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!)
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.