Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Day Trippin'.

The second week of our UK adventure was full of day trips - some spontaneous, some planned in advance. Check out the overnight trips to London and Scotland.

First up: Dover. Specifically, the white cliffs.


We traipsed around on the [chilly] beach, drew on the cement with some of the chalk pieces that had fallen off, then drove to the top of the cliffs and pretended we were in Pride and Prejudice, hiking the moors enjoyed the views down the steep cliffs and across the channel to the border of France.

After Dover, we drove to Canterbury. We had quite possibly the most fantastic lunch at a place I can't remember, took even better pastries to-go after, and strolled the incredibly cute college down.

Canterbury Cathedral over the town rooftops.

After lunch, we were close enough to Leeds Castle that we thought we might make a stop. That, and Mum recently read about it on Britain's Top Ten Castles listing. We're suckers for the travel channel. We only had an hour, but the power tour of the castle was fabulous. It was the end of the day so we avoided crowds and got to walk down the hall said to be haunted by Catherine of Aragon. The history and allure of the castle - from Henry VIII to that of a socialite, was incredible and overwhelming to my wish-I-could've-been-there sense. I was in shock and awe at every turn, and especially at the library.


And then there were the grounds: immaculate! And the moat: awesome! And the animals: a white peacock!

And the next day: Amsterdam. We bought plane tickets for a day (leaving at 6:45 AM and flying home at 7:00 PM) and set our sights on the tulips. From the airport, we went to Kuekenhof. Kuekenhof is sort of like an amusement park, but it's just plants and flowers. Acres and acres of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and varieties and varieties of each. It was gorgeous. And the smell! Incredible.


Seriously, we have a million pictures from our day in the park. We never made it into Amsterdam (so I missed the canals, the bikes, and Anne Frank's), but we had a beautiful day (after the forecast called for a 70% chance of rain - not a drop) and used it to get our fill of beautiful nature.


And behind that windmill, the fuzzy strips of color? Those are tulips in the field, growing like we would grow corn. It was incredible.


The next day: day trip to Hampton Court just outside of London. Continuing with the Henry VIII obsession, we spent the morning and afternoon exploring the INSANELY large palace. It was absolutely unreal to see how he lived and how the place changed with his wives. In almost every room there's some relic from a former wife that was overlooked when he ordered her memory erased.


That night, we were back in Derby and had the best Indian food ever with my dad's work mates. Seriously. Best dinner ever.

Our last day was spent in Derby, along with a couple other days between our trip to London and Scotland. My dad's flat is within walking distance to the mall, some fantastic dessert shops (like Birds), the freshest bread and nicest wait staff ever (Jackrabbits), and super cute shops in between. In other words, Derby was extremely dangerous. I probably shopped and ate way too much. I definitely did. I'm still not regretting it.


I still can't believe it all happened. It was such a fantastic trip that I'm so nervous I'm forgetting to tell you something fabulous. As if you're trying to repeat my trip exactly. But that would be creepy. I mean, it's a great trip, but maybe mix it up a bit. Maybe do Scotland from Glasgow to Edinburgh instead of Edinburgh to Glasgow. Or maybe see anything of Glasgow.

OH! I KNOW. This is unrelated to any day trip but it was my biggest slip-up of the trip. After our day of rambling in the highlands, we arrived at our hotel in Glasgow at 9 PM. We were just crashing there for the night before hitting Douglas in the morning and heading back to Derby. It was Easter Sunday, 9 PM, and the dinner cards were against us. We walked in two restaurants only to be told that they were just closing. We walked in the third to be told we had a 45-minute wait. We couldn't do that. We walked in the fourth, a Mexican restaurant with the heat blasting so high in the lobby that the door handle was hot to touch, and were seal clapping when the waiter told us they were still serving.

We were ravenous. I ordered some sort of salad and wanted a side of guacamole. Being so hungry and kind of tired, this was the exchange:
Me: 'Can I also get a side of guac with that?'
Waiter: 'I'm sorry?'
Me: 'A side of guacamole. I'm sorry. Like a little bowl of guacamole and chips.'
Waiter: 'Oh, yes yes, we can do that.'
Me: 'Awesome. Thanks!'

Fast forward twenty minutes to our food. I get my salad, guac, and french fries. Mmm? TOTALLY FORGOT that chips = french fries, crisps = potato chips, and tortillas = tortilla chips. It had to happen once.

So there you have it. Two weeks, three countries, too many sights to count. Fantastic pictures, fabulous memories. I can't wait to get back.

 Check out the London and Scotland part of the trip!

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