Tag Archives: Edinburgh Castle

Headed for parts very well-known

DSCN0668This past year has been a whirlwind of travel for me. It seems like every time I turn around I am either planning a trip, taking a trip or just getting back from one. One of my friends jokingly asked me if I planned to spend any time at home this summer. I laughed, and answered, “Maybe a day or two.” In hindsight, I don’t feel like I was that far off.

In the past year, I have been to New Orleans, Las Vegas, North Carolina (twice), Georgia (twice), Florida (twice-once to Disney World and once to Tampa), and Colorado. Looking into this year, I will be heading off to Florida four times (once to Tampa, twice to Disney World and once to Universal Studios), Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Georgia (at least twice), Greece, Italy, and probaby Charleston, South Carolina (once or twice…it’s up in the air right now). I would be heading back to Tampa a second time, but two days would overlap my Greece/Italy trip, so I had to put that trip off another year.

And these are just the trips I have planned. Who knows what other opportunties might present themselves to me.

close up Oxford CakeI’ve always loved to travel and this blog, which I have neglected for WAY TOO LONG, is littered with posts about fun places I’ve discovered while traveling (mostly within the U.S.). I have a habit of finding fun, quirky little corners of the world that far too many other people neglect in their haste to only see the big, splash sights. I love avoiding crowds and seeing quirky things like the Tree That Owns Itself in Athens, Georgia; historical things like Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh castleScotland; haunting things like The Irish Hunger Memorial in New York City; and delicious things like The Cake Shop in Oxford, England.

It is partly because of my love of actually traveling and partly because of my love for trip planning that I decided to add another hat to the many I already wear and become a Magical Vacation Planner. I spent about a month going through quite a bit of training, taking lots of quizes about amazing destinations, and taking oh so many notes about all the different ways I could help other people make their vacations as magical and as mine have been.

It sounds hokey, I know. But in my 22 years as a teacher, one of my biggest joys has been taking students on trips around the the world. I am just about bursting with excitement about our trip to Greece and Italy this coming June. I can’t wait to start having meetings with my kids so that I can get them every bit as hyped up as I am. I want to help them find the quirky, historical, haunting and delicious parts of the world they didn’t even know existed.

For this reason, becoming a Magical Vacation Planner makes perfect sense to me. Instead of just dreaming about my next big trip somewhere cool, I get to help other people plan their big events. Although I’m just starting out, I am already having so much fun. Today I got to send a client suggestions for places at Disney World where she can surprise her husband with a delicious dinner for his 50th birthday. I also got to give her all kinds of tips for rides that her kids are going to love (it’s their first trip). And, when I put in their reservation, I got to work with Disney to add an extra little surprise for them all. What’s not to love about this new gig?

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Yes, I know it’s going to be extra work, especially on those nights when I have 90 essays that I also need to grade, but to me it is completely worth it. I’ve already gotten several excited messages from my clients about all the cool suggestions I’m making to them. I get to hear their excitement and it makes me want to work twice as hard to make it as perfect as possible. As much as I do love teaching (and despite it being year 22, I still do), I find every minute I spend planning helping people plan their vacations even more exciting! I have a meeting with another client this coming Saturday and I cannot wait!

I love bringing a little extra magic into people’s lives!

 

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Travel Thursday: Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh castle.jpgAlthough I think London is the foreign city that has my heart, Edinburgh is a close second. I don’t know if it is the stunning architecture, the incredible history, the friendliness of the people or the fact that it is just big enough to feel like it would take months to really see it all, but still small enough to feel homey, but I adore it. In fact, despite my sheer adoration for everything London has to offer, if I was really going to pack my family up and move them to a city in the UK, I’d probably pick Edinburgh. London would be the place for me if I was single, but Edinburgh definitely seems more like my speed with a husband and two kids.

Not that I’m moving over seas any time soon (or ever).

I’ve only been to Edinburgh twice, but both time I’ve visited Edinburgh Castle. I guess that’s not really a surprise since both times I was leading a student trip and if there’s a castle or cathedral in the area, it seems student trips will stop there. We actually visited three castles/palaces and three cathedrals during our nine day trip (and one of those days was spent entirely in flight).

Edinburgh viewEven by castle standards, Edinburgh is pretty spectacular, if for no other reason than it has the best view of any castle in the UK that I’ve visited. I love the fact that it is set up on top of the hill. The view is breathtaking. Since I’d already visited the castle three years ago, I didn’t do nearly as many touristy things on this visit. I’d already seen the crown jewels and watched the one o’clock gun fired. So this time I spent a lot more time just walking around and taking everything in. I got to casually stroll through the castle, which was lovely. I spent time looking out over the entire beautiful city. It was such a nice break from neurotically counting my students to make sure they were all accounted for.

It was also nice to have just a bit of time to myself. On these trips, I rarely let students out of my sight, however, since there is only one way in or out of the castle and I knew my students would have no way to get into any trouble or get lost inside the castle, I was able to give them all an hour to just explore and enjoy. Sure, I made them promise to stay in pairs (and most stayed in groups of 4 or 5), but I let them feel a bit more grown up and explore without one of the adults looking over their shoulders. This also meant I got some quiet time to myself. Sure, I could have hung out with the other chaperones, but we’d also been together pretty much nonstop and it was nice to just walk around and take it all in.

The history at this castle is pretty amazing. Even by the old standards of the UK, this castle is old. St. Margaret’s Chapel, the oldest building within the castle walls dates back between 1130-1140. It is so amazing to not only see this building still standing, but to be able to step inside and touch this piece of history. I also have to admit to being more than a little obsessed with the TV show Reign for awhile, and even though I know that about 90% of the “historical” element to the show is bunk, I still loved following the story of Mary Queen of Scots. To me it is so cool to visit the castle where she actually gave birth to her son, James VI.

Although I’m not big on military history, one of my chaperones is a former Marine and he thought it was pretty cool that the Scottish National War Museum and memorial are located inside the castle. He did have a slightly funny moment when he saw what was labelled as a soldier’s privy and thought it might a bathroom set up for military members (as part of a thank you for their service). Since he had to go to the bathroom, he was disappointed to find out it was just a exhibit of what bathrooms were like at the time prisoners of war were kept in the castle.

castle far offSpeaking of bathrooms, the only downside to visiting the castle this time was that I really had to go to the bathroom! I got a little turned around and could only find the bathroom in the cafe. Unfortunately there were only two stalls and the line actually extended out the door, around the corner, up the first set of stairs, onto the first landing and partially up the second set of stairs. I think I spent 20 minutes of my free time in the queue waiting for relief. I was really glad I had not followed the lead of my students and gotten coffees to help warm up on the slightly blustery day.

Long wait for the bathroom aside, it was a great day.

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