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Mar 5th, 2013, 05:40 PM
  #1
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London & Scotland

Active family of 4 planning first European vacation. Well mannered adventurous kids 7 & 11 who are interested in all things fun, they like museums, shopping, all kinds of food. They would like a private visitation with Princess Kate (the 7y/o) and an invitation to Hogworts ( he's 11). Alas, we only have 10 days. Plan fly into London, hope to see the Tattoo in Edinburgh ( tiks still available last check), visit family in Glasgow for 1-2 days. Late July - Aug. I would love any advice on itinerary ideas, thoughts on duration in each location, if time to head into the Highlands? Harry Potter thing worth it? We tend to pack a lot in when we travel. It is our vacation pace. Day trip to Paris doing too much?
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Mar 5th, 2013, 06:21 PM
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Search the forum for "Harry Potter" and you will find quite a bit of information on folks who have incorporated that theme into a family vacation.

With only ten days, and 1-2 of that visiting family in Glasgow, yes, a day trip to Paris is too much.

Are you flying out of Glasgow, or do you have to get back to London? If you could fly open jaw then my suggestion would be four days London, three days Edinburgh, two Glasgow, with the final day being your departure day. One of your Edinburgh days could be a day trip to get a little taste of the Highlands. The days will still be relatively long, if you're driving, leaving more time for sightseeing.
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Mar 5th, 2013, 07:15 PM
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Thanks Barbara. I didn't think to search HP. I will check out the NYT article you sited in previous post.
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Mar 5th, 2013, 08:02 PM
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I am shooting for open jaw. Train to Edinburgh? Car? Any recommendations on highlands day trip?
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Mar 6th, 2013, 12:07 AM
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I think a reality check may be needed...with 10 days you already have too much planned. Does that include your travel days? London deserves 1/2 that time and your visit with family and Edinburgh will eat up the rest. Don't try to fit any more in!
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Mar 6th, 2013, 05:58 AM
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I think there are some relatively recent threads on the train from London to Edinburgh, also. We haven't done that, so I can't comment from personal experience. But that won't stop me.

Do your kids like trains? If we were doing what you are doing I would be leaning toward the overnight train, because for our 9-year-old (who is a train fanatic) it would be such a treat to be able to say he slept overnight in one. If you don't want to do the overnight, you could treat the ride as part of your sight-seeing (the scenery is supposed to be quite nice). It will eat up about half a day. But then, by the time you leave time for arrival and check-in, so would flying. For us, it would be worth it.

My inclination would be to avoid cars altogether, because you can spend a few days quite happily in all three cities without needing one. You could rent one for a day to see some mountains or just take an organized day trip. Note - I'm not saying you "should" squeeze a day trip to the Highlands into your schedule. You could very easily just stay in Edinburgh and see the sights there. But with the mass of humanity that will descend upon Edinburgh for the Tattoo, you might enjoy a change of scenery for a day.

Just google "day trips from Edinburgh" to get an idea of what's feasible. You really can't go wrong. It is beautiful in every direction.

Don't forget to post a trip report next August for those of us whose budgets do not include a trip to Scotland this year!
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Mar 6th, 2013, 08:23 AM
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Don't do that. London and Edinburgh are major cities with frequent train service. From King's X to Edinburgh it's a sub-5 hour ride. Get an early train and you won't blow the whole day (plus the hobbits will sleep part of the way). The sleeper is a 7.5-8 hour ride and won't give you (or the kids) 7.5-8 hours of sleep and will get you to Edinburgh at some ungodly hour in the morning when your hotel or other residence won't be ready.

It's probably just as easy to stay in Edinburgh the whole time and rent a flat and have the family come to you or do a day trip. Glasgow and Edinburgh are closer than Philly and NYC.

Why not go to Stirling or Perth for a day - they each have great castles (Stirling Castle, Scone Palace) with historical significance (deaths, treachery, beheadings all the neato stuff an 11-y.o. would like).
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Mar 6th, 2013, 10:07 PM
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Barbara, jamikins, & BigRuss - thank you so much for your feedback. Not to sound like a total tool, but I am new to the whole Fodorite forum thing and am loving all the feedback. BigRuss your point is noted about the train and it is food for thought that I'm still pushing around the plate. Stirling & Perth - would you do a guided day trip ( which I have never done in any of my previous travels and am hesitant), rent a car? More trains? I was interested in the Highland day trip I found at Barbaras mention and it included a stop in Stirling. I have fears of being trapped on a tour bus from which I can't escape.
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Mar 6th, 2013, 11:01 PM
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Just time for a couple of very quick comments right now . . .

• for day or over night tours from Edinburgh these two companies are probably the best/most well known. Both do small groups and are very good value.

http://rabbies.com
http://www.timberbush-tours.co.uk/

• A great site for kids w/i a very short train tide from Edinburgh - Linlithgow Palace. Tons of stairs and corridors and towers to explore. Kids LOVE it

http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u...lithgowpalace/
http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/...?PropID=PL_199
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Mar 7th, 2013, 05:25 AM
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Janisj is the voice of authority on this topic. Big Russ has a good point about the trains, also. WE would do an overnight because my son has been bugging me for years now to do an overnight train trip. That doesn't mean it would be right for anyone else.

As for the day trip - although usually I also shy away from guided tours and being trapped on a tour bus - there are times when it is nice to turn the driving over to someone else, and this might be one of them. Since your time is so limited, why spend it picking up and dropping off a car? Just show up for the tour and enjoy the scenery for a day. Especially if you opt for one of the "small group" tours Janisj mentioned, I think you will have a lot of fun.
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Mar 7th, 2013, 08:38 AM
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Stirling (51 minutes) and Perth (71 minutes) are easy train rides from Edinburgh with frequent service. Not sure how close the stations are to the Castle/Palace.

From the map, looks like Stirling Castle is about 1/2 mile from the station but Scone Palace is a few miles away from Perth station. We drove to the latter en route from Aberdeen to Edinburgh.
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Mar 7th, 2013, 08:47 AM
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The direct trains to Perth go over the Firth of Forth Rail Bridge, which is one of the most famous in the world (one or more of the kids would dig it).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forth_Bridge
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Mar 7th, 2013, 10:05 AM
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Stirling Castle is Magnificent - no argument there. But since presumably you will have visited Edinburgh Castle - I'd personally opt for Linlithgow. Being a very large ruin they would get a whole different experience than the quite similar Edinburgh/Stirling castles.

(both are really terrific but I actually prefer Stirling castle to Edinburgh castle - w/ such limited time I'd pick one of them)

Scone is lovely but IME less interesting for children and it would be more hassle to get there.
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Mar 18th, 2013, 08:31 PM
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Okay my Scotland experts- the kids are out of their head at the idea of the sleeper train. ( Will let you know after the trip Big Russ if i should have heeded your warning.). Your thoughts on the Tattoo? Tickets remain available. It strikes me as worth the £37 x 4. Also there aren't a lot of night time activities for the under 12 set. Any recommendations for sights not to be missed in Glasgow outside of the usual tour guide stuff.
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Mar 18th, 2013, 08:43 PM
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The Tattoo is absolutely NOT to be missed if you can get tickets. Folks travel from all over the world just to attend it. BUY the tix before they sellout!

In Glasgow -the transport museum will be a 'must' for kids.

http://www.glasgowlife.org.uk/museum...s/default.aspx
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Mar 19th, 2013, 08:20 PM
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Thanks janisj- tickets- Tattoo- booked!
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Mar 20th, 2013, 03:20 AM
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If you book well in advance you can get great discount fares on the Caledonian Sleeper train down to London, we tool it last July and even managed to get some sleep, despite the shaking and jolting! But it's sure to be a huge wheeze for the kids, they won't mind. Just remember that the train leaves pretty late at night and gets into London a little before 7 the next morning. We were just the two of us and it wasn't a big deal, at Edinburgh we checked out and went to Stirling for the day before returning to pick up our bags.At the other end we dropped off our bags at the hotel and set out for the day, getting only in the evening.
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Mar 20th, 2013, 08:55 AM
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Alnwick is on the GNER train route from London to Edinburgh and, if possible, you may want to schedule a quick stop there on the way up, to go to Alnwick Castle and gardens.

The castle is where some of the Happy Potter shots were filmed, is a really great site, and then the Castle Gardens are beautiful. There's a poison garden there too, which would be fun for the kids relating to the whole magic potion thing.

Finally, there's a really fun restaurant called the TreeHouse there next to the gardens, where you could have lunch or dinner. It's literally a restaurant built into the trees, with bridges connecting all the areas. Kids and grownups will both like it.

It may stretch your journey up to Scotland a bit too much for your liking (especially on such a tight schedule), but a 3-4 hour stopover there may be worth it for the fam.

Oh, and I think you've heard it enough already, but DEFINITELY don't try to squeeze in Paris or any other cities for a night. You'll want as much time as possible in both London and Edinburgh. Both are amazing cities.
Get your Glaswegian family to come visit you in Edinburgh instead to save the trip, haha.
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Mar 20th, 2013, 09:08 AM
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Hey!
Being a huge Harry Potter fan myself, I felt it my duty to ask you to go see Greyfriar Bobby's graveyard in edinburgh. It has the graves which JK Rowling took as inspiration in naming her charatcers : McGonnagal, Moody and (importantly) Tom Riddle. My sister and I had a blast hunting for the graves (warning - it is a huge place and it took us FOREVER, a couple of hours) it was great though. And i think i remember where they were, so I can tell you in case you want an upper limit to the time spent

Also - I have heard the Harry Potter thing from London is good. However, book in advance because it gets sold out early.
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Mar 20th, 2013, 11:30 AM
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Edinburgh in August is full up with the Edinburgh Festival. Do you have a hotel for your time there? Or an apartment? If not, book immediately. We found Edinburgh hotels quite full in September, probably in July also.
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