European Family Vacation: Mishaps and Memories

Family vacations usually stop when the last kid leaves for college. It’s hard enough getting the family over for dinner, let alone overseas for two weeks. But that is what we were determined to do. To take some stress off of my parents, my brothers and I planned a European vacation, booked the flights and hotels and told my dad, “you’re going”.

I come from a family of golfers. Extremely talented and obsessed golfers. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the primary reason for this European family vacation was for my brothers and my dad to play St. Andrews in Scotland, the birthplace of golf.  I think of it as their pilgrimage or Hajj of sorts. In order to turn it into a “family” vacation we added stops in London and Barcelona to the itinerary.

Kind Arthur's Seat Edinburgh

Our crew of six consisted of myself, my father, mother, two brothers and sister-in-law. We flew into Endinburgh, Scotland and stayed at the Jury’s Inn located just a few steps from the Royal Mile.  The hotel itself was fairly nice but the rooms, primarily the bathrooms, were in poor condition. I would only recommend this hotel if your main concern is location and not comfort.

We spent a couple days testing out local brews, eating fish and chips, climbing King Arthur’s Seat, admiring architecture and accidentally stumbling upon an underground club. (No joke, we went back the next day and it was gone.) I think Edinburgh was everyone’s overall favorite stop because of the slower vacation-like pace. It’s also where my mom learned to love Strongbow.

The guys took the train up to St. Andrews twice. The first time, they narrowly made their tee-time when there were no cabs to take them to the course from the train station. The second time, us ladies tagged along. We called a ride and made it to the course with enough time for the guys to warm up and appreciate the holiness-of-golf that is St. Andrews.

My mom, sister-in-law and I spent a few hours exploring St. Andrews. It only takes about one hour to walk around the tiny town in its entirety so we were pretty intimate with the streets of St. Andrews by the time the guys were done playing the Old Course.

We then took a train south to London. Halfway there, our train broke down and we were herded onto another train that was already full. We ended up standing or sprawling across our luggage for the remainder of the trip. We were not happy campers.

London

We only had a few days in London but we were able to hit the most popular attractions. Big Ben, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park etc. If you’ve seen my wanderlust post you know that I spent a few months in London for a Study Abroad program so I acted as a tour guide. The only thing I demanded that we do was eat at an Indian restaraunt. My family was wary at first but it did not disappoint. Indian food in London is spectacular!

Park Plaza Westminster Bridge
Park Plaza Westminster Bridge as seen from the London Eye.

We had two rooms at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge. It’s located right across the bridge from Big Ben, the rooms were clean, spacious and modern, and there was a full English breakfast. Our rooms had an area with a sofa-bed so it was a perfect fit for 3 people to a room. Surprisingly, this was our most affordable hotel and I couldn’t recommend it enough.

Next it was time to leave our comfort zone and go to Barcelona, Spain. We stayed at the Husa Avenida Palace on Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes. We had to walk about a mile to get to the beach but we were able to walk through La Rambla, a popular pedestrian street of shops, to get there.

Some of the highlights of Barcelona: the breathtaking architecture, the beautiful beach and the Spanish omelettes.

Barcelona

Any struggles that we had in Barcelona were because we are unilingual Americans who only know who how to say “Porfavor”, “Gracias” and “Uno mas cervesa”. We got by though. We sampled a variety tapas, drank a lot of  Stella, and at one point split a shot of Absinthe. Family bonding at it’s best, right?

It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to get the entire family on an overseas adventure. We ran into a few bumps along the road but I’d chalk that up to my dad having really bad luck and spreading it to the rest of us. My brothers and I are already dreaming of another “once (or twice)-in-a-lifetime” European family vacation. Maybe Ireland this time?

Where would you go if you could take your family anywhere in the world? Leave a comment and let me know!

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