I’m writing to you from my moderately comfortable seat on a Delta 767, flying home from a two-week family vacation to celebrate our daughter’s college graduation. We started in Paris, then headed to London, then finished up in Edinburgh. We’ve had ourselves a ball, but the trip has not been without its hiccups. Is any trip, ever?

For starters, thanks to a delayed flight from Savannah to Atlanta, we almost missed our flight to Paris. We were literally the last ones on the plane, and the airline had already taken the liberty of rescheduling us for a new flight when we came huffing and puffing into the gate. (A new flight – TWO DAYS LATER? Oh, hell no! That would not stand.)

Paris was so much better than I expected. For some reason, I’d never had a hankering to go – always had a feeling it was overhyped – but I was overruled, and the rest is family history. We adored it.

But that was two weeks ago now, and already Paris feels like a fading dream. The Eiffel Tower… Versailles… Chartes… The Louvre… The lights… The cafes… The Seine at night…  Magnifique, but passing into memory.

London might have been a bit of a “wash” – so much rain – were it not for the stupendous experience we had on the Warner Brothers’ Making of Harry Potter tour. If you’re a Potter fan of any age, make, or model – and if you’re not, you really should be – and you’re in the London area, this is truly a can’t-miss stop on your itinerary. Original movie sets, costumes, magical creatures, haunted props, bubbling potions, insider stories and lore galore… It’s all there, right down to the butter beer, which is shockingly delicious! Amelia and I cried our way through most of the tour, and I think Jeff was equally moved – in his own dignified, manly way, of course.

We also gawked at some palaces and cathedrals and Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, as one does. And we met up for coffee with John Schwab, an actor we’ve come to know and love through the Beaufort International Film Festival, which was an unexpected pleasure.

Final destination – Edinburgh. The city I most longed to see. Fair Scotland, whence hails a sizable portion of my DNA (according to Ancestry), that mystical land of standing stones, fairies, fluffy cows, and Jamie Fraser. This was the leg of the trip I’d been waiting for!

So, of course, I self-sabotaged.

Travel Tip: Never put your contact lens solution and your facial toner in identical travel bottles. Need I elaborate?

We spent our first full day in Edinburgh searching for a doctor who would look at my burning, increasingly blurry eyes. On a Saturday. Without an appointment. After being turned away at the Minor Injuries Clinic of a major hospital – “We can’t handle that; you need an optometrist” – we were almost in despair, when a sweet nurse in the parking lot heard my plight, made a phone call to a nearby eye clinic, and I was in like Flynn. She even walked us halfway to the clinic.

The doctor was so nice, especially when he told me he saw no scarring, and that I was not, in fact, going blind. He wrote me a prescription, which the pharmacist filled for free, despite my being blatantly American and not entitled to NHS benefits.

I love the Scots!

I’m not kidding. Of all the people we met on our trip, they were far and away my favorites. So friendly, funny, salt-of-the-earthy. And that accent! It’s utterly delightful! How can you spend any time conversing with a Scot without slipping into the accent yourself, however badly? You can’t! It’s impossible.

But back to my eyes. They healed quickly – eyes do that – but we lost a day and a half in Scotland, thanks to me. My eyes were just too light sensitive to go out, even in the rain – which is a regular feature there. (Somehow, the rain was atmospheric and almost charming in Edinburgh, while merely irritating in London.) I had to walk around the city in my ugly glasses – without mascara – for the rest of our time there, but it seemed like a small price to pay for my abject stupidity. An easy penance.

And I must state for the record that even through tender eyes – in ugly glasses, without mascara – Edinburgh struck me as possibly the most beautiful city I’ve ever had the good fortune to behold. I say “possibly” because I think I was equally knocked-out by Prague two years ago. Aesthetically, the two cities have a very similar appeal – sort of dark and gothic and enchanted. But Edinburgh just has this distinctive…  vibe? And as much as I liked the Czech people, we couldn’t always communicate. So, considering the vibe, and the Scots – who speak my language, but with a much cooler accent – I have to give the edge to Edinburgh.

While there, we rented a car there so we could tool around Scotland. As the Outlander fanatic in the family, I planned to touch every large rock I saw in hopes of being swept back to the 18th Century. As for Amelia, she just wanted to pet a Highland cow. Both our ambitions were thwarted, but we did have a rip-roaring time driving through the Highlands, which are breathtakingly beautiful. Jeff, to his credit, was completely calm driving on the wrong side of road. His passengers were less so. The name of Our Lord and Savior may have been invoked a few times.

“I didn’t kill anybody, and the rental is still intact, so I’ll take that as a win,” said Jeff at the end of the day. Who can argue with such logic?

Incidentally, I’ve been wearing the same two pair of jeans and two sweaters for the entire trip. Which doesn’t mean I haven’t been lugging around an enormous suitcase.

Jeff wanted us to “pack light.” Be efficient. Maybe even carry everything on. Amelia and I rebelled. How could we possibly know what we wanted to wear until we got there? We had visions of European fashionistas dancing in our heads.

I always find packing especially challenging in the “in between” seasons of spring and fall. I’d been checking the “annual average temperatures” of our destination cities obsessively for months, as if they might change. They didn’t. Meanwhile, Jeff checked the weather forecast the day before we left and packed like he always does.

Men. It’s so easy for them. Pants, shirts, a jacket, and – here’s the wild card – maybe a second jacket.

Amelia and I brought sundresses. And cute tops. And flowy pants. We knew it would be cold in Edinburgh – so we threw in the jeans and sweaters – but the Paris forecast seemed to be hinting at spring, and London seemed on the verge, as well.

Turns out what Paris and London call “spring” we Beaufortonians would call a “hard winter.” Suffice it to say Amelia and I have been wearing our Edinburgh clothes for two weeks straight. We may have to burn them when we get home.

But as I wend my way through Delta’s friendly skies, I’m happy to report that today I’m dressed in actual springtime clothing – the lightweight, flowy pants I’d hoped to wear in Paris – so my overpacking wasn’t entirely for nought.

As anybody who’s ever walked out of the Savannah airport in late May can tell you, the last thing you want to be wearing is your Edinburgh outfit.