If I had access to unlimited funds, you would not be able to pin me down because I would tie up any loose strings and travel the world.
The world is an exciting adventure. Right now, I have a total of 13 countries under my belt (that doesn’t include airport only stops) and have many more to go.
A few months ago, I got the chance to revisit a few of my favorites and add a new one to the list. It was a quick trip, with a little taste of each, but a savoring of previous visits and new craving for more.
London was my first big city experience. I went there before I went to NYC or LA. It will always be a favorite on the list and the place I’ve visited the most.
The highlights of London are hole in the wall pubs and the Tower. Make sure you get the house-made cask beer and take the tour with the Beefeaters. After your tour, go see the Crown Jewels.
Then you can awe at how Jim Moriarty in the BBC series Sherlock, electronically broke in to the Tower. “In a world of locked rooms, the man with the key is king. And honey you should see me in a crown.”
Eat some fish and chips. Word of warning, the fish may have the skin still on it. Fearful of British dishes? McDonalds is 100 percent better than the traditional American establishment. Drink an orange Fanta. It’s not fake orange, it’s more of Orangina without the pulp. You’ll be Googling ways to ship it to your house.
I’m also a big fan of going to the cathedrals. If you only have time to go to one, go to Westminster Abbey. It is the burial place of many, many renowned Brits, as well as monarchs and other royals.
You’ll feel creepy stepping on the cracks in the floor to avoid stepping on someone’s burial place.
St. Paul’s is great too. Mary Poppins fan? This is the church described in her song, “Feed the Birds.”
My favorite place on earth is Scotland. Well, as a native-born Texan, I’m required to say Texas is my favorite place, with Scotland a close second.
Whether it’s Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness or the Isle of Skye, I love it all. It feels like home. Someday I will live there. #LifeGoals
This round I went to Edinburgh and was there during the 2017 Fringe Festival. Get you a good Scottish ale and walk the Royal Mile. The lad who sold me a coffee and oat white stout said you’re free to walk the street, drink in hand as long as you’re not being a ****. Might check to make sure that’s true outside of the festival though.
Edinburgh Castle is mandatory. It’s on a volcano. You’ll feel like royalty. If you’re into history, it’s a phenomenal artifact and great stories. Mary, Queen of Scots. No, she’s different than Bloody Mary.
Not into history? The views from the top of the mount are fantastic. You’ll see all of Edinburgh.
I know there are a ton of Outlander fans out there. The story book comes to life in Edinburgh. Sure, you need to go to Inverness too. But the winding streets and closes that pull you back to older times make it all real. You’ll be singing “Skye Boat Song” the entire time.
This round I added Ireland to my list. But to be honest, I don’t remember anything aside from Guinness.
The beverage was always just ok. Not bad, not great. A foreign beer that everyone knew the name of.
But since I enjoy tasting new beers, especially those dark and malty, I think you naturally have to pay a visit.
After the experience, I will tell you that if you’re in Dublin, skip everything else and go to the Guinness brewery. You’ll spend almost an entire day there learning about it. It’s not just a history lesson where you read boards of information about how it’s made. It’s an experience.
The standard ticket comes with the small tasting. During the session, instructors will walk you through how to drink the beverage and the subtle notes you’ll notice as you take your gulp.
If you’re lucky, you’ll be in the room with women who don’t like beer. Make friends around you and offer to take their shot glass sized beverage off of their hands.
Pay the extra money to take the pouring class. It’s well worth it. You’ll learn how to properly pour the beverage and get to drink your pint.
The brewery even has food such as beef stew made with the brew and potato and leek soup. All foods that pair magnificently with Guinness.
Needless to say I have a new appreciation for Guinness and get it more often here in the States.
The brewery even has some different options at the bar at the top if darkness isn’t your thing. If I remember correctly, there was an IPA and lighter options.
Ranking Ireland, honestly, I don’t have it in my top three. Now, I was in Dublin. For a day-and-a-half. I saw Guinness and ate some wine gummies. It’s green and the buses tell you the stops in Gaeilge. Don’t worry, they shout at you in English too.
Maybe I go back to see the country side and castles and eat some potatoes. Until then, I’ll remind myself with Guinness. Slainte!
The first time I went to France, I experienced a filthy, smelly Paris at the beginning of the Iraq War when freedom fries were a thing. Literally, people threw trash in the street gutters and water rushed through them twice-per-day to sweep the trash away. I saw people peeing in the streets.
Very few people attempted to speak English and would get frustrated when you would butcher their language to order food.
I did remember the food being wonderful, so I knew it would not disappoint entirely the second round.
French bread > American bread. There’s just something that makes it better. Maybe because it’s actually real food? Maybe because it doesn’t have preservatives?
Paris also has such a thing as pastry shops. I have yet to find somewhere comparable in Texas or Oklahoma. I’m not saying they don’t exist, just I’m unaware of their locations.
We’re talking real pastries. Wonderful pastries. This round I made sure I got my fill. Get you a crepe too. There’s all kind of fruit and chocolate varieties.
The lady at the patisserie shop was very friendly. Her voice so musical.
The pasta and Asian cuisine did not disappoint. It was some of the best I’ve had (well outside of Italy for the pasta).
Everyone we met were wonderful people, even if the communication barriers were limited. France moved up on my list after this trip, and on some days it breaks the top three.
It could be because Paris was bidding to host the Olympics. I guess we’ll find out after the next visit.
Of course, everyone goes to the Eiffel Tower. You can purchase a ticket to go up to the top. I think the experience is just to be around it.The lines can be long and the foot traffic around the exhibit can be intense.
When in Paris, one must visit the Louvre. Put on your walking shoes and stroll around. You’ll see everything from art to history. Just knowing the facility was once a palace is cool enough for me.
Les Mis fan? You could very well pass the Saint Michel subway stop on your way to the Louvre to see artwork depicting the revolution in all of its glory. You might even hear the people sing.
There’s more than enough entertainment to spend a week in each of these places, not even including the rest of the museums, historical monuments and cultural exhibits in their respective countries. More importantly, there’s something for everyone, regardless of what you enjoy to do on your travels.
All in all, I encourage everyone to hop on a plane or cruise ship and get outside of the U.S. Take an adventure and get a glimpse inside the lives of people that are not your own. If nothing else, traveling will give you a different perspective of your life here in America.