We’ve just about arrived at the “vacation” part of our summer vacation. We leave this weekend to spend 2+ weeks in England, Scotland and Ireland. Yes, we were there for 2 weeks less than a year ago, and we’re going back already. We loved it that much.
I wonder, as I do anytime I go back to a place I’ve been before, if we’ll like it as much this time. Was it a fluke, or was it really as fantastic as we remember? After a night outside of London and an early flight the next morning to Edinburgh, we’ll actually drive back into England and spend 5 days in the Lake District, at the same place we stayed last year (it was so great last year that we just had to go back . . . and stay longer this time). We’ll follow that with a night in Glasgow (which will be new to us) on our way to the coastal highlands (which we tried to visit last time, but we had to reroute that part of the trip due to illness). Then we fly to Ireland, visiting both Northern Ireland and the Republic while we’re there, before flying back to London to spend a last day there before we come home. I am really excited to go back to my absolutely favorite travel destinations so far.
Last year, when we were in England, we fell in love. There wasn’t a single place we visited where we didn’t find something wonderful. And then, astonishingly, we maybe even loved Ireland more. (We loved Scotland, too, but we saw so little of it that I want to reserve judgement.) We were lucky to have wonderful weather most of the time (an anomaly, I know) and to meet kind and welcoming people (who all spoke English, which, alone, was a treat for us) throughout our travels. So, with amazing, picture-postcard-perfect memories like these, is it possible that it’s going to be as great this time around?
And then I pause for a moment and remember the other stuff that was also true of our trip. I planned parts of it very poorly, and we ended up driving for hours (and hours and hours) in some cases (I think the worst day involved 11 hours of car and air travel). We got a flat tire while we were in the Lake District, had to limp back to the hotel on the bad tire with both kids soaking wet in the backseat, and had to wait until the next day to have it fixed. Both boys got horrible stomach illnesses. They were sick in 3 different countries, 4 different hotels and 1 car. Liam fell when we were at Edinburgh Castle and bonked his head and we spent the rest of that day in the Emergency Room. Our hotel in York had NO HEAT even though it was COLD. Our trip to the Giant’s Causeway was a disaster — the weather was terrible, the kids were miserable, we had to change a diaper outside, in the rain — I don’t think that trip could have been more traumatic if there had actually BEEN a giant in residence.
But, for all of that . . . *including* all of that, in some cases, partially BECAUSE of some of those things . . . it was my favorite trip that we’ve taken since we’ve been abroad. (Well, it was my favorite destination(s) — having 2 of my sisters with us in Italy might have made that *trip* my favorite.) Without blowing out our tire, we would never have had a warm, boisterous, a la carte dinner with our fellow travellers in the Lake District. Without the kids being sick we would have spent even MORE time driving, and would have missed out on one of our favorite pieces of Scotland. The stories and pictures from our miserable day at the Giant’s Causeway make me smile and laugh EVERY time I think of them. We had a fantastic, wonderful, amazing, memorable, family trip, and it didn’t have to be even nearly perfect to be magical.
So, I don’t think we’re painting an overly rosy picture of our trip from last year — I think we just had a great time. This trip won’t have to be perfect to be excellent, either. I’ll be there with my most favorite people in the world, in some of my most favorite places in the world. We’ve got less driving, less “stuff” to do, and more downtime planned. We’re going back to some of our favorite places and trying out some of the ones we wish we’d seen last time. (And, it’s also true that everyone still speaks English, so that’s still going to be a major plus again.) I’m so excited to go back.