Explorastory: The UK

The first thing we did when we arrived was have a lie down. Seriously, we’d been awake since 4am local time on our flight to Zurich, then spent 6 hours exploring Zurich, before arriving in Edinburgh at 4pm. Then we took a taxi the 3km to dinner with Gavin & Lucy. We did walk back, in the beautiful gloaming of a high-latitude summer evening that was still light at 10pm.

An unexpected highlight was definitely the afternoon we spent chilling out in Kensington Gardens, doing nothing. It felt so wasteful, but was so needed after rushing around for the 5 or 6 days previous. Lying on the grass in the shade and people watching was lovely.

The hardest part of the trip turned out to be our two long days on buses – from Edinburgh to Loch Ness, and from London to Windsor, Bath, and Stonehenge. Combined with leaving! I loved our time in the UK and it was woefully insufficient. I wouldn’t bother with (or recommend) the day trip to Loch Ness. If you want to see it, do a self-drive over a couple of days so you get to really enjoy the scenery at times that suit you. We both liked Windsor and Bath, and would probably visit them both again if we got the chance.

My absolute favourite activity was riding the tube (yes, I’m odd). Learning my way around, exploring the city by train and then on foot. We took an over-ground to where the Olympic Park was being finished one day, which was a massive mission. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to Greenwich for the gondola.

We definitely need to go back and re-visit the Tower of London, and actually do a tour, rather than just wandering independently. It was really cool to visit, but there are bits you can only see with the tour (which is free!), and they have some awesome stories.

We wish we had had more time in general in the UK. 3 days in Edinburgh, 5 days in London. Not enough, especially when each place we had a full day out of town. We had the weather, but not the time, to climb Arthurs Seat in Edinburgh, and we didn’t manage to do any of the major museums in London.

Our most abiding memory would have to be the ghost tour to Greyfriars church yard in Edinburgh. Pick one up on the Mile, its an absolute must do. I’m still unsure how much of the guides history narrative was story, and how much was fiction, but I do remember having my foot stood on when someone freaked out in front of me.

Our worst experience would have to have been waiting in the queue at Kings Cross-St Pancras for our Eurostar to Paris. There were loads of trains leaving, security had been tightened without increasing capacity, and despite arriving over an hour earlier than we had been told to, we barely made it onto our service.

The very last thing we did before we left was spend an evening at a laundromat near our hotel. What we should have done was find the local after-hours GP or pharmacy for the awful cold I had before we headed off to non-English-speaking countries for nearly 2 weeks. I also wish we had spent more time exploring London in the evening, but the cold was too exhausting.

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