One of the things that has become painfully obvious to me since beginning this blog is that I cannot go everywhere I want to go. I am limited by time and resources. Thankfully, though, I have friends who also have the travel bug. I figure the next best thing to being there is talking to someone who has been. If I get a chance to see their pictures, that is all the better.
My friend, Lois Callahan, and I sat down a few days ago to see pictures of her trip to Ireland and England she took last October. She went on a 17 day trip with her husband, Ed, her sister-in-law, Beth, and her brother-in-law, Tom. (Beth is Ed’s sister.) We had talked about her trip when she returned last fall, but it wasn’t until she got tired of me bothering her that I finally got to see pictures of the trip.
The pictures were amazing. Lois assured me that they did not do the area justice. One thing she kept saying was that the flowers were everywhere and were just beautiful. I asked her the top things she would recommend to others if they were able to travel “across the pond.”
- See the Cliffs of Moher — The view from the cliffs is breathtaking and apparently can be dangerous. Based on information from their website, at the highest they are 702 feet and they stretch for 5 miles along the Atlantic coast of County Clare in the west of Ireland. Lois shared a picture of a rainbow out in the Atlantic Ocean. She said that it actually became a triple rainbow, but they weren’t able to capture a picture of it. The day they traveled there it was rainy. She has a picture of it raining “up” the cliffs. The wind was so strong that it pushed the rain back up the side of the cliffs. “I’ve never seen it rain up.” Lois said.
- Stay in a Castle (if you can afford it) — Lois and her traveling crew were able to stay one night at the Dromoland Castle. This is a castle that has been converted to a 5 star hotel. The history of the castle is that it “was the ancestral home of the O’Briens of Dromoland who were the Kings of Thomond and whose lineage goes back 1,000 years to Brian Boru, the only High King of Ireland.” (from their website) Lois said that it was everything that you would expect a castle would be like. She and her crew had many things to see in their short stay, so they couldn’t spend a lot of time at the castle itself, but they did walk through the flower gardens. If you can’t actually stay in a castle, there are opportunities to tour castles. Lois and her traveling party went to a Medieval Banquet at the Bunratty Castle. She said that it included music prior to the dinner in the great hall, madrigal singers during the dinner, meade and eating as if you were in medieval times, including no utensils, except for a knife.
- Enjoy a pint at a Pub — Lois said that one of the must things to do while in Great Britain is to visit Brazen Head, which is one of the oldest pubs in Ireland. Their website states the pub dates back to 1198. Another pub they visited was Durty Nelly’s. It is also a very old pub, established in 1620. In addition to really good beer, Lois stated that the food was good at the pubs as well. There is lamb dishes everywhere and “all the fish and chips you could ever want.” She especially enjoyed the food at The Coopers Arms.
- View London from Far and Near — One of the first things that Lois and her group did when they arrived in London was to go to the London Eye. The London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel in which you can view London from the heights. Lois said it gave them a great view of London and an understanding of the landscape. Another fantastic way to view London, especially if you are only in the city for a short period, is to purchase a “hop-on, hop-off” bus ticket. By touring London this way, they saw Parliament, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, West Minster Abbey, and the Tower of London. Lois does regret not actually touring the Tower of London. They saw the place, but due to time constraints, they weren’t able to do a tour.
- See England from a Canal boat — I will say I never knew you could see England this way, but Lois says it is the best way to see the English countryside and meet the people of England. What she and her companions did was rent a canal boat and toured the Trent & Mersey Canal, starting in Nottingham. They were on the boat for a week. It was like camping on the canal — or “boat camping” as Lois and I called it. The canal boats are long and narrow and are much like an RV (recreational vehicle). The difference here is that instead of navigating highways, you navigate down a canal. This includes working the different locks and mooring up each night. While I don’t particularly like camping, Lois did make this way of viewing sound England interesting. Though, seeing the narrow bridges that the canal boats had to travel under, does awaken my claustrophobia a little. She said she was a little nervous the first time through, but her husband, Ed, told her, “I got this.” And he did!
When all was said and done, Lois, Ed, Beth and Tom were across the pond for 17 days. Two days were for traveling to specific locations. The other 15 days were for sightseeing. They did a lot of things not captured in this post, like touring Guiness Storehouse and the Kilmainhan Gaol in Dublin, viewing the Torc Waterfalls in Ireland, taking a Jack the Ripper walking tour in London, watching the Cincinnati Bengals tie the Washington Redskins at Wembley Stadium and trespassing on some farmer’s land in Ireland to view castle ruins up-close and personal, but this was just a smattering of what they did. Lois said that 15 days really wasn’t enough time to see everything she wanted to see. She truly hopes she can go back in a couple of years. Whether I ever make it to Great Britain or not remains to be seen, but now at least I have seen it through a friend’s eyes. If you can’t be there, that is the next best thing!
If you’ve traveled somewhere exciting and would like to share a tidbit or two, please comment below.