Last month, I had the opportunity to go to Europe for two weeks with my wife, two kids, and my in-laws. It was an amazing vacation, but it took a lot of preparation, especially given that we had two kids who were still in diapers. Although I wouldn’t say the trip was easy, it was definitely manageable due to the help of Deena’s great planning and amazing in-laws! The following is an itinerary of what we did during our 2-week trip where we went to the cities of London, Edinburgh and Dublin.
- Day 1 – On the first day of London we decided to do a pretty easy day, and just settle into our Airbnb. We did go out in the evening to get some dinner at a local kebob restaurant. But this day was dedicated to just relax, unpack and get over any sort of jet lag that we might have had. The kids fortunately did very well on the flight, but we still kept them up until sunset (9pm!) to get them on schedule as much as possible.
- Day 2 – this day was a Sunday, so we took an Uber into the city to attend a morning church service at All Souls Church. It was a beautiful day, so after church we had lunch and then went to Covent Garden to go to our first Sandeman London Free Walking Tour, hosted by Ben — a great history buff from Cambridge. As a side note, I’ve found that the Sandeman tours are fantastic and always have relatively good itineraries, so it was a real treat to spend a few hours hitting the main landmarks of London and get a feel for the place. We went to a bunch of places, the most memorable including Trafalger Square, Nelson’s Column, Buckingham Place, and Westminister Abbey. After the day was done, we were a bit tired, so had dinner at home thanks to UberEats (lol)
- Day 3 – This was a jam-packed day, but probably my favorite day in London. In the morning, we went to the London Eye (ferris wheel) and did a boat tour along the Thames from the same trip — they had a great 2-in-one deal that was definitely worth purchasing. My favorite part of the tour was passing under the Tower bridge — it was a beautiful day and the architecture of the bridge was pretty amazing. After the tour was done, we walked to Covent Garden and went for the paid Sandeman Old City Tour, hosted by Rob – an amazing guide who was really nice and accommodated our kids who were in a stroller and baby bjorn. This was my most informative walking tour, since it focused on the events of the Blitz in World War II, and talked about intense wartime conditions during the bombing raids. The most memorable events of the tour were seeing St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Church of the Knight Templar, as well as RAF church. After the tour, we had dinner and drinks at a local pub near the Tower of London, and then headed home.
- Day 4 – Oxford Day! Continuing with the Sandeman theme, we for the Sandeman Oxford Day Tour with Charlotte. This was a little hectic day, since it was a tough job wrangling the kids and their gear and going to the croweded Paddington Station. Also, unlike the prior walking tours, our tour group had more than thirty people and it was easy to get lost. It was also blazingly hot, and with the kids, we weren’t able to fully complete the tour, but we did get to see the Ashmolean Museum, the Eagle and Child pub (from Tolkien and CS Lewis!), and the beautiful Christ Church College. After taking some photos, we headed to the Westgate Mall, which had the best Indian lunch I’ve had so far (at Rolawala) and good gelato and shopping (got some sandals). This mall was easily one of the most beautiful malls that I’ve seen, and the kids had a lot of fun running around and burning some energy.
- Day 5 – This day we split up our group – in the morning my wife and her mom went to go shopping and my father-in-law and myself went with the kids to the London Zoo. The kids had a great time checking out the lions and gorillas, riding on the merry-go-round,.and generally running around. After the zoo, we met up in the afternoon to go to the Wolesley for fancy high tea! After this, we walked around, did some more shopping, got some souvenirs, and called it a day.
- Day 6 – This morning, we got up early and caught a train to go to Edinburgh. Although it was a process getting to the train station, the ride was fantastic — one thing that I’m proud of was catching a crazy deal for first-class tickets on Virgin Trains, and I have to say that this was the best travel portion of the trip. It was awesome riding in really comfortable seats, watching the English countryside, and getting served amazing meals as well as great beverages. We got to Edinburgh around 2pm, and settled into an amazing AirBNB location in the heart of the city. We were close to one of the main parks near Edinburgh Castle, so we took advantage of the great weather and relaxed in the park and the playground
- Day 7 – Back fo Sandeman! This day we went on the best walking tour that I’ve done so far — The Sandeman Edinburgh Free Walking Tour. This was hosted by Australian Dave, and we had an absolute blast — he actually sang ‘Loch Lomond’ for us, and was super nice. We had a great time seeing St. Giles’ Cathedral, Heart of Midlothian, and Edinburgh Castle (where I performed the dab to the dismay of my wife and kids). After a great day, we went to the five-star Chaophraya rooftop restaurant to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday!
- Day 8 – Harry Potter Day! This day was super-fun, and one that I personally was looking forward to for a while. My in-laws watched the kids and my wife went for the Potter Trail led by Charlotte — we saw the grave of Tom Riddle, found Diagon Alley, and saw the cafe where JK Rowling wrote her novels. This was so inspiring, and it was really awesome to learn more about one of my favorite authors. This also was coincidently the day of the Royal Wedding, so we lazed around at home and had a great time watching Harry and Meghan Markle get hitched.
- Day 9 – Break day. We went to church in the morning and just relaxed. My in-laws went to do a tour of Edinburgh Castle, but we just chilled. In the evening, we went to the Calton Hill to see a panoramic view of the city.
- Day 10 – This morning, we got up early and headed to Edinburgh Airport to fly to Dublin. At Dublin, we met up with my wife’s sister and fiance and headed to our AirBNB by around 2pm. It was pretty early when we settled in, so we headed to the Sandeman Dublin Free Walking Tour led by John! As usual, this was a great way to get acquainted with the city, and it was cool to see Trinity College, learn about Rory McGallagher, and try out some delicious Irish Coffee. So good! After the tour was done, we hung out outside and relaxed.
- Day 11 – One thing that we really enjoy is food, so this day we had a private view of Dublin via Delicious Dublin Food Tour! This tour was led by Ketty, who was amazing — we got to try more amazing Irish Coffee (!), wonderful scones, Dublin cheese, and really good Irish whiskey. After the tour was done, we were close to the Guiness Storehouse, so we went there, had a great time (as seen in this post), and called it a day.
- Day 12 – This was probably my second-favorite day of the trip — a full description of this is detailed in this post, but just to summarize, we had a private excursion to the Cliffs of Moher and the Burrens. Awesome awesome awesome.
- Day 13 – Favorite day. This was my wedding anniversary, so we left the kids with our parents to go to Dublin Zoo, and my wife and I took the local train to Balbriggan to do some clay pigeon shooting at Cortlough Shooting Grounds (as seen in this post). After the trip, we relaxed, went to the Irish Whiskey Museum to try whiskey flights and drink some more types of Bailey’s Coffee / Irish Coffee (so good!). At the end of the day, we went to Clontarf Castle to have a fancy celebratory dinner.
- Day 14 – During this week in Dublin, we had spent most of our time in the city, so this day we decided to visit the Irish fishing villages via the Sandeman Howth Day Tour. We had John again as our guide who was fantastic. The first part of this tour was fantastic and it was amazing to see Howth Castle, but the hiking got a little tough for the kids, so we split up with the group at Howth Castle to relax, drink some Guinness, and get some photos. We ended up having lunch at the King Sitric, which I highly recommend. After this, we headed home and started packing for our flight, which left the next morning.
As one can see, we had a pretty full schedule, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I don’t think it would have been possible without my wife’s foresight and our extended family, but the kids had a great time and we learned a lot. I personally don’t think I would have changed anything (except for maybe the Oxford trip), and definitely am looking back to our next trip!