Edinburgh, Consulate, and Travel as a Family of Six

This past week we took our first big adventure as a family of six. Actually, it was our first real day trip outside of St Andrews since we moved here in September. It’s sad that it took us that long to venture out, but moving when seven months pregnant does not make for easy traveling. My last weeks of pregnancy were fairly hard on me, so we opted to not do any touring outside of St Andrews.

Our main purpose for going to Edinburgh was to register Elliott as an American at the US Consulate, but we were happy for the excuse to see a little bit of the city in the process.

Traveling as a family of six is obviously new to us. And traveling completely on public transportation is also new to us. In the past, whenever we’ve gone on trips I tend to over prepare. If I think I’ll need 4 diapers, I take 8 just in case. Extra outfit? Check. Towels in the trunk in case we have emergency messes? Check. You get the idea. The more prepared, the better I feel about an outing.

This time, though, we had the exact opposite approach. The less the better. Knowing that we would have to fold up the stroller every time we got on a bus or train, we wanted our things to be in one bag that we could easily carry. So everything from diapers and wipes to snacks (we needed a lot!) went in one backpack that Brian carried. Yay for minimalism! It worked out great. (I learned, though, that I really need to have a bag on me as well to hold a few things. I’m now on the lookout for an over the shoulder bag. I need to check Etsy, but if you have any favorites, let me know!)

“The Royal Mile” Edinburgh

We began the trip with a very brief walk to the bus stop that is just up the road from our house. It was fairly cold and rainy when we headed out but we were hopeful, as it was supposed to be better weather in Edinburgh.

The bus ride took about 20 minutes and dropped us off at the rail station where we waited for our train to Edinburgh. The train ride is only an hour and we enjoyed beautiful green countryside on one side and the sea out the other side.

In the train

Out my side of the train window (The rain makes everything so green here!)

Out Brian’s side of the train window

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and a beautiful city in its own right. We really didn’t get to appreciate its beauty nearly as much as we would have liked, but definitely plan to return there in the near future.

We walked around the city and tried to take in the old, the gorgeous architecture, and the feel of the city. It was cold and dreary so we didn’t want to linger anywhere for too long, but we still enjoyed the brisk walk around town.

We also visited a museum of toys. Some of the toys dated back to 1900 BC and it was truly fascinating. I was surprised how much the kids enjoyed this, and Brian and I could have stayed there a long while. It really is very interesting to think about how much you can learn sociologically about time periods and countries by observing children’s toys. Since I have a love for both child development and history, it was pretty fun.

Right in the middle of the day, we had our appointment at the consulate. Let’s just say that it took much longer than I anticipated, but we came out with Elliott officially registered as an American and quite a few dollars shorter in our pockets. :)   Also, asking two people who have lived very multi-cultural lives for every time and reason they have been out of the country is rather time-consuming.

The United States Consulate

We decided that while Edinburgh is a very nice city, they need to invest in a few more bathrooms. Seeing as it costs  30 pence (about 46 cents US) to use the restroom, they could make a boatload on our family alone. Just saying.

Also, finding places to comfortably nurse is equally as difficult as finding a bathroom, but still infinitely easier to just do. In the end, comfortable or not, I can nurse Elliott anywhere (yep, even sitting in the Consulate), but you can’t just take children to the bathroom anywhere.

While it sometimes felt like we looked for bathrooms and nursed the entire day, in between all that we did see a good bit of the city, and we did take care of registering Elliott at the Consulate. So it really was both a productive and fun day. (But once we potty train Silas and we have three kids bladders to manage…)

 Bagpiper and Monument to Sir Walter Scott in background. Yes, we are in Scotland.

I learned a few things about traveling on a long day trip with 4 young children that I will implement next time. Once I’ve got it all figured out, I’ll let you know. :)

We really had a lot of fun. We were exhausted. Twelve hours away from the house used to feel like nothing. Now? It feels like I went on a week long trip and I’m still recovering. Trains are fun for kids. People like to stare at large families trekking around a European city. Stefan walked miles without complaining (love that boy!). You really do need to heed the “Mind the Gap” signs on the train platform. Seriously. You could totally lose a child down on the tracks the gap is so wide. (We didn’t.)

It was a delightful day, but going out with young children is never easy, and there are times in the middle of it that you wonder if it is worth it.

But it so worth the effort. I’ll do it again in a heartbeat.

 

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Comments

  1. I love the automated “mind the gap” announcements. And I loved Edinburgh.

  2. We may be following in your footsteps, though with our smaller brood, next week. Might have to pick your brain. I’d heard of the toy museum, but (ironically?) assumed the kids might not like it. I envisioned a room full of appealing toys with “Don’t touch” signs everywhere. Must be different than the museum in my imagination if your fun-loving kids enjoyed it!

    • Johanna says:

      Like I said, I was surprised they enjoyed it, but don’t think we lingered there for long. And Silas was asleep most of the time in the stroller which helped. They did enjoy it and there were a few (very few) things they could do which helped, but I wouldn’t plan on being there for a long time. A walk through is fun though. The Scottish National Museum is very kid friendly we have heard. We were hoping to do that but couldn’t fit it in so we’re planning on doing in the near future.

  3. You mean Edinburgh has less public restrooms than FRANCE?!!!! I feel for you! Loved your post and photos. :o )

    • Johanna says:

      I think they do actually. (Although it’s been years and I wasn’t touring with young children so my perception could be off!)

  4. Heather L. says:

    Oh what an adventure! Is your husband studying at St. Andrews? I just popped over from Catherine’s blog……

  5. Oh, I love seeing pictures of Edinburgh! Someday…
    Glad you guys are doing well and settling into a rhythm with the newest member of the family! Hugs!

  6. I am completely fascinated by stories of families traveling with multiple children/living abroad. :) We travel fairly often with our two kids, but reading other peoples’ stories gives me more confidence to try stuff (longer trips, internationally, etc.) that’s a bit out of my comfort zone.

    And Scotland–!!! It’s on the top of my list of places to see.

  7. Priscilla says:

    Beautiful pictures Johanna! I love your blog and am looking forward to reading more of your posts, and reading more books that you recommend–The Lord bless you!!

  8. Love it! Though I know it takes work (and don’t know what kind of work it takes for four!). :)

    What is the public view of nursing in public there? Ironically, I’m more comfortable nursing in public when it’s not around people I know. When we were in Ecuador, many nursed openly in public, so I rarely felt constrained to try to go to an excluded place. But I know that can be such a challenge to find a place when you need to!

    • Johanna says:

      I think it is acceptable, but I have actually never seen it done :) . Nobody has given me a problem anyway! I agree with nursing in public where I don’t know anyone.

  9. Laura G. says:

    Hi, Johanna! I am Elsbeth Rodgers’ mom, and I really enjoy your blog! I am fascinated by Scotland, Ireland, and England. I wanted to let you know that I have purchased some purses and a great tote bag from a lady on Etsy. She is so creative and her bags are both practical and beautiful. Here is her link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/onceuponabag

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