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Thursday, October 14, 2021

My Fun, Fabulous, Unforgettable European Family Vacation

After a whirlwind two weeks in Europe, I'm back!  I'm jet lagged and exhausted, but I'm home and full of gratitude for the wonderful time I had seeing beautiful sights, connecting with my ancestral past, and bonding with my family.  Naturally, not everything went according to plan (who knew our adventures would be disrupted by city-wide marathons in two different cities in two separate countries?); still, it was an amazing trip.  We saw and did so many incredible things that I can't even remember them all.  Here's a quick rundown:


  • Experienced a traditional High Tea in York
  • Saw the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace
  • Drove through the lush, beautiful countryside
  • Passed a Da Vinci Code-like test to visit the oldest chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the world
  • Stood on the Liverpool docks from which many of our ancestors departed in order to travel to the United States in the 1800's

The statue we're standing next to honors all the Mormon immigrants who sailed from Liverpool to join the Saints in Utah.  It's called "Legacy" and you can read all about it here.
  • Supped on fish and chips with a close college friend I hadn't seen in 25 years
  • Dined on yummy lunches at pubs all over England
  • Went to opening night of the new James Bond movie in London, a week before the film debuted in the U.S.
  • Explored Conwy Castle, which showed off its beautiful views and delighted us with multiple rainbows

  • Ate haggis (which is not as revolting as it sounds)!
  • Found the old, isolated parish church where my husband's ancestor was baptized long ago
  • Traveled through lush, lovely countryside
  • Visited the National Slate Museum in NW Wales
  • Visited Ayr, the homeland of my Kennedy ancestors, and thoroughly enjoyed exploring "my" castle (Culzean Castle)
  • Braved the driving rain and icy wind to check out Edinburgh and its lovely castle (not as charming as mine, of course)
  • Served the most untraditional "traditional" club sandwich I've ever encountered at an "authentic" American restaurant in Edinburgh.
  • Stopped by the impressive Forth Bridge, where one of my husband's great-grandparents died while helping to build it
  • Drove (well, rode in in my case) an 8-passenger van through lots of teensy tiny streets to see beautiful countryside and charming villages
  • Traveled through the Chunnel from London to Paris
  • Were thwarted in our efforts to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower (dang marathon!), but got many pictures of it from many different angles
  • Ate escargot (not that bad) and lots of crepes and croissants (delicious)!
  • Survived our climb to the dome of Sacré-Cœur and were rewarded with magnificent views of Paris
  • Enjoyed a romantic evening river cruise down the Seine
  • Had a family caricature portrait drawn by a Parisian street artist
  • Passed Shakespeare and Company while headed to our Metro station—I was pleased to see a line out front, even if it meant I didn't have time to go inside
  • Met up with another college friend I hadn't seen in 25 years who just happened to be visiting Paris at the same time as us
It really was an awesome trip.  I'm glad to be home sleeping in my own bed again, but I'm also so thankful for the experiences we had in Europe and the memories we made.


  1. Wow! What a wonderful trip. Thanks for sharing.

    1. It really was wonderful. I'm so glad we went!

  2. I'm delighted you and your family had such a wonderful time over here. Wow, you saw and did a 'lot'!

    1. We really did do a ton. Every day was packed to the gills. No wonder I'm still so exhausted!

  3. Susan, we've missed you! So happy you and your family got to go to all these places and have such a wonderful time! Priceless memories for sure. Thanks for sharing the pictures and travel update. Take care and rest up and then you can talk books again. LOL

    1. Ha ha. I've been resting for days and I *think* my body has finally reverted back to Arizona time. I woke up at 6 this morning instead of 3, so that's definitely progress!

  4. Fun! What an awesome trip. I'm so glad you got to go. Edinburgh and Paris are two of my favorite places. And I'm envious you got to see some of Wales. I'd love to go there someday. Thanks for sharing all your fun pics. And welcome home. :)

    1. I really liked Edinburgh, even though it was downpouring the whole time we were there. I would definitely have enjoyed exploring it more in better weather. We saw a lot of interesting things in Paris, but I actually didn't love it there. I'm not a fan of big, noisy, crowded cities, so that was definitely part of it.

  5. Welcome home from what must have been the trip of a lifetime. You are so lucky to have been able to share the adventure with your children while they are still young. My two daughters were very positively changed by a similar trip we took in the early nineties when they were in their teens (don't tell them I told you, but they are now 45 and 50).

    Great photos. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Traveling abroad really helps you appreciate all the good things about your own country and lifestyle, while teaching you about others'. I think we all came back with an appreciation for the abundance and luxury we enjoy every day as well as a greater sense of what our ancestors endured in order for their descendants to enjoy the kind of life we do. Gratitude is what I felt mostly during this trip. Hopefully, the kids learned a lot about European history and their own family history. That was our goal anyway!

  6. I cannot believe that you guys did that much in that time. Wow. A very cool trip, and your kids are the right age to have good memories of the trip.

    1. Right? We packed in a ton. We didn't want to waste a single day - and we didn't :)

  7. Replies
    1. Thank you! I left most of the documenting up to my husband, but I did manage to get some fun snaps along the way. We went to so many photogenic places!

  8. Sounds like a fabulous trip! I'm so glad you and your family had such a wonderful time!

    1. We really did. It truly was fantastic, bumps and all.

  9. Wonderful ! So Glad you had a Fabulous European vacation !

    1. We did! It had its not-so-fun moments (like our Parisian airport experience - yikes!), but overall it really was wonderful.

  10. It sounds like you had an amazing time.

  11. Your trip sounds absolutely fabulous! I love that you did so much that has great meaning to you and your family. My aunt, uncle, and one cousin live in Ayr so I've been going there since I was a wee one. :-)

    1. Lucky you! Ayrshire is beautiful. I know my 3rd great-grandfather was born there before emigrating to Nova Scotia, but I can't find any records that show where exactly he lived. I'm *pretty* sure none of my direct ancestors lived at Culzean Castle, but it was still super fun to visit it :)

  12. You forgot the Slate mines! LOL No wonder though as we really did do an amazing amount of things during that two weeks. :)

    1. Oops! I did forget it. I'll add it to the list. And, yes, we did an INCREDIBLE amount in such a short time. It was a whirlwind, but a really fun one :)

  13. What an absolutely amazing sounding trip and what fabulous photos. I'm taking notes of all the places you went because these are all places I'd love to visit. That is crazy about the marathons. What are the odds of that happening in 2 cities! So glad you had a wonderful trip and welcome home!

    1. We didn't get to see ALL of the places we wanted to, of course, but I think we hit some really great ones.

      The marathons really were weird - one was in Chester, England, the other in Paris. Who knew we were traveling in peak European marathon season??

  14. Somehow, I must have overlooked this post on my list. What a shame.

    Well, looks like you made the most of your Europe trip. I have seen a lot of those places you did and done a lot of the activities. Good choices.

    I'm glad you're back in the blogging community. However, I hope we will be able to meet during your next trip to our continent.

  15. I would love to do something like this but the planning makes me sooooo anxious!!

  16. How nice to be able to follow where your ancestors lived and worked. Thank You for sharing this special trip.
    Joan,Marion and Marilyn


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