A perfect weather day for a drive through Glens of Antrim. Truly spectacular vistas. Paul was thankful he was just a passenger and didn't have to worry about driving. Well done bus holidays like this one make travelling and enjoying easy.
|lush green hills ( through bus window )|
|at low levels, water on one side (low tide )|
|and rocks on the other|
|We had a short stop at Carnlough and while Paul read and photographed plaques, I stocked up on chocolate.|
|Carnlough harbour. Not as much commercial fishing as there once was but fish stocks are starting to increase (Atlantic Coast)|
|one of the magnificent windows|
The cathedral is beautiful inside and we had a marvellous guide pointed out highlights of it's history.
I still have difficulty remembering that many of the cathedrals in Ireland are Church of Ireland not Roman Catholic due the many years of English rule. Monasteries were taken over in the Tudor times the same as they were during the dissolution in England.
|a view from Down cemetery|
After getting settled into our room we took a quick walk to the nearby shopping mall but didn't have time to see much thanks to Saturday closing hours.
Paul did find something of interest on our walk back. This apparently is the colour and model Jaguar that he finds most attractive.
May 27 - Sunday
|Just one of the many impressive down town building|
|Samson and Goliath H & W. gantry cranes|
From the harbour we continued to area where the Peace Wall remains in Belfast. It divides Catholic from Protestant neighbourhoods in an area of what appeared to be mostly public housing. We were told that sections have opened over the last few years and that neighbourhoods can petition to have dividing sections removed. You do see the difference as you cross from one side to the other. Signs on the Catholic side can be in English and Irish and posters painted on the wall somber. On the other side the Protestants had out more Union Jacks than I've ever seen in one place, probably for the jubilee and they were big into what looked like "hero" posters. Belfast does seem to be moving passed the years of The Troubles, as does the whole Island. ( my view as a tourist )
We entered a lovely area of tree lined streets and neighbourhoods you'd find here at home. Nice houses, nice gardens and not wall or signs of destruction. In this area is Stormont.
|Top of gate post at Stormont. I love stonework like this.|
|beautiful park setting for an impressive building|
|more stone work|
|Queen's University Belfast|
|our bus parked on the road in front of Queen's|
We returned to the bus station and were given free time to visit the city centre on our own. Seeing as it was lunch time Paul and I found a nearby pub. It has now become normal to order at the bar and then wait for the food to be carried to the table. Drinks you carry yourself. There isn't a pub/bar I've visited here that has the charm of the real thing.
|fish stew ... it was delicious|
|Fun or for charity? We never did find out but there was quite a crowd participating and viewing.|
|Throughout Ireland we saw Spar variety store and Spar gas stations and in more than one...Tim Hortons.|
|Old and the new as we looked down a narrow street.|
|City Hall. A perfect sunny day to sit on the lawn, work on a tan|
|Intricate enough to warrant a few shots.|
It was early enough to visit the mall before dinner so we went looking. In the end the only thing we bought was another new summer shirt for Paul at Dunnes.
Our farewell dinner was held in a private dining room at the hotel. Open bar no less but knowing we had an early morning for our flight home tomorrow few bother to over indulge. Both weeks we were travelling Lucia had taken a collection and purchased Euro lottery tickets. At dinner we learned we weren't rich enough to charter a flight home and retire in grand style. I think we won 4 or 5 euros that we left with Pat to try again.
July 28 - Monday.
Up at 5:45 am for breakfast at 6:30 and bus departure at 7:30. We had an easy drive to Dublin airport and a shorter trip through customs etc than at Heathrow. I finally found a pair of earrings that appealed and Paul bought a bottle of Bushmills. Being sealed and accounted for as duty free made it much easier than buying at the plant and trying to wrap and protect it in our luggage.
Again Heathrow was a horror and with transit time from one terminal to another and several level changes and miles of corridors we had little time to visit any of the duty free shops.
A very crowded plane home and even though Paul wanted to upgrade there were no spots available. He spent the time watching a movie and snoozing, I read. By the time we cleared customs in Toronto, collected our bags and got our transportation home we were exhausted. It was well after 2am Ireland time when we fell into bed.
Ireland was wonderful. We had gone expecting more wet cool weather, and being prepared for it, than we had. How many people come home with an Irish tan?
I was so taken with the scenery that I didn't even bother pulling out the camera some times knowing that all it would take was a look at a good professional shot to be reminded and I didn't want a camera between me and the view.
I was surprised at how constantly busy Dublin was. People crowded the streets every time we were out and traffic constant.
I was surprised at how many middle European accents we heard in restaurants, shops and at the hotels in Dublin. EU membership makes working in other countries easy.
Our hotels were all excellent. Our meals good and the pubs great fun. I still miss the hotel cold and hot breakfasts.
In some ways it would have been nice to have had more free time to explore on our own but we would have never been able to cover as much of the country or seen as many of the top sights and highlights if we had tried to organize the holiday and driven ourselves and we would have missed the history and background info that Pat passed on every day.
We travelled approx. 2000 miles according to Pat travelling around the whole island - Dublin to Dublin with amazing stops along the way.
The only place I had trouble with an accent was in Letterkenny. The clerk in the shop had to repeat himself 3 times before I understood. Perhaps it was because he had spent many of his early years in Newfoundland before returning home. *laugh*
We brought home more money than expected. Breakfast, dinner and some lunches were included and the ones we purchased on our own either in pubs or at the restaurants of tourist locations were cheaper than we had imagined and in all case, fresh and first rate.
Perhaps we brought home money because I spent so little time in gift shops. I wanted the experiences not the souvenirs.
Glad we went, sad it didn't last even longer. I was getting quite good living out of a suitcase. The 3 times we had second nights in one location was a bonus.