When you return from a European adventure and have over 5,000 photos to go through, narrowing them down to about 30 feels medal worthy.
Here’s just a short few of my favorite photos from our recent European vacation (or should I say “holiday”)…
We set sail on the Disney Magic from Dover, England and the very next day we docked in Le Havre, France. Sean and I went on a port adventure to Paris for the day. It was pretty jam-packed. We saw the Eiffel Tower for 10 minutes – not kidding, visited Notre Dame and saw a ton of the city from afar. I’m glad we were able to carve out time on the tour for Nutella crepes (because, priorities), fresh cheese from a local shop and a baguette. We enjoyed those little bites from a quaint bench overlooking the river. I wish we could have stayed longer!
After Paris, we set sail for Portland, England. Once we were ashore, we drove for a few hours to see Stonehenge, aka rocks. Was it worth it? Not totally, but you have to at least see it once. It was incredibly windy that day. On our walk by the car, I couldn’t help but stop and stare at the beautiful poppy flowers. Later that same day, we visited Salisbury. Sean and I bought pulled pork sandwiches at the local farmers market and accidentally offered to pay with Euros instead of Pounds – it was a pretty amateur move. I loved the history in Salisbury. The Salisbury Cathedral might have been my favorite cathedral- it was so cool to see the Magna Carta. The entire place was breathtaking, and I believe it was the oldest cathedral we saw while in Europe.
Next up, Ireland! Sean and I decided to explore on our own in Dublin. We wandered the streets and admired the architecture – which was WAY more modern than we expected. There were so many tech companies and corporate headquarters there – basically every other biker was wearing a suit probably on their way to work. We took the metro down to Bray, which is a smaller town on the coast. We hiked up the mountain pictured above. I was not a fan of that activity until we reached the top. It felt like 100% incline, and way more advanced than our local hiking trails back home. But, I made it.
After, we found a local spot and enjoyed tomato soup and I had (not pictured) a super healthy quinoa/kale/sweet potato wrap. Some were speaking Gaelic, and if they were not, they had very thick Irish accents. I about died when Ed Sheeran came on the radio, all the feels. That evening, I found And Other Stories (I love that store) and we had some delicious food and beer in a local pub. When in Ireland!
If you’ve ever seen Pride and Prejudice, the Chatsworth House above is where Mr. Darcy lived. Pretty sweet! We started this day in Liverpool, England and headed to the house from there. It took about 2 hours, but we saw lots of sheep on the way and learned all about life in Liverpool from our driver (so strange that they drive on the wrong side). I loved seeing all of the old dresses in the house, especially all of the evening attire – ball gowns, etc. One of the rooms had a mock set up of a grand party, complete with music, old china, fashion, fake food, the whole enchilada.
About halfway through our trip at this point, we woke up in Greenock, Scotland. Seriously, I can’t say enough positive things about Scotland. We had two amazing drivers that took us to see Glasgow and all of the beauty of that city. Pictured above is the Glasgow Opera house. We visited the Stirling Castle that afternoon. I learned that there are a lot of Scottish clans, all with their own colored plaid, and that the Scotland national animal is a unicorn!
The following day was a sea day, and we saw the Hebrides – aka islands off the northern coast of Scotland. The sun set very late, and it felt like we were almost to Norway! When we woke up the next morning, Sean and I went on a tour of Kirkwall, Scotland with a professional photographer. He lived in Kirkwall and knew all of the secret gems and hidden spots. The weather was unreal. It was about 40 degrees, or possibly colder, and 45 mph winds – I was FREEZING and so wet. Note: I am wearing Sean’s rain jacket, because I failed to bring one. At one point on that cliff, I thought I might blow away. I took the longest hot bath after we got back on the cruise ship, seriously no regrets.
Seeing that view and having the opportunity to capture it, was a moment that I will never forget. It was one of those moments when you truly marvel at God’s glory and the sheer beauty of His creation. Also, it made me appreciate the lifestyle I have. Our photographer was telling us he doesn’t have wifi and has to take a plane flight to the mainland for basic shopping – I can’t even imagine living somewhere so remote.
Invergordon was possibly my favorite Scotland port. We had to look for the Loch Ness monster of course. Didn’t find her, but I did find the Eilean Donan Castle. You had to walk across a bridge to get there. It felt like I was looking at one of those stock image screensaver photos, so perfect. The living quarters were very small and the staircases were narrow. I’m pretty sure the people who lived there back in the day were about my size if not shorter.
We had a family lunch at a place nearby, traditional Scottish food. So good! Scotland was a lot of rolling hills, green everywhere, tons of sheep… it was more so what I thought Ireland would look like in my head. As we sailed away that night, there were bagpipes playing and people dressed in Scottish kilts waving to us as our farewell. Can I stay forever?
Our last port was Newcastle, England. It was dreamy, and historic, and all around just a fun last stop. We saw another castle, had lunch at Bills – which was adorable and incredible… the peach tea was to die for and the decor was on point, and we explored the local shops. I found a cute store with my mom, sister and friend Ashley. It had tons of little chocolates, lavender everything, and vintage clothes. We also stumbled upon a little dessert shop and I purchased a scone to go.
Following Newcastle, we had another at sea day and celebrated my mom’s birthday! It was so fun to all be together for that. Other on the cruise ship highlights included: bingo with Timmy the host ( and bingo Betty – who the heck is Betty? it’s a long story), getting a couples hot stone massage for the first time, unlimited soft-serve ice cream, the family dinner each night in all of the amazing restaurants, seeing a little boy dressed up as a carrot for Frozen night (his mom made him), seeing dolphins from our balcony, and of course listening to Realta in the Irish pub on-board.
After the cruise ended, we spent 2 days in London. We stayed at the Stafford hotel, which was the nicest place I think I’ve ever stayed. It blew my mind. Our first day in London, we had high tea at the Stafford. Those scones and finger sandwiches were the best I’ve ever had. The queen herself has had tea there – so I was imagining that I was sitting in the very chair that she had once occupied. Sean and I wandered through Green Park and of course had to stop at Buckingham Palace. I wish we had seen the changing of the guards, but it was still so amazing. I loved all of the parks in London – I wish we had that here in LA. We walked to the Tower Bridge, and saw Big Ben. That night we went to the Piccadilly Circus/Soho part of town for dinner at Foxlow and dessert at a little whole in the wall place near Fortnum and Mason.
The last day, we did more shopping in the Piccadilly Circus area, visited Whistles, and explored the Tower of London with my family. We saw the Queen’s crowned jewels, which was probably my favorite part. I most definitely had another scone and tea, and did NOT want to leave.
Getting to see so much of Europe in just 2 weeks was the best and I think traveling via cruise ship (specifically Disney) made it that much cooler. It was nice to sail overnight to different places, and not have to worry about packing your suitcase again or paying for multiple flights, or acquiring a lot of each currency. From a practical standpoint, if you’re thinking about visiting Europe, I fully believe a cruise is the way to go.
All in all, I’m so thankful that my family invited Sean and I to come along on this adventure of a lifetime. I loved sharing this experience with my family- what a gift to travel together and make so many incredible memories. It was the trip that we always dreamed of taking and one that we will remember for the rest of our lives.