Our adventure begins in Edinburgh, Scotland. We meet in the lobby of our hotel in the city center for an afternoon guided walking tour of this beautiful city. The stunning architecture in the center of the city classifies it as a UNESCO World Heritage site. This evening we enjoy a Scottish whisky-tasting lesson before a wonderful dinner.
After a full Scottish breakfast with a side of fresh smoked salmon, we head north along over the Firth of Forth into the Cairngorms National Park, for a look at a wee waterfall. We continue north toward Inverness, and stop at Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness. After exploring this historic 13th century majestic ruin, we take a boat ride (weather permitting) to search for the elusive monster. The first person to spot her wins a prize. We continue west, crossing the Skye Bridge onto the Isle of Skye, and check into our charming country inn. Our friendly hosts welcome us and serve us a wonderful dinner.
We spend the next day exploring the Isle of Skye, with its ruined castles and amazing scenery. We hear tales of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Jacobite Rebellion against the backdrop of the jagged Cuillin Mountains, discover the scenic Island Capital of Portree, and take a walk by its harbor. At the north of the island we take a walk along the mysterious Trotternish Ridge with its spectacular cliffs and rock formations, including the Old Man of Storr. We spend a second night on this fascinating island.
As we cross over the Skye Bridge back onto the mainland, we come to the most photographed (and most beautiful) castle in Scotland, Eilean Donan. We explore the castle and then head south through the beautiful Scottish Highlands. Our scenic drive takes us by Fort William and the stunningly beautiful Glencoe Gorge region, which we call “Harry Potter land”. We take a walk to catch a beautiful view of the “Harry Potter bridge” you may recognize from the movie. Further south we travel along the “bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond,” hearing stories of Rob Roy, the Robin Hood of the Highlands. Our destination is Glasgow, where we check into our hotel in the old city center. Glasgow is known for its nightlife (for those who dare!) If you’ve never been to a Scottish nightclub, you are in for a surprise!
This morning we visit Stirling Castle, hearing the true story about Scotland’s most famous son, Sir William Wallace, and Robert the Bruce, King of Scots. After a visit to the famous Glencoyne Scottish whisky distillery, we head back to Glasgow for free time to explore before dinner.
This morning, we say our goodbyes to Scotland (Haste ye back!) and board a ferry that takes us across the Irish Sea to Northern Ireland. We dock at Belfast, and head to the famous Crown Pub for lunch. After a tour of the city we head west across Northern Ireland into the Republic of Ireland to the beautiful Donegal coast. Our home for the next two nights is a lovely country inn in the tiny village of Ardara, County Donegal. Our hosts offer us a cocktail by the fire in the cozy pub before a gourmet dinner. The menu is sure to include local lamb or salmon. After dinner we can walk into the village for some traditional Irish music at a singing pub.
Today we visit Glenveagh National Park, Ireland’s largest and most beautiful park, which lies in the heart of the Derryveagh Mountains. We take a tour of its beautifully appointed castle and lovely gardens and explore the Donegal countryside. Tonight is another delicious home cooked feast.
Today we drive south, passing through the quaint towns of Donegal and Sligo, and along the gorgeous coastline of Connemara. We stop to explore the lively city of Galway, which was known in the 13th century as The City of Tribes because of the fourteen families who each tenuously held power here. The city teems with a small town vibe despite its size and has many wonderful craft shops and pubs. In the late afternoon we arrive at our elegant historic country house hotel, located on the grounds of an ancient castle, with fabulous views of the ocean and the Aran Islands. We enjoy a gourmet dinner in Lord O’Brien’s beautiful dining room, and take time out to watch the sun set over the ocean.
This morning we visit the majestic 700-foot Cliffs of Moher, whose beauty will leave you breathless. Next we head out to visit the intriguing landscape of the Burren, the largest limestone area in Europe, covering over 300 square kilometers. We stop to explore the ruins of the ancient abbey of Corcomroe, and see the prehistoric Poulnabrone dolmen, an eerie mystery left to us by an unknown Celtic people. Tonight is another wonderful gourmet dinner.
Today is an unforgettable immersion into the spectacular natural beauty of Ireland’s southwest coast. We drive around the Ring of Kerry, stopping for short walks to capture the coastal views with our cameras. We explore Killarney National Park with its mountains and lakes and stop in Killarney for a pint. Our next destination is a lovely bed and breakfast in the village of Kenmare, our home for the next two nights. After a warm welcome from our hosts, we set out into the village for dinner.
The brightly painted town of Kenmare is filled with charming shops and pubs. At the edge of the village is a fascinating, prehistoric early Bronze Age stone circle, one of the biggest in southwest Ireland. Fifteen stones ring a boulder dolmen, a burial monument rarely found outside this part of the country. After exploring Kenmare, we drive through the gorgeous, wild landscape of the Beara Peninsula. This mountainous peninsula has breathtaking vistas around every corner. Our scenic drive takes us to the tiny village of Glengarriff on beautiful Bantry Bay. After lunch in the village, we take a small boat out into the bay, where we glide by a family of seals basking on an island. We get off the boat at Ilnacullin to walk through the magnificent gardens. Tonight after a wonderful dinner in Kenmare we’ll stop at a singing pub for a nightcap.
This morning we head east, traveling into County Cork to visit Blarney Castle. Those who don’t want to climb the steep steps to the castle roof to kiss the famous stone can wander through the beautiful park grounds around the castle walls. Our next stop is the ancient abbey, the Rock of Cashel. This historic site, perched high above the plains surrounding the River Suir, includes many extraordinary examples of Celtic art and medieval architecture. Our guide explains the significance of this historic monument. Our journey ends in Ireland’s lovely capital, Dublin. After checking into our hotel in the city center, we have a cocktail in a neighborhood pub before dinner.
We have a full day of exploration of Dublin today, including a walking tour led by a local guide, a visit to the famous Trinity College Library, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. There are many more wonderful sights to choose from during a free afternoon. Tonight is our farewell dinner and tearful goodbyes to our new friends.
This morning we head to the Dublin Airport for our return flights home.
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