About a month ago, I asked for your help in choosing my European adventure — my Eastern European adventure, to be exact. I'm going to be spending 5-6 weeks in Europe next summer, and I hope to spend 3-4 of those weeks traveling around countries like Austria, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria (Austria added mostly based on your votes!). I may even throw in a stop or two in the Balkans, depending on my finances.
But, what about those other 2 weeks? What about the time that I'm going to spend in the UK?
I've barely even begun to think seriously about this trip. Things like school and other obligations have forced me to push my EuroTrip to the bottom of my “to-do” list. But I realize that (somehow) it's already the end of November! Meaning that my European adventure will be starting in roughly 8 months. And, for a planner like me, that's soon! The time is just flying.
So, since I've already started thinking about the Eastern Europe part of my trip (though I'm still very much open to suggestions!), I figured it was time to also start considering the UK leg.
My final destination on this trip will be Glasgow, Scotland, for the World Pipe Band Championships the second weekend in August. But, before that (and in between my time in Eastern Europe), I want to embrace the opportunity to see a bit more of the United Kingdom.
Here are some things I know I definitely want to do while in the UK:
Spend at least 4 or 5 days in London. I've never been to England before, so I know London is a must. And, since I'll be arriving in early August, that means that the Olympics will be going on! For most people, this would be a prime reason to avoid London like the plague. But I'm not most people. I'm actually looking forward to the energy and the excitement that the Olympics are bound to bring to the city. And, seeing as how I've already had an offer or two for a free place to stay while I'm there, I'm not worried about exorbitant accommodation prices. I want to be a total tourist in London and see all the “big sites.” … Though I'm not sure I even know what they all are! Who has some London tips for me?
Geek out at Leavesden Studios. Okay, so it's officially called the “Warner Bros. Studio Tour London,” but it's essentially what Leavesden Studios has been converted into. Much of the “Harry Potter” films were made at this location, and they have since converted the large studio into a geek-tastic Harry Potter experience, complete with lots of the actual sets that appeared in the movies. At least one of my days in London will be devoted to this, and you're also likely to find me posing like a goof at King's Cross Station at least once, too.
Visit Stonehenge. I know it's very touristy. But I cannot in good conscience plan a trip to England and not include a day trip to Bath and Stonehenge. I want to finally see it for myself!
Channel my mother in Liverpool. Since I'll be heading up north to Scotland anyway, I may as well stop in Liverpool and go on a Beatles-related tour for my mom's sake. She's the ultimate Beatles fan, and has raised me accordingly. I know she at least will definitely want to read anything I write about this city!
Other options in England include:
- A stop in the Cotswolds, which is supposed to be a ridiculously rustic and charming area.
- A stop in the Lake District, which I'm told looks a lot like New Zealand.
- A stop in Chester, if Adventurous Kate is still around.
Walk the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. I don't know much about the Scottish capital, but I do know that I want to to stroll down its main drag and take in both the kitsch and the architecture this city is so well known for. I assume I also may be brave enough to try some haggis here on my way to the castle.
Go hunting for Nessie.Would a trip to Scotland be complete without a trip to Loch Ness? No, no it would not. I also want to see some of the Scottish Highlands.
Get my fill of bagpipe music in Glasgow. I'll be ending my trip in Glasgow, where I'll watch my friend Max and his pipe band perform in the World Pipe Band Championships. I have no idea what to expect from this event, but I imagine there will be lots of plaid and lots of kilts. Perfect.
Since I will only have two weeks in the UK, I'm not sure I'll be able to fit Wales in, unfortunately. I also am not sure what the best way will be to go about seeing all of the things I want to see.
I think I'm going to do England mostly on my own, but I'm leaning towards a tour of some sort in Scotland. Haggis Tours (a wonderful sounding company that includes a focus on sustainability in their mission) has a 5-day tour from Edinburgh that includes the Highlands, Loch Ness, and a bunch of other awesome-sounding stuff. It may be worth it to go that route for a few days, and then focus on Edinburgh and Glasgow on my own. Two weeks really isn't very long at all, so I want to make the most of that short time.
So here's where you come in!
What sort of tips do you have for me? What am I leaving out? What should I leave off my itinerary?
Feel free to leave me tips on everything, from how to get around the Cotswolds, to the best Beatles tours in Liverpool, to great hotels in Edinburgh. I want all of your suggestions!
And hopefully your tips can help me get on track with thinking more seriously about this adventure.