Meet Mithila Krishnan and family . They are just back from an exciting vacation to London & Ireland. From rubbing shoulders with the Royal family, building LEGO castles to driving through scenic Ireland, they tell us their stories. Presenting the ideal United Kingdom vacation package for happy families!
Just like everyone else vacations are the time of the year my husband & I look forward to most. Planning them myself gives me such a kick – a pre-vacation excitement lasting over months but it also meant hours and hours of research, planning and having to handle all odds on our own! That is when my aunt asked me to try out someone who had helped them with a few of their vacations. And Pickyourtrail gave us the best of both worlds – completely personalized – like I was doing it myself – without any of the hassles!
“You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.. for there is in London all that life can afford”
– Samuel Johnson.
To add to the famous quote above – whether you are a man, woman or child; London has something to offer you. From gorgeous parks, theme parks, exciting events, and play areas for kids to amazing historical monuments for a history buff like me. And for my husband, the quaint cafés, pubs, eateries, beautiful drives and getaways were enough to make him fall in love. And who could skip the utterly intriguing Royalty that is synonymous with London! Simply put, 5 days in London does no justice at all.
We kicked off our first day surveying the sights of oh so pretty London. For the wanderers like us, you can take this opportunity to survey the gorgeous city views atop the London Eye and the two-hour Thames river cruise. You can revel in the sights of a glitzy London as you pass by the Shard, Big Ben and Cutty Sark Ship. They serve munchies and sparkling wine, too.
We sped off in our car to catch more of this beautiful London. First stop – Legoland. It was a treat to the eyes! Who knew how much you could create with just Legos! Then we drove on the quaint little town of Windsor. We visited the Windsor Castle – a beautiful palace with a rich history. Sprawling and huge, check out these places while you are there:
The State Apartments – Having served as quarters for royalty for over a century, it is most exquisitely decked with paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Canaletto and more.
St. George’s Chapel – Closed on Sundays to visitors, this fine piece of Gothic architecture is the resting ground for many a monarch including Henry VIII and Charles I.
Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House – Holding the most magnificent of miniature art pieces, this doll house takes the cake. Filled with objects crafted by leading craftsmen, artists and designers; many are working pieces of art. Case in point, the shotguns that break and load!
We drove down next to the Stonehenge. The historic site remains a mystery to the world, with experts still puzzling over the reason it was made. While the 2-hour drive was a nice one, the site itself was mildly disappointing, after all they are huge stones set in the middle of nowhere. However, if you are a history buff, you could look at these stones and build your own fantastic story around the site with dragons and magic woven into it. After all, it still is a mystery! A good place to get some perfect selfies though. If you are heading over, here’s what you need to remember:
- The closest you can get to the actual stones is 10 yards! But with Special Access visits, outside public opening hours, you can walk upto and among the stones.
- If you despise crowds, avoid the 10.15am – 12pm time slot when many of the tour coaches from London generally arrive.
- Walk into any of the Neolithic houses just outside the site to learn more about the mysterious stones.
- If you are hungry, you can settle for some drinks, sandwiches, soups and salads at a cafe here. It doesn’t serve meals though.
Next day we headed to Paultons Park – a dream come true for my 4-year-old ardent Peppa Pig fan. Peppa Pig World brings every aspect of this happy little piggy’s life alive to the kids. It had muddy puddles, Dino rides, grandpa’s train, hot air balloons and so many more things. Even the gift shop has everything Peppa!! The rest of Paultons Park is equally delightful – with a beautiful Victorian Carousel and a lot of roller coasters for the smaller kids. With two kids under 5 years, I thought that was a big plus at a theme park. Two months later, my daughter still relives that day over and over again through the photos with so much glee.
Interesting read: All about Disneyland vacations!
We set off for another day of sightseeing in London. The big bus tour is a wonderful way to get a bird’s eye view of the city and get around to the sightseeing attractions really quickly and in an organized way. Kids will LOVE it – just give them a headset and let them enjoy it their own way. All the kids needed, was a buggy and audio headsets to keep them occupied at every sightseeing location. While the theme parks had buggies on hire, we needed our own everywhere else. We did quite a bit of walking so we were glad we carried ours.
Next stop, the Buckingham Palace Tour is a once in a lifetime opportunity. The staff are amazingly courteous and helpful. And the kids’ corner at the end of the tour was a pleasant surprise. The exhibits and the state rooms are amazing and awe striking. The establishment really gained my respect when the wonderful staff volunteered to escort my cranky son and me to a private room for a little peace and food. I had a security personnel to help me all the way until I rejoined the tour from where I left.
My daughter loved running around in the palace grounds and when she fell, she was attended to like a Princess herself. So glad we got to go in September – the weather is amazing and it is the only time of the year the palace is open to the public. Plus it’s not the peak tourist season so no crowds!
Best of London sightseeing to us was the tour of Buckingham Palace, the Beefeater tour of Tower Bridge and the gorgeous parks. While the cathedrals were all beautiful, they are quite similar to the ones in other parts of Europe.
We wrapped up our London trip with a heavy heart – our last goodbye to the spectacular London. Our London Pass took us to:
- The gothic church of Westminister Abbey just next to the Palace of Westminister.
- The gorgeous Kensington Palace that is home to the British royalty.
- The huge royal Hyde Park – a great place to just relax by shady trees and for the kids to run around.
- IMAX inside the London Science Museum to catch a show.
But there was so much more we wanted to do. With a vow to return again very very soon we left for the leisurely half of our vacation.
Find your 13 reasons to visit London here.
Ireland to me is about all about the Irish, gorgeous green hills, rain, passion, stone fences, tiny farms and country roads. Such a beautiful country to do nothing but unwind at. After arriving at Dublin we picked up our car and got going on our cross-country drive to Doonbeg.
If you are the type who like road trips and scenic drives, here are our favourite picks among road trips.
Doonbeg is the definition of going away – to someplace far away from who you are and what you do the rest of the year. It’s offbeat, in the middle of nowhere – a safe place to just be you and do whatever you want to.
Day 2 – 4
Next day we drove off to the Loop head peninsula and the Cliff of Moher – both beautiful leisurely drives. Harry Potter fans might recognise the cliffs from the movie series. We enjoyed the cafes, quaint little boutiques and shops in wonderful little towns through the drive. And for the kids, there was plenty to keep them occupied too!
From horse riding, to farm visits, to kite flying or just building castles on the beach – they were all smiles.
We wrapped up our 4 days in Ireland so rejuvenated and recharged. While the return back to reality is always difficult I think all 4 of us were pleased with what both the countries had given us and we headed back home with tons of goodies and great memories.
But for those of you who want to explore Scotland – the land of loches and glacial valleys, here’s what you can hope to explore there:
#1 Edinburg Castle – A fortress dominating over Edinburg’s skyline, you can explore its elegant insides and the grandiose display adorning its walls. For a quick bite, there are a couple of restaurants and cafes right outside.
#2 Old Man of Storr – a rocky hill on the Isle of Skye. Uniquely shaped, these rock pinnacles were carved by ages of landslides. Stunning against the background of lush green, the town of Portree – scenic, beautiful and fringed by cliffs – will be your base to explore this place. While there, here’s what you can do:
- Shop for Celtic fabrics, jewellery, wood carvings and more at Skye Batiks.
- Take back the scent of Skye – seriously. The Isle of Skye Soap co. sell a range of handmade soaps, cosmetics and aromatherapy oils.
- Dine at Dulse & Brose to get a taste of authentic Skye cuisine
No vacation is glitch free – however small or big the ease of having someone at your beck and call to attend to it is great. No question was too trivial no change was impossible – the Pickyourtrail team provided a great 24/7 concierge. The daily schedule reminders and the personal touch of a Peppa Pig on my son’s birthday cake were little gestures which add a smile to your day.
Overall, two amazing vacations! Ireland is a definite must do when all you need is a break. As for England, the vibrancy, the place and the things to do here seem endless. We are definitely going back for a more off-beat, maybe a camping-and-country-side vacation of England. And I will most definitely go with Pickyourtrail. I loved the convenience and the ease. At the same time, I wasn’t in someone else’s party – they designed, planned, executed and managed what I wanted the way I wanted – best of both worlds!
How many worlds do you want to experience? Name them and we will get you there. Start planning to start travelling.
About the Author
A chartered accountant by the day, and traveller by summer break, Mithila Krishnan loves kids, travel, animals and adventure in that order. Her labrador pup brightens up her days.
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