A few weeks ago, my wife, mother-in-law, and I flew over to Ireland and Scotland for 10 days. Have to say it was “so choice.” If you ever have the chance to go, I highly recommend it.
Having never been to Europe, I had no concept of what to expect. My wife has been several times and did a pretty amazing job planning and coordinating most of it. It was non-stop. By the end of the trip we had flown eight or so times and drove across quite a bit of Ireland on the wrong side of the road in the wrong side of the car with a manual gearbox. Ireland doesn’t require an international driver’s license. :D The weather was also an amazing 68 degrees pretty much the entire time.
Here’s a quick rundown of we did.
Of the two major cities we visited in Ireland, Dublin was quite a bit more enjoyable. After landing and dropping our bags off at the hotel, we went to the temple bar section of Dublin. Quite touristy, but also pretty neat. It was really exciting to see all the history over there. We visited Trinity College and saw the Book of Kells. If you’re unfamiliar with this book, it was created around 800 A.D. and contains the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. In addition to being OLD, it’s also an amazing work of art.
The next day, we said goodbye to Lisa’s mom and wished luck on her horseback trek through Ireland. Her thing.
GLASGOW IS AMAZING. Well, pretty much all of Scotland was amazing. After leaving Dublin at 6 and landing in Scotland only an hour later, we made our way out into the city to find our first “Scottish Breakfast.” It was also quite fun treating ourselves to all tea. I generally prefer to avoid overly touristy experiences, but would highly recommend getting tickets for city bus tours. They run pretty much all day and pick up every five minutes so. You get to see most of the city and you can get off and go explore whenever you want.
We saw the Glasgow Cathedral, The Necropolis (found several headstones with the surname Walker), Glasgow Botanic Gardens, George Square, and ate quite a bit. Being a huge fan of Scotch, I got to enjoy some amazing whiskey at The Pot Still pub. Amazing place. Funny fact, Mexican street food is huge over in Scotland.
Part of the inspiration for this trip was our genealogy, as both Lisa and I share some Irish decent and I’m partially Scottish. But, I also LOVE Scotch and this year (2015) is the 200th anniversary of the Laphroaig distillery. I’m also a Friend of Laphroaig (FOL). When you join, they “give” you a one-square-foot plot of land on the island. Most visitors just place their countries flag roughly where they think their plot is. I’m not sure found ours but took my best guess. :D Right down the road, we also toured the Lagavulin distillery about a mile or so down the road (map). Other than the Scotch, we did a lot of walking. As you can imagine, the island countryside is gorgeous.
After returning to the mainland, we took a bus to Edinburgh and then a taxi to our hotel in Queensferry. Like Glasgow, the history of and in this city is amazing. The first night here, we hung around Queensferry and walked around the town. We learned that Queensferry was the site of the first bomber raid by the Luftwaffe.
The next day we headed into Edinburgh to walk around some more. :D While there, we visited the Festival Fringe which happens every August. Went to the Scottish National Gallery. We saw the Scott Monument. Walked the Royal Mile.
Next, we toured the Edinburgh Castle, which was pretty amazing. I wasn’t overly impressed by their crown jewels but it was neat to see the Stone of Scone (stone of destiny) in person. The grounds and all the history in the National War Museum was pretty awesome too. After that, we had tea.
Then, in the evening, went to the 2015 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. This event is part of an annual concert series of military tattoos and other international bands. Pretty epic. In addition to all the bands, the castle the backdrop for the event.
After leaving Scotland and arriving back in Ireland, we rented a car and drove to the Leslie Castle in Glaslough, Ireland. Never having stayed in castle before, this was pretty awesome. The architecture and grounds were amazing. The castle sits on 1,000 acres with walking trails through several forest and around a few lakes.
The next morning, we drove north to the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. Very beautiful. This area is filled with roughly 40,000 interlocking basalt columns which are the result of volcanic eruptions. According to geologics, the lava here cooled in such a way that horizontal cracks created hexagon shaped stones.
By this time, Lisa’s mother had finally finished her horse ride through Ireland. We met up together in Dublin and toured the city and found the Brazen Head pub that ours in Omaha is modeled after. Then walked around a bit more before flying home the next day.
There it is. I imagine I left out quite a bit. It was pretty awesome trip. I’d definitely go again.