One of the cool things about traveling to major cities is that you can really see a lot in one day by paying for a guided tour out of the city. In London and in Edinburgh we took day trips for one day each.
The first was to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, and Bath through Evan Evans Tours. Windsor Castle is the Queen’s weekend home, and close to the boarding school, Eton College, that Prince William and Prince Harry attended. At Windsor Castle, they didn’t allow photography inside, but we saw Queen Mary’s doll house, which reminded me of when I was a child because my Grandma Audrey had a few doll houses that played with for hours and hours rearranging the tiny furniture, cars, and dolls and imagining what our lives would be like living in such a big Victorian house. The doll house was the size of a whole room and was so intricate and beautiful. The rest of the castle was much like I assume most other castles are complete with old bedding, tapestries, paintings, weapons, coats of arms, and really substantial furniture. It was the weekend and the Queen was in! They post the Royal Standard instead of the Union Jack to indicate when the Queen is on the premises. Our tour guide was really fantastic and kept me interested the whole day, which is no small feat.
Stonehenge was high on my list of things to do in England since it has always been one of those mysterious sites that nobody can really explain. There are theories, and it definitely has alignment with the sun, but there are no certainties. It was a lot smaller than I had imagined, but still cool to see in person.
We had to of course go to Bath, since Chad studied there in college, and it is home to the Roman Baths in the UK. It was pretty packed with tourists so I’d probably recommend just staying in town rather than going for a tour, but I guess they were cool to see since they are really old and things. 🙂 The architecture was more impressive from my perspective.
After spending time in England we went north to Edinburgh, Scotland (pronounced EdinburUH). There we wanted to make sure to get up to Loch Ness (loch means lake and is pronounced sort of like lock, but more from the throat) and into the Highlands and took a day trip to see it all. We took a tour through the company Heart of Scotland Tours on the Wee Red Bus and did Tour 1 to Loch Ness and the Highlands. It wasn’t as nice of weather, and reminded me a lot of the countryside in Ireland, but it was cool to see the snow-capped glens (mountains) including Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland and get out of the city for a day. The highlands are north of Edinburgh, so it was cold but was not rainy and a little less windy so it was actually quite pleasant. We also went into a whisky distillery on the way through the highlands.
I recommend either of the day tours we did in the UK. They get a little long for me, but especially with good weather they are worth the expense and journey! In the summer I’d recommend booking in advance. We have had luck booking the day before, but I can imagine during the high tourist season you may need to do a little more planning and book ahead of time.