British Isles May-June, 2014

 
  1. 1.Tuesday, May 20, 2014-Leave Washington Dulles at 6:35 PM on British Airways 216 (Business Class, Boeing 747) for London.


  1. 2.Wednesday, May 21-Arrive London Heathrow at 6:40 AM (3,688 miles). Travel by private car (Jim) to Southampton, England. The White Star Hotel. Leave London Heathrow at 11:20 AM (Vicky) on British Airways 474 (Coach Class, Airbus 321) for Barcelona, Spain. Arrive Barcelona at 2:25 PM (707 miles). Evenia Rosella Hotel.

 

  1. 3.Thursday, May 22-Southampton, England. Ferry to the Isle of Wight.  Visit Osborne House, the summer residence of Queen Victoria and also the site of her death in 1901. Return by ferry to Southampton. The White Star Hotel. PHOTOS


  1. 4.Friday, May 23-Depart Southampton, England on Ruby Princess at 5 PM.


  1. 5.Saturday, May 24-Arrive Le Havre, France at 7 AM.Board a motorcoach for a scenic, 2-hour drive to Courseulles sur Mer along the coast, passing the Juno and Gold landing sites along the way. Arrive at Arromanches Beach, to see remnants of the Mulberry, the artificial harbor where thousands of troops came ashore. Built on the site of the harbor is the Museum of the Landing Day. The museum commemorates the D-Day landings, with models, dioramas and a short film depicting the monumental exploits and heroic sacrifices of Allied forces in Operation Overlord. After lunch, continue to Colleville-Sur-Mer, home to the World War II Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial.Just above Omaha Beach, a place where the American military suffered staggering casualties on D-Day, the American Cemetery is the final resting place of nearly 10,000 servicemen who died during the Normandy campaign. Walk between the rows of marble crosses and Stars of David stretching as far as the eye can see, and witness a memorial and chapel that flank the sea of graves. Visit the new Visitors Centre that presents exhibitions on Operation Overlord and focuses on three major themes: the Competence, the Courage and the Sacrifice.Next, make a photo stop at Omaha Beach and Pointe du Hoc. Three companies from the 2nd Ranger Battalion scaled the 100-foot cliffs of Pointe du Hoc on D-Day to capture this strategic position. The Ranger Memorial towers above the 30-acre battlefield where, one inscription reads, "Soldiers lie forever united in the chaos of war." Depart 8 PM. PHOTOS


  1. 6.Sunday, May 25-At sea.


  1. 7.Monday, May 26-Arrive South Queensferry, Scotland (Edinburgh) at 7 AM (Jim). Board a motorcoach for a scenic drive over the imposing Forth Road Bridge and through the rolling countryside near Dundee en route to Glamis Castle. Glamis (pronounced "Glarms") Castle has been the family home of the Earls of Strathmore for over 600 years. The Castle's history has been celebrated throughout the years and it is associated with a great many stories, secrets and legends. Each room is filled with wonderful antiques, tapestries, and treasured works of art, but it is the tales of ghosts that make a visit to this landmark most exciting.Upon arrival, a self-guided walking tour allows access to such notable rooms as the Victorian Dining Hall designed in 1851, the Queen Mother's bedroom, and the medieval Crypt where legend has it an ancestor and his companion lost their souls to the Devil for playing cards on the Sabbath. Walk into the oldest and most haunted part of the castle, Duncan Hall. Although Macbeth's killing of King Duncan actually took place near Elgin, this room is widely perceived as the traditional scene of the crime. While strolling the grounds of this magnificent estate keep an eye out for several unearthly guests. The "White Lady," has been seen wafting through the halls, her unsettled soul the product of being unjustly burned at the stake. There is also the mysterious "Grey Lady," who has been seen by over 100 visitors. A ghost of a little servant boy can often be found on the stone seat in front of the Queen Mother's sitting room. At the completion of this fascinating tour, re-board the motorcoach and cross over the Tay Road Bridge and passing lush, manicured greens to St. Andrews. St. Andrews is widely known as the "Home of Golf." The Royal & Ancient Golf Club is here, one of the oldest golf clubs in the world and one of the ruling bodies of the game. In addition to its golf heritage, this charming medieval town boasts excellent shopping, a plethora of art galleries and fine dining establishments. Depart 7 PM. Leave Barcelona, Spain (Vicky) at 3:00 PM on Iberia Air 5532 to Paris Orly (Coach Class, Airbus 320).  Arrive Paris, France at 4:40 PM (517 miles). Hotel Beaugrenelle St. Charles. PHOTOS


  1. 8.Tuesday, May 27-Arrive Invergordon, Scotland at 8 AM. Visit Inverness, Scotland. Board a motorcoach for the scenic ride through the heather-covered hills of the lush Scottish Highlands. The first stop is the parish of Cawdor, and one of the country's finest medieval structures, Cawdor Castle. The castle is still the seat of the Earls of Cawdor, and the current home to the Dowager Countess Cawdor. However, many know this place as the setting for Duncan's murder in Shakespeare's Macbeth. While parts of the castle date back to the 14th century, it did not exist during the reign of the factual Duncan and Macbeth. The castle boasts a central keep and drawbridge, and was originally build around a small, living holly tree, the remains of which may still be seen in the lowest level of the tower. Originally consisting only of the large tower (or keep), the castle was expanded numerous times in the succeeding centuries, with significant additions made in the 17th century and 19th century. The tour begins with the castle's spectacular gardens followed by its interior filled with rich tapestries, antique furniture and interesting paintings. Next, travel to the city of Inverness to enjoy a delicious three-course lunch at a first-class hotel. Then, after the repast, it'll be time to begin the search for "Nessie." The scenic drive will next visit the jagged ruins of Urquhart Castle that stand next to the dark waters of Loch Ness. During its turbulent history the castle was plundered by the MacDonald clan of the Western Isles and then destroyed during the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745-6. All that remains are a lone keep and crumbling walls, but legends persist that a cave beneath the castle is the home of legendary monster "Nessie". The Loch itself is 24 miles long, a mile wide, and 740-feet deep. The path leading to Urquhart Castle affords superb views of the ruins and the Loch. Depart 6 PM. PHOTOS


  1. 9.Wednesday, May 28-At sea.


  1. 10.Thursday, May 29-Arrive Liverpool, England at 5 AM.  Board a motorcoach and drive to the designated point to meet  National Trust Guides. En route, pass the Royal Liver Building. Its 300-foot towers are topped by statues of the Liver Birds, mythical figures from which the city derives its name. At Culderstones Park, meet the guides and divide into two groups; each group will tour one Beatle's boyhood home and then switch locations with the other group. The guides relate personal and Beatles history during a tour of Mendips, John Lennon's boyhood home, and 20 Forthlin Road, where Paul McCartney grew up. Stand in the kitchen where John's Aunt Mimi once fixed his tea, and view the spot where a young Lennon and McCartney composed "I Saw Her Standing There." Following the tour, set out on a narrated drive about Liverpool, visiting sites special to the Beatles including Penny Lane and Strawberry Field. Walk down Mathew Street to the site of the Cavern Club, where the 'lads' performed over 300 times from February 1961 to August 1963. The original club was demolished in 1973; a second club was built using bricks recycled from the original. Several statues along Matthew Street commemorate Paul McCartney and John Lennon. After lunch, drive to the Albert Dock complex, a unique World Heritage Site. Inaugurated by Prince Albert in 1846, the Dock's historic buildings are today home to chic restaurants, cafes and attractions including The Beatles Story. This multimedia exhibit chronicles the 'Fab Four' from their days in Hamburg to their final break-up. The story unfolds in 18 audio-visual sets that allow visitors to walk the streets of Hamburg and experience the sights and sounds of the Cavern Club as it appeared in 1961. The exhibit ends with a special tribute to John Lennon. Depart 8 PM. PHOTOS


  1. 11.Friday, May 30-Arrive Belfast, Northern Ireland at 9 AM. Drive to City Hall, a building constructed to commemorate Belfast's award of city status in 1888. En route, pass the Grand Opera House. Upon arriving at City Hall, see the 300-foot long main façade of Portland stone topped with a copper dome, rising 173 feet above Donegall Square. Embark on a tour of the interior, finished in neo-classical style with Italian marble. A statue of Queen Victoria and the Titanic Memorial are at the building's front. Next, take an approximately 60-minute walking tour of the Belfast City Centre, the central business district, starting at a 32-foot statue of a salmon on the banks of the River Lagan. Along the way, witness Victorian and Edwardian buildings with elaborate sculptures over doors and windows, and stone-carved heads of gods and poets, scientists, kings, and queens peering down from the high ledges of banks and old linen warehouses.Stroll to Queen's Square, laid out for Queen Victoria's 1849 visit to the city. Today, the square is a popular and trendy development, home to the Italianate-style Custom House and McHugh's Bar, Belfast's oldest existing building, dating back from 1715. Witness the Albert Memorial Clock, constructed between 1865 and 1870 as a memorial to Queen Victoria's late Prince Consort, Prince Albert, standing 113 feet tall.Enjoy views across the river to the Harland & Wolff shipyard, where RMS Titanic was built, and continue through the old town center, passing St. George's Market, one of Belfast's oldest attractions. Next, stroll to Yorkshire House and the Scottish Provident Building. The massive Provident Building boasts a stone façade festooned with carved dolphins, lions' heads, and other decorations. Before the return drive to the pier, visit a traditional local pub to indulge in a complimentary pint of Guinness. Depart 7 PM. PHOTOS


  1. 12.Saturday, May 31-Arrive Greenock, Scotland at 7 AM. Visit Glasgow, Scotland. Board a motorcoach and travel along the banks of the Clyde to the heart of Glasgow and its magnificent Gothic cathedral. Begun in the year 1136, the cathedral is the only Scottish cathedral to have survived the Scottish Protestant Reformation intact. The cathedral features arcades, buttresses, tracery windows and three vaulted aisles at the presbytery and choir. The church is reputedly built over the site of St. Mungo's original Christian community; the saint's tomb is located in the cathedral's crypt. Glasgow cathedral also boasts a stunning collection of Postmodern English stained glass. After the visit reboard the motorcoach and travel towards George Square. Disembark at North Hanover Street at George Square for strolling the city and lunch. Reboard the motorcoach and travel to Kelvingrove Park. In Kelvingrove Park, disembark and tour the world-famous Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. This imposing red sandstone Victorian structure is one of Glasgow's landmark buildings and the most visited museum in the United Kingdom outside of London. It features ever-changing contemporary exhibits as well as dinosaurs, suits of armor, weaponry and treasures from around the world. Following the visit, board the motorcoach for the return drive to the ship. Depart 5 PM. PHOTOS


  1. 13.Sunday, June 1-Arrive Dublin, Ireland at 4:30 AM. Attend church at St. Teresa's Church at 9 AM. At 11 AM, join the Historical Walking Tours of Dublin at Trinity College's front gate for a two hour tour of the city.  The tour visits Trinity College, Old Parliament House, Temple Bar, City Hall, Dublin Castle, Wood Quay, Christ Church Cathedral and Four Courts. Return to the ship for a 3:30 PM departure. PHOTOS


  1. 14.Monday, June 2-Arrive Cobh, Ireland at 7 AM. Visit Cork, Ireland. A day-long tour, designed for the first time visitor to Ireland, begins with a scenic drive through the Irish country side. Soak up the beautiful countryside with its rolling hills, expansive farmland and colorful houses, before arriving at either Kinsale or Youghal. The delightful village of Kinsale boasts a broad and picturesque harbor along with a wealth of well-preserved, 18th-century houses. It was off the coast here that the liner 'RMS Lusitania' was torpedoed by a U-boat during World War I. You will be able to spend time independently exploring the town, or enjoying a coffee in one of the many river-side cafes, before meeting at the motorcoach for the next leg of the journey. Youghal, one of the very few medieval towns in Ireland, still has its walls. Today, this thriving fishing port is popular amongst Irish holiday makers. From Kinsale or Youghal travel through the Irish countryside before reaching Cork City. Enjoy a brief orientation tour of Cork City before continuing to the lunch venue. Enjoy a traditional Irish lunch at a local hotel accompanied by a group of musicians. The next stop is Blarney Castle, which sits high above Blarney village. Set in a sprawling park, this romantic ruin was once a stronghold of the McCarthy clan, and features 18-foot thick stone walls. If feeling adventurous, one may climb to the top of the castle to enjoy the amazing views, and to kiss the renowned Blarney Stone. Those who do so, are said to be gifted the power of eloquence. After touring the castle, stroll to the nearby Blarney Woolen Mill Shop to enjoy shopping in this converted mill for traditional Irish goods, including Waterford crystal, Irish linen, hand-loomed Donegal tweed, knitwear, bone china and Celtic brooches. The day ends with the scenic ride back to Cobh, enjoying the Irish countryside. Depart 5 PM. PHOTOS


  1. 15.Tuesday, June 3-Arrive St. Peter Port, England at 10 AM. Visit Guernsey, England. Board the motorcoach and drive out of St. Peter Port. Cross the island and head towards the dramatic western coast. Here, rocky cliffs alternate with stretches of beach and sand. Travel through the island's center and pass the greenhouses that produce Guernsey's major agricultural exports: carnations and cut flowers. View scenic villages, stone-built farmhouses and picturesque, narrow country lanes.Visit the famous Little Chapel of Guernsey. Set in quiet countryside along a tree-lined path, lays a miniature church. The Little Chapel was built by hand over many years by Brother Deodat of the Christian Brothers. The church was constructed to resemble the grotto at Lourdes. Made of simple materials, it is beautifully decorated with pebbles, shells and numerous pieces of colorful broken china. The intricate construction of the chapel reflects the skill and devotion displayed by the builder to his faith, and the creation of this historic holy site. Continue on to the Gold and Silversmiths Workshops. The workshops are situated in a converted barn which dates back to 1582. 5 PM. PHOTOS


  1. 16.Wednesday, June 4-Arrive Southampton, England (Jim) at 5 AM. Meet private guide pickup at 8 AM. Drive to New Forest, famous from the time of William the Conqueror.  The forest also contains 3,000 wild ponies that roam freely among the cattle and pigs. Arrive at Salisbury Cathedral by 9:15. Tour the cathedral and view both a copy of the Magna Carta nearby and the world's oldest working clock. Depart Salisbury by 10:15, traveling along the River Avon towards Stonehenge. Enroute view the former home of William Pitt. Pass by the house of singer/songwriter Sting and see the little church where Sting took Madonna and newly wedded husband, Guy Ritchie to Midnight Mass. Arrive Stonehenge at 11:15. Visit the new Visitor Centre and then tour Stonehenge. Depart Stonehenge by 1 PM and drive to Heathrow Terminal 5, arriving by 2:30 PM. Depart Paris Orly at 9:55 AM on British Airways Flight 333 (Coach Class, Airbus 319) (Vicky). Arrive London Heathrow at 10:05 AM (214 miles).  Depart London Heathrow at 5:25 PM on British Airways Flight 293 (Business Class, Boeing 777). Arrive Washington Dulles at 8:30 PM (3,688 miles). PHOTOS

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