I can’t believe that it has already been over a year since my long awaited UK trip with the girls. How can time have flown by so fast? It makes me just want to plan my next holiday already.
At the end of 2014, two of my girlfriends and I decided to plan our first big overseas adventure to five different countries including England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and France for Spring 2016. In reflection, the amount of planning and time we put into the holiday before we even left made for a really enjoyable, jam packed five weeks that I wouldn’t change for anything. So I have decided in honor of the one year anniversary from when we left, that I would put together my top 10 favourite moments and places from the trip (in the order we visited them). It was really hard to pick my favourite spots and I’m pretty certain I could do an entire post with favourite places from each country!
Nothing beats the surreal moment when you first see London, especially those iconic red telephone boxes (although don’t go into any of them because they are gross!). I love love love British TV shows, so being in the place where so many of them have been set and filmed was absolutely amazing. We had booked accommodation in the heart of London, meaning we were only a 15-20min walk to Buckingham Palace and close to Victoria underground station. Spending a week in London was not enough time to fully enjoy the sights and embrace the atmosphere. We used a hop on and off bus tour ticket to allow us to squeeze the main attractions in quickly, but once you have mastered using the tube not only will you feel like a local but the possibilities are endless.
2. Whites Cliffs of Dover
For some reason whenever I think of these cliffs, I’m reminded of Agatha Christie and Hercule Poriot… don’t know why exactly but that is why they made it on the must see for me. We were worried leading up to heading to the Southern coast of England that we would be stuck with grey skies and rain, but boy did those blue skies shine! We were up early to leave London to get to the White Cliffs and straight away were taken by the scenery. I’m glad we made the effort to make it to Dover because exploring the hills along the cliff-faces was very therapeutic after the busyness of London Town and took advantage of the fact you can go all the way up to the edge.
3. Durdle Door
Look at how clear that sky is – almost unheard of in England two days in a row, but we were definitely blessed. This small part of the English coast was stunning to explore, just don’t mind the very very steep climb down to the coast line. There is a section from the top of the cliffs where you can see the main landmark Durdle Door and then two sections where you can go down onto the beach closer to Durdle Door or down onto the beach on the opposite side. It is a bit of a hike but well worth it. This was an early morning stop for us and we were well and truly warmed up by the time we made it back up to the top.
4. Doctor Who Experience
Before heading overseas I had heard of Doctor Who and had a number of friends who are, for lack of a better word, obsessed with the TV show, mainly one of the girls heading on this trip. So I made a effort to watch the show so I could at least follow what was happening when we went to the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff. Before I knew it I was completely hooked (and now obsessed!) and was really excited for this part of the trip. It was amazing to see the different costumes, sets from the old and new seasons of the show. There was even a little adventure organised at the start of the tour which meant we had to escape some of the classic villains of the show to get back home! (I won’t spoil it for anyone who wants to go). And of course ended up in the gift shop, as every tour does. I was a little disappointed with the shop hoping for more memorabilia that you couldn’t find anywhere else, only rating it a 5/10.
5. Dingle Peninsula
All us girls are fans of the movie ‘Leap Year’, so visiting Dingle made it quite easily onto the list. The town is very cute and easy to navigate (not like Cork) and as a bonus had some of the best shopping that we had in Ireland. We didn’t have enough time to do all of the scenic routes along the South-West coast of Ireland, so it was a toss up between the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula route. I am very glad we did the latter – the winding roads and morning mist/fog in the air made for a magical, yet slightly terrifying drive (imagine very narrow roads with a cliff face off one side, heavy fog limiting visibility and a car coming the opposite way). We found the route easy enough to navigate because I had researched all the possible stops along the way and we just kept updating our GPS.
6. Cliffs of Moher
When you start researching Ireland, one place always comes up as the place to go – the Cliffs of Moher. Now on a clear day they would be breathtaking, however we were there in the early morning (9am) and there was heavy fog in the air. It didn’t detract from the overall experience for me. We could still just see all four cliff sections and because of the weather and time, we weren’t faced with massive crowds.
7. Chatsworth House
Be still my beating heart! For any Jane Austen fan, Chatsworth House is a must see. It was the film location for Pride and Prejudice 2005 movie and also Death comes to Pemberley. It was an overcast day but that didn’t stop us from exploring the key locations from the movie and soaking in actually being at such a historic house. Inside the house is stunning and it was very interesting to see the different styles of decor in the different rooms. On a side note, I think I would give Chatsworth House a 10/10 gift shop rating (should we make that a real thing?). They had multiple shops, different themes and plenty of cool options of artwork and jewellery selected as favourites by the owners of the Estate.
8. Isle of Skye
Scotland, my friend, you did not disappoint. Sadly we only had a few days to explore the Highlands and honestly by then we were so tired from 4 weeks of constant travel that we didn’t push ourselves too much. However I made a point that we still made it to the Isle of Skye. Known for its stunning scenery, it was a photographers dream! We only managed to do one of the three walks we had selected and it was the Fairy Pools. It is a long walk so be aware (be prepared, you don’t want to need to go to the toilet after you start off – lots of running water and no nearby public toilets).
Paris has been on my bucket list since I was a teenager and it was everything I had imagined it to be. We had cosy but amazing accomodation within walking distance of the Louve and Notre Dame. The food, the people, the scenery, the buildings were all amazing! This photo was taken from the top of the Eiffel Tower (big tick off the to do list) and I would very happily do it all over again. Highlight of the trip was walking at sunset, eating fresh Baguettes from the bread festival outside of Norte Dame, listening to buskers and watching street artists draw… #classic. We were upset with all the rain we had but were very lucky because the week after we have returned home, Paris was flooding.
10. Palace of Versailles
People kept asking me when I returned from my holiday, “Where was your favourite place?”, “What did you most enjoy about your trip?”. They were really hard questions to answer, seeing as I loved pretty much every moment of my 5 weeks away. Quickly I was able to narrow it down to Chatworth House and Versailles. A year later, Versailles has made the top of my favourite list (funny because it is actually down the bottom of the list because we did it last). I love history, and this place is dripping in it. I would recommend everyone to try and make your way to Versailles to soak in the history and splender in a way only the French can do (oh the gold and the hall of mirrors). We had a tour guide who knew his history inside out so that also made for a great experience. Don’t forget to research when the fountains will be on in the gardens, you don’t want to miss them!
I hope you enjoyed seeing a glimpse of my holiday and some of my favourite places. If you would like to see more photos and stories of what I learnt from my trip overseas, just let me know.
Also as a side note – let’s all give a big “woohoo” for my first ever blog post to this site people!!!