historic sites for FREE. On this list was the Cold War Bunker. We eventually found the Cold War Bunker & had to wait 25 minutes for the next tour.

Was it worth the wait? We are still not sure? I think the kids sometimes feel like they are on one long extended school excursion. The space was cramped & we were shown generators, old computers & a bunk room.

This bunker was in operation for 30 years between 1961-1991 during The Cold War while the threat of nuclear weapons was real.

It was kind of interesting & an important part of History but it certainly wasn’t our number 1 attraction for the day.

Quite possibly the Number 1 attraction for the day was Castle Howard. This is one amazing space with Lakes, beautiful grounds including 2 playgrounds, cafes & the highlight is the actual house which has been owned by The Howard Family for over 300 years. It is massive & it is grand & it has many stories to tell. Catherine Howard & Anne Boelen are both part of this dynasty. We were fortunate to be the last group in the house so got some great photos with very few people in them & guides throughout the house with lots of stories to tell to us.

It is 5pm & we need to get to Windermere by around 7:30pm. We arrive at 7:15 & meet Karen our B&B hostess which is lovely but we are sure she has been drinking and smoking just prior to our arrival. We’ve not stayed in a B&B like this before & I’m not sure that the kids are too keen. Our bathrooms are small & it’s kind of weird having other people in the house but it’s all an experience!

Karen has already given us lots of hints of what places to visit while we are in Windermere.


Day 15

There are no blockout blinds in our little B&B so we wake up early because the sun rises so early.

The sheep were bleating & the voew outside our window was amazing.

What to do?

After breakfast we map out a very basic plan which begins with a Car Ferry Ride. We catch the ferry & drive up to HillTop, Beatrix Potter’s Home.

It was amazing to be here. The area is so pretty & the house has all of Beatrix Potter’s contents in it. It is easy to see the inspiration for all her stories & illustrations. What we found mind boggling is that she left her 4000 acres of beautiful land to the National Trust. Such a gift for the people. The area is so inspiring and beautiful everywhere you look.

Next stop was Hawkshead. Here we found the schoolroom of famous poet William Wordsworth.

This school has an incredible amount of History dating back to 1565, including William Wordsworth’s name inscribed in a desk, a document allowing this Grammar School to be FREE & open to boys of all social statuses signed by Queen Elizabeth I. Incredible to believe that etching in desks, walls & slate was allowed as well as Beer, Smoking & Cock Fighting at this prestigious school.

The history here was incredible. There were bibles from the 1500s too.

Next stop was lunch. Ice Cream for everyone. Apparently it was A-MAZING ice cream. I will have to take the rest of the families word for it as I opted for a Panini.

The Beatrix Potter Gallery run by the National Trust was interesting with original drawings & heirlooms belonging to Miss Potter on display.

We then went on a VERY scenic drive to some of the best views in the district, ended up in Coniston where we hired Mountain Bikes for 2 hours & found ourselves riding up & down hills with the sheep cheering us on.

Gotta love a good family bike ride. Poor Kobi went for a sixer at one point towards the end of our adventure & ended up with a bleeding knee to prove it.

I was glad to get to the end of our bike riding journey but very happy with the perfect scenery along the way.

We drove into town for an early dinner & having another early night as we have another big day tomorrow driving the opposite way to experience more sites in The Lakes District.

Day 16

Gingerbread, Antiques, Grave, Surprise View

Today we drive to Grasmere Lake & surrounding area. Highlights included the amazing scenery & walking track near Grasmere Lake, the town of Keswick where we went to the smallest Gingerbread shop but very famous for its amazing gingerbread – the Grasmere Gingerbread Shop.

William Wordsworth’s grave is also in this town which we viewed. The most intriguing site for me in this town was the Grasmere Church called St Oswald’s church which has straw over the floor. We’re still not quite sure why.

We drove by Asheness Bridge then finished the day at Castlerigg Stonehenge which is reportedly 1000 years older than Stonehenge.

This was actually one of our highlights as we sat on the rocks & practiced our throwing & catching skills with the juggling balls purchased at the Camden Markets by playing our version of DONKEY – PIG.

It was so pretty here.

Last night tonight in our B&B. It hasn’t been our favourite accommodation. We are more than happy to say goodbye to Karen & her B&B.

Day 17

Goodbye Karen

Goodbye B&B

Goodbye Lakes District

We are really not sure what we want to visit today so we start by following the signs that look like they are leading us to some interesting attractions.

We follow a sign & find ourselves being stuck between a local truck driver and a herd of sheep a local farmer was tending to for the day. You had to be there but this was an absolute highlight of the day.

We continue in to a main road & decide we shouldn’t really be stopping that frequently.

We pass some ferries but give them a miss as it is cold & the timing is not quite right.

We continue on to Carlisle Castle which is a significant castle in the Mary Queen of Scots was held here for quite some time. Lucky I had my trusty Collins Gem Kings & Queens book on hand as we try & work out who was ruler when & how & discover their fate.

This castle was OK abut without a tour guide it was tricky to know exactly its significance & the history & stories it holds.

The doors with engravings from the bored soldiers was very interesting.

After this visit we push on, we’re super excited when we realise we’re in Scotland & then eventually arrive at The Edinburgh Grande – our amazing accommodation for the next 3 nights.

Best accommodation yet!


Day 18

Happy Birthday to Corey.

Our first day in Edinburgh started with our traditional gift then we are off to explore Edinburgh Castle.

We walk there up the steep hill into crowds & crowds of people. It is expensive to gain admission but we are very much looking forward to our visit.

Arrrrrrgh! There are so many people everywhere & little Room to move. We have a guided tour which was very tricky understand the man in his kilt with a very thick Scottish accent.

We saw The Crown Jewels, one of the Great Halls, the Church & the Jail. Everything else was too difficult to get to or see with crowds & crowds of people everywhere.

Sadly, this was our least enjoyed attraction purely because of the crowds.

We leave & have lunch at one of the Scottish Taverns & some of the fam tried Scotch Eggs and Haggis.

The shops and atmosphere is very Scottish with bagpipes & lots of tartan.

We walk down The Royal Mile stopping at St Giles Cathedral. We purchase a photo taking pass for £2. Very ingenious way to make money 😄

Next stop is Holyrood Palace which was our highlight for the day. The audio guides were so good. It was great to hear the History & see the Palace which is still actually used today for events.

It was especially good to see Meghan & Harry’s Wedding attire up close.

This was MUCH better than our experience at Edinburgh Castle.

We decide to get back to our apartment early & have takeaway for dinner. A nice surprise waiting for us was 6 Summer House drinks & a Birthday Cake wishing Corey a Happy Birthday.

Tomorrow is our last day in Edinburgh.

Day 19

It was a rude awakening this morning as the smoke alarms were set off in our apartment & screaming at an alarming rate. I could smell breakfast cooking. Oops! Ian was cooking breakfast & the alarms had been set off.

We are on the 8th floor & the man from

the. reception was in our room before I could get up & see what was going on. He surveys the situation and realises that it is a false alarm but he is helpless to stop the alarms until the fire brigade come. Then we hear fire engines screaming through Edinburgh. Oops!

Within 5-10 minutes we have the guy from reception plus 2 Scottish firemen standing in our apartment.

What a sight! They signal to their team to turn the smoke alarms off. Phew 😅

Ian is sheepish, I am too shy to ask the firemen for a photo so I snap them as they are heading out the door.

We all look at each other & think what just happened…..?

We have booked out tour with The real Mary Close which shows underground Edinburgh. This is very interesting & shows some old streets which now have buildings built over them

This tour was good but I was a little disappointed with the content. Glad we went.

Next stop is Arthur’s Seat – the bigvm mountain behind Holyrood. This hike is quite steep with a 1 – 2 hour return trip, depending on how fast you go.

We meandered a little on the way back as we came across an intimate family Scottish Wedding. We did see a bagpiper on the way up. Turns out he was going to work to play for this wedding. We sat & watched the wedding for around 20 minutes.

The final attraction in our list is The Royal Brittania. This tour was very interesting as we saw where the royals worked, relaxed & honeymooned.

The ship was quite modest & not nearly as elaborate as I thought the Queen might have. Most of the Tour was interesting but the engine room & technical information was not for me. I was more interested in the Royals participation with the ship.

We have had enough Kings, Queens, Lords & Ladies so tomorrow we are off to Paris.


Day 20

Transit Day today. We were up at 3am & at the airport by 4:15am. Our flight to Paris was smooth & although it took some working out what to do we eventually caught the Bullet Train from CDG Airport to Marne La Vallee which is the ‘Disney Airport’.

We caught the Disney bus to our resort at Newport Bay Lodge where we our bags first went through a security scanner. At Marne La Vallee station the security was also very high with police with machine guns.

Checking into the Hotel was a disaster. Disney had inadvertently cancelled the booking 2 weeks ago even though we had paid them a large deposit.

Eventually after 2 hours they found our room, after 5 hours the situation was completely amended.

An absolute disaster of a day. The Disney Magic certainly wasn’t there upon check-in but after being given freebies including some VIP Fastpasses for the park things began to start feeling better.

We went into Disneyland Paris for the evening which was so much fun but came back before fireworks ready for another big day tomorrow.

Day 21

Today it was all about Disney. We managed to go to both parks & get most attractions completed.

We were entertained by Mickey the Magician, witnessed amazing stunts at the stunt show & went on many themed rides including rides narrated in French.

We didn’t meet many characters but that is tomorrow’s plan.

Lifelong friends Gary & Ashton are staying in Paris also at the moment so we made many memories & spent the day with them. So much fun!

We finished the day with the amazing fireworks display. Disney definitely knows how to entertain.

We arrived back to our hotel at midnight only to back it up again tomorrow with another day at Disney with Brooke’s friend from school & her family.

Bring it on!

Tuesday will be our last day where we will be spending the day in Paris.

Day 22

Today we started the day by lining up at Crush’s Coaster – the only Australian themed ride at Disney but with LONG queues . We queued for 1 ½ hours but made some lovely French friends while in the queue. This was a fun coaster based on Crush swimming through the Great Barrier Reef.

Then we hopped over to Disneyland to meet Brooke’s friend Sophia, her mother Irina & her brother Stefan.

We had lots of fun going in many rides & enjoyed The Lion King – Rhythm of The Pride Lands Stage Production.

We went on more rides including Peter Pan which is a lovely flying ride but the day is VERY HOT & after It’s A Small World Ride we say goodbye to our friends & enjoy a swim in the Hotel Pool.

We are a little disappointed we could not find any characters to take photos with . We didn’t get to personally meet one character while in the parks – a change from the other parks we have been to. Perhaps it is because of the heightened security in Paris & they don’t like the characters wandering around?

Never mind, tomorrow we are going into Paris.

Day 23

We catch a train into Charles de Gaulle – Etollie. The train ride itself is entertaining with gypsies begging for money & men playing instruments on the train to entertain us. We reward the buskers but not the gypsies.

After almost 50 minutes in the train we arrive to our destination & there right in front of us is the iconic Arc de Triumphe. We queue up for tickets & climb the many winding stairs to the top of the building for an amazing view of Paris & another history lesson.

It is getting very HOT. Around 37 degrees. We are hot & tired & we came to see the Eiffel Tower so we walk 2.1km to the Tower & get photos taken in front of this structure & on the Bridge.

We were never planning to climb the tower today, we have just intended to look at it from the outside.

We enjoyed a refreshing lunch at a restaurant near the tower & ordered Escargot – yep snails!

We all ate them & had varying degrees of ‘liking’ them. Kobi loved them, 1 was enough for Kynan.

Whilst it would have been food to see Saint Chappelle – a highly recommended church we have appreciated what we have already seen & it is very HOT.

We decide to jump on a boat & cruise the River Seine. Here we view other icons along our journey but feel very tired & I think dehydrated.

Our hour long boat ride was interesting but we were happy to get off & get back in the train to our accommodation. The pool is looking very good.

As we are deciding whether to walk back to the station or catch a taxi we spot a transport bike buggy. We hire the buggy and get transported through the crazy traffic to the station.

We enjoy getting back to our accommodation, walking through the Disney Village & meeting Coralie who is also in Paris. Coralie is spending the night in our hotel & we are joe eying together for our flight home.

We have a swim, pack our bags then once again head out to the Disney Village for dinner.

Planet Hollywood is our restaurant of choice. We enjoy a touch of fireworks from outside the park & say goodbye to Disney Paris for 2019.

Day 24

Well, today we say goodbye to Paris.

We have learned about Kings, Queens, Lords, Ladies, Castles and churches. We have been educated about the wars. We have been on planes, trains & boats. We’ve seen landmarks and icons we could only read about. We have enjoyed the countryside and the city. We have walked a lot. We have had fun at theme parks & we have shared some of these moments with my sister & her family, our lifelong friends – The Scott Family, and our school friends.

The only thing missing was Brittany & Lachlan & we will be so, so happy to see them when we get home.

Thank you for following along our journey.


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