A family affair in the United Kingdom

NOTE: Andy here. We fell a little behind on our posts and Sam needed help catching up, so I’m filling in on this one.

Translation: Sam really just wanted to write about all the pasta we ate in Italy. So I’m doing this one.

IMG_2808 3Now, I’m not quite the visual artist that Sam is, so I won’t be able to paint the pictures of the sights and scenes as well as she does. But I’ll do my best to bring the trip with Donny & Kyle to life for you.

After finishing as much Guinness as we could in Galway, we flew over to Edinburgh, Scotland to round out our UK trip. Best part of this leg was we had company. Donny & Kyle crossed The Pond to spend a few days with us (if you’re having trouble keeping up with all the branches of Sam’s family tree, Kyle is Mary’s son, and Donny is Kyle’s husband).

And we had a f***ing blast.

And this was especially great, because that meant I got a break in being Sam’s personal photographer for a few days.

First thing’s first. Edinburgh is awesome and you should go.

DAY 1:

Sam and I landed in Edinburgh and met up with the boys who were waiting for us at our Airbnb. After hanging out for a bit, we headed out for a few drinks and dinner. We went to Heads and Tales Gin Bar, which had a speakeasy vibe and some great cocktails. We liked it so much we went back 3 times.

Must be some good cocktails, huh?

Actually, we went back because Sam fell in love with their delectable fresh-out-of-the-wood-fired-oven Camembert Cheese. And she needed to have it as an appetizer for every meal. So, we went to that bar and had the Camembert Cheese for an appetizer before every meal. Literally.  IMG_9519

Not that Kyle, Donny, or I was complaining.

After a few cocktails and cheese, Sam proudly proclaimed that she was taking us to “The oldest steakhouse in Edinburgh. AND it has a 3-course special for only $30.” Turns out, it was not the oldest steakhouse in Edinburgh. And the special ended at 6pm. We sat down at 6:01. Turns out, it was the most modern place we went all week and it was also the most expensive.

Sick job, Sam.

After dinner we were on the hunt for some traditional Scottish music. So we found a “locals only” bar that we were sure we’d love. As soon as we walked in the entire bar turn and stared at us. Someone even took an empty chair away so we couldn’t sit!

Message received. We turned and left immediately.

With our confidence rattled, we found a new pub that was much more welcoming. Sure, it was 105 degrees inside, but the music was great and the beer helped our confidence return.

On our way home, we hunted for late night food and finally stumbled upon the only Italian pizza place still open. Despite the chef’s death stares and Kyle’s logical pleas, Donny managed to order 2 whole pizzas and 2 Stromboli for the four of us.

Pizza, good. Stromboli, not good.

DAY 2:

We were so sophisticated today.

First, we strolled through the streets until we found Elephant Café, which is where J.K Rowling apparently sat and got her inspiration for Harry Potter while looking at Edinburgh Castle through the window.

IMG_9548 3Needless to say, we were equally inspired and are now all co-authoring our own fantasy novel series.

Following our breakfast, with the help of Rick Steves, Donny guided us through the Royal Mile, The Royal Palace, and the other notable sites of Edinburgh.

After we got our 20 thousand steps in we settled in for High Tea, because we’re wicked classy like that.

Now I know “wicked” and “classy” don’t usually go together, but you should have seen us up there! We were rubbin’ elbows with the bourgeoisie, sippin’ our tea, eating crumpets & tiny cucumber sandwicheIMG_9526 2

Okay, okay. So we had no idea what we were doing and felt completely out of place. We ate our entire crumpet tower before the two well-dressed ladies next to us even finished their first few nibbles.

But it’s nice to pretend, right?

And trust me, that was a classy as we got for the rest of the night.

First, we went to get more Camembert Cheese (duh) before going to get some delicious rooftop Thai food at Chaophraya. I think we were all surprised how good this Thai food was.

And the view wasn’t so bad either.

We followed up dinner by going to this Speakeasy that might have been our favorite bar of the trip. Donny and I had about 6 whiskey cocktails that they brought out in a birdcage looking thing filled with smoke. Keep ‘em coming.

Sam had her 18th strawberry flavored drink of the weekend and Kyle sampled everything and anything with Gin. For better or for worse.

And then we met our new best friends.

The 3 people next to us were celebrating a 20th birthday. TWENTIETH! We sang along Happy Birthday with them and when they asked us how old we were and replied with “30” all 3 of their jaws dropped. Should we take that as a compliment?

I don’t remember the two fellas names, but the girl was Evie. And we’ll never forget that because Sam was obsessed with Evie.IMG_6006

Evie & co. convinced us to go to a club with them, where we were at least 10 years older than 90% of the people there. And it was awesome.

It was hot as balls and loud as hell. But we danced our asses off while we dodged the glasses that these Scots were inexplicably spiking on the ground as they finished their drinks.

At one point, someone actually offered Kyle to wipe his sweat off using his shirt.

Somehow, we were the only ones clearly dripping in sweat.

Then, we passed out. I think.

DAY 3:

Yikes.

Not the best day go to the Whiskey Experience tour. But we bought tickets so we were locked in.

We showed up and got a Disney-esque tour through holograms explaining the whiskey making process.IMG_5462

It wasn’t great (the smiles are fake).

And then we got to sample 4 different types of scotch/whiskey.

Well, we were supposed to sample them at least.

Sam hated it. Donny couldn’t smell it without nearly vomiting. Kyle maybe powered through one. And I led the team getting through 1 and a half (humble brag).

Then we left.

Needing some fresh air, we took a walk to find my uncle’s apartment that he lived in for 3 years in the 80s. He couldn’t remember the number, but we found the street – Nelson Street – and took a vicarious stroll through memory lane (shout out to the good ole days, Uncle Steve!)

IMG_7881 2We then took a wonderful stroll through the Royal Botanical Gardens where Donny and Kyle got all sorts of inspiration for their own Belmont Royal Gardens in their front yard.

Looking for an adventure, we hopped a train to Glasgow. We heard amazing things about Glasgow and how everyone was so friendly and hospitable.

Well, when we went to Glasgow, everyone was mean to us so we turned around and went home.

If you’re looking for recommendations for Glasgow, don’t ask us, we failed miserably.

DAY 4:

Adventure Squad strikes again.

We rented a car to take on the lowlands of Scotland.IMG_7117 2

I drove, Sam controlled the music, and Donny and Kyle provided encouragement to keep my confidence high while I drove on the left side of the road.

Our first stop was Anstruther, a little coastal town outside of St. Andrew’s.

Sam made Kyle and Donny take pictures of her on a stonewall overlooking the water while I relished in not taking pictures of Sam on a stonewall overlooking the water.

We went to Anstruther Fish Bar, which is the 4x winner of the best fish and chips in all of Scotland. And they were delicious.

IMG_5676But what stole our hearts were the meat pies we got from the bakery down the street. Remember those pies, guys? Goddamn. Hashtag memories.

From there we took a quick drive to St. Andrew’s, which is the coolest little town. Again guided by Rick Steves, we checked out parts of the University, the remnants of the Cathedral, and a couple cool bars and restaurants.

And even though none of us are golfers, it was very cool to check out St. Andrew’s golf course, which is the oldest course in the world.

We walked on took the iconic photo on the bridge overlooking the 18th hole.

After St. Andrew’s we drove to Sterling, where the lowlands meet the highlands.IMG_9251 2

We drove past hundreds of cows, which who knows if we would have noticed them if Kyle didn’t point out every single one of them.

We stopped to unsuccessfully check out the Sterling Castle (it was closed) and for Donny and Kyle to take a few more pictures of Sam.

We continued on to Lake Lomond, where we drove through the winding hills of the lowlands and some amazing scenery (and more cows) along the way.

At about 8:00PM, we were starving so we pulled into a cozy little restaurant cottage for dinner. Turns out, the kitchen was closed so we couldn’t order any food.

We then stopped at another small downtown area to get some dinner there. Closed again.

IMG_3982Deciding our best bet was to find food back in Edinburgh, we headed back for the night.

After driving around since 9AM, I was ready to park the car and be done with it. But before we could do that we had to drive through the darkest, most confusing, trafficky-under construction rotary.

Sam screamed in terror. Donny and Kyle calmly shouted directions over Sam’s screams and I closed my eyes and hoped for the best.

We made it. And I couldn’t get rid of the car fast enough at the point.

We parked and Donny and Sam went to the apartment while Kyle and I went to grab some food to bring back to the house.

And what a hunt it was.

It wasn’t late, maybe like 9:30, 10:00. And nothing was open.

Nothing.

We must have stopped in 5 or 6 restaurants to ask if they were serving food and all we heard was “no, but try this place”.

We must have been searching for over an hour. We got a little lost, but that’s beside the point.IMG_0447

Coming to the terrifying realization that our options were going to be limited to starvation, one of those kebab/pizza/everything else snack shops, or McDonald’s.

We opted for McDonald’s where we were confronted and harassed by a homeless man. We ordered 20 nuggets and some fries and dodged the homeless man on our way out.

Finally home, we chowed down and went to sleep.

Note to Edinburgh: Serve food past 9pm. That’s like, not that late.

DAY 4:

Today’s a sad day.

Kyle & Donny have to fly back to Rhode Island while Sam and I take the train down to York.

But first, we climbed to Arthur’s seat to check out the view over Edinburgh. It’s a moderate hike and we had the perfect day for it. We went all the way up to the peak, where you guessed it, Donny & Kyle took more pictures of Sam. But this time they got their own pictures, too!

IMG_0383 2But first, we went to a bar where Donny could finally get his Innis & Gunn Original beer that he had been searching for since their first drink 4 days ago. If you’re looking to get Donny a gift anytime soon, get him that. He’ll love you forever.

As we said our goodbyes, we joked about them skipping their flights to come to England with us.

After all, they had been toying with the idea all weekend.

Unfortunately, it was all just a joke and the boys took off for the airport while Sam and I caught the train to York.

UNTIL…

IMG_0287

Their flight actually got canceled!

So they took the next train down to York to hang out with us for one more night.

Ding!

We booked Donny & Kyle the last room in our BnB and geared up for another night together.

We all fell in love with York.

It’s the cutest little English town that somehow makes you feel like it’s always Christmas, even in June.

We all decided we want to go back in December.

York is a walled city, so we strolled around the Old Town and went to this amazing dinner spot called The Botanist.

Guess what we had?

Camembert.IMG_0454

It was grilled this time and unreal, yet again.

We also had scotch eggs, which were delicious.

Kyle and I finally got the potpie we were in search and it did not disappoint.

Our waiter was phenomenal and this was one of our favorite dinners of the trip.

We even we back the next day for, you guessed it, more Camembert.

Donny & Kyle shared the news with us that they booked their flight back to Rhode Island out of London, so that meant they were coming to London with us, too!

Double ding!

London’s not my favorite place. I’ve been a handful of times and always thought of it like a somehow more expensive yet worse version of NYC with people with accents.

Plus Sam dated a dude from there before we got together, so there’s that.

IMG_0503 2But I digress.

Sam & I were only there for a night and Kyle & Donny had two.

We got into the city late, so we went our separate ways to our hotels and met up for breakfast and a stroll around Notting Hill (sup, Julia Roberts).

Sadly, our trip actually had to come to an end this time. Sam and I had to fly out to Italy (bummer) and Donny and Kyle stayed in London for one more night.

They made the most of it, as they used their newfound expertise to enjoy some High Tea.

The 6 days we had with Kyle & Donny will certainly go down as one of the biggest highlights of our trip abroad.

Who wants to visit us next?!

IMG_1324 2

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