London, Edinburgh, St. Andrews, Keswick and Lakes District, Iron Bridge, Warwick, Bath.
In March of 2009, I heard a rumor that British Airways was offering exceptionally low priced flights to London. After checking online and finding round trip, nonstop flights for $500 including tax, I was prepared to click the “purchase” button when Heidi suggested we invite my parents. We called them and said they had to make an immediate decision- travel with us to the UK for two weeks in April or stay home and watch Lulu. They chose to leave Lulu with my aunt Glenda (Thank you!) and go with us. I bought the tickets before they could change their minds.
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This was our first experience flying on British Airways and we had a GREAT experience.
We took off on April 11, 2009 and arrived at Heathrow on April 12. We jumped in the Tube and headed towards the Earl’s Court station in Kensington.
Our apartment was a two bedroom flat in Bramham Gardens, South Kensington near Chelsea. It was a very nice place with excellent access to the Earl’s Court Tube stop and Hyde Park.
We had arrived at the apartment around 6 pm and by 7 we were already walking! These are the beautiful gardens in Bramham.
We walked north to Kensington Gardens, enjoying the fresh air and cool London climate.
The next day we did our best to get out of bed and were having breakfast by 11:00 am. Not bad for the first day jet lag! We jumped on a double decker bus and headed toward central London with our first objective being to get a handle on the layout of the city and next to visit the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge.
We did a quick walk-by of the Tower of London…
Walked across the Tower Bridge…
Admired the spring tulips…
And back across the Tower Bridge and to the Saint Paul Cathedral.
Back across the Thames on a really cool foot bridge…
Under the Eye, but the “queue” was way too long…
So, we headed towards Big Ben.
…and the Houses of Parliament.
After all that walking, it was time to hit the pub and the bed.
April 14, 2009. My 40th Birthday.
First stop of the day: Tower of London to beat the crowds.
Then we walked across the bridge and headed east along the south side of the Thames towards the Eye, back across the the Embankment and hit Gordon’s Wine Bar. Very cool place. Then towards Leicester Square and to a pub for dinner.
April 15- Heidi’s birthday.
The next day was Heidi’s Birthday and we went to the Royal Palace. No royals making appearances for Heidi, though.
Snacks were in order.
Then to Harrods for shopping and lunch. The fanciest fish and chips ever.
The next day we experienced our first bit of British rain, so we went to a market.
After that, my parents went to a play and Heidi and I did a Ghosts and Pubs tour. It was really fun.
April 17 was up early to the tube at Earl’s Court, to King’s Cross to catch an East Coast train to Edinburgh. The train ride was gorgeous. We had a perfectly sunny and beautiful day until we arrived in Edinburgh, where it was overcast and REALLY cold. But the city was stunning. We did a quick walk around, ducked into restaurants and shops every 30 feet and then rushed back to our B&B to get warm.
The next day we walked through the city and into the castle.
View of “New” Edinburgh from the castle.
Interior of the castle.
Yep, it was still cold. This is Heidi’s new Scottish Wool hat and gloves.
That evening, the sun came out and we decided to hike up to the top of Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park.
It’s an extinct volcano and the hike was short and steep.
But the views were gorgeous. That’s an inlet from the North Sea.
St. Anthony Chapel ruins.
Gary having a bit of Scotch!
The next day we rented a car and drove to St. Andrews. The weather was gorgeous with no wind and beautiful sunny skies. It was a Sunday so the golf course was closed.
We decided to walk the entire course and I had to jump into a bunker and rake the sand. What a blast!
This was an incredible experience. I only regret not spending the night in St. Andrews and trying to get a round in the next morning. Oh, well. Next time!
After lunch, we drove to the ruined cathedral in St. Andrews.
Keswick and Lakes District
That afternoon we drove down to Keswick for the night. This is a great bed and breakfast that we found.
The lakes district was beautiful and we walked around the town and took in the views.
We visited a local stone circle. Maybe not Stonehenge, but neat anyway.
The Iron Bridge
This was the second mistake of the trip. Besides not playing golf at St. Andrews, this was the next blunder. Rick Steves recommended this town. It was okay, but we would have been much better off going to York. I’m pretty sure the house we stayed in was haunted. I was scared.
Now granted, this area was pretty and this was the first iron bridge in the world…
A recommended castle- pretty okay. Probably better for little kids. A bit Disneylandish. We stayed for a few hours on our way to Bath.
Our last two days were in Bath, which was gorgeous. We stayed in a very nice hotel and really enjoyed walking the town, eating great Indian food and poking around the ancient Roman baths.
…to the top!