Our Second Month on the Road

Our Second Month on the Road

Here’s a recap of our second month on the road from twelve-year-old Calla. See how she feels about our family RTW trip.

 

Our second month in our year-long trip around the world, started with us leaving Barcelona and going to England, Cambridge to be specific. We arrived at the airport in the morning and got on the train to Cambridge. We got to Cambridge after about an hour on the train. We started walking to Burt’s apartment. When we got there we waited for about 15 minutes for Burt’s neighbor to bring us the keys. We got the keys and started walking up the steep stairs with all of our heavy luggage. Burt’s apartment was really cool! He had lots of books all over the house, I think in every room! Once we got settled, we went to walk around Cambridge. We walked to one little square with a cool little market! We got some mini savory pies known as pasties and walked around a bit more. When we got home mom cooked the pies and we had dinner. We all slept very well and very late the next morning. The next few days were mostly exploring Cambridge, having tea at Fitzbillies, and looking in small little shops. We went to the Fitzwilliam museum which was interesting, it had paintings from France, Spain, England, and a lot of other countries, it also had a lot of old sculptures and Japanese/Chinese artworks. We took a really creepy ghost tour which gave me nightmares… like the one when we went in an ally and the guide said “if you hear breathing behind you or warm breath on your hand, don’t turn around because it could be the ghost dog and if you look into his eyes, a family member will die.” It was scary! I had my first real fish ‘n’ chips and it was delicious!! We saw 2 boys choirs which were cool and they were very good singers. We rented bikes for a day and explored more of Cambridge; we went along the river and behind Kings College and through traffic which was scary for me! There were big cars and trucks right next to me! We went to the Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology which was not so interesting for me, more for my mom.

Bike tour of Cambridge

We did get to go to London for about a day and a half. We went on the train and got to London. First we checked into our hostel and then walked all around the shopping streets which was really fun for me and Magnolia. Then we walked back to our hostel and went to bed. We had breakfast and then went to the more touristy part of London. We went to Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and we even went on the London Eye! It took a long time to get on the London Eye because the line was soooooooooo long! We started walking towards a museum that my mom wanted to see called the Tate Modern when we saw a Malaysia festival going on. We stopped to look around and it was so cool! We had some spring rolls which are so good! We learned about Malaysia and now I’m excited for that! We went to the museum which was more for my mom. But there was this weird thing going on there and there was a group of people who were walking really slowly and they stopped and talked to random people about random things going on in their life which was really creepy to me. But it was a performance/flash mob, but it was an interesting one though!  After the museum we went to the train station and went back to Cambridge. I think the next day we left to go to the train station to go to Edinburgh! The train ride took about 5 hours. But I was just really excited to go so I didn’t mind how long it took.

In front of Buckingham Palace

When we got to Edinburgh, we took a cab to our apartment. The apartment was really cool!! We were kind of tired so that evening all we did was do some homework and watch some tv which had my all time favorite shows: Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother. The next day we walked around and found some cool Halloween stores and joke shops that we took a peek in. We walked a bit longer and found Greyfriars Cemetery where we saw Greyfriars Bobby’s grave. Greyfriars Bobby was a dog who, after his owner died, sat by his grave every day. After we walked through there, we went to the Elephant House Café which was where J.K. Rowling wrote some Harry Potter books or at least some ideas for it. The café had really good hot cocoa and cookies! The bathroom walls were all covered with Harry Potter quotes and messages to J.K. Rowling which I thought was very cool! We looked in some shops and some vintage shops because my mom was looking for some charms for her friend.

Harry Potter graffiti in Edinburgh

 

We went to the Camera Obscura museum which I thought was awesome! It had lots of optical illusions and this cool computer thing that makes you look like a baby, chimp, or a manga character! It’s really cool! We took the bus for 45 minutes and arrived at my mom’s friend Rahki’s house for lunch, where she cooked us a delicious vegetarian Indian lunch. After lunch, we went on a walk around the neighborhood with Rahki and her husband. Afterwards, they drove us back to our apartment.

The fabulouth Firth of Forth

The next day, we went on a ghost tour that was mostly funny not so much scary. It involved a ghost tour guide who looked like a vampire, a money collector, Agnes who threw her “waste” at us (don’t worry it was just water), a zombie monk, and a pregnant skeleton dancing to Gangnam Style! It was so funny, I loved it! The next day we went to the Edinburgh Dungeons. It is this underground place that is like a big haunted house. It was really scary but really fun! We went on a really dark boat ride and at the end we went on the Drop of Doom which was so scary!!! Then we went to get hot cocoa at a good café called Porto and Fi.

Cadies and Witchery Tour in Edinburgh

The next day my dad came back from Eindhoven after 6 weeks! We had lunch at an okay Mexican restaurant called Illegal Jack’s. We showed my dad around Edinburgh and went to a museum and then we went back to our apartment so my dad could get settled. The next day my parents friend Brian came to give us a driving tour of Edinburgh. Brian was very nice and told us a lot about the city. We had lunch at a place called Howie’s. This place had very good food. My first course was traditional Scottish haggis served with mashed potatoes and turnips. I thought it was pretty good until my parents told me what it was, which is basically sheep liver, heart, and lungs, baked inside of the sheep’s stomach! Crazy!  My second course was risotto but I didn’t care for it so I traded with my mom for her venison with a nice sauce on top. We paid and split up.

Calla's first taste of haggis.

The next day Brian picked us up and said we were going to the beach and we needed to pick up his friend Roland on the way. We picked up Roland and his dog and went on our way to Tyninghame beach. It was a short but muddy walk to the beach and it wasn’t so much beach as it was rock, but it was very pretty! We walked up the beach a bit and then climbed a big grassy hill. We walked along the muddy hill and I should’ve mentioned this before but I was wearing Uggs not realizing that it would be rocky and muddy so I guess I should’ve thought about that because halfway on the hill I slipped and fell! I got my North Face and jacket and jeans all muddy! But luckily it wasn’t that visible. We finished up our beach walk and went back to the car. We had lunch and said goodbye and went to take a tour of the underground caves. It was pretty cool! I think I might’ve felt the presence of a ghost… BOO!

Tyninghame beach, Scotland

The next day we went to the Museum of Childhood which was basically a museum with lots of toys and games. It was pretty rainy so we went to the Scottish History Museum. We went to get some wine because that night we were going over to Brian’s house for dinner. We got there at about 6:30 and the kids weren’t home yet, Brian said it was because they do all of the things that we Americans do on the weekends, like sports games and piano practice and things like that, after school, so he said that they usually come home 6:00 – 8:00. They got home at about 7:00. The kid’s names were Noah 12, Naomi 10, Archie 11 and Jasper 15. They had a baby named Cosmo who we met briefly when we got there. But he was already in bed. We talked for a while before dinner; then us kids went downstairs to play ping-pong and pool. Then it was time for dinner. After dinner we played ping-pong again and then they went to bed and so after the parents finished talking we went back to our apartment. The next day was Friday so we checked out of our apartment and brought our luggage to Brian’s house. Magnolia, my dad, and I went to an art museum and my dad got a little housewarming gift for when we would go to Brian and his family’s country beach house in Elie. While we were doing that my mom was meeting with some people from Eurail and by the end of the meeting, we had 2 month Eurail passes! Soon we met my mom at the Royal Yacht Britannia which was the Queen’s yacht that they used for family outings and stuff like that. After that we went to Brian’s house and had dinner and got set up for the night. When we woke up, we had breakfast and the kids’ babysitter for the night had made some tea. We got dressed and then I was playing with Cosmo for a bit and then Magnolia and Archie and I took their dog Winston for a walk in the park. When we got back, we watched television for a bit and then Brian and Amy got back from the wedding they went to. After about half an hour we were packed up and ready to go to Elie!

Aboard the Royal Yacht Brittania

The drive to Elie took about 45 minutes, but after about 10 minutes we went to the grocery store and got some Monster Munch which Brian said we had to try. I have to admit, they were delicious! We got to Elie, got settled, and me Magnolia and Naomi and my dad went on a walk on the beach. Later we had dinner and then played rummy, a card game. And after, us kids went to play monopoly. After about the first 10 minutes the game ended with Noah underneath the beanbag and Archie jumping on top of him and someone else  flipping the board. The next day we went on a walk on the rocks. It was really fun! And it was really funny because Naomi saw a big shell that she wanted in the water so Brian told Noah to go in and get it, but it was chilly outside and the water was freezing but Noah said yes and took off his jeans shoes and socks and went waist deep into the freezing cold water. He was screaming like a little girl! He picked up the shell and threw it, thinking Brian would catch it but he didn’t so Noah had to go in again and get the other shell. He got out and gave it to Naomi and 2 minutes later she threw back in the water screaming “THERE’S A CRAB!!!” It was all really funny to watch. We finished our walk at the beach and met Cosmo and Amy there. Then we went back home.

Magno being sassy on the beach in Elie, Scotland

The next day we went on the chain walk. The chain walk is a long hike that you can only hike when it is low tide because you are hiking by the water on big huge rocks! So basically we started walking on the beach and then we got to the rocky part. to climb up the rocky part there is a chain which you cant let go of or else you would fall off the cliff. One time I almost did! Some parts were easy to climb and some parts like when I was climbing straight down was scary! During our hike we found a big quartz rock, we all tried to get a piece of it. There was one part where we were right next to the water and if you moved over you would fall into the water! After we climbed up that we were on a trail down, so it wasn’t hard then. When we got back, Magnolia, Naomi and I played with Cosmo on the trampoline and then we helped him with his bath. The next day we rode our bikes to a nice little breakfast place and then went back home and a few hours later, Amy and Jasper came. It got sunny so we went to the smokehouse and got smoked cheese, smoked salmon, smoked langoustines which are like mini lobsters. We also got these marshmallow cookies and ate them on the rooftop. Then we went to a little bar and the parents got beers and the kids got little mussels in a jar. When we finished we went to play bulldogs which is basically like tag but with 3 bases.

On the chain walk in Elie, Scotland

The next day we went with my parents, Brian, and the kids into St. Andrews We walked around a bit and then went to dinner which was burgers and chips (fries) there was lots of board games and Connect 4, so we played those while we were waiting for our food. After dinner we walked to the movie theater and we went to go see The Perks of Being a Wallflower which I think everyone liked. Then everyone was very tired so we drove home and went to bed. The next day we kids went on a really long walk with Winston. Then when we got back everyone said that they wanted to go to Dundee pool so Brian said if we all made a piece of artwork we could go. So we did. After we made our artworks, we went to Dundee Swimming Pool, which is a indoor water park. It was really fun!! There were 3 water slides and wave pool and a lazy river. The blue and green slides were fun but the yellow one was my favorite – it was like a 3 meter drop! It was so fun! When we got back in the car we heard Naomi’s “Payphone” rap which was actually really good! We got home, then had some dinner and watched a movie. Then it got to be late so we went to bed.

Time for art in Elie

The next day we Totaros packed up because we were leaving for Paris. But before we left, Brian judged our artwork and we each got a pack of Rolos. We said our sad goodbyes and Brian drove us to the airport. We said goodbye and checked in for our flight. It was really sad to leave Scotland because I had sooo much fun there! And before we left, Brian gave us some Monster Munch for the plane ride and I got some Irn Bru which is a Scottish soda which is delicious! Then we flew to Paris.

Monster Munch

We got to the airport in the evening about 5pm and we got a taxi to our apartment. We brought all of our luggage up the 4 flights of stairs and settled in. the apartment was very small! Much different than Brian’s house in Elie! There were 2 rooms: one was for me and magnolia and the other was the kitchen and my parent’s room. After we unpacked and relaxed for a bit, we got on the metro and went to the Eiffel tower. We sat down on a ledge and ate baguettes while watching the Eiffel tower. All of the sudden, the Eiffel tower started flashing with strobe lights! It was so cool!!

Our first night in Paris

The next day we went to the Centre Pompidou which was like a big modern art museum and since I don’t like museums very much I actually liked this one, so that’s good! We had lunch on a bench, again having baguettes. We walked across the river and went to an English bookstore called Shakespeare and Company. I thought it was really cool! Most of the books were in English so we stayed there for a few hours, just reading. It was very comfortable and for a while there was someone playing the piano softly and nicely. After we finished looking there, we walked around the corner to a crepes place. It looked pretty good so we went in. I had a crepe with ham, cheese, and egg, it was really good! And for dessert we all split one crepe with butter and caramel and whipped cream. I have to say that the restaurant was delicious!

Outside the Centre Pompidou

The next day we took the metro and walked a little to the flea market. In the beginning it was all furniture, modern, old, and new. After a bit we got to the clothes and shoes and accessories part, but it wasn’t really my style. So we walked back to the furniture part. And it kind of reminded me of the movie ‘Midnight In Paris’. After a bit more walking around, we started walking towards somewhere to eat. We walked to the neighborhood called Montmartre and got some coffee and hot cocoa and saw the famous cathedral called Sacre Coeur. We walked up the hill a little more and found a little brass band which was really good!

Clignancourt market

After a while we walked to a neighborhood called Belleville and visited my parents friend James and his family. We walked around the neighborhood and got some bread and had a really good view of the Eiffel tower. He recommended some restaurants for dinner. When we were walking home, someone snapped a rubber band on my backside!

The next day we went to a museum called L’Orangerie which used to be a greenhouse and you can tell that because of the glass roof. There was an exhibit by Soutine which I did not like very much but there was still a few that were a bit interesting. After we finished looking there, we ate lunch outside in a park. We sat in comfortable chairs and again, ate baguettes (this was what we had for lunch almost every day). We walked over and saw the Louvre but we didn’t go in because me and Magnolia didn’t want to 😉  We walked to one of the bridges and it was COVERED with love locks! Then we went to see Notre Dame. We got in a big line and went inside. It was GIGANTIC!! And the stained glass was really pretty. Then we walked to a neighborhood and went to an Israeli restaurant called Pitzman. We had a few latkes and then went on our way. We walked down a shopping street and peeked in a few stores.

Love locks on a bridge in Paris

The next day Magnolia, my dad and I rented Velib bikes and for a while we rode along the Saint Martin canal, and then we started riding towards the Arc de Triomphe. It was a looong ride with lots of traffic and being really close to the buses because it was a bus/bike lane. But soon it became crowded with people so we walked our bikes to the nearest Velib station which was a long way away, but right next to where my mom was getting us some French macarons which are French cookies, which have all different colors and flavors. They are delicious! The flavors were rose, bubblegum, violet, chocolate, salted caramel, and pistachio.Velib bikes in Paris

 

Since we were close, we walked to the Eiffel tower. It was really pretty! We got there and there was a huge line to go to the top so we got in the shorter line to just climb up the steps to the second floor. We got our tickets and started climbing up. The stairs were really steep! I was really tired by the time we got up. We were only on the second floor but we were so high up! I’m glad we didn’t go to the top; I would’ve fainted and fallen off! It was really scary climbing up and down because we were climbing in all the steel and wires that make up the Eiffel tower! When we got down, I looked up to the 2nd floor and it didn’t look very high.  But I was glad to be down, though the view was great! Afterwards, we looked at these exhibits about the United Buddy Bears. Buddy Bears are sculptures of bears that every country decorates to represent their country. It was really cool especially the one covered in calla lilies. After, we took the metro back to our apartment. I was exhausted! So we had dinner and went straight to bed.  The next day we went to the Musee d’Orsay and spent a lot of the day there, and then we had lunch in Jardin Katherine Labouret. After lunch, we went to a big shopping street where we went into the Conran Shop and Le Bon Marche. After a while we went back to our apartment by subway.

At the Eiffel Tower

The next day was Halloween so we decided to go to Pere Lachaise Cemetery, which had a lot of famous people buried there and a lot of war memorials. We walked around the cemetery for a bit and then went to a French restaurant for lunch called, Le Bouchoir. They had really good food! I had goat cheese wrapped in crispy bread. Then we took the subway to the train station to get overnight train tickets to Berlin. We then went back to our apartment but not before we got some candy from the grocery store J. When we got to our apartment I started working on my costume (a mouse) by drawing a nose and whiskers on my face and putting on red lipstick. Finally to finish it off, I made some mouse ears out of paper. Then we ate candy! We actually got some trick-or-treaters, but me and Magno didn’t want to give up our candy so we gave them key-chains leftover from the Malaysia fair in London. But at least they seemed happy with them!  October was really fun for me!

Halloween costumes on the fly

5 Things to Do in Edinburgh with Kids

5 Things to Do in Edinburgh with Kids

The city of Edinburgh is a great one to visit with kids older than 5. The younger ones might enjoy it, too, but you might find the stairs and hills of the city to be a bit much to maneuver with toddlers.

Camera Obscura, Cadies and Witchery Tours, Royal Yacht B</a srcset=

Take a Ghost Tour: Start with a ghost tour, which will give you some history of the city, while also giving some great stories that the kids will surely remember. Some are more scary and grisly than others. We found the Witchery Murder and Mystery Tour to be just the right mix of fact and silliness for our twelve-year-olds.  (One of the spirits we met along the way even did a Gangnam Style dance for us.)

Visit the Edinburgh Dungeons: Once you’ve got the basics of Edinburgh’s grisly history down, You may want to take it to the next level – down – and go to the Edinburgh Dungeons. Here costumed actors take you through some deep dark dungeons to reenact some of the more terrifying stories of Edinburgh’s past – witch trials, the cannibal Sawney Bean, and the murderers Burke and Hare. Though it’s a little pricey, and the “rides” are really underwhelming, my kids declared it their second-favorite thing.

Experience the Camera Obscura: So what was their favorite thing? That would be the Camera Obscura, a museum dedicated to optical illusions. The museum was built around an actual camera obscura — a dark room at the top of the building with a lens built into the top which projects a real-time view of the city outside onto a table surface, where you can try some visual tricks of your own. The rest of the museum is just as clever, if not more so. A mirror maze, 3D experiments, and a spinning light wind tunnel will leave you questioning the reliability of your senses.

Tour the Royal Yacht Brittania: “Mum, is this where the Queen had her dinner?” the little girl asked.  We were in the large dining room of the Brittania, the retired Royal Yacht now moored in Leith, not far from the center of Edinburgh. It is both more and less luxe than you might imagine. The way the ship is set up, you first see the somewhat stodgy but lovely royal accommodations, and work your way down to where the crew of more than 100 shared very tight quarters. The audio guide does a good job of describing the  functions of the many people required to run the ship in its heyday. Some of it gets into detail that might not be so interesting to the little ones, but you can bribe them with promises of something from the sweet shop midway through the tour. You could also opt for sit-down meal or tea in the Royal Deck tea room, which looks out over the harbor.

Climb Something: Edinburgh is full of hills and stairs, and even a dormant volcano. If your you are visiting Edinburgh with kids who need to burn off even more energy, there are plenty of things to climb to get a great view of the panorama.

Best times to visit: August is the time of the Edinburgh Festival, the Military Tattoo, and the Fringe Festival, which gives the city a serious buzz, and fills all the rooms in the city. If you’re not visiting any of those, don’t bather to come to Edinburgh at that time. Come earlier in Spring or Summer. Early fall brings an appropriate chill to the city, and you’ll probably be tempted to pick up a nice wool sweater or kilt as a souvenir.

This post is brought to you by Visit Scotland, which provided accommodations and entry passes to some attractions to the writer. The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.