London & Edinburgh Adventure

Bob and Stacey were looking for a weeklong getaway somewhere different, but not too out of the box and we had the perfect answer – London & Edinburgh! Here are their thoughts and lessons from their trip:

So this is a blow by blow of our observations for the trip. The trip overall was excellent, and we would do it again!

Arriving in London

Landed at the airport and the driver was a little late. Nice enough guy, but we landed a little late and when we first tried to call the company we got no answer. Eventually got someone on the phone once we were ready to go and waited about another 20 minutes. Then a long ride into the hotel- we were so early, there was no rush, but that was early Saturday morning – traffic in London is bad! I might have considered a train into the city if need be (again though, this was no problem as we had nowhere to go).

Rubens at the Palace – This place was amazing. The staff – I felt like there were about 6 key players between the desk and door and restaurant that we saw every day and they were all amazing! They not only changed over the room (which they do too sparingly in the US these days) but sometimes a couple of times a day. Never a need for fresh towels.

London Tours

Food Tour – I was skeptical about this but I will tell you – the guide was great and the Tour is SO well worth it! Some great history, and good food.

Tower of London – Also a good tour. We probably could have stayed and skipped the boat to the changing of the horse guards as there was ot a TON of time to see much outside of the grounds and Crown Jewels. Really good and fun Tour Guide.

Changing of Horse Guards/Whitehall – This was good to see. Stacey thought we were seeing them at Buckingham Palace. Good guide and well done; not our showcase of the trip, but that is us.

Free Time in London

We made use of our downtime pretty well. She loved going to Harrods (it is an experience) and still talks about the chocolate cake we had in the coffee shop (their chocolate prep is amazing and not quite as sugary as ours but sweet just enough!).

We used the Underground (Stacey was a little more intimidated but I love that mode of transportation and it and the city were SO clean.)

London Dining

We went to Rules. Great dinner and experience.

We noticed that there was a pub outside of Kensington Palace that had a name on the unique sign that was similar to the Pub by our hotel. This is where I learned about chain pubs and cask beer (I got the explanation later in our trip). The beer had sort of a plastic or chemical taste…a real bummer since we only get cask over there. Cask is not fully refrigerated so once it is ready it needs to be drunk. If not, the yeast, which continues to be active as it is not refrigerated, starts to “over do it” and creates that flavor. They don’t stand out like chains here, but next time I would make the effort to weed out chain pubs.

Afternoon Tea at the Rubens – was very fun. I don’t like anything with mayo or sour cream and sometimes cream cheese- they accommodated that in my little sandwiches.

Trains Out of London

London – getting to the train – as you know this was awful. We left the hotel late (say 9:15 for a 10 am train) and Google said 20 minutes by car- should be ok? 45 minutes later!!! Not so much. Rebooked on 10:30 am train at added cost which was frustrating. Again the City of London is trying to squeeze cars off of the road and they aren’t thinking it through. I have a college friend who had issues getting to a flight leaving London for business because of the ridiculous traffic.

Train Experience – we LOVED the first-class train. The rail in Europe is so much better than ours (although Acela is not far off from our first-class experience.)


Kimpton in Edinburgh – good location and a really nice boutiquey hotel. What we know of Kimpton in the US is not cheap; sometimes a beautiful rehab, with good service, and rooms – check check check. Our room was right over Rose Street too which has many pubs – so there was some bar noise for us old folks…

We did the Beer Tour, Old Town Tour, and Edinburgh Castle – They were all fabulously done and while there was some minor history overlap, they were not anywhere near redundant. All three guides were amazing. FYI Little Fish Tours which was 2 of the 3 was outstanding! But the Beer Tour was not Little Fish and was also so great.

We loved them all and couldn’t say who did the best job! I have no problem passing along that I would do these 3 tours all over again. There is some walking but it’s incredibly entertaining and you feel really immersed in the city and history.

EDI Airport

Leaving EDI – The EDI airport is small and not crowded – not like we are used to for sure. Some impact because of strikes in London and Paris, and we were late getting out. The connection in Paris was a little scary, never having done it before. There was a seasoned traveler on our flight to Boston who said she tried to avoid it. We ended up fine and I am glad our flight in Paris was pushed back so we weren’t panicking on the transfer… so just a heads up for folks. And I travel A LOT, lol, (but not internationally)


Ann, once again you do such a great job with these trips. I can’t thank you enough. I don’t know if anyone has taken the bait but I sing your praises every time someone (anywhere in the US) talks to me about traveling. Thank you!

Bob (and Stacey)

UK Anniversary Adventure

Alicia and Jay wanted to celebrate their anniversary in style with great food and beautiful castles and luxury palaces. We knew a UK trip to Edinburgh and London would be perfect. Here’s their trip report detailing their fabulous adventure:

We had an amazing time in the UK. The trip was absolute perfection – we can’t thank you enough! Our hotels and tours were incredible, and the transfers were seamless. We made use of the Underground a lot in London, and taxis and Ubers were also easy to find.

Edinburgh Hotel

We found the Scottish people to be so incredibly friendly – they were always offering to assist if we looked lost or going out of their way to help any way they could. This made the trip extra special. We loved Edinburgh – the city itself is beautiful and we loved how walkable it is. We also had some great meals!

On Friday, when we arrived at The Glasshouse Hotel, our room wasn’t ready, so we set out for some breakfast, explored the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle. We returned to the hotel for check-in time where we were escorted to our room passing through a cozy bar and lounge, which we of course made good use of! The room itself was amazing – spacious, modern, and complete with heated floors and a heated towel rack in the bathroom. We truly loved this hotel and ate breakfast there each morning, which was great.

We set off for our Whisky Tour & Tasting that evening which was so much fun! Then we had dinner at Tollhouse.

Edinburgh Tours

On Saturday, we set out on the hop-on hop-off bus. We got off at the Royal Yacht Britannia and spent the day walking the footsteps of the Royals as we toured the entire Yacht. This was so much fun, and in one of the rooms that had a bar, they had sparkling wine and cookies set up in honor of the coronation. We had a coronation lunch in the Royal Deck Tea Room. And finally, we got back on the bus — unfortunately, Holyrood Palace was closed because of the coronation. We got off near the Royal Mile and went back for some shopping and a drink. Later that evening, we had dinner at Cafe Andaluz.

On Sunday, we set off on our Outlander Tour. This was incredible, and our tour guide was wonderful. We had so much fun exploring the castles and villages where the show is filmed. That night, we had dinner at Ting Thai Caravan which was a recommendation from our tour guide and it was amazing!

London Hotel

On Monday, we took the train from Waverly to London Kings Cross – the train was great. Food and snacks were plentiful!

We found London to be beautifully decorated for the Coronation and still so much celebrating going on but not overwhelmed with crowds. We checked into St. Ermin’s Hotel – what a beautiful hotel! The location being so close to a tube stop was ideal, and we really liked the Westminster area. I upgraded us to a junior suite and our room was spacious and had two huge closets. The hotel houses bees and makes their own honey as well as honey-infused gin. The cocktails at the bar were top-notch! We went to Duke’s Bar for martinis – such a cool experience and presentation. Then we went to Fallow for dinner.

London Tours

On Tuesday, we made our way to the Tower of London for our tour. We got beautiful photos of the tower bridge, observed the daily opening ceremony, and saw the crown jewels. Then we got on a boat towards Buckingham Palace – unfortunately, the boat was all enclosed and we felt like we couldn’t see much on the way – we would’ve loved outside space as it was a nice day!

We saw the changing of the horse guard, which was so great, and then strolled to Buckingham Palace. When the tour ended, we had lunch at Bon Gusto, and then went to Westminster Abbey – it was amazing to see where William and Kate were married, where the Queen’s funeral service was, and where the Coronation had taken place just days before. We walked around Westminster, saw Big Ben, Westminster Palace, Parliament Square, Whitehall and Downing Street. We had drinks at Gordon’s Wine Bar (the oldest wine bar in London!) and then dinner at Dishoom – maybe our favorite meal of the entire trip!

On Wednesday, we did our Warner Brothers Studio Harry Potter Tour. This was so much fun! As huge fans of HP, it was amazing to see all of the REAL sets and actual items/clothes/props used in the movies. I was also honored to be selected to open the door to Hogwarts at the beginning of our tour! When we returned to the city, we went for drinks at The Red Lion Pub and had dinner at The Mayfair Chippy.

London Sightseeing DIY

On Thursday, we explored The British Museum (saw the Rosetta Stone!) and The National Gallery. We then headed to Borough Market and explored and had lunch at Roast. Then, walked by the Shard, Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, and then hopped on the London Eye for great views of the city – we got lucky with a clear day! We had drinks at The Savoy and dinner at Ave Mario (an incredible Italian restaurant).

On Friday, we went to Kensington Palace – unfortunately couldn’t get tickets to go inside because the times that would have worked were sold out, but we were able to see the outside and explore the beautiful gardens dedicated to Princess Diana.

We then walked to the Victoria and Albert Museum and explored the incredible Donatello exhibit. We then met our tour to Windsor Castle. This tour was also incredible and our guide was great. It was lovely to explore Windsor, and so moving to see where the Queen and Prince Philip are buried in St. George’s Chapel. We loved touring the state rooms where so many historical events took place.

Later that night, we had dinner at Nobu Portman Square and then went to Sketch for drinks – this place is incredible with artwork everywhere and so many different bars/lounges/dining rooms to go to. We spent most of our time at the Eastbar, which was such a vibe!

London Shopping

On Saturday, we set out to shop! We hit Regent, New Bond, and Oxford. The highlight was the Burberry flagship store where I bought a coveted trench coat. I always said when I went to London I would buy one!

We had Afternoon Tea at The Goring Hotel, which was absolutely excellent! The hotel itself has so much Royal history – it’s said to be one of the family’s favorite hotels, and Kate Middleton stayed there the night before her wedding to Prince William. We had a special Coronation Afternoon Tea complete with champagne in the beautiful veranda. After that, we got lost in Harrods – so fun! Then we had drinks at The Ritz and dinner at Brasserie Zedel.


Overall, this trip was incredible! The amount of time we had in each place was perfect. We were constantly on the go, and were able to see so much. London is huge – and while I feel like we saw a lot of it, I can’t wait to go back and see more! Thank you again for planning the perfect anniversary trip for us!

Alicia & Jay

Top 5 Destinations to Celebrate Halloween

Whether you adore dressing up for the day, can’t wait to take the kids trick-or-treating, revel in scary stories, or just enjoy a great themed party – Halloween is a perfect time to celebrate Fall. Although it feels like a modern holiday, Halloween can trace its roots back to the ancient pagan festival of Samhain. Samhain celebrates the change of seasons and the transition from summer to winter — a time when the veil between our world and the other world is at its thinnest. While every destination that celebrates Halloween will have the traditional core elements, there are a few destinations that stand above the rest for their Halloween style.

Fire performer at the Derry Halloween Festival [Photo Credit: Mitch Hodge via Unsplash]


Since Halloween can trace its origins back to Gaelic and Celtic culture, it seems fitting to celebrate in Ireland! Wander through historic castle ruins, and feel the lines of magic and reality blur at the edges of the ancient forests and in the soft steps of the meadows. In Ireland, you’ll enjoy bonfires, folk stories, light shows, and music — all centered around a spirit of celebration, the changing of the seasons, and a little bit of myth. Dublin offers perfectly spooky haunted tours and Bram Stoker-esque castles. Check out the Púca Festival. which concentrates on storytelling, music, and food in the historic Boyne Valley. Or, make your way to Northern Ireland for Europe’s biggest Halloween festival in Derry! This giant marvel invites you to explore different worlds, enjoy interactive light shows circus & fire performers, and take part in costume parades. Ireland offers something for everyone from parties into the wee hours of the morning to kid-friendly apple bobbing and face painting. With all the festivals rooted in tradition, this is a great addition to your Irish adventure.

New Orleans

Second only to Mardi Gras, Halloween in one of the country’s most haunted cities is a big to-do. At any time of year, New Orleans offers voodoo shops, ghost tours, and haunted sites, but Halloween magnifies all these historic, frightening, and gothic elements tenfold. The haunted atmosphere of the city is given an extra boost with towering skeletons, ghostly horsemen, and endless themed parties. The famous parades are complete with frightening floats where revelers throw candy into the crowds. New Orleans does have a few kid-friendly activities, but this is primarily a holiday geared toward adults. Celebrate with your friends at elegant weekend-long parties. Elaborate costumes, exciting galas, and incredible balls grace the streets of the French Quarter, and the houses are decorated to the nines! If you can’t visit New Orleans in February for Mardi Gras, but are still looking for that party vibe, October is the time to go.  


Full of history and tradition, but with all the trimmings of a big city, London offers something unique. It seems like in every corner of London from October 22nd- 31st there’s a Halloween celebration. Enjoy a modern Halloween with themed menus in restaurants and bars, Madame Tussaud’s Alien Escape Experience, Crystal Maze experiences, countless themed escape rooms, and endless costume parties. But London also boasts a long, dark, and storied past, with plenty of ghost tours, serial killer walks, graveyards, underground passages, and dungeons. Throughout the last week of October, London will allow you to immerse yourself in an interactive Halloween, blending historical and modern scares.

[Photo Credit: Andrei via Pexels]


[Photo credit: Aiden Craver via Unsplash]

Trying to celebrate Halloween in the most kid-friendly way possible? Look no further than Disney! All of the Disney Parks and cruises worldwide celebrate Halloween in style. Marvel at specialty shows, meet-and-greets, and fireworks displays that you won’t see at any other time of year. The kids will love meeting their favorite Villains who only come out for Halloween. Or getting unique photos of the other characters in specialty Halloween costumes. Mickey himself hosts a Not-So-Scary Halloween Party which requires advance tickets. Your favorite rides also get a makeover adding spooky — but not-too-scary — Halloween elements. When you tire of rides, parties, and villains, you can enjoy specialty foods or head into the shops for some seasonal merch. In Disney World, Halloween brings in a huge foodie element with lots of new specialties to try and enjoy. The kids will love the Coco-themed installation! Running through the 2nd of November, it teaches them more about the Day of the Dead. With all sorts of things you’ll never see any other time of year, Halloween is a great time to enjoy a Disney experience.


Canada is one of the best destinations for leaf-peeping, getting out into nature, and enjoying Halloween in a quaint, kid-friendly way. Canadians celebrate Halloween very similarly to Americans with scary movies, trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins, and autumn festivals. You can enjoy small-town fairs, as well as carnival rides, pumpkin patches, or apple bobbing for the kids. Victoria on Vancouver Island is British Columbia’s most haunted city. They celebrate with a lot of spookier activities including haunted night ziplining. The bigger cities like Toronto and Vancouver are dotted with parties and Zombie walks. All over Canada, there are plenty of events for all ages. Infuse your Halloween with a little bit of wholesome, light-hearted fun. This is the perfect place if you don’t want Halloween to be the main focus of your Autumn outdoor adventure but just have it sprinkled into the great outdoors.

Are you ready to add a little travel to next year’s Halloween celebrations? Let us know! If you’re considering a late-October or early-November adventure, it’s worth adding these incredible Halloween experiences to your trip!

Afternoon Tea and Gyros

I am VERY late in posting this wonderful trip report from Andrea and Eric’s June “escape” to London and Greece. But in some ways the timing is just right, as the snow falls outside and we all start dreaming about summer vacation. So enjoy this little daydream of Europe. And then give me a call to start planning your trip for 2020 🙂

Hi Ann — We got back yesterday evening and both agreed that was a trip of a lifetime. It was fantastic! We’ve adjusted back to east coast time pretty quickly, but getting on Europe’s time required some effort. 

Greece had so much to offer. Our stop in London was brief but we squeezed in quite a bit. St. James Court hotel was just a few blocks from Buckingham Palace, so any time we wandered out we got to pass by and appreciate the view. We booked an afternoon tea time at One Aldwych Hotel. The tea party theme was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and was so well done. We then did an afternoon ride on a hop-on-and-off bus tour. Unfortunately, Big Ben was covered in scaffolding and the tour guide said it’ll be under construction for the next few years. 

In Athens we had our skip the line walking tour you booked us for the Acropolis and the museum. It was really interesting and helped us appreciate the history much more than I was expecting. Our hotel was centrally located in Athens and fairly basic but nice. Everything was walkable and we had a great view of the Acropolis from our hotel.  

A perfect trip combo- Greece & London! Oh the sites you can see and the things you can do! Here's a potential itinerary

Mykonos was our next stop and was our favorite! The Myconian Utopia Resort was so well kept and so impressive. Words can’t describe this place. The views, the infinity pool, the service, and private beach were all fantastic. We’d love to visit there again someday. Our days here were spent either on the resort or the private beach (we even jet skied), not much else was easy to travel to with our limited number of days there. But that was perfectly okay by us.


infinity pool in Santorini Greece

We then got to Santorini by ferry and we were unsure on that process, but it was pretty easy. Our transfers to and from the ferry didn’t work out. The pickup car in Santorini didn’t show, so we ended up having to take a shuttle to the hotel. The hotel views of the caldera were so amazing it’s hard to describe. Our hotel, Chromata, was literally on the cliff! The town of Imerovigli, where our hotel was, was great since there’s so much there. There are little markets, rental car shops, and plenty of places to eat so we felt less bound by the hotel than we did in Mykonos. Our room itself was pretty basic, but the view was fantastic. They were completely booked so they didn’t have any available upgrades.

The hotel service was amazing. We took a semi-private sunset luxury boat tour through Volcano Yachting. We booked it very last minute – the night before. It’s the best thing we could have done in Santorini. It traveled through the caldera and stopped at the red beach for swimming, stopped at the volcanic island for us to swim in the hot springs, and included free drinks and dinner. The sunset was unbelievable. They even picked us up and dropped us off at the hotel. The next day we rented a tiny smart car and drove to the black beach. It’s actually black and pretty cool. But since the sand is black is extremely hot to walk on. I wish I brought my water shoes. Flip flops weren’t enough!

View of Santorini Greece on the cliff
a beautiful balcony overlooking the sea

Our trip came to an end and we had a very long day traveling back (Santorini to Athens, Athens to London, then London to Dulles). We were extremely lucky that we made it to London a few minutes early, we knew there was a United flight from London to DC at 12:15pm and thought just maybe we could get lucky and get on that flight instead of our 4:40pm flight. We stopped at the United desk, they called the gate, and they let us onto the 12:15pm even though they already finished boarding everyone. This was the moment having no checked bags really paid off! Ha. So glad because we got home 5 hours earlier than expected.

By the way, we ate a lot of gyros – all were great! Oh, and I attached a few pictures from our trip! We have hundreds on our phones need to sort through still 🙂


the view from the stair of Santorini

Thank you again for being so available and helpful with this entire process. Booking this trip on our own just seems so daunting and I’m glad we avoided the black hole of reading hotel, tour, and other reviews online. Made our lives much easier. Thanks again!

 Andrea & Eric

You provided excellent guidance for us. I appreciated that you really had us think about what was most important to us when we were selecting the right cruise – and not to totally focus on what other people had to say. THANK YOU for helping to make this a memorable trip for our family! It really was a trip of a lifetime!

Clare and Mark (family cruise to Alaska)

The level of service we experienced was out of this world (and we did NOT make it easy on Ann). We weren’t quite sure where we wanted to go, when we would be able to go, or what “vibe” we were going for. After asking us some key questions (what we liked, didn’t like, why, etc.) Ann helped us narrow down our trip details and planned the honeymoon of our dreams. She helped book some of our excursions, answered some emergency questions while abroad and was always available/willing to help. I think it’s safe to say we won’t be using anyone else for future travel planning – Ann is a rockstar!

Carli (Italy and Spain)