I think I am just about to get back to normal. Jet lag is hanging on. I do okay in the mornings but about 2 pm I am dragging! HAHA! It was all worth it though. We had the best trip. We just got together last night and talked about it again.
I will try to do a synopsis of 3 weeks of adventures. We all agree the Edinburgh Military Tattoo was one of the biggest highlights of our trip. It was so awesome! It is hard to convey how wonderful it was to witness that show. It was raining the whole time but we didn't even care. Towards the end, a single voice sang Amazing Grace then invited us to join in. Sitting in the midst of almost 9000 people from every country in the world singing Amazing Grace brought us to tears! It was an incredible experience!
All our accommodations were great. The Park Grand Kensington really tried to accommodate us even though we got there early. We really enjoyed our stay there. The first time we stayed at the Jury's Inn in Edinburgh the room was a little dirty, but the next time we stayed after the Scotland Tour, it was fine. May have just been a busy time with the festival and all. Really no complaints with any of the Jury's Inns from then on, Belfast or Galway. Our favorites were Buswell in Dublin and Bushmills. Both were over the top! Our least favorite place was the Abbey Hotel in Donegal. The location was great but the beds were awful. And with the bus stop being right in front of the hotel, there were always a lot of people hanging around the doors and lots of smokers to go through.
Now let me back up to London. The tour guide, Malcolm, who took us to Stonehenge, Windsor Castle and Bath was awesome. He was a joy to be with and he stayed with us overtime. He treated us to some rum balls and pastries. We enjoyed him very much. The tour was interesting and fun. Windsor castle was awesome. Stonehenge was incredible. Bath was quaint.
The Scotland Highland Tour to Isle of Skye was awesome. Our guide was Graham and we had a lot of fun with him. The other people on the bus were very nice and we even exchanged information with a couple from New York State for a future trip there. As you know, I was a little apprehensive about this bus tour but it ended up being a great time. And Scotland, what a wonderful beautiful place. All the activities we did, the train, the Loch Ness cruise, all the places we stopped, the history and commentary of Graham, the accommodations were all great. My idea of bus tours has changed! HAHA!
Flights and trains were all pretty good and uneventful. We actually really loved the train rides. If we could take a train everywhere we would be happy! Unfortunately you can't cross the ocean on a train!! The Pope did delay our Dublin flight a bit but other than that his visit didn't really slow us down. In fact with everyone where he was, it left the other areas of Dublin less crowded. So really no problems. Except I didn't make it to Jameson which was a bummer! But Guinness Storehouse was awesome!!! The Brazen Head dinner and show was fun too.
Belfast was good. The Black Taxi tour was interesting. The tour was very political, which we should have known because that area was in the middle of the Troubles. But it was good and it gave us insight to the town and the people. Titanic was fantastic.
The renting of the car was a little difficult. They tried to put us in a little car but it all worked out in the end. The car was great. It was a little costly but worth it.
Now driving proved to be a little stressful at first but then became the product of much laughter and many stories we will remember forever. It was the right thing to do to see Ireland. I am not sure we would have had the experiences we did if we had not driven.
The Antrim Coast was incredible. We stopped at Mary McBride's as you suggested and it was great! That whole experience of driving up the coast was just the best. The Giant's Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede bridge were breathtaking. Only Beth and I did the bridge as the guys didn't want to walk the 1 km to get to it. They missed out in my opinion because it was incredible!
Bushmills was a quaint town. We drove to Portrush which was a highlight for Robert as he is a golfer. We got to go to the golf club where the British Open is being held next year. We drove to Portstewart as well. We enjoyed The Scotch House pub which was lots of fun.
The walled city of Derry was interesting. Unfortunately, we did not find the walking tour but we walked the walls ourselves and read the plaques and I think we got the gist of things. We drove on to Donegal which was a delightful little town. We ate at some awesome places. The Castle Bar and Restaurant and The House Gastro Pub were excellent. The shopping was great. We found Distinctly Donegal Jewelry shop which just opened about 2 weeks before and really enjoyed visiting with the owner there. We did see the Donegal Castle which was great.
We drove to Rossnowlagh Beach which was beautiful. We drove to Slieve League which was incredible. We had a picnic lunch overlooking the cliffs with wine and cheese. It was awesome.
We drove to Sligo which was okay. The Yeats monument there was really great. We only saw a small bit of the town so I really can't comment on it much.
We drove directly to Galway. So we missed the Connemara Region. But Galway was a real treat. We really enjoyed this little city. We tried to hit all the places you recommended as well. The shopping was great. The Salthill Promenade and River walks were great. The Kirwan's Seafood restaurant was excellent. We took a little tram around the city and learned a little history.
The cliffs of Moher and Aran Island tour was great. Tom was our driver and he was funny and interesting. The cliffs were majestic. Seeing the other side of the cliffs from the boat ride was incredible. We went to the island of Inisheer and Tom took us to a little pub where we had fish and chips and beer. We took a horse drawn carriage ride around the island with driver Trevor and his horse Mazy. It was delightful.
Bunratty was great. We enjoyed the Medieval Dinner. It was fun. The B&B we stayed was very nice.
I cannot express how wonderful this trip was for us. We had some incredible, funny, endearing moments. And the people! Oh my goodness! The people are just fantastic. Everyone in all countries were so nice and so willing to talk with us and help us and were so very friendly. A local lady at a Bushmills pub even bought us a round of drinks!! Drivers just waved and smiled knowing we were inexperienced drivers!!!
Well, I am sure I left something out but I am also sure you are tired of reading this!!! If there is something specific you would like to know, just email me. I am going to miss talking with you!! Your expertise and help was invaluable to me in planning this trip and I so appreciate you. Thank you for helping us have the trip of a lifetime!!!
I will post on the Facebook page as well. I included a couple of pictures.
We did go to The Witchery and it was excellent! It had a very cool decor and the food was amazing.
Donna M. (August 2018)