March 4, 2014

What I Got For Christmas…

Great ideas for surprising someone with a trip.

I am terrrrrrrible at guessing what Kevin will give me for Christmas. It’s always a surprise! I always beg and beg for hints, and he just laughs and teases me with vague clues because he knows I’ll never guess. I just wanna know so bad!! :)

Great ideas for surprising someone with a trip.

This year I needed a suitcase, but even when I saw the big suitcase-shaped present under the tree, I still couldn’t guess, lol! :) I am so bad at this! :)

Great ideas for surprising someone with a trip.

But even if I could’ve guessed the suitcase, I would have never guessed what was inside.

Great ideas for surprising someone with a trip.

Now, I had learned my lesson from Christmas three years ago, and I knew it wasn’t a homemade calendar…

Great ideas for surprising someone with a trip.

So I was so excited to see what Kevin had cooked up this year. :)

Great ideas for surprising someone with a trip.

He pulled off the sweetest surprise ever. :)

Great ideas for surprising someone with a trip.

Scotland!

Great ideas for surprising someone with a trip.

London!

Great ideas for surprising someone with a trip.

And Paris!

Great ideas for surprising someone with a trip.

He created a 20-page notebook filled with photos, plans, maps, and itineraries. We sat on the couch, and he put his arm around me as I breathlessly pored over each page.

  • Loch Ness!
  • Edinburgh!
  • Castle driving through the Highlands!
  • Buckingham Palace!
  • Afternoon tea!
  • Stonehenge!
  • Macarons!
  • The Eiffel Tower!
  • Versailles!

It was a dream vacation.

Great ideas for surprising someone with a trip.

He even had a little section of “pre-trip” movies we could watch to start the vacation early. :)

Great ideas for surprising someone with a trip.

Great ideas for surprising someone with a trip.

He’d been collecting the movies as he saw them in dollar bins and wrapped them up in a bow for me to find in the suitcase. He’d also packed a new pair of Eiffel Tower PJs, French macaron PJs, and French bulldog PJs to wear while I dreamed of Paris. :)

Great ideas for surprising someone with a trip.

Time since Christmas has flown by, and now it’s almost here!! :) We still have tons of flexibility in the schedule, so if you have any recommendations for us, I would LOVE to hear them!! :) This will be my first time in any of these places, so I’d love to hear your must-sees and dos. :)

Great ideas for surprising someone with a trip.

Kevin had a few presents under the tree too! ;)

Thanks so much for looking, and thank you so much for sharing your recommendations. I can’t wait to read them! :)

Have a great day!! :) xoxo



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115 Comments





1
Andrea March 4, 2014 at 7:25 am

Where did you find that GIANT box of Hot Tamales? That is so awesome!

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2
Kevin March 4, 2014 at 3:00 pm

That was seriously one of my favorite presents of all time :) It was filled with individual Halloween size packs of Hot Tamales, probably 7 in each package. I ate the last package of them this weekend, it was sad! lol

3
Amanda March 4, 2014 at 3:27 pm

I got them from a new store that opened up at our mall around Christmas called It’s Sugar :)

http://www.itsugar.com/store-locations

4
Sue Boardman March 4, 2014 at 7:28 am

When in Edinburgh try and do the open top bus tour, i went to Edingurgh for my hen weekend and it was a great tour to do, even in the Rain!!
Have a ball x

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5
Sue Boardman March 4, 2014 at 7:30 am

* Edinburgh!! I should have spell checked!!

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6
Sarah @ The Chef Next Door March 4, 2014 at 7:32 am

WOW, what an awesome surprise and gift! Kevin put so much thought and love into planning this out for you, even down to the movies and pj’s. How sweet! He’s a keeper for sure! Hope you guys have an amazing trip! Can’t wait to see your photos.

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7
Liz March 4, 2014 at 7:33 am

Portobello Road in London for some fun shopping!!

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8
Sue March 4, 2014 at 7:34 am

Sounds like so much fun. Personally I would skip seeing Stonehedge – WAY overrated! Save that for touring Paris! I thought Moulin Rouge was cheesy. Terrible show. I am a big theatre lover and this was just awful. Of course – just my personal opinion.

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9
Aimee @ Simple Bites March 4, 2014 at 7:42 am

Epic gift!! I’m thrilled for you. <3 I visited Paris in April and it is absolutely gorgeous with spring flowers everywhere. Pack an umbrella, though!!

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10
Haley @Cupcakes and Sunshine March 4, 2014 at 7:45 am

This is such a great idea! The gift that keeps on giving. Wow! I love it all! and I love the movies idea. GREAT JOB KEVIN!!

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11
Susan @ Flavors by Four March 4, 2014 at 7:52 am

I went last spring for my first trip to London and Paris. I loved taking the open bus tour around London. Westminster Abbey was my favorite. Harrods food hall was amazing. Have fun!

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12
Wendy (The Weekend Gourmet) March 4, 2014 at 7:54 am

What a fabulous present…and so creative too! I hope you have a fabulous time…so many great cities!! I love to give my husband travel-related presents. Last year, I gave him tickets to see the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra in NY…so we built a vacation around that. This year, I gave him tix to see Sting & Paul Simon in Dallas for a weekend getaway.

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13
Melanie @ Carmel Moments March 4, 2014 at 7:58 am

It sounds like you will have a fabulous time taking in all the sites! What a sweet hubby in planning that. Have a great trip!

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14
Sara March 4, 2014 at 8:03 am

I agree with Sue about skipping Stonehenge… It’s amazing enough in photos. Tea at Fortnum and Mason and late night dinner at the Savoy Grill with Crepes Suzette.

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15
Jessica @ Work Play Etc March 4, 2014 at 8:06 am

Wow! Such a thoughtful gift :)

I’ve done Scotland and London, but not Paris. Loch Ness is a must see, which you’ll love. An unexpected – and wonderful addition – to my own itinerary was Wales. In fact, it turned out to be my favorite part of our visit. It’s a stunning country, so perhaps you can squeeze it into your next trip!

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16
Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies March 4, 2014 at 8:17 am

I did this with James a few years ago, whisking him off to Vermont for New Year’s, and his first chance at skiing. It’s definitely an awesome way to surprise someone!

I have so many recommendations! Make sure that you rent a car when you’re in Inverness. Take the time to drive around the whole of Loch Ness. It is honestly the most peaceful, beautiful place I have ever been on this Earth. Pack a picnic though! There’s not a lot there, so food options will be basically what you have in the car.

In England, make sure you eat in a pub. A real pub, not a chain like Whetherspoons. The food is actually phenomenal. Try a curry in Brick Lane. Make sure you visit a Chinese restaurant so you can have prawn crackers, fresh out of the fryer. They put them on the table much like Mexican restaurants do tortilla chips over here. Favorite thing ever. And this is a little embarrassing, as a Texan, but one of the best barbecue places I’ve ever been is just off Regent Street. Since you’re going shopping on Oxford Street, you’ll be nearby. It might sound silly to go to a barbecue place in England, but really, do it. Bodeans (http://www.bodeansbbq.com/) has the very best barbecue baked beans I’ve ever eaten. You want the Soho location if you’re looking on their website. By the time you’re shopping on Oxford Street, you just might be ready for a taste of home. And who can resist the pig faced door knob?!

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17
Terrry Kelman March 4, 2014 at 8:18 am

Keukenhof Gardens, Amsterdam. Over 7 million tulips and spring flowering bulbs open – 20 Mar through 18 May 2014.
http://www.keukenhof.nl/

The whole trip will be incredible!!

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18
Donna March 4, 2014 at 8:20 am

Where, oh where did Kevin find the Eiffel Tower pajamas for you?? I’d swoon over a pair….

Enjoy your vacation, it’s sure to be a great trip with all of your fun preparations!

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19
Amanda March 4, 2014 at 3:34 pm

He got them from Zappos! I don’t see them on there anymore, but the brand is Bedhead. :)

Bedhead Rouge Eiffel Tower Flannel Classic PJ

Hope this helps! :)

20
Gillian March 4, 2014 at 8:27 am

Amanda, you are going to have such fun, Kevin has planned a brilliant trip for you & really thought about the sights. I have never been to Stonehange but they have just opened a new visitors centre and the general reviews are it is not so good now, I would be inclined to maybe give that one a miss and think about maybe going to Leeds Castle – (which is not in Leeds) it’s not too far out of london, or maybe one of the other statley homes as (fingers crossed) the weather may be bright & sunny by then but I can’t promise it will be warm :-)

As for your stay in London, (gosh my mind is racing with suggestions & ideas for you) maybe when you are in Oxford street (and please start early as boy does it get crowded by lunch time & it really is hard work dodging the people) you might enjoy Selfridges Store which is up near Bond street (www.tfl.gov.uk – is the london transport web side with tube & bus map links and it will even give you walking transport directions or to and from any place in london – most useful. Oh & get yourself an Oyster Card which allows you to get on & off busses & trains all day otherwise the tube & bus fares will shock you), where was I – Oh yes Oxford Street, you could get a bus down Regent Street to Piccadily Circus (Bus 23 goes down there as do several others, Passing by Hamleys’ toy store) and from Picadilly Circus you can walk to Forntums & Masons (Harrods is good & a must see – but I have a very soft spot for F & M as the food hall is different to Harrods, smaller, but lovley & they have a simply brilliant (3rd Floor I think it is) beauty floor where lots of the goods are displayed like in a very classy boudoir!!! with pot pouri & lovley soaps & rooms scents. Along from there you do have some wonderful tea shops with wonderful pasteries in, & if you walk on a further few miniutes you will come to the Ritz Hotel which is almost at the entrance to St. James’ Park & if you walk through the park (if the flowers are out there are some great photo ops to be had) you will come to Buckingham Palace, and from there if you walk down the Mall you will end up in Trafalgar Sq.

As Big Ben & The London Eye are in the same place you could then walk all the way along the south Bank from the London Eye to Tower Bridge & The Tower of London. It is a lovley walk, passing by the globe theater and lots of lovley places – Borough Market is just AWSOME but I think that is again Fridays & Saturdays but I am not really too sure but there are still lots of “foodie” delights to be had there even with out the market.

I did see in one other comment that Liz recommended Portabello Road. I work right near there & the market is open on Fridays but Saturdays is the best day (just in case you go there & wonder where everything is)

You could also get on the Docklands Light Railway from Tower Bridge (Tower Gateway is the stop) and have a ride round Docklands & Canary warf, you could get it to Greenwich & then use the Greenwich foot tunnel to walk under the River Thames to Greenwich & the Cutty Sark, it is a nice area, shops & sightessing etc.

Hope you don’t mind me rambling on here, I am just reliving some of the trips I took my friends on when they came over.

So whatever you do Amanda, enjoy yourself have fun & please try & bring some nice weather with you – it would be much appreciated :-)

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21
Lori @ RecipeGirl March 4, 2014 at 8:28 am

Yay!!!!! What a sweetie :)

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22
Sarah March 4, 2014 at 8:35 am

I lived in London for 2 years, worked in Edinburgh for 3 months on an assignment, and have visited Paris a dozen times. So I might have a few ideas for you, ha.
You’ve already got some great things planned. Tea at the Savoy, dinner at OXO, shopping on Oxford Street: very solid choices.
A tour of the National Theatre is quite interesting if you like theatre… I’m guessing you do since you’re seeing two shows. Lunch at Borough Market is always a highlight for me. Track down the chorizo sandwich at the Brindisa stall and don’t even think about splitting one. You’ll dream about that sandwich for days. Harrod’s food stalls are fun and you should go if you haven’t been before. If you have been to Harrod’s before, then I might suggest trying Fortnum & Mason this time around.
In Edinburgh, my #1 recommendation is to have dinner somewhere with an extensive whisky menu. And then enjoy trying lots of different kinds – you’ll be amazed at how varied and nuanced whisky can be. I don’t typically drink liquor, but highly recommend trying this. Your server will be delighted to help you explore.
Highly, highly recommend a visit to Normandy when you are in France. The American Cemetery brought tears to my eyes. Row after row of headstones… soldiers who died over such a short time period… at such young ages. Heart wrenching.
Can’t wait to read all about your trip!

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23
JenniF March 4, 2014 at 8:43 am

Don’t forget Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh. I would also skip Stonehenge and maybe head out to Highclere Castle where they film Downton Abbey. What a wonderful, thoughtful gift! Have a GREAT time!

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24
Stacy L March 4, 2014 at 8:45 am

I’m sure you already know this, but a visit to Laduree in Paris is a must. Not only are the macarons beautiful and the best ever, the shop is gorgeous and the packaging is so beautiful! And they even have a stand at the airport, the perfect gift to take home.

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25
Emily @ LaForce Be With You March 4, 2014 at 8:45 am

London has these great affordable guided walking tours with different themes/sights that you should check out: http://www.walks.com/ I also recommend Sale e Pepe, an amazing authentic Italian restaurant in the Knightsbridge area. I have been to London only twice (both times for work – once for 2.5 weeks and once for 5 days) and ate here both times. So delicious!

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26
Tarissa March 4, 2014 at 8:46 am

It is my dream to visit Scotland!!

And England!

And France!

Since I can’t go at the moment, I’ll just satisfy myself with the posts you’ll be sharing about this AWESOME trip!

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27
Alana March 4, 2014 at 8:49 am

Don’t forget about Braveheart! Your are going to love the Scottish Highlands!

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28
Celeste B. March 4, 2014 at 9:11 am

Sounds like an awesome trip.

Make sure you see the castle in Edinburgh.

Take a cooking class in Paris. http://lacuisineparis.com/ We learned to make croissants one morning and then took a market dinner class. Was one of the best meals we had. Have a falafel sandwich in the Marais area (some cute little shops too). Love the Saint Chappell (close to NotreDame).

I have some more cooking related things at home and will post later with more info.

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29
Karm March 4, 2014 at 9:11 am

OMG! How exciting!! That is the coolest Christmas gift ever. *high five* Kevin!! hehe
Well I shall be waiting for April to see any and all update to Europe, because I will be heading to Europe next Summer too and I am slowly but surely looking at the travel books, but since you are going there before me, I want to see and read what you recommend. (:
I can’t wait!

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30
Sarah March 4, 2014 at 9:12 am

Don’t forget to watch French Kiss too! My Favorite!!!

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31
Mary Jane March 4, 2014 at 9:19 am

Kevin, you are AWESOME!! So very thoughtful. If you can spare the time while in London, and IF you’re a Downton Abbey fan, make the time to go out to see Highclere Castle. I have walked down those massive stairs! It also has a King Tut exhibit in the basement, since Lord Carnarvon helped fund (and find) the treasure. Whatever you do, you will have a blast!

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32
Amy March 4, 2014 at 9:22 am

What a wonderful and thoughtful husband you have…I hope your vacation is fantastic!

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33
Karen March 4, 2014 at 9:23 am

You are the luckiest person in the world! Kevin is so incredibly thoughtful.

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34
Susan March 4, 2014 at 9:26 am

What an amazingly thoughtful present!

We’ll be staying at Beach Cottage B&B near Inverness too, but a couple of months later than you two. Looks like a great choice.

I’d recommend taking a tour of the Tower of London as the Beefeaters make it so much fun. It’s also extremely interesting and atmospheric.

Borough Market has great food stalls, but gets horribly busy. Depending upon when you’re in London and whether you want to visit a fab food market, Broadway Market (Saturdays only) is great. If the weather’s fine, you can walk a little further up the road and eat your goodies al fresco in the London Fields Park; otherwise there are loads of great pubs and cafés lining the street. A much smaller, but truly lovely little food market is Maltby Street, under the railway arches (Saturdays only – 9am-2pm), where you can eat your food in a quirky building which is full of second-hand furniture for sale.

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35
Jane Mykleby March 4, 2014 at 9:44 am

Wow…what a creative wonderful guy you have. Hope you have a wonderful time.

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36
Rita March 4, 2014 at 9:56 am

Such an exciting trip! I was in London and Paris for the
First time last June. You will have an amazing time.
And the photography options are endless, can’t wait to relive
It again through your photos. While in London, be sure to stop
For a cookie (or two) at Ben’s Cookies. They are the best!!!
Have fun!!!

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37
Stephanie D March 4, 2014 at 10:00 am

What an amazingly thoughtful husband! What a gift!!! He even planned and had an itinerary! Kudos to him.

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38
Lucy March 4, 2014 at 10:08 am

Kevin … oh Kevin … what a beautiful, thoughtful and loving gift to show your appreciation for everything Amanda does!!! I know I’m a little jealous right now;)

Have a wonderful time … six of us will be going on a Baltic Heritage cruise in July, but we’ll be staying extra days in Paris and London. We plan to buy a Paris Pass which lets you have two days of sightseeing, skipping most waiting lines, and paying some entrance fees. It also allows you to have a 1 day hop on, hop off bus tour along with a Travelcard for public transport including Metro, buses and RER trains to help you move around the city with ease. A two day pass is 150 something, and includes a guide book. You can find the site at Parispass.com

Such a wonderful story, for two special people!!!

Cheerio …

Lucy

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39
mason March 4, 2014 at 10:09 am

The Arc de Triomphe is in the middle of, well, a traffic roundabout. You can cross the traffic to reach it, or go underground ( the metro stop is called Charles de Gualle (sp?)Etoile). When you go underground, you come up via escalator – take your video camera and point it upwards as you come up – the Arc rises above you and you really get a sense of its grandeur.

Get a bus map and take the 63 bus from end to end – and if there is one with a rear platform, try to stand in the back and film as you go! The 63 has a great route, very picturesque.

I would skip the Louvre, but try for the Musee Gustave Moreau – an interesting little apartment and then a fascinating studio.

Bring really good walking shoes (cobbled streets will kill you!), eat pastry, eat cheese, buy mustard (there are about 700 different types) and just don’t plan on sleeping! I lived in Paris a total of 3 years, and want to have my ashes scattered there!!

My favorite coffe was une grand creme – coffee with lots of steamed milk. Stay away from champagne served in cafes – it is super cheap and will give you a massive headache. The American Cathedral might be a place to go for churchc if you like – or you could actually renew your vows there if you wished – it is right down the street from the George V Hotel, between the Seine and the Arc de Triomphe. I still have a note pad I picked up from one of the telephone cubicles there!

There is an area in the city just for purchasing kitchenware, dishware, kitchen linens – ask your concierge – they may know!

The blog http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ may have some restaurant suggestions.

Bon voyage!

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40
Janna Campbell March 4, 2014 at 10:12 am

Amanda,

Your post brought tears to my eyes this morning. I read it, smiled and like I do with most emails, hit delete and moved on. Then I thought, you know I’m going to leave a comment, so I pulled it back out of the trash bin. I don’t really know you, you know. Still, I love your fonts and seeing your pictures. You offer such lovely things to the world with your gifts so I hope that the world offers you wonderful gifts in your travels. I am an avid traveler and I’m so happy for you and Kevin. I’m sure that you will have the most amazing time! All three destinations are gorgeous and so rich in history and new experiences that you simply can’t go wrong, whatever you decide to do. Enjoy every moment – even when you’re lost or crabby with jet lag. Sending happy thoughts to you…..

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41
anne March 4, 2014 at 10:24 am

Amanda,

Looks like a fab trip – in London if you can fit in the Duck Tour it is a lot of fun and it covers a lot of ground. Make sure you enjoy all of the delish candy – I know you are already a fan of Lion Bars – make sure you try Flakes, Walnut Whips, Maltesers, Fry’s Irish Cream etc. Scottish food is good also – Meat Pies, Sausage Rolls, Links, Black Pudding (try it and don’t ask what it is)!
Can’t wait to see all the photos! Enjoy!

Anne

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42
Ashley | Our Full Table March 4, 2014 at 10:30 am

Wow! That was so thoughtful! Hope you have a wonderful time!

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43
Melinda March 4, 2014 at 10:34 am

What a wonderful gift! I’m sure it will all be amazing. I’ve been to all of those places (except Scotland) and would recommend 2 things: (1) Watch French Kiss starring Meg Ryan before going to France; and (2) Get a Rick Steves book about things to see and do “off the beaten path.” He’s amazing!!! Have fun!

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44
Thais March 4, 2014 at 10:54 am

Hi Amanda. What a FABULOUS gift for Kevin to give :) Having just come back from Paris, it is still fresh in my mind. If you like Monet, I suggest you do not miss Musee de l’Orangerie. 2 rooms dedicated to 40 feet of Monet’s Waterlillies series. He even designed the rooms to hold the art prior to his death. The other museum to see, if you like impressionist art, is Musée d’Orsay. It is on the left bank of the Seine. It is housed in the former Gare d’Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900. The old railway station is fabulous in itself. Sainte-Chapelle is also fabulous to see. My eyes were drunk on artwork and stained glass the entire time. You can literally walk to all of those museums from just about anywhere you stay in Paris. Versailles is about a 20 minute ride on the RER; very overwhelmingly ornate and your eyes won’t believe what they are seeing. I strongly recommend a Museum Pass; it allows you to JUMP TO THE FRONT OF THE LINES at most museums. We purchased ours at Sainte-Chapelle, I am not sure where else you can purchase a pass. The Louvre is enormous and it would literally take 3 eight-hour days to see it all. The Mona Lisa is something to see and they have good signage directing you right to “her”. So it is easy to see her and Lady Liberty and nothing else if you run out of time. Rick Steve’s book on Paris is a FABULOUS guide. It gives you the times and days of the museums, as most are closed on Tuesdays; some are open late at night, etc.; tells you how to get around on the RER, etc. Have fun. Can’t wait to hear about it when you come back :)
Thais

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45
Cody Doll March 4, 2014 at 10:55 am

This is the most adorable Christmas present I have seen this year. That is just wonderful that he did that and look at all those places. Your going to have a blast!

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46
Rachel C. March 4, 2014 at 10:58 am

I will be in Paris for a week in April! Can’t wait :)

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47
Michelle March 4, 2014 at 11:00 am

Wow that is one sweet husband. What a priceless gift for Christmas, be here before you know it.

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48
heather D March 4, 2014 at 11:06 am

This is the sweetest present ever! I can’t wait to read all about it when y’all get back. :)

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49
Wendy March 4, 2014 at 11:46 am

I would agree with others about reconsidering Stonehenge. It is fascinating, but (while living in London for 5 years) we always preferred visiting the Cotswolds as a day-trip option over Stonehenge. If you can, stop at the Lords of the Manor Hotel at Upper Slaughter for lunch or drinks.

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50
Wendy Jackson March 4, 2014 at 11:59 am

You were RIGHT to marry that guy! How awesome is that!!

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51
Denise March 4, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Wow, Amanda!!
I agree with several other commenters, Fortnum and Mason definitely is worth a visit. I much prefer it over Harrods. And I think Harvey Nichols food court is superior; that’s where I go when I’m in the city.
Do you like Museums? The British Museum is amazing, full of antiquities. I also highly rate the Victoria and Albert Museum.
I’m from Newcastle! I see you’re only passing through. That’s too bad! If you have time to look around, you should stroll down Grey Street. It is the finest street in England, with gorgeous Victorian and Edwardian buildings. The street eventually will take you to the Tyne River, although the street name changes along the way,and it gets steep. The famous Sydney Harbor Bridge is actually a copy of the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle. The Theatre Royal (also on Grey Street, near Grey’s monument) has the finest Theatre facade in the Britain. Have lunch at Blakes on Grey Street.

If Stonehenge is something you must see before you die then go. Otherwise, it’s a bit disappointing. It is surrounded by fence and you can’t get near the monoliths. Take the time for some much more interesting endeavor.
One last thing, if you are a Harry Potter fan, Alnwick Castle was used in the films (as the school). It is off the A1 as you’re driving from Edinburgh to Newcastle. Worth a visit even if you’re not an HP fan. (I’m not and enjoy the castle.)
Have a Marvelous time!!!

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52
Staci March 4, 2014 at 12:17 pm

Where in the world do you get a husband like that??? lol. Just kidding. Kinda.

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53
Tiffany March 4, 2014 at 12:26 pm

What a wonderful gift! I can’t wait to see your photos and the places you will visit. Scotland is my dream goal for this year or next. It will be fun to get a peek through your trip photos. Have a wonderful time!

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54
Elke March 4, 2014 at 12:28 pm

In Paris you should visit Sacre Coeur, Chateau Versailles, Notre Dame, open bus tour when the weather is fine or a boat tour on the Seine. It is such a nice and lovely city! Wish you a lot of fun!

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Michelle Shedoudy March 4, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Kevin & Amanda ~ Wow, what a fantastic trip you have planned. About a year ago (April 20th) we took off for Paris, Provence and London. Had the time of our lives! My suggestions especially for Paris. If you haven’t already booked a tour of the Eiffel Tower, consider “Skip the Line” tours. You can access them via “Viator Tours” http://www.viator.com/tours/Paris/Skip-the-Line-Eiffel-Tower-Tickets-and-Small-Group-Tour. This is the best tour ever. You literally get to “skip the line” which wraps around an entire block! Also, get a Paris Pass – it includes “free admission” to practically all museums (including the Louvre) and you don’t have to wait in any lines. Thais’ suggestions in her comments are great! I would recommend getting passes on line before you go! Much easier and they mail to your home – although depending on when you are leaving, they may not get there in time, but I do believe they have a will call somewhere – or they can ship to your hotel.

If you have time go to the Marais district (Arrondisement 4) there is a lovely park and the house of Victor Hugo where he wrote “Les Miserables”. Oh gosh, I could go on and on – there are sooo many lovely, romantic places in Paris. Love your plan to go to Laduree’ – that was a love of ours too!

You seem to have hit the mark on London – Harrod’s is a must see.

I am so jealous – it is on our bucket list to visit Paris again…have fun – oh, prepare for rain and changing weather – it was very cold in April last year, although I don’t think they have had such a harsh winter this year. Au revoir!

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Susan March 4, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Fabulous trip! we did a very similiar trip 2 years ago, but with a couple of weeks driving around France too. In Paris, our favorite was an evening cruise on the Seine. Paris is th ecity of lights and it does not dissappoint! Very resonably priced, cozy, and romantic. Laduree was well worth it , we shipped some home while there ad a taste of Paris was waiting for us when we came home. Spend a few hours in an outdooor cafe people watching. have big fun!

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Janet March 4, 2014 at 12:48 pm

The Churchill War Room is a must in London. I enjoyed it as much as my husband did and I am sure Kevin will too. Have a wonderful trip.

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Amy March 4, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Oh my goodness what a fun husband you have and a trip planner!!!! It’s a perfect combination for you! You will have an amazing time. I have been to Scotland, England, and France. We have family that live all over France and it’s my favorite BUT I loved Scotland when we were there last year and England is just plain fun. Before I start a trip I always check to see if you have been where I am going and what fun “sweet” stops you had. I followed your steps all over New York once snacking my way through it! I never would have found the Donut Plant or Levain Bakery without you!! I started blogging my travels in 2009 as a diary for myself and will post the link here in case you want to do some research. I have lots of pictures (way more than you probably want to see as it’s just for me) and a fairly detailed account of our day at the bottom of the pictures. To help you find the posts: Feb 2013 (France…just look for paris posts), Sept 2012 (Scotland and Ireland), April 2012 (London and Paris), Sept 2010 (France, Austria, Switzerland…there are three posts of Paris in there), May 2010 (London and Paris) Of note…while in Paris, do not just stop at Laduree. You must also stop at Pierre Herme. The macarons at both stops are absolutely fantastic but very different. We have our favorites at both places. There is a stand for Pierre Herme in Galleries Lafayette (a famous department store in Paris with the most gorgeous stained glass domed ceiling over the fragrance department). Stopping at that stand would keep you from possibly standing in a really really long line outside of one of their stand alone shops. Also, did you see the episode of Seinfeld with the soup nazi? You may feel that way in a line at Laduree…they move you along really fast. Also, you must try the chocolate at Maison du Chocolat. Our Parisian relatives always bring us a box when they come to see us as they think it is the best in their city. If it is cold, their drinking chocolate is to die for. While in Galleries Lafayette, there is a way to go up to the roof to look out on the city. Once on the roof, go around to your left kind of around the corner to get a glimpse of beautiful white Saint Chapelle sitting way up high at the highest point of the city. Bathrooms are hard to come by in Paris so be sure you go when you sit down to eat and also in any department store. Starbucks usually have good bathrooms but many make you buy something to get a code to go in. I always dreamed of sitting outside at a cafe and watching the world go by. The outside section of the cafe is now the smoking section and everyone smokes! If that doesn’t bother you then go for it…lol. And as you have learned on your other overseas travels, ATM machines are everywhere. French people are very friendly as long as you remember to say “Bonjour Madame or Bonjour Monsieur” upon entering any establishment. If you are courteous to them, they will be courteous to you. Most of the younger generation speaks English or at least understand it pretty well. We found that it helps to know your numbers in French. Also, buy a carnet of 10 metro tickets instead of one at a time in Paris to get around. The metro is wonderful for travel and easy to navigate. The London tube is also great. We walked everywhere in Scotland and took a bus tour of the Highlands. Aaaaamazing and Gorgeous! And I echo the advice to go to the American Cemetery…very moving but Versailles is also unbelievable. Oh there is so much to see, I think you are already going to need another trip…lol! Okay I will stop talking…here’s my blog and I can’t wait to read about your adventures!!! http://www.awayshewent.com

Oh yes, and where did he find such cute pj’s??

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Amanda March 4, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Thank you so much for all of the information!! I can’t wait to check out your photos! :)

He got the PJs from Zappos. I don’t see them on there anymore, but the brand is Bedhead. :)

Bedhead Rouge Eiffel Tower Flannel Classic PJ

Hope this helps! :)

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Amanda March 4, 2014 at 1:11 pm

That was such a fun and creative idea!! I can’t wait to see your photos of the trip.

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Jaclyn March 4, 2014 at 1:37 pm

How exciting! Have the best trip ever! I can’t wait to see all the gorgeous photos you take!

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Kristin March 4, 2014 at 2:03 pm

I went to Stonehenge expecting to be underwhelmed (it was a must see for our son) and we all loved it. We took a Mad Max day tour out of Bath (another great city to visit) to Stonehenge, Avebury, Lacock & Castle Combe, and thoroughly enjoyed our day. I agree with another commenter that the Tower of London is amazing.

Inverness & Loch Ness are lovely. Be sure to take a walk along the river if you have time. Don’t underestimate the driving times in Scotland. It takes a lot longer go to 60 miles there than here. And driving on Skye takes FOREVER. Watch out for bikes and buses.

We haven’t been to Versailles, but visiting Normandy was one of the best things we did in France. You should hire a guide or take a guided tour because they add so much. Dale Booth, former British army, is fabulous. If you are into flowers, Monet’s gardens at Giverny should not be missed.

Everywhere you go, be sure to walk as much as possible. It’s such a great way to see the sights. And eat lots of bread, cheese & butter in France. The butter is out of this world.

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Aggie March 4, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Kevin is a rockstar. The end.

:)

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Toni March 4, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Wow! You have the best husband EVER :) did I spy Boston terrier wrapping paper and if so where did you get it ? :)

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Amanda March 4, 2014 at 3:37 pm

It sure is! I found 2 rolls of it at TJ Maxx last Christmas (2012) and snatched them up! :) They also had the matching gift tags. Hope this helps! :)

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Pamela March 4, 2014 at 3:35 pm

HOLY CRAP! How awesome!! :)

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Lyndsey March 4, 2014 at 3:40 pm

How exciting!

I work in Edinburgh, and live about 20 miles away, so you’re welcome to add stopping by for a cup of tea to your itinerary!

I recommend Sunshine On Leith for pre-Edinburgh viewing.

Also I think Edinburgh castle is so disappointing. It’s not a real castle. It’s a stately home on a hill. But I’m from North Wales, so I grew up surrounded by amazing castles. Proper castles! Well worth checking out if you want a but of a detour!

So, see you next month then? ;)

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Brillke March 4, 2014 at 3:48 pm

As exciting as the news about your awesome gift, I think I got more excited when I saw the Ron Swanson bobble-head!

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Claire March 4, 2014 at 4:06 pm

I’m a Brit living in London. Would thoroughly recommend taking a trip on the water taxi service along the river – Thames Clippers. Buy a day pass and hop on and off. Amazing way to see London from totally different angle stopping at Houses of Parliament, London Eye, Tower of London etc. You can sit out the back and get absolutely amazing photos of the city that not many people will have. It even takes you underneath Tower Bridge itself. Hop off at London Bridge and head to Borough Market (Fri & Sat only) for a bit of foodie heaven. It’s where Bridget Jones lived in the movie so you can have a drink in the pub (be rude not too) – The Market Porter.

Instead of the Shard, a free (and pretty amazing) alternative is One Exchange Place – a new shopping place directly next to St Paul’s Catherdral. Jump in the lift (elevator) to the top floor. It’s not publicised but there’s a free viewing platform at the top of the building. It looks directly on to the cathedral but also out on the city and to the river. Beautiful! Head downstairs to the 1st floor and have dinner at my favourite restaurant in London – Bread Street Kitchen. It’s a Gordon Ramsey and the food is amazing. As are the drinks. Have lots of them. We’re a nation that likes a drink.

Enjoy!

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Whitney Brown March 4, 2014 at 4:19 pm

WOW! That is one fantastic gift… and a fantastic husband! Have a wonderful time!

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Melissa March 4, 2014 at 4:34 pm

Love Paris and London! You are going to have a great time! I agree on skipping a trip just to Stonehenge but we did a full day tour to Bath and Stonehenge and I loved Bath. It was so nice to see more of a little village outside of London. It was nice also just to sit in a bus, listening to Coldplay and watching the countryside roll by.

Belgo was my favorite restaurant in London.

Versailles is a must! Loved it there!

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Heidi @foodiecrush March 4, 2014 at 5:46 pm

I think you need to do a post on how to get your husband to be so thoughtful so we can all show our husbands! What a great guy.

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Gretchen March 4, 2014 at 6:48 pm

What a wonderful gift. We hope to get to Europe in a few years time, I now have a few more must sees to add to my list. Thank you for sharing and I hope you both have a wonderful time.

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Claudia March 4, 2014 at 6:54 pm

What an amazing surprise. Please be very careful with pick pockets; especially around the Eiffel Tower and The Louvre. Amanda, if you plan to carry a purse, use a cross body and keep it in front of you at all times. My husband and I just returned from Paris on Sunday, and we were not made aware of this until we were there, and almost learned the hard way. It is absolutely beautiful though; especially at night.

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Carmen March 4, 2014 at 7:21 pm

SO stinkin’ happy for you!!!!
Have fun!

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Katie March 4, 2014 at 7:25 pm

What a wonderful present!

For Paris, check out the Musee d’Orsay. I much preferred that to the Louvre – it’s much more manageable to see, and the art is more Renaissance and after, with a lot of impressionist paintings. The Louvre is gigantic, confusing and has a lot of ancient art. The Mona Lisa is underwhelming. I’m glad I went to the louvre, just to say that I’ve done it…..but I don’t think it was worth spending half a day there. And it’s hard to do it much quicker than that.

Definitely walk to the top of Notre Dame. It’s a bit of a dizzying hike up circular stairs, but totally worth it to be up so high and get pics of the Paris skyline with gargoyles. This was my favorite part of Paris.

Take a nighttime Seine cruise too! They take off from near the Eiffel Tower.

If I had more time there, I would have gotten some wine and hung out on the edge of Ile de la Cité to watch the nighttime cruises go by. Everyone was having so much fun there!

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sglenn March 12, 2014 at 6:43 pm

Katie is spot on re Paris. The Musee D’Orsay has the most amazing Impressionist collection-the Louvre is huge, varied, and not worth the wait, even for Mona. You can combine a walk through the Tuileries (parks are a huge part of Paris life) and head to L’Orangerie to see the incredible Monet Waterlilies series. Don’t miss the carousel on the way through the park-a treasure-Also, agree with Katie-tour Notre Dame and then climb to the top and look at the amazing view, then go to Ile St. Louis, possibly the most expensive neighborhood in Paris, walk around the perimeter and stop in at a cafe for a cafe creme and croissant or at one of the amazing little ice cream shops. Leave lots of time for just walking-esp. at night when the big monuments are lit up-We loved touring the arrondissements and seeing all their different personalities-and absolutely take a nighttime Seine cruise-the boats light the bank of the Seine up and it is magic. We got engaged sitting on a little jetty just off Notre Dame and Ile del La Cite 20 years ago, watching the river taxis go up and down!. Also-Make sure you wear comfortable shoes (but please dress well-you will be treated a lot better no matter where you go-no jeans/sweatshirts/sneakers/baseball caps, sorry. Style it girlfriend). One other thing-there are amazing outdoor food markets usually Weds and Sat in Paris at various locations-depending on your schedule, you might like to visit one, pack a picnic and take it to one of the parks. Finally-drink tons of Badoit-the greatest water in the world-prohibitive here, cheap in Paris. PS-Your husband is a treasure-what a lovely thoughtful Christmas present. I got a weed whacker.

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Nicole March 4, 2014 at 7:31 pm

This is a very creative way to wrap a Christmas present! I love it! Enjoy your vacation! I have been to Paris and London a few times, here are a few must see: In Paris, the Orsay museum, the Picasso museum, the Hermes store, their flagship store in the Faubourg St. Honore, The Galeries Lafayette. A few must eat: Laduré (pastries), La patisserie des reves (for delicious croissants and other breakfast goodies), the Brasserie Lipp on Boulevard St. Germain, a typical French brasserie. In London: Shopping: Harrods (Do not miss the Food Court!), Fortnum and Mason (where you can enjoy high tea or lunch), the stores in Knightsbridge and the Sloane Square area, also check out Burlington Arcade off Bond Street. And my favorite museum: The Victoria and Albert. Your hubby had planned your vacation perfectly, you will have a great time and I am looking forward to see all your beautiful pictures!

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Carrie March 4, 2014 at 8:30 pm

Amanda
I am super jealous! What an amazing gift.

We spent 10 days in Paris last May.
It was our second trip and both times I have taken cooking classes with a company called Cook N with Class here is the link
http://www.cooknwithclass.com/
I did a full day class in 2009 (my husband met me at the school in the afternoon and enjoyed dinner with the class), and a morning pastry class last year. Both were amazing. The pastry class we made croissants and delicious pastries using the croissant dough. I can’t say enough great things about it. I highly recommend it.

We also took part in 2 bike and 1 Segway tour with Fat Tire Bike Tours. The guides are amazing and the tours are a great way to see the sites, and learn about the city. Here is the link
http://paris.fattirebiketours.com/

And this was a fun first night activity. It wasn’t my absolute favorite part of the trip, but it was a fun way to see a lot while relaxing after all the traveling we had done.
http://www.getyourguide.com/paris-l16/private-tour-of-paris-by-night-with-champagne-t3421/

Have an amazing time.

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LyndaS March 4, 2014 at 9:14 pm

How incredibly thoughtful and loving of him! I know the two of you will have the time of your lives. I can’t wait to see all of the amazing pictures that you will take. :)

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Georgia March 4, 2014 at 9:27 pm

What an amazing gift!

In Paris the Musee de Orse (sp?) is so small, manageable and beautiful. I was surprised by how much more I enjoyed it than the Louvre.
Have fun!

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Lisa March 4, 2014 at 10:49 pm

Whoa Amanda, I think you are one very lucky woman to have such wonderful, thoughtful, and creative husband. You guys will definitely have lots of fun on this upcoming trip.

For London, I would recommend:
1) free walking tour: I’ve joined their tours in various cities, the tour guides are great, and you pay based on how satisfy you are with their performance
https://www.neweuropetours.eu/
2) National and Tate museums
3) Windsor castle & Stonehenge – I joined my day tour through http://www.isango.com
http://www.isango.com/united-kingdom-tours/london-tours/bath-windsor-and-stonehenge-tour-from-london_4134
I did have mixed feelings about Stonehenge, not up to my expectation but I am glad that I went
Windsor castle is really interesting though
4) if you have time, go to the Churchill war room
5) I saw Billy Elliott, it was great. Priscilla queen of the desert and We will rock you are so much fun (there’s also TKTS booth in London just like NYC)
6) London Eye

For Paris, I would recommend:
1) there are many free walking tours exploring the various areas of Paris and guided by locals (our tour guides were university students, ex-journalists – they made the walks very interesting)
http://www.discoverwalks.com/paris-walking-tours/
2) Louvre (hands down) – it is big but there’s something for everyone and it is impossible to see everything unless you have months
3) Versailles is beautiful. Buy the passport and you’ll be able to explore more.
4) Take a guided tour of the Palais Garnier (Paris Opera house).

London is very safe, I didn’t have to worry about pickpockets or anything.
In Paris, be a bit more alert of your surroundings and aware of the scams. NEVER buy metro tickets from people at the metro station, buy them directly from the wicket or a tobacco shop.
http://www.laurelzuckerman.com/2013/07/paris-tourists-watch-out-for-these-three-scams.html

Happy traveling!

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Lisa March 4, 2014 at 11:14 pm

Oops, forgot this one. This one offers a unique behind-the-scene experience of the Eiffel tower.
http://www.isango.com/france-tours/paris-tours/behind-the-scenes-of-the-eiffel-tower_14838

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Kathleen Wright March 4, 2014 at 11:29 pm

Hi Amanda and Kevin! Lucky bums! Sounds great!

Two suggestions come to mind. We went to London several years ago when our kids were in elementary and middle school, and although Miley and Howie are not kids exactly, and you’re probably not taking them anyway :) we stumbled upon a great, little known diversion while in London and trying to do “kid” things. The National Theatre gives tours behind the scenes– NOT just for kids, but for anyone. You see all the stage stuff and hear all sorts of interesting details.

Our trip held a few surprises worth mentioning– we ran into (literally had to get out of the way in a narrow hallway for) Richard Griffiths, the actor who played Uncle Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter movies! (Sadly, he passed away last year.) We also met David Bradley, the actor who played Filch in the Harry Potter movies! Mr. Bradley stopped and signed autographs and spoke with our kids TWICE on the tour! He was the absolutely nicest man! Our kids were OVER the MOON!… Dad and I were rather taken, too :)

I know you won’t bump into THEM, but if we ran into two British actors who we knew on sight, chances are that you’ll see SOMEbody. The tour was not too well known back then, and I have never heard of anybody doing it since, but it really was very worthwhile, even if we hadn’t run into anybodies famous! And if you are looking for something different to do and blog about, I bet you’ll get a kick out of this… I bet there might even be a performance or two worth seeing while you’re there :)

And my other recommendation is to view the oldie but goodie Disney kids’ movie, Bedknobs and Broomsticks. The song “Portobello Road” is wonderful to have in your head when you are shopping on Portobello Road, which you must NOT miss. We got some of the COOLEST stuff there. Looking at the treasures today brings back very special memories. Bring an extra suitcase. And if you and your “kids” do not like Disney movies, then at least get your ears on it on iTunes on the original soundtrack of Bedknobs and Broomsticks. As they say in the song:

Portobello road, Portobello road
Street where the riches of ages are stowed.
Anything and everything a chap can unload
Is sold off the barrow in Portobello road.
You’ll find what you want in the Portobello road!!

Gotta love it!
Safe Travels! Kathleen

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Cathy March 5, 2014 at 12:20 am

If you have time and the weather is good, you MUST do the Fat Tire Bike tour of Paris. http://paris.fattirebiketours.com/tours/versailles-bike-tour/?gclid=CK6FtJDg-rwCFUMRpAodZQYAYg
It’s a wonderful way to see the city. I also recommend their all day bike trip to Versailles (don’t worry, you put your bikes on the train from Paris to Versailles, which is also part of the adventure!). You ride to a fantastic market, buy picnic food, and eat your picnic over looking the chateau – it’s wonderful. Plus you get to go to Versailles as well! There is a bike tour in London but on our last trip the weather was so dismal we didn’t do it, but I’m sure it would be fun too.

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deirdre March 5, 2014 at 2:02 am

Amanda, if you have a day to go to Stratford on Avon, you can see a play at the Shakespeare theatre, see Shakespeare’s and Ann Hathaway’s homes, take a boat ride on the river Avon. Stratford is just a beautiful quintessential English town. You can also stop at Warwick Castle on the way to Stratford. It’s a fully intact castle, furnished, with Madam Tussaud’s wax figurines of famous people who’ve stayed there, like Churchill, and King Henry the VIII. The grounds of Warwick are immaculately groomed with peacock’s roaming free. It’s a nice place for a picnic lunch, perhaps with some scones, jam, and clotted cream!

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Karen Aldrin March 5, 2014 at 3:32 am

I would definitely miss Stonehenge. Only tourists go there, it’s overrated and you’ll use up loads of time you could be doing something more authentic and exciting. I would definetly try and do some of the suggestions by the people who live in London. If you are in London on a Sunday definetly try and visit http://www.columbiaroad.info. It’s London’s flower market, and is an awesome experience. It gets very packed. From there we walk to Brick Lane and then to Spitalfields. During that walk you’ll get to see and experience a real diverse London. You’ll go past http://www.trumanbrewery.com/cgi-bin/markets.pl? Where you can eat food from all around the world. And while at Spitalfields and Brick Lane you could go and experience this http://www.dennissevershouse.co.uk. You’ll have an experience different to other American tourists visiting London. In fact I may just pop to London on Sunday and do it all myself. It’s my favourite things to do.
In Paris our absolute favourite restaurant and a cheap way of eating beautiful food is http://www.relaisentrecote.fr. We even flew there for my husbands birthday once. It’s our favourite place to eat. There is also a similar one in a London, which we eat at when we are in a London. http://www.relaisdevenise.com. Be sure to not have your steak well done. You get the main meal twice ! The sauce is indescribable .
There is also a Laudree in Harrods. And not sure if anyone has mentioned Liberty’s. Far better to check this unique department store out than wasting your time on somewhere like Selfridges. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberty_(department_store) and just up the road is another unique dining experience Sketch. Somewhere I dream of passing the time. I’ve only had drinks in the Palour, but my friend adores the afternoon tea. http://sketch.uk.com/venue_Parlour.php?menu=1
And I know how you like cake. How about when you are at Harrods checking out this beautiful cake shop http://www.peggyporschen.com. I went there to celebrate being given the all clear from my brain tumour surgery. The Victoria sandwich is awesome. Have fun.

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Elle March 5, 2014 at 4:21 am

Oh wow, what a GREAT gift! How lovely!

I worked on the Isle of Skye for 18 months and it is a magical place! Driving around Skye does take a while but the sights are magnificent – definitely camera worthy, there are so many things to see! Make sure you get to the Old Man of Storr, and Portree (largest town on the island) is quaint and cute, but do make sure to drive out of town to get the full Skye experience.

While Edinburgh is pretty, I preferred Glasgow for it’s working-class down-to-earth-ness (is that a word?!). Great shopping, lovely people and beautiful architecture. But Edinburgh does have the castle which is quite something.

I found the open-top bus tours of Paris great value, as you can cover a lot of ground in a short space of time, and because they are hop on/hop off you can explore a bit on your own too.

Agree with what someone else said about seeing Fortnum & Mason as opposed to Harrods. F&M is amazing. And tea at The Savoy?! You lucky ducks.

Enjoy the trip, cannot wait to see photos!

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Angie March 5, 2014 at 10:30 am

Holy cow, you’ve got one great guy! How thoughtful and romantic! I’m am so beyond happy for your vacation!

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mason March 5, 2014 at 10:48 am

Forgot to mention – in Paris the restaurant LE SOUFFLE. Yumm!

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Julie March 5, 2014 at 12:11 pm

what an imaginative and creative hubby you have!

I live in London, it’s been a while since I’ve been in Edinburgh but there is a really adorable restaurant called the Witchery by the gate of the castle. It’s dark, cosy and underground so I think it would make a wonderfully romantic dinner location.

In London, take a walk along the river, it really has such a fabulous view. From St Paul’s you can head towards the river to Blackfriar’s Bridge and walk along the north side of the river, up to Westminster if you like or head up towards Trafalgar Sq.

Take the Thames Clipper Boat for a fabulous view, it runs between Embankment (station) and over to Canary Wharf and stops along the way. It’s not a tourist boat so no commentary but it’s so comfy it’s very relaxing, and no tourist prices.

To plan getting about in London use the http://www.tfl.gov.uk website. It will have details of buses, tubes, trains, clipper boats etc.

Enjoy the parks, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, St James’s Park, Regent’s Park and if you have a chance get out to Kew Gardens.

If you’re around on Sunday, Columbia Road flower market is mega crowded but an experience.

Borough Market, full of food though it is more gastro these days and the old traders have moved on and now full of artisan foods at high prices but good to sample all their goods.

if you want to see where Londoners eat, read UK newspaper reviews and TimeOut and also use TopTable.co.uk to book tables and for special deals to help avoid tourist traps.

Enjoy and I hope the weather is good for your travels!

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Anastasia March 5, 2014 at 4:36 pm

You must go to Stonehenge! I recommend paying extra for the access visit. It is early in the morning before it opens. This is the only way you can get up close to the stones and even touch them. If not, you will be walking on a little path at LEAST 30 ft away from them. This does need to be booked in advance and is limited. For some amazing traditional British food I recommend RULES , the oldest restaurant in London! It is my favorite restaurant in the world! Also, The Cricketers. It is owned by Jamie Oliver’s parents and is a bit of an upscale pub house in the countryside (1 hr from London). I have been to both of these restaurants at least a dozen times and have never been disappointed.

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Deborah March 5, 2014 at 5:00 pm

What an amazing present!!

The only thing I can add is that we went to a little town called Bayeux when we went to the D-Day beaches that was so quaint and perfect. I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant, but I had the best grilled cheese sandwich that I have ever had in my life there that I still dream about to this day, over 10 years later!! The D-day beaches were humbling and one of my favorite parts of our trip. We were there in February, and were almost the only ones there, and it was an experience I will never forget.

Have fun!!!

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Gina Nathan March 5, 2014 at 5:09 pm

You can’t go to Paris and not see the Sacre Coeur!!!

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BeckyH in MA March 5, 2014 at 6:58 pm

You have the sweetest husband!! Awesome!

I backpacked Scotland/London/France in the late 80′s. So many castles — so little time.

A BTDT: be careful with their milk and cheese. It is VERY rich and may cause your stomach to be upset. It’s very different than American milk products. Have some, but in very small amounts at first.

We traveled to destinations mostly by train. Some of them the old Jacobite Steam Trains (think Harry Potter).

Inverness on Sunday was virtually a ghost town. Nothing was open.

Isle of Skye is just absolutely breathtaking. Probably my favorite part of the whole trip. They have a Talisker Distillery with tours, also. I’m pretty sure the B&B we stayed in was in Portree. We did some great hiking on the Isle of Skye.

Spent a lot of time in Edinburgh. Ask the locals where to get good fish & chips from a street vendor. SO good! (my mouth is watering).

London – I was pretty tired at this point of the trip. Don’t remember a whole lot. But I see others have filled in with some great ideas for you!! :)

Took the ferry from England to France. The only time I have ever been seasick. Worst trip of my life. LOL!!!

France – My favorite things were Sacré Cœur de Montmartre, Notre Dame Church (the window and the backside for architecture), Eiffel Tower. Getting fabulous French bread, cheese, wine, little delicate pastries and having a little picnic in the park while watching the little French children play. I skipped the Louvre, because there was a 3 hour wait line. Having lunch at a little cafe on the banks of Seine in the sun.

Most of all — soak in all the scenery. Have a wonderful time!! I cannot WAIT to see your pictures from the Isle of Skye!!

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Ali | Gimme Some Oven March 5, 2014 at 10:16 pm

Oh my GOODNESS! I heard you were going to Europe, but had no idea about the story behind it. What an amazing, thoughtful, awesome gift! (And it sounds like an amazing, thoughtful, awesome hubs behind it all!)

I absolutely can’t WAIT to follow along and see all of your pictures and hear the stories. Sounds like the trip of a lifetime!

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rachel March 5, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Oh my gosh! What a sweetheart!!!!
This is an amazing gift! I hope y’all have an amazing trip <3

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Denise March 6, 2014 at 9:14 am

Does Kevin have a brother? :)

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Paige March 6, 2014 at 11:13 am

Oh my gosh!! That is so insanely exciting. Totally made me tear up. So fun. Enjoy

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Victoria March 6, 2014 at 11:39 am

Agree with what so many of the British have suggested about the UK. Definitly bring an umbrella, layers of clothing and comfy shoes. Sunshine on Leith is a fun film and you get used to the singing! A walking tour in London would be worth your time, as would a stroll along the Thames. Borough Market for foodies, Portobello gets VERY crowded on Saturdays – and it’s a bit tacky, IMO. (I work down the road). Greenwich is very nice, I agree, and worth going to. The open top bus tour gives you a feeling for how bits of London are connected, and the commentators usually are funny. Bath is beautiful and would be good to combine with Stonehenge, if you really need to go there.

OXO tower is Fab for a meal – dress up a bit too, I suggest. The Embankment is really pretty at night. Remember to get an Oyster card for the tube,, buses etc. And keep your purse close on public transport.

But most of all, leave time for your own discoveries.

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Charley March 7, 2014 at 6:21 am

http://www.angelina-paris.fr/en/

Hot chocolate at Angelina in Paris after the Louvre is a MUST. You can easily walk there after you tour the museum.

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Jordan March 8, 2014 at 6:28 am

This is the sweetest idea ever. I think Kevin should have a blog to help other husbands! I love the suitcase what brand is it? Have a fantastic time!

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103
Charlie March 8, 2014 at 7:29 am

I would give Stonehenge a miss as it’s far out, and not worth it. Another option is Kensington Palace which is a lovely trip, beautiful house and gardens, plus wonderful tea. Visit the Tower of London, and take a free tour from a Beefeater there. For food, central and East London are brilliant, just a heads up that OXO is expensive (like £300+ expensive) I would have a cocktail or drink there and eat elsewhere, particularly if the weather isn’t great as you’re paying for the view. Borough Market over Portobello for food, get there early and bring plenty of cash for samples! Oxford Street shopping is amazing, and have lunch in St Christopher’s Place or in Soho, near Oxford St but slightly less touristy and more locals. I would highly recommend trying one of Jason Atherton’s restaurants, perhaps The Social Eating house for amazing, incredibly innovative food, or having lunch at Heston’s restaurant at The Mandarin Oriental hotel and trying Meat Fruit- a deliciously rich but smooth pate.

Why not take a boat tour down the Thames, it’s beautiful at night!

Please eat at L’Ange 20 when you’re in Paris, hands down the best meal I ate in 2013-it’s just 1 waiter, 1 chef and 1 porter. They have 20 covers and there’s 2 choices for each course, plus it’s only 30 euros for 3 courses. Worth it!

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104
Mary Jane March 8, 2014 at 9:30 am

Two other things I thought of:
–when you buy a tour book (rec. Rick Steves), take it to Office Depot, have them cut off the binding, and have it coil-bound. Remove the sections of the book you won’t use. Makes the book smaller and more manageable (you can fold the pages back). I take my book home and assemble it myself after removing the unnecessary pages.
–Go to Rick Steves’ website and read EVERYTHING pertaining to your destinations. You won’t be sorry.
Have fun!!!!!

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105
Jocelyn@Brucrewlife March 8, 2014 at 9:51 pm

Such a sweet hubby you have!! I’m so jealous of your amazing trip!! :)

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106
Melanie Fontaine March 9, 2014 at 11:26 am

Wow, this sounds like an amazing Christmas present! Kevin must have put so much thought into this! Scotland, London and Paris are pretty much my favorite destinations in Europe… there’s so much to do and see, so much too experience – a lifetime probably wouldn’t be enough! Versailles is a definite must if you visit Paris. It’s very easy to get to from the city (probably just half an hour by train) and it’s going to knock your socks off! If you go, make sure to visit the Domaine of Marie-Antoinette – it’s so adorable, but many people forget about it! Another must in Paris is to have Hot Chocolate at Angelina. It’s super expensive (like 8 Euro…), but most likely the most decadent Hot Chocolate you’ll ever had! London is even more of a foodie paradise in my opinion – Borough Market is amazing and there are too many great restaurants to even begin with recommendations! :) Both of you are going to have such an amazing time! :) Oh, and one last thing: Urquhart Castle at Loch Ness is a great stop in Scotland and Portree is the most adorable little harbor town on Skye! :)

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