Planes, Buses, and Automobiles

The adventure has started…

So much has happened over the last week that it is almost overwhelming thinking about where to start.

The Flight:

Our flight from LAX to London ended up only being 9 ½ hours (we were told it would be 10 ½!). Our flight left LA at 9:45pm Pacific Time, and we landed around 3:30pm European Time (7:30am Pacific Time). Both kids slept most of the trip, but we… did not!

Lesson learned: never underestimate the value of the neck pillow!

We stayed at the airport hotel for two nights, and we are so glad we did! We were allowed double the luggage on our LA flight, so we had to ship 4 of our bags via post while we were in London. This was so great because it made our check-in process so much easier than it was the first time (see picture! – it was as awful as it looks!)

Us before check in at LAX: 3 luggage carts, 15 bags, 1 bike, and a double stroller!

Our second flight from London to Edinburgh was about an hour and the kids loved their little travel kits that they got from many of those who attended their birthday party before we left (thanks again!!).


Arriving in Edinburgh:

This day was CRAZY! We landed around 10am, then we rented a car – big mistake!! So stressful! Mark drove, on the left side of the road and the right side of the car.


Our first stop – McDonalds! We were starving and it was right by the airport. Next, we got SO lost! We didn’t have GPS because we couldn’t access our data on our phones, so we stopped at a literal castle (Craigmillar Castle) to get directions.

Not a terrible place to get lost!
Not a terrible place to get lost!

At the gift shop, there were two ladies that looked up directions for us and spent quite a bit of time explaining them to us, and, when all was said and done, they gave us a small atlas that we’re supposed to return to them sometimes in the next 3 years (Ha!). After we left the home of Mary Queen of Scots, we got lost again and ended up stumbling upon Mark’s school, New College, (another castle looking building) and he was able to get directions from the computer (not exactly the way he would first experience stepping on to campus). Then we, finally, got to our place and unloaded. We were exhausted and cranky to say the least. However, after driving around aimlessly trying to find our place, we then found ourselves driving around to find parking (which there was none!). SO … we decided to just go back to the airport (with the help of my atlas) and returned the car, give up on driving forever, and took a taxi back to our place. Kids slept the whole time until we had to get them out of the rental to catch the Taxi.

Lesson Learned: Never drive again the entire time we are here! Mark ended up telling his supervisor about our chaos driving; her response, “I’ve lived here 15 years and have never driven here!”

So how do we get around?

The Bus System:

Lothian busThe bus system is very well organized here. However, it did take us getting lost a few times, missing stops, and missing buses to begin to figure out the system. Mark got his cell phone service activated on day 2 here in the city, and the first thing we did was download the Lothian Bus mobile app, which is SO helpful! The kids are also loving taking the bus (especially because it means they don’t have to walk!), and their favorite place to sit is on the top deck, so they can see the city as we drive around.

Speaking of cell service…



Here in the UK you need crazy good credit in order to sign a contract with a cell phone provider. Because of this, most people here just purchase monthly service which runs around £25 (approx. $39) per phone – this includes a data plan. Mark was able to set up his phone and get a UK number, but unfortunately my phone is still locked up through AT&T – who told us it would be no problem to unlock online.

Lesson Learned: always go into the AT&T store to do anything!

Unfortunately, we don’t have the option now to go into the store, so we are still waiting on this process, which hopefully will be cleared up in a week.

Until then, Leah does have access to her phone using Wifi. The best way we’ve been communicating with our friends and family WhatsAppfrom the US is through WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, both which are free!

Through WhatsApp we can call and text. Through Facebook Messenger we can call, message (text), and video chat. We encourage anyone to message us through either application! We love hearing from our friends FB Messengerand family! We have an 8 hour time difference, so just remember to mark it down on your world clock, or here’s a few ways to think about it:

Noon in California is 8pm in Scotland (we go to bed around 10 or 11pm)

Midnight in California is 8am in Scotland (we tend to wake up around 6 or 7am)

So feel free to contact us first thing when you wake up in the morning, at your lunch break, or, for you night owls, right before you go to bed (after 10pm).

Weather Report:

We have been greeted by this city with the most beautiful weather!

University of Edinburgh Old College
University of Edinburgh Old College

It has been in the high 50’s – low 60’s – Fahrenheit that is – with only a few sprinkles of rain.

"Mark texted me this picture while on the bus home on his first day of orientation" - Leah
“Mark texted me this picture while on the bus home on his first day of orientation” – Leah

The biggest shock was on Mark’s first day of school when there was a random downpour on his walk home.

Lesson Learned: always check the forecast in the morning even if it looks sunny outside. Next purchase is to be umbrellas!


Housing Updated: We finally found a place to live! We move in October 1st, so stay tuned into the blog for all the details!


Grace and Peace,

Mark and Leah