The 9-year-old Trip

My family has a tradition: when each child reaches the age of nine, they get to plan a trip to anywhere in the world! The trip is with parents, but no siblings allowed. Nine is a good age – you’re still young enough to want to hang out with parents (no teenage angst), but also old enough to appreciate/remember what you see and be respectful. It fosters independence through the authority of picking the destination and one-on-one time with parents.

Each of us chose different parts of Europe: my brother’s included Germany, Switzerland, Italy; my sister discovered her roots in Scandinavia; my other sister went through Spain and Portugal. I couldn’t decide between the pyramids of Egypt and my Scottish heritage, so my parents helped me choose Scotland followed by the back countries of Europe (Germany, Czech, Slovakia, Austria).
We each have some tremendous and exclusive memories that we share and laugh about often. Ex. My brother pretended he had no arm during most of his trip; my dad broke-in his own Mercedes straight from the German factory and then shipped it back to the states; my sister snuck out of the hotel at night to play with local children across town; my parents let strangers take me to the Berlin zoo for a day, etc, etc.

Here are photos and (misspelled) journal entries from my trip (I wasn’t very good at recording my travels back then) with today’s additions in lighter blue:

Example page from my journal, half written in by my mom, half written by me.
June 18, 1993

Dear Journal, I woke up very early and tried to take a picture of my sister before we left. The pictures didn’t come out, though. We left in a cab to San Francisco air port. First stop, St. Louis, MO. We had an Italian dinner and left in time for our 8:00 flieght. When we got on, a stewardess showed me the cock pit, It had three men to oporate all the controls and buttens. I forgot to tell you that we saw the arch in St. Louis. Back to what I was telling you, I also saw “Home Alone 2” on the plain. I’m not sure why this part was crossed out. 

June 19, 1993

We woke up on the airplain and had breakfast. When we got off the plain, we had a hard time getting out of the airport. When we finally got out of the airport it was noon and so we had lunch. that night we saw a movie called “Orlando”. It was good. Looking back, I think that movie was weird. 


June 20, 1993

I woke mom up at 4:00am and we started walking at 6:00. We found a place to eat breakfast at. It was Macdonalds. Then we walked for an hour to the Tower of London. We saw a sculpuded giant that was sopost to be a giant comeing out of the ground. We also saw St. Pauls Cathedro. It was very intresting. I got a necklase from the british museum. It had lots of ancient artifacts wicth was nice. We went to Gram and Eliz. for dinner. The dinner was weird but O.K.

Since I had wanted to go to Egypt, I was really into the Egyptian stuff we saw throughout the trip – the British Museum was a perfect first day, with lots of historical pieces from Ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt.

June 21, 1993

We woke up late and had bearkfast. I had clod ceral. We almost mist the Changing of the Guards. We got there in time and it was neat. I had fun on top of sholders. And I saw alot up there, on sholders. I think I also videoed the changing of the guard for my parents and they couldn’t see anything. Then we went shopping for my friend, we bought her a Cina horse. I did a brass rabbing of a dragen for my sister. We had a picnic in a huge park at 3:30 (Hyde Park). Next we went to West Minister Abbey. It was grose because there were graves where we walked. I lit a candle and said a praer for my grandmother. Then I put a tupence in the ofering box. We went to our hotel and got ready for the play (The Importance of Being Earnest). I slept throw part of the play, but what I saw was good. After the play we had dinner. I thought that the steak was the worst steak I ever had. First world problems. My filet mignon was awful! 


June 22, 2013

We woke up verey late and walked down to a cafe and had breakfast. Then we walked to Westminster Abbey. We saw Mary Queen of Scots tomb. I did another brass rubbing, TWO, in fact. I made 1 for grandma and 1 for me. They weren’t better than the first one, but they were good. We had a picnic (in a park across from Hyde Park with a view of Big Ben and Peter cut himself trying to open a bottel of wine. And all of the sudden a man came and let us pull the corck out of the bottle (he gave us a pocket cork-screw to use). Then he let us have the antique cork screw (because my dad bled all over it). After lunch we went up in the jewel tower. It was boring. Next we went in the tate Gallarey. I took lots of pictures. I liked it alot. We had snack at the cafe, palyed cards, went for walk to look for something to eat. We went to pasta place.



At this point two things changed. I started writing dates with the day before the month (as they do in England). And I got bored of writing in my journal, so my mom convinced me to write in bullet form:

  • Got up eraly
  • Peter and me to cafe
  • Mom to post office
  • Wine shop
  • Hampten Coart (Boring) I know that I crossed this out, because I remembered that I went through a life-sized labrynth and Hampton Court, which was the highlight of my day. 
  • saw kithins went in maze
  • Bart (I meant the TUBE/subway) to Londen
  • Long line to boring Parlement
  • Took taxi to movies to see Sommersbe
  • I had nothing at dinner (popcorn) This will be an ongoing theme of the trip – noting what meals we had vs. skipped. I add that this struggle has not changed throughout my life; my parents still often skip meals when I shouldn’t due to low blood sugar. 
  • Took train overnight to Edenbergue


  • Woke up 10 min til get off
  • Rushed off train
  • Took taxi to Gallaway Gest house
  • went for walk to breakfast
  • bought pillow because my allergies were struggling with feather pillows in hotel rooms. I remember this was a square, hard lilac pillow that I had for many years after. 
  • back to gest house took nap
  • skipped lunch
  • had dinner in pub
  • back to BB (BB = B&B, Bed and Breakfast)
  • to bed


  • got up ittime for breakfast
  • find tour bus
  • climed Scott monument – 287 steps
  • walk to castle
  • saw dog cemtary and crown jewels of scotland
  • camerra obscura
  • snak
  • museum of childhood
  • got sweters
  • went to BB, got ready for dinner
  • dinner at martin’s Martin’s was a very fancy restaurant in Edinburgh and my parents continually talked about it as the best place they had eaten for many years after this. 


  • had breakfast
  • went shopping
  • boaght shoes for me
  • laded on grass in park
  • Papa painted a water color
  • we saw march
  • walked to BB
  • sat around in room
  • went out late to see lights
  • went to Burger King
  • I fell asleep


  • had breakfast at B.B.
  • checked out
  • started driving to Glassgow
  • went to pretty church
  • went to museum of religen (OK) In retrospect, this Museum of Religion was really cool. I wish I had been older to enjoy it.
  • went to bural museum I think it was adjacent to the Museum of Religion and further focused on death customs in various cultures.
  • I had lunch because I got cranky at the Museum of Religion.
  • Drove through the montins
  • Had dinner at pub
  • went to place called Callenders
  • I had my own room


  • I locked myself in my room
  • Papa could not get in, to wake me up
  • had breakfast
  • went to falls. got lost
  • falls were pretty
  • stoupide cematary
  • castle about clan – Balquhidder
  • player piano I played alot (I’m trying to figure out how I played a self-playing piano, but I think it had foot pedals that you pushed like a bike to make it work).
  • church cemtary with the grave of Rob Roy
  • stream (nice, laid on rock in middle of stream)
  • store, snake food (I think I meant snack, not snake)
  • picnic near stream (wonderful)
  • Port Appen
  • Arids Hotel (Airds)
  • Took walk
  • Called my sister
  • had dinner


  • missed breakfast
  • rented bikes
  • wnet on island to ride
  • nice ride
  • turned bikes in
  • took walk
  • had dinner, played with wensten  (a cat at the hotel)


  • woke up early to have breakfast
  • cheacked out and went swimming
  • drove to Fort Willam
  • boaght picnic blanket
  • got goodies
  • got food
  • had picnic in park
  • drove north to maillag (Mallaig)
  • stayed at BB
  • went to pub
  • Picnics with a view of Scottish Countryside

  • had breakfast
  • took ferry to isle of sky (Isle of Skye)
  • went to Kinloch Lodge
  • had tea and cakes
  • Clan Donald Center (pretty gardens)
  • had dinner
  • played checkers
  • before dinner papa tried to paint a picture but the miges atacted him
  • woke up
  • It was raining so we just drove up to the north part of the isle of skeye
  • drove to biggest city on isle called Proetree. (Portree)
  • baught boots for me and mom (wellies)
  • mom got black shoes for her and my sister to share (Doc Martens)
  • We went to Dunvagen castle (Dunvegan)
  • it had feiry (fairy) flag and dungen
  • it had pretty gardens and a waterfall
  • we rushed to talisker it talked about wisky

At this point, my mom took over writing, as I dictated because I complained that writing took too long for me. Her text is in italics/spelled correctly: 

  • played dominoes until dinner
  • ate dinner and met Americans from Washington and North Carolina and talked
    This was also the night that I found out what a dirk is – see story here.

  • had breakfast and checked out with Lady McDonald and got her signature in her cookbook and on a postcard.
  • drove on a tiny road and it was rainy and dark. Papa got us on a ferry boat with a turntable for the cars to load.
  • bought little cat for a friend and bought sweaters for Mom.
  • took boat (Mother Goose) to Altnaharrie island. I remember the boat was very small and the water was quite rough because it was stormy.
  • we had a beautiful dinner and joined an anniversary Alnatharrie Inn is a very special place with only a couple guest rooms. The chef is world-class and everyone dines together in the small dining room fit for about 8 people. The Inn had previously not allowed children, which leads to a misadventure as soon as I got to the island. 
  • walked over the bridge and through the lambs to get to our little cabin.

  • Pappa very sick
  • had nice breakfast and we were going to go back on the boat to Ullapool but Pappa was too sick.
  • We found a fairy tale book of Celtic fairytales and read some stories.
  • Went back to check on pappa I went alone and on the way back across our little bridge, there was a ram blocking my path. It looked like it was going to charge me, and I was very scared, but then it climbed up the hill and let me pass. 
  • Mom and I took a walk and collected 150 shells from beach
  • saw a goat nibbling on a huge jellyfish
  • checked in on pappa again and Pappa and Mom took a walk, then I followed.
  • Pappa went back to bed and we read some more and had tea and cookies
  • Wonderful dinner (for 4th of July). Robert, our waiter, gave me a special dessert with a candle. It was red, white and blue. It was a biscuit with whipped cream and blueberries, strawberries and raspberries on top. 


  • Pappa better; had breakfast
  • packed up and got on Mother Goose to go back to our car in Ullapool
  • Went to gardens on Inverwee (Inverewe) and I bought a cute lamb. (A stuffed lamb)
  • Took a drive to Loch Ness and saw the museum about the monster
  • found a farmhouse B&B that was haunted.
  • went for a walk to the edge of Loch Ness but didn’t see any monster.
  • went to dinner at a cheap cafe.


  • woke up in haunted house
  • had breakfast
  • papa and me went to ride on “Hazel”, the horse.
  • to see castle on Loch Ness (Urquhart Castle)
  • drove to Aviemore
  • Mom londery
  • papa me had lunch and went for swim
  • papa me race go carts (karts) (me for frist time)
  • LANDMARK obstikile corse playland Yep, I was super excited for this obstacle course
  • Movie
  • drove to tea room, B&B
  • had dinner


  • woke up
  • mom sick me papa had breakfast
  • post office and bank
  • mom in backseat
  • lunch at coffae shop
  • cuntry museum I remember being so sick of boring art museums that they dragged me to, by this point. At least the day prior was more kid-friendly.
  • Glenlevet (Glenlivet)
  • to castle hotle (Pittodire) (My mom wrote in, but spelled it wrong: Pittodrie House)
  • took baths
  • wondered arand found a feather
  • had dinner I was/am not a fan of asparagus because my father cooked it too much when I was growing up, but I remember they served it with Hollandaise sauce here and it was delicious.
  • Pappa played pool and I watched TV. Mom went to sleep



  • had breakfast
  • drove to stone circle and I found another feather (Easter Aquhorthies) 
  • drove a long way to try and have lunch at Peat Inn but they were closing so we ate somewhere else
  • went to Edinburgh Crystal Factory but they were closing too so we missed the tour but saw the shop
  • went to Peebles tourist office and I got a book
  • we stayed at Mrs. Smiths farmhouse
  • we at at the Tweed Hotel but it was horrible


  • we went to the crystal shop and then to Selkerk (Selkirk) to see paperweights being made
  • we went to Sir Walter Scott’s house (Abbotsville) (Abbottsville) and I chased peacocks
  • we went to Bowhill and to Scott country
  • saw parade in Jedburgh
  • had a pub dinner and went back to Mrs. Smith’s
  • Jedburgh parade


  • we had a nice breakfast
  • mom packed while I watched TV
  • we went shopping and bought my sister a kilt and me a kilt. we also went to a flea market and I got a marker sprayer
  • we went to Dunns to see a race car museum and saw a rally in Kelso I remember on the way to Kelso, I read aloud a story from the book I was reading – The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. 
  • we stayed at pub-hotel and had dinner and papa played pool and mom watched him. I watched TV and went to bed.
  • The beds were like canapy beds.


  • we drove to the wall and went to a museum (Hadrian’s Wall)
  • we walked on the wall
  • we went to the train station to turn in our car and took a taxi to the ferry
  • we waited for the ferry and I bought some puzzle books
  • On the ferry I had a snack and we went out on the deck
  • we had dinner and I got a chocolate egg with a toy. my dinner came in a paper boat
  • I slept on the top bunk


  • We woke up and Mom made me take a shower on the boat
  • I went on a tour of the bridge and I asked what the Koala bear was on the wheel and the Captain said all ships have a mascot. The name of the ship was the Winston Churchill.
  • When we got off the boat the train was right outside and we went on it to Hamburg.
  • I was hungry so I ate an apple and took a nap.
  • We arrived at a big train station and Pappa found a place to stay. We ate at a pub on the corner and I had spaghetti.
  • We played hearts and watched TV which was all in German. I said “never do this at home” when the woman was smoking. This stemmed from my ongoing fight with my mom over her on/off smoking. 



We woke up and Pappa went to get the car and it took him 2 1/2 hours to get back, that my mom had to go get me a donut. Then Papa came back.
We went to a bakery and got things for lunch and then went to the zoo. The zoo was big and we had a picnic and fed the elephants and I rode a camel.



Nothing written. And I have no recollection of what we did for two more days in Hamburg except that I know we did laundry and went to a public swimming pool, which had lots of inflatables and kids. Also, on one of these dates, we went to Legoland and I drove little cars around a fake Lego town!!!



Nothing written.


  • We got up at the nice hotel and had breakfast.
  • It was mom and papa’s anniversary and mom gave papa a book he had read on my sister’s trip.
  • We drove and had a picnic near a bank and we drove more.
  • Papa got a ticket on the autobahn. Even though there are no speed limits, he got a speeding ticket for going through a construction zone. 
  • We got to Berlin and checked into our hotel. Mama thought Papa would wash her hair romantically, but he used the shower head.
  • We had a good dinner at an Italian restaurant. It was Tortellini with Ham and Peas and I begged my parents to go back to this restaurant the next night. For many years, I called this restaurant the best food I ever had.


  • had breakfast in our little hotel
  • Lara invited me to go to the zoo with her niece. I had met a woman and her niece from New York and they offered to take me to the zoo, to give my parents a break. So, my parents happily complied. 
  • We picked up Lara and they drove us to the zoo and left us. My parents left us, but the woman and her niece were with me. 
  • We saw penguins and seals and giraffes and elephants. We had our picture taken with lion cats. Lion cubs, I meant. 
  • After the zoo we took the bus to Lara’s place and mom and papa were there.
  • We went to Potsdam and saw the castle. We had lunch at the Indian Motorcycle cafe. Papa bought a hat and we got my sister a T-shirt.
    This seems like a long day. I don’t think the days are right on this. 
  • We watched papa’s video (of the trip so far) and had a nice Italian dinner. Same place.


  • We went to a museum about the alter and I got a tape that told me about part of the museum. I’m not sure if I meant the Pergamon Museum or Checkpoint Charlie Museum.
  • They had glazed colored bricks and then we bought me a wire lotus flower thing.
  • We walked through the vendors and went to another museum and saw the famous black cat. We had a snack in a cafe outside the Pergaman.
  • We saw a yellow palace with a huge garden (Charlottenburg Palace) and saw a museum of paintings and then we had lunch and then we went to an Egyptian museum and saw Nefertiti and a smaller version of the cat.
  • We got ready for dinner and had dinner at a pub place and we met Lara there and Mom and I had the same thing. I’m sure I asked them to go back to the Italian place again and they refused. We also went to the Berlin wall or what was left of it. we got a piece of it too.
  • This is written in my handwriting at the bottom, but crossed out and it says in my mom’s writing: ignore cross out. Mom’s mistake.

We had breakfast and I went to play at Lara’s house. I played outside and learned how to make a daisy chain necklace. Mom and Papa came and took pictures and we left to go to a bus tour.
We ate lunch.


  • Woke up, pappa swam in the hotel pool.
  • We had a big buffet breakfast
  • We drove to where a family friend (Dresden) was born and took pictures and we talked to the people who now own the liquor store. Pappa bought a Glenfiddich bottle.
  • I played on a play structure and then we had a picnic near a fountain that had a granite ball that moved. You could make it go in different directions.
  • We took a 2 hour bus tour
  • I had chocolate ice cream
  • We got ready for dinner and took a walk to dinner and ate a steak dinner at a sidewalk place. We went back to our hotel and put on swimsuits and robes for the fitness club pool and then went for a late night drive to see the lights. I saved our parking place with cones.


  • We had another big buffet breakfast and I made toast for us.
  • We went to a museum about health and saw a glass lady and you could see inside her.
  • We went to a folk museum and saw blacksmith’s doll house
  • We found a post office and mom mailed packages and we at at McDonald’s and then drove to Check. (Czech)
  • We saw a lot of trucks and hookers As soon as we crossed the border, there were many prostitutes lining the road. 
  • We found a little B&B that was new. The man spoke English and his wife was Chinese.
  • The kids were playing Chinese jump rope. I joined them out in the field but they played too rough because they knocked each other down. They were my age, but they were boys, so they rough-housed. 
  • We had dinner and the waiter called a pig a bunny and he oinked. The dinner was really cheap. The waiter didn’t speak English at all and when we asked what kind of meet one dish was, he kept saying bunny, but then pressed the tip of his nose up and said “OINK!” The dinner was so cheap that my parents were convinced the bill was wrong and they recalculated it for about 20 minutes while I played outside. 



We woke up and had breakfast and drove to Prague
I remember arriving in Prague and our hotel was right at the base of the St. Charles Bridge. We got lost up a few small cobblestone roads, but finally made it. We were on the 2nd or 3rd floor with a window that looked straight over the bridge. 



Nothing written.One of the days, we were walking along the St. Charles Bridge and there was a bomb scare. So, they evacuated the bridge and all vendors packed up. It was a rare sight to see it empty.
We also went to the astronomical clocktower and watched it chime, as you do in Prague. And St. Nicholas Church with painted ceilings and I thought it was the most beautiful church on the whole trip.
On one of the evenings, we were serenaded by a violin outside our window, so we decided to walk the bridge at night. Halfway across the bridge was a circle of young people with a guitar, all singing folk songs with candles that had wax dripping on the bridge. We joined them and sang Yesterday. This was one of my favorite memories from the trip – to be welcomed into a circle, bond and sing songs with strangers. It was beautiful and most times when I hear that song, I think of this memory.



We woke up in Prague at our nice hotel and walked to a cafe nearby to have pastries and we walked across the Charles Bridge and got a wire necklace that said my name with a heart on the end. Mom got my sister a photo of Prague and the Bridge.
We went to a market and got some buns and yogurt for lunch and then we went to a bookstore and got my sister a book of photos about Prague.
We left and drove a long time. We went to a fairytale town called Telč and saw a nice layout of the town from a tower (149 steps).
I got some tea and then we got an ice cream and drove more but it was getting late and we went across the border to Austria.
Pappa was worried about changing money because it was late. We changed money and got to a B&B very late and ate at a Chinese restaurant nearby.



We woke up and we had breakfast in a B&B kind of place.
We drove east into Hungary to Budapest and we passed a bad head-on accident on the way.
Pappa got gas and juice and went to the bathroom.
We went to a travel agent tourist place who got us an apartment but we had a hard time finding the front door until we talked to a woman on the street. It turned out to be small and dingy.
We went for a walk by the river Danube and Pappa bought ornaments and I got a dress. We went back to our awful apartment and then got ready for dinner. We walked to the restaurant. It was bad.



Nothing written.
In fact, I didn’t write anything for the rest of the journal. But, we left Budapest and drove back into Austria to Vienna, through Slovakia. We stayed at a place next to Mozart’s home and toured Mozart’s house. We also went to St. Stephen’s Cathedral and climbed the tower. We went on a horse carriage ride through the city and went to a clock museum which was interesting because it showed early clocks.

We departed Vienna and went to New York City for a few days on our way back home. There, we met my brother and his girlfriend (soon to be fiance). We went up the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty which was really HOT in July, and took a helicopter ride around the city. We also ate lunch at the Windows of the World restaurant atop the World Trade Center, but I don’t remember this.