Shortly after we arrived in England, we began to think about all the places in Europe that we wanted to be able to visit while we are here. When we first found out the we would be spending three years living in England it seemed like it was a long time. Then we arrived and starting to plan our adventures and three years seemed very short!
We wanted to immediately jump in and start seeing the world. Reality then set in. First of all, in England there is a law that if you pull your children out of school during school time you can be fined. Now there are exceptions etc, but the general rule is if school is in session, then the kids MUST be there. Now in the states we have taken our kids out of school to vacation in the past, mostly when we only had my son in school. One kid is easy enough to get make up work done with and not be too stressed. When my daughters went to school and we had three kids in school we had a general rule for our family not to take the kids out during the school year, because it was too much work and added to the stress of our vacation. Of course with the opportunity to see Europe we thought we might bend our own rule and take the kids out of school occasionally, but with the law here and the fact that we want to respect the schools and country that we are living in we have made the decision to only travel during scheduled school holidays.
We must now work travel into peak European travel times: school holidays. Thankfully, school holidays here are plentiful and places we want to see are even more plentiful so we decided to just jump in and start planning.
I wasn’t too keen on spending our first Christmas here alone with the kids missing their family and friends. We decided to visit someplace that would make Christmas less lonely, while still being together and having family time. Scotland became the number choice early, because it was high on our places to visit list, easy to get to, and affordable during the Christmas holiday (which I will speak to a bit later, there is a reason Scotland is affordable during the winter).
Our itinerary was three nights in a hotel in Dumbarton, Scotland. While in Dumbarton we wanted to visit The William Wallace Monument, Stirling Castle, Dumbarton Castle, and a day trip to Islay to visit some distilleries. We then headed to Edinburgh for four nights to visit Edinburgh Castle, The Britannia, Edinburgh Christmas Market, and have a nice quiet Christmas Day.
From where we live in Southern England it took us about 8 hours to drive to Dumbarton. A nice easy drive for us. We arrived to our hotel, The Abbotsford in Dumbarton, and it was perfect for our family of five. Two rooms connected with a bunk bed, a single, and a king size bed. Also two bathrooms. Finding hotels that fit a family of five can be difficult here, but this hotel was affordable and perfect. There was also an onsite restaurant that we ate in two of the three nights we were there. It was very good.
To be continued…