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Departured from Pittsburgh at 3:00pm EDT for Newark and depart the USA at 8:00pm EDT on overnight flight on a Continental Airlines DC-10. We had an hour delay while they found the luggage of a sick passenger. Seats were not all that comfortable. The in-flight movie was The Man in the Iron Mask.
Day 2: London
Neat Visual Tour
Arrived at Gatwick airport and met Lucy our ACIS tour guide!
Drove from Gatwick Airport about 25 miles into the city.
It was good to know that some things would be familiar (Burger King is a British Company.)
Learned that all the pretty pictures we had seen of the River Thames are all taken at high tide.
We arrived at the Forum Hotel in the West End near the Science and Natural History Museum. They said the best way to avoid jet lag was to put in a full day - so off we went!
Jet-laged tourest in London
London Tour Guide -
Days Out Guide
Our first objective was to learn how to use "The Underground".
Our first destination was Westminster Abby. When we arrived there was a crowd of people around the entrance. At 12 noon sharp, a black car arrived ...
....we had come to London and seen the Queen Elizabeth II!
She was dedicating some new statues above the front door.
Unfortunately, we would have to wait to see the inside of the Abby.
Before dinner we took a quick walk through the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum.
Revolving globe around escalator to the Earth Science Hall
After dinner we caught a bus to Piccadilly Circus - the Times Square of London
Day 3: London
Our morning sightseeing included the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace
The Royal Web Site - Museums - Museums and Galleries.
After the tour we ate lunch and toured the the National Art Gallery and then walked through the government buildings to Westminster-Abbey (2, Home Page, History, Directory).
Tomb of Newton Westminster
From there we took the Underground and even changed trains to visit Harrods Department Store where items usually cost twice as much as in other stores.
By the time we left, we had to ride The Underground on our own at rush hour.
In the evening a group of us attended a theater performance of Blood Brothers Reviews: 1, 2, 3.
Day 4: London
Some of us went on the optional full day excursion to Bath (information), (picture, ground plan ) and Salisbury. At Bath, we saw the Roman ruins, the lovely cathedral, Pulteney Bridge and the architecturally famous Royal Crescent.
Then on to Stonehenge for the mysterious stone circles where the wind and rain dampened the experience. The site did not seem more compact than I expected.
We continued on to Salisbury to the famous Salisbury Cathedral (1, picture) and the home of the Magna Carta. The soaring 404' spire was completed c.1315 and is the highest in EnglandWe then had our first dinner in a traditional English pub. For others, it was things to see in London using "The Underground".
Day 5: Stratford Area
We drove to the university town of Oxford for a tour of the "colleges" ending up at Christ Church College. Continued on to Stratford where we stayed at the Stratford Moat House Hotel. After dinner there was a Lucy Walk through the town to visit Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare's tomb is in the wall. Facts you never knew. It was interesting to see the canal boats in the river.
Day 6: Warwick
The next morning we toured Shakespeare's birthplace, another quick stop at Holy Trinity Church to see the interior before visiting Anne Hathaway's thatched cottage.
Drove on to Warwick Castle (Pictures,2,3, Virtual Tour) which is in the process of being restored and then on north to York where we stayed at the York Viking Moat House. After dinner took a boat cruise on the Ouse river which flows through the town.
Day 7: York
In the morning Lucy gave us a Tour of York, its Streets and Buildings and its history beginning with Cliffords Tower, the Merchant Adventurers' Hall then on up the hill to the Shambles and lovely tour guide at York Minster with it's historic windows. We had lunch at St. Williams College while others had tea at Betty's. In the afternoon there was free time to walk on the city walls, visit Jorvik Viking Centre, tour the Castle Museum, shop or just wander the streets. Some of the group visited the The National Railway Museum. After dinner we had an evening ghost tour for the brave followed by a glass of stout at the Kings Arms Pub.
A Virtual Tour Through York
Day 8: Hadrian's Wall (2),
Today was a long drive north to Scotland where we stopped to Hadrian's Wall, had a beak at a local pub that sponsored an annual "leek" growing contest where the winner took home cash prizes. Lucy then persuaded out bus driver to drive towards Carlisle to a more picturesque spot to view the wall after a steep climb through a sheep pasture. We then continued north where we stopped for pictures at the stones that mark the border. We stopped at Jedburgh for lunch and then through Sir Walter Scott country to Edinburgh. Dinner was at the Roxburghe Hotel where we stayed on Charlotte Square in the New City.
That evening we took another Lucy Walk to the top of Calton Hill where the sun seemed to take forever to set over the city.
Day 9: Scotland Map - Edinburgh (2)
In the morning we took a guided tour of the city to learn some Scottish history at Holyrood Palace and up the Royal Mile (2) through the Old Town and ending at Edinburgh Castle, (2, 3) with its crown jewels They were setting up the court yard for the Edinburgh Tattoo. The afternoon was free to shop for woolens and tour the Old Town. We stopped at the Camera Obscura, St. Giles' Cathedral, John Knox's House.
I found this Baird Mechanical TV Camera in the window of the John Logie Baird's Bar where we stopped to pay homage to this great Scottish inventor. He lived in the same apartment building where Alexander Graham Bell was born across the street from our hotel.
We spent the rest of our time exploring the "closes" off the Royal
Mile. Unfortunately the Scott Monument (2) was
closed for repairs. In the evening, we attended the Royal Lyceum Theatre for a
performance of Whisky
CELTIC LINKS - A Brief History of Edinburgh
Day 10: Edinburgh(3)
We started out with a stop at the famous Twin Sisters Bridges over the Firth of Forth. The trip then relived the age of the Scottish clans at Stirling Castle which is being restored. The castle is the site of Mary Queen of Scots', ( 2) childhood. Nearby was The Battle of Stirling Bridge where William Wallace (2) defeated the English.
Diane and Judy overlooking Edinburgh
We drove through the Trossachs (2)regon with its spell-binding "landscape of dreams" for lunch at Callander and a boat cruise on Loch Lomand. Places to visit. After dinner back at the hotel we found the home of James Clerk Maxwell a few blocks from the hotel.
Visiting the James Clerk Maxwell House
Day 11: Lake District , (2)
In the morning we drove south back to the Lake District of England and the village of Grasmere.
We visited Wordsworth's Dove Cottage. Unfortunately Beatrix Potter's Hill Top House was closed by the time we arrived. We stayed overnight at the Prince of Wales Hotel which is several very rustic stone buildings on the outside but very modern on the inside. There is a lovely garden next to the lake. After dinner a group of us took our longest Lucy Walk for 3-1/2 miles around picturesque Lake Grasmere (Pictures 2 , 3, 4 ). You can also see the garden of Romantic poets, (2) Caerlaverock Castle, Traquair Castle.
Day 12 Lake
We again drove south through the Lake District and made a short stop at Lake Windermere (2, 3) , which is much more commercialized, before driving on to Wales for lunch in the town of Conwy. On our way to Holyhead we drove past the villages, (Beddgelert -Cheshire - Blaenau Ffestiniog - Ruthin Castle) in North Wales, (2). We stopped to have our passports stamped at Llanfair..., the town with the longest name, before crossing the Irish Sea on an Irish Ferry to Dun Laoghair and into to Dublin proper for dinner and overnight at Cassidy's Hotel on Upper O'Connell Street where Trinity College and the shopping district were 10 minutes away.
Day 13: Dublin - Map -Dublin, Maps - A Travelog - Yahoo
Our morning guide showed us the sites including the history of the "doors of Dublin", the statue-filled O'Connell Street - O'Connel Bridge Live View!, Trinity College where we saw the Book of Kells, Ha'penny Bridge, St. Patrick's (2,3, Organ) and Phoenix Park and Guiness Brewery.
Molly Malone - "the Tart with the Cart" as her stature is refered to.
The afternoon free to eat at Burger King, shop and wander around Old Dublin and Medieval Dublin.
What to do in town:
Day 14: Killarney
Our morning drive took us to visit the Rock of Cashel, (2) and its stunning medieval ruins. Drove through Cork (2, 3) on the way to acquire Ireland's famous eloquence by "kissing the Blarney Stone". We drove to the rural town of Killarney and its majestic surroundings where we stayed for two nights at the Three Lakes Hotel. We spent the evening on a Lucy Walk up and down the town's two main streets.
Lee Schaeffer kissing the Blarney Stone
Day 15: Killarney
Irish scenery is at its most stunning today including the Ring of Kerry, ( 4) with its rugged coastline and heather and beautiful Lough Leane though the rain and fog prevented us from seeing many of the views. THE LAKES - GREAT KERRY PANORAMAS LEGENDS OF KILLARNEY. We returned to Killarney for dinner, more wandering, the carnival and overnight.
Day 16: Trip Home
We departed at 6am for Shannon Airport where they simplify things by having you clear U.S. immigration and customs there before you leave. However, our flight to the USA was delayed an hour because they were 8 dinners short in th galley. The plane was a Boeing 757 which has only two engines to fly the atlantic! They gave us a bottle of wine for being gracious enough to change seats so a family with children could all be seated together - then we had to get it home! The in-flight movie was TITANIC which ironically ended when the plane was directly over the site where it sank. Arrived home at 11:05pm EDT after monumental problems and canceled flights at Newark Airport.