2019 Travel Recap

2019 had a lot of ups and downs, but we were able to travel 40 days this year over the course of two trips.  My highlight trip was of course Scotland.

Family pictures at the border of England and Scotland.

 I had said since the middle of my very hard pregnancy in 2018 that I would be taking my baby to Scotland in 2019, and we did! It was absolutely fabulous, and the 26 days there went way too fast!

My favorite picture of Silas from our trip. This picture is the definition of Silas.

We did our first back to back cruise in November.  Unfortunately, I did not do much.  Some know I have had chronic pain since having my baby in May 2018, but 6 days before our cruise the pain escalated and I was only able to get around with wheel chair and walker.  So I spent the two weeks on the boat, but read some great books, enjoyed the sea breeze from my balcony, and got some much needed r&r.

My little Mary Queen of Scots.

I am terribly behind on blogging, so here in the near future I will get some posts up about our trips.

Here are our top 10 travel highlights from 2019:

Family picture in front of the ruins of Tantallon Castle.
  1. Tantallon Castle – We loved this ruined castle so much that we visited it twice while we stayed in East Lothian area.  My boys loved climbing the ruined castle, and the views from the area of the sea were amazing. Gideon said this was his favorite castle to visit on the trip.
The pure joy on their faces of playing in the ice cold, beautiful sea water makes me happy.

2. Cullen Bay Beach – Honestly, the entire city of Cullen is one of my favorite places on earth anyway, but the coast is amazing.  We had one fun afternoon where the boys frolicked in the frigid water, including Silas eventually losing all his clothes but his boxers while having fun in the water.

The boys having fun in the dress up room at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

3. Palace of Holyroodhouse – This was a super fun day because I ventured into Edinburgh on public transportation with the baby and older two boys to explore this amazing castle.  They have an entire wing that is devoted to Mary Queen of Scots where she had stayed in the palace, including her bedchamber and supper room where her private secretary, David Rizzio, was violently murdered in front of her.  It was eerie and amazing to climb the tiny, winding steps to her quarters and be standing foot in this realm of history.

Aibhlinn needed a snack break while we were touring the palace.

4. Culloden Battlefield – Although Christopher and I had visited this museum and battlefield before, it was fun exploring this with our children.  The history this battlefield holds is amazing.

He said that Hadrian’s Wall was so cool!

5. Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness – We were in Scotland on Gideon’s 11th birthday, and he wanted to go to Loch Ness.  It was a fun day exploring this ruined castle on Loch Ness, searching for Nessie, and doing a Loch Ness cruise.

Birthday boy was so happy to be at this awesome ruined castle and Loch Ness for his birthday.

6. Hadrian’s Wall at Housesteads Roman Fort – It was icy cold, frigid wind, and a huge hill to climb wearing a baby and having chronic SI and hip pain, but it was totally worth it.  We have the most adorable pictures of the baby’s frigid cheeks and nose, and how amazing is it that something 1900 years old still exists? 

Look at that sweet face and rosy nose at the wall.

7. Crossing the Border – Crossing the border from Scotland into England was so special.  It had snowed a day or two before, and because of the elevation, the border crossing was covered in snow.  We had so much fun taking pictures, and the boys were pelting snowballs at each other.

Silas said his few hours in England brought him back “home.”

8. Castle Cafes – One of our favorite parts of visiting the United Kingdom since our very first trip in August 2013 is enjoying coffee and soup in the castle café after visiting the castle.  The atmosphere is warm and inviting, coffee almost always amazing and the soups are delicious.  I highly recommend stopping by a castle café should you find yourself visiting a castle.

Yum! Soups and coffee!

9. Stirling Castle – I wished we had booked our rental house for our time in southern Scotland in the Stirling area.  The area is beautiful, and this is a splendid castle.  I think it is even better to visit this castle than Edinburgh Castle in my opinion.  It is full of history, well kept, and the views are lovely.

The beautiful view from Stirling Castle.

10. Tesco – We love grocery shopping in countries we visit, and getting the live like a local feel.  Everyone in our family loved visiting different Tesco’s, browsing the grocery stores, and buying new things to try.  One can learn so much about a place by exploring grocery stores in new countries!

Tesco!

So what does 2020 bring?

Unfortunately, due to some health issues, I had to cancel our trip we had planned in January.  We do plan to spend the entire month of August in Scotland, with the goal being that 90% of our trip is covered by credit card points.  So far we have our airfare from Houston to London purchased on card points, and I am excited to start planning that trip.

Cephas and Gideon climbing at Hadrian’s Wall.

I am sure at least one cruise will happen at some point in 2020, as we generally cruise once a year.

I hope to attend a couple work related conferences in San Antonio (May) and Montana (July).

I hope to get my blog very active, as well as begin to do some facebook lives.  I am looking forward to beginning Travel Tip Tuesdays and Where to go Wednesdays.  If anyone has anything they want me to share on those days, let me know. 

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We are the Stellhorn’s, Christopher, Shannon, Cephas, Gideon, Silas, and Aibhlinn. We are a family of 6 who love to travel, and are excited to share our travel experiences with others!

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