Welcome back to another great post about traveling overseas for the #TravelingTalleys and #CuzUK! During our trip to England, Emily and I had the opportunity to visit both Wales and Scotland for a day trip. When we were in Sunderland we were definitely closer to the border so we decided one of the days that we were in the area would be a day trip to Scotland. Besides the gorgeous views we were sure we would see our true destination was the Callendar House. The drive was past Edinburgh, so we also stopped at a bar/restaurant for a bite to eat before stopping on the border of Scotland and England and snapping a few pictures. It was a long day, but definitely worth the adventure!
Like I mentioned in my last blog post, Emily was the driver for the entire trip. I was the navigator and attempted to take my role seriously – maybe a few times too seriously! All in all we seldom ran into problems, but one huge difference from the United States was the lack of stop signs and stop lights. Most intersections were roundabouts and only when exiting the highway/freeway did you start to see a stop sign/light. Since we were on the opposite side of the road, going through a roundabout was super strange! The signs were definitely different but at least we understood the language. I have to admit that was very strange at first. I’ve traveled overseas four times now – Mexico/Panama, Germany, Germany/Netherlands and now Iceland/England. When we landed first in Iceland for our connection flight to London I knew to look for symbols and had a feint idea of what I was looking for navigation wise for the language barrier (I try to look up something before visiting a country where I do not know the language well so I have a general idea – try it, you’ll thank me later!) When we landed in England and I read English it was so strange at first to be able to instantly know where and what I was suppose to be doing instead of reading the body language of the locals or trying to decipher a sign. Ha! Traveling is always so much fun. We landed in London and planned to spent at least a full week in London, but our first stop was a few days in Sunderland, which is North England. That is a full five hour drive so by the time we arrived in Sunderland that first day we were exhausted from travel and the time change. We had dinner and went to bed. Not before deciding to spend one of our days in Scotland! It was another five or so hours from our hotel to the Callendar House in Scotland, but we got up early that day and took off into the countryside so we could arrive in time to self tour the house.
Emily has been researching her family history and wanted to see if she could look more into a possible link to the Callendar House. Since the house itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and hosts not only the house but an entire park I was super excited to see a lovely and historic side of Scotland during our day trip. Walking through the house it quickly became apparent how stunning the house and surrounding landscape truly looked to me. The kitchen was magnificent – a fully working Georgian period kitchen and the staff in period costumes were cooking and let us have a taste. I didn’t really like it, but hey, I tried! On our way back to Sunderland we stopped at a bar/restaurant The Green in Edinburgh and took a short walk around the surrounding town but it was raining so we didn’t spend too long out of the car!
While our time in Scotland was only a day it was a very nice drive. We stopped at a little cafe and had breakfast before heading into Scotland from Sunderland in the morning, and on the way back we stopped at the border to take some pictures and read about the area. If you have the chance to visit the country take the opportunity even if it is only for a few hours or a very specific destination. The Callendar House had a very interesting history with its various owners and contributions to the area – definitely worth a visit. We didn’t have more time to spend in other areas but we did divert when we could to different parts of the country when we felt that we either needed a break or to see a great sight. Driving along the highway was completely different. In the United States as you drive by a city you see the skyscrapers, the restaurants, and the attractions of the town. Every where in the United Kingdom was long rolling hills and fields with sheep, trees were used as natural fences, and you could not see any restaurants or even gas stations – we started to realize once we hit about half a tank that we hadn’t seen a gas station in awhile. The signs are few and far between, and the names of a “gas station” or equivalent escaped our vocabulary. It was truly an experience! We did figure out that a central gas station/convenience store was a fantastic stop for a quick refill and some fantastic snacks. No kidding, I had a fresh sandwich and an amazing berry smoothie on more than one occasion. Their chips are baked and amazing. We actually started looking for this store whenever we could because of the quality. I have to admit I wish we had those types of stores here!
Fast forward a few days later and after the concert we were scheduled to head back to London to drop off the rental car and head to our hotel that we booked for the rest of the trip in England. Our 25 hour layover in Iceland we decided to get a hotel but it was really a nice hostel…more on that in a future post! Our trip back to London was strategic in nature because we had to get from the airport rental car area to our hotel. The only way to do that was via bus or train. We got there in time to meet the train into London and from there found our way to the Underground. Most of our confusion really took place with the signage in the city and what was a bus, train, the Underground, the Overground…while London had fantastic public transportation, it was rather difficult to really understand where a station was, what time it would arrive, and if there was a delay or a change in the rail line, you may not know because they won’t update you in any fashion. Once we figured out the Underground it made our lives much easier, and we could move from our Camden-area hotel to the gardens and palaces in central London quickly. We ended up walking a lot of the time which helped orient me and gave us a grand view of the various architecture and landscape of the city. I enjoyed walking when we could but we did clock in about 25,000 steps each day so we were exhausted!
Sunderland and Scotland were absolutely amazing places to visit! The temperature was always nice, and weather was sweet, and we had a great time experiencing the culture before heading to London. Keep you eyes to the #TravelingTalleys blog for more on our adventures with #CuzUK in England!