Britain 2006 Adventure

The 2006 Britain/Ireland adventure began May 11th. This was a Trafalgar tour, the 'Wonders of Britain & Ireland' tour. We booked it through the Minneapolis AAA travel office.

Itinerary, links, and pictures are below.
We enjoyed this tour. My main objectives for this trip were to see Stonehenge and Hadrian's Wall. Ann's main objective was to visit a place with flush toilets and where English was spoken (more or less). My curiosity about old castles and cathedrals is satisfied for a while. I've seen enough souvenir shops. There was not enough time for art in London. I did see the National Galleries of Ireland and Scotland. Both were worth the time. We also did several add-on tours and activities.

There were 31 of us. It was a great group. Several people were from the US and Australia. There were 2 couples from Canada and a couple from South Africa. Our tour guide, Tom, was from Ireland, and spoke with an Irish accent. He did a great job of managing the logistics and schedules. He kept us entertained with a monologue combining history and blarney. At times, we weren't sure which was which. Jim, the coach driver, wheeled our monster bus 1747 miles, often thru tight streets with great skill. He spoke with a Scotish brogue. When asked if he was married, he replied, "Done that. Didn't like it. Won't do it again."

Our weather was probably better than average. Because of the Gulf Stream, the air is usually humid, and rain is common. I brought rain gear and an umbrella. Never used the umbrella, but others did. I used the hood of my rain jacket almost every day, either because of rain or wind. One day in Ireland, I wore rain pants. Should have worn them another day. One day in Scotland, it was cold enough to have frost in the northern areas. Still, we had many days with periods of sun.

The currency of England, Scotland, and 6 couties comprising Northern Ireland is Pounds Sterling. Southern Ireland, being a fuller member of the EEC, uses EUROs.

London was very expensive. All breakfasts were included in the tour price, and some evening meals. The first night, Ann and I shared a hamburger and a caesar salad. We each had a glass of wine. The cost was 43 Lbs sterling ($86 USD). Ireland and Scotland were not as expensive. Museums were often free.

We whine about $3 gasoline(2006). In the UK and Ireland, it was more like $7 per gallon.

Our hotels were ok, with 2 exceptions. We went on this tour expecting musty accommodations, and came prepared with Febreze, face masks, and antihistamine. I had heard an ex-pat refer to England as 'Old Blighty'. Only the Chester H.I. fit that description. The whole hotel smelled moldy. Other people on the tour got sick from it. The other problem hotel was in Limerick. It was the practice during Shakespeare's time to make beds about 5 feet long. Most people who could afford beds had respiratory problems and slept sitting up. Our hotel in Limerick had these Leprechaun size beds. Had to push two beds together and sleep diagonally.

Edinburgh is spelled like 'Edinberg', but pronounced 'Edinboro'.

A few language differences:
Griffin - dragon
Public convenience - loo - toilet
Lift - elevator
Take away - Food to go
Space to let - For rent
Sale agreed - sold
Give way - Yield
Roundabout - Traffic circle
Motorway(M1) - freeway
Gate - street (Watergate)
Bar - gate

Itinerary

5/11 Departed MSP at 6:55 pm.
5/12 Arrived London Gatwick at 9 am, after 8 hours on the plane, and 6 time zones. Stayed at the Kensington Hilton 2 nights.
5/13 London sightseeing.
5/14 London-Hampton Court-Salisbury-Stonehenge-Bath-Cardiff, Wales.
5/15 Cardiff-Pembroke to Rosslare, Ireland by ferry-Wexford.
5/16 Wexford-Waterford-Youghal-Cork-Blarney-Killarney.
5/17 Killarney-Ring of Kerry-Adare-Limerick.
5/18 Limerick-Dublin 2 nights.
5/19 Dublin sightseeing.
5/20 Dublin-Anglesey by Ulysses(world's largest ferry)-Chester, Wales.
5/21 Chester-Lake district(Grassmere)-Moffat, Scotland-Edinburgh 2 nights.
5/22 Edinburgh sightseeing.
5/23 Edinburgh-Jedburgh-Hadrian's Wall, England-York-Harrogate.
5/24 Harrogate-Coventry-Warwick.
5/25 Warwick-Stratford-Bladon-Oxford-London.
5/26 Departed London Gatwick for home.

Houses of Parliament across the Thames (TeMs), with Westminster Abbey and Big Ben in the background. Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Big Ben
'Look right' is painted on many streets, just for the tourists!
Note the red post box and the blue double-decker bus. Most double-decker buses are red.
Look Right!
Beaverheads on the way to the daily changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. Beaverheads
Buckingham Palace daily changing of the guard: Note the gardens and the number of people. Buckingham Palace
Roman Baths at Bath, England. Bath, England
40 shades of green in Ireland. 40 shades of green in Ireland
Blarney Castle, in County Cork, Ireland. The Blarney stone is a part of the castle wall, near the top on the left wall. Blarney Castle
Kissin' o' the Blarney stone in the rain, high atop Blarney Castle. You must bend over backwards at the waist, extending your upper body and head down. I reached the lowest vertical surface, as far as it is possible to go. Tasted like lipstick, even in the rain. Because of the bars below, you can't fall thru to the ground. The aide is there to help you get back up quickly and keep people moving. Note the tip tray in the background. Kissing o' the Blarney stone in the rain, atop Blarney Castle
Betting is legal in Ireland. Betting is legal in Ireland.
With the new technology wealth in Ireland, very few thatched roofs remain. Thatched roof in Ireland
A church with a stone roof, at Glendalough, County Wicklow, Ireland. A church with a stone roof
A tower with a stone roof, also at Glendalough. A tower with a stone roof
A highland cow (also called hippy cattle and beastie) in Scotland. There were wild rhododendrons growing not far away. A highland cow (beastie) in Scotland
A mime in Edinburgh. Mime in Edinburgh
Edinburgh Castle entrance, with Robert the Bruce (left) and William Wallace (right) standing guard. Edinburgh Castle entrance
'Attending' Trinity College at Oxford. Oxford

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