A Travellerspoint blog

We are home - recap of the British Isle vacation

semi-overcast 17 °C

We have been home now for a few days and are slowly getting over our jet lag.

We have battled the autumn leaves in our yard and the branches which were blown down during a wind storm the day before we got home.

We found it quite easy driving on the left-hand side of the road. We have done that before in New Zealand and Australia so it was not a big adjustment. We were happy to find that the turn signals and windshield wiper levers were on the same side of the steering wheel as our North American cars. This saved us from turning on the windshield wipers when we really wanted to turn on a turn signal. Both cars we rented were fueled by diesel. We had no problems with that type of fuel. One interesting feature of both cars was that when you stepped on the brake and came to a stop the motor would shut down. When you released the brake to continue moving, the motor would restart. This made for awkward and slow start-ups when the light turned green but we did get used to that. This is a fuel saving innovation and when we checked with our grandson-in-law who is a mechanic, we were advised that there are cars like that in North America so watch for that feature when you are next shopping for cars.

We found that 99% of the time, the B & B’s and self-catering places we stayed at were of a much better quality than those we have stayed at before. We think the British Isles hosts have got the hosting part down pat. We had clean and comfortable beds and bathrooms. We even stayed at two places where you got face cloths in the bathrooms and not just a duvet and bottom sheet but a top sheet as well on the beds. Maybe the hosts at those two places had learned about the North American customs.

Breakfasts, when provided, were always excellent. The typical “full English/Irish/Welsh/Scottish breakfast” included eggs, bacon, sausage, fried tomato, black pudding and beans. Beside the hot breakfast you are offered cereal, toast, fruit and yogurt along with juice and/or coffee and/or tea. We always had a good start to the day.

The days we did self-catering we found that the grocery stores had everything you would need and the labels were in English. Last year when we traveled in Europe we would sometimes have to ask other shoppers if they spoke English and if they would be kind enough to show us which carton was milk and so on. Our only complaint is that often apples, for example, would only be sold by the bag and so on which made it difficult to just buy what you needed.

Fish and Chips are always great. We did not ever have a bad meal of Fish and Chips. Often Fish and Chips are served with pureed peas, pea sauce or just mashed peas.

We found public transportation to be good any time we had the opportunity to use it. We also found that when we did use public transportation that if there were no seats available that younger people always got up and offered us a seat. That was amazing and very much appreciated.

We often appreciate seeing nature over castles and churches. We did try to have a mix of experiences but our favourites were always the great outdoors.

Next spring, mid-April we will visit the European countries we did not see last year so watch for more blogs and pictures then.

Posted by A-RPoulton 16:10 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Day 42 - Riding out Storm Ophelia

Riding out Storm Ophelia

all seasons in one day 13 °C

All was quiet when we woke up this morning. The news media advised that schools were closed today because it was expected that Storm Ophelia would roll through Ireland this afternoon and it would be dangerous for the children to be leaving school in the afternoon.

We decided to use our morning to see the Titanic Museum. We arrived just as it opened this morning and left just before lunch. This is a very amazing museum, well worth every penny we spent to see it.

The building is spectacular. The displays are so well done and of very high quality.

Titanic Museum Building

Titanic Museum Building

Entrance to Titanic Museum

Entrance to Titanic Museum

R went out just before we left the museum to take these photos. The weather was starting to get windy at that point.

We returned to the townhouse we are renting for two days. The rain and wind picked up as we ate lunch. A went out to the back yard to rescue the shade umbrella before the wind got really bad.

We understand that Storm Ophelia caused many problems and some deaths in other parts of Ireland but as far as we know, the highest the wind that we got this afternoon was 40 miles per hour. It did blow the picnic table and chairs and the garbage cans all over the back yard. We will try to right things tomorrow morning before we drive off to Dublin to catch a plane to London. We are hoping that our travels will not be too affected by this storm. We will send out a message tomorrow if we can. Otherwise, we will not message again until we are back home.

Posted by A-RPoulton 11:42 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Day 41

A windy day at the Giant's Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede

semi-overcast 13 °C

We could hear the wind blowing all night. We had a lot of strong wind all day today. We have been hearing that Hurricane Ophelia will arrive tomorrow. We are now on the east side of Ireland so feel that we will not get the worst of the tail end of Ophelia. They say she will be a tropical storm by the time she gets here.

We set off from our mountainside B & B.

Our first stop was at the Giant's Causeway. We were warned by the first person we talked to, to be very careful as the wind was very strong. It was advised not to take the higher paths. We parked our car and walked to the visitor centre to purchase our entrance tickets. The visitor centre had a gift shop, snack shop, and displays about the geography of this site. We were given audio guides to listen to as we walked down the 20-minute path to the causeway. A's did not work so he was disappointed. R tried to get him to listen to hers but it did not work well either. We found walking down the hill from the visitor centre to the causeway a bit of a struggle with the wind but we got down there. The audio guide told the fables and the facts about rock formations we would see.

Walk from visitor centre to causeway

Walk from visitor centre to causeway

The first story was about these two formations of rocks that are haystacks that the giant made.

These rock formations are called the Haystacks

These rock formations are called the Haystacks

The next formation that was brought to our attention is called "the chimneys". The fable goes that the giant is home if there is smoke coming from the chimneys.

Chimney formations

Chimney formations

The next formations that were commented on are these roundish rocks along the shore. They are called onion skins because of their shape.

Formations called onion skins

Formations called onion skins

The causeway is so large that a camera can not capture it all so we took a picture of one stand-alone group of rocks.

Part of the causeway

Part of the causeway

You have to walk over a bunch of rubble, fallen rocks, to get to the smoother and easier area to walk on. The wind did not help when you are walking over slippery uneven rocks.

Steps to climb

Steps to climb

This picture shows how the tops of the pillars look like cobbles or tiles.

Tops of pillars

Tops of pillars

This picture shows a side view of a stack of rock so you can see how the columns are formed.

Side view of pillars

Side view of pillars

We decided to take the bus back up the hill rather than walk against the wind.

Our ride back up the hill

Our ride back up the hill

We had lunch at the visitor centre and then drove on to Carrick-a-Rede.

Carrick-a-Rede is another rock formation. Fishermen built this rope bridge 350 years ago between the mainland and a nearby island. This rope bridge is reconstructed.

When we reached Carrick-a-Rede we were told that they had closed access to the bridge because of the high winds.

Arriving at Carrick-a-Rede

Arriving at Carrick-a-Rede

We took a long-distance photo of the bridge. We hope you can see the bridge in this photo.

Rope bridge

Rope bridge

We walked around a little bit and then drove on to Carrickfergus Castle. We did not go into the castle but did take a photo of a character placed along the top of the walls.

Character at Carrickfergus Castle

Character at Carrickfergus Castle

We are now in Belfast. We plan to tour Belfast tomorrow, if the storm is not too bad.

Posted by A-RPoulton 14:02 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Day 40

The Wild Atlantic Way

semi-overcast 13 °C

This morning we were greeted by another gray and rainy day.

We set off and the first sight we saw was the mountain, Maol Reidh, the bald king.

Maol Reidh mountain

Maol Reidh mountain

We found ourselves on the Wild Atlantic Way which we had traveled on now and then during our trip through Ireland. This Wild Atlantic Way follows the coastline of Ireland on the west side. Sometimes the roads are pretty good and sometimes they are just narrow paved roads.

Our first stop on the Wild Atlantic Way was at the Killary Fjord. This is a very scenic fjord and the travel information says that it is not to be missed. It was quite foggy when we were there. We hope the photo shares that with you.

Killary Harbour

Killary Harbour

We noticed a boat working its way along what appeared to be lanes marked out on the water. We looked this up on the internet and decided that this boat was harvesting blue mussels which are farmed in this fjord. The internet says that these mussels have a very sweet taste because of the mixing of the salt and fresh waters in the harbour.

Harvesting mussels

Harvesting mussels

Our next stop along the way was at Aasleagh Falls. This was another beautiful sight. The information board at the parking area told us that this is a popular fishing site as spawning salmon pass by the falls. We felt that this is not spawning season as there were only tourists like ourselves taking pictures of the falls and no fisher folk around.

Aasleagh Falls

Aasleagh Falls

We drove on a bit further and found a monument to Irish folk who died during the famine. The monument looks a bit like a potato on a stick but the information board beside it was very moving. R had family that left Ireland because of this famine so it does strike home.

Potato Famine Monument

Potato Famine Monument

Picture with Famine Monument

Picture with Famine Monument

A story

A story

This famine monument is in the Doolough Valley. Our photo shows how the fog was settling in as we were there.

Doolough Valley

Doolough Valley

Ewe should not be on the road. These were only a few of the sheep that graze by the side of the road. They are very calm about cars driving by them. We have found sheep on the road all over the British Isles.

Ladies on the road

Ladies on the road

Our "Wild Atlantic Way" took us off onto a small rural road. These pictures of the scenes we saw show you how beautiful the coast on the northwestern side of Ireland can be.

Remote sea view 1

Remote sea view 1

Remote sea view 2

Remote sea view 2

After we got ourselves back on a main road we found some lunch to buy and eat in the car as the rain had reappeared. We then drove along many busy highways for another 3 hours to our room for the night.

We are staying in a remote community called Burnfoot. Our B & B is on the side of a mountain. It is a beautiful home and our room is very spacious and comfortable. We share our view with you.

The view from our room

The view from our room

We drove about 6 kilometres to the dinner spot recommended by our hosts. The pub had an American Western décor and they played country and western tunes. The special tonight was steak. The food was plentiful and tasty.

Tomorrow we drive into the country of Northern Ireland.

Posted by A-RPoulton 13:04 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Day 39

Corcomroe Abbey

all seasons in one day 13 °C

We woke several times during the night to the sound of howling wind and lashing rain.

The storm had settled down a bit by the time we had had breakfast and set out on our travels.

Our first stop was at the ruins of Corcomroe Abbey. This abbey was established by Cistercian monks in 1142. The church community was unable financially to continue to support the building and church community in the 15th century. The present ruins were reinforced in the 15th century.

Ruins of Corcomroe Abbey

Ruins of Corcomroe Abbey



We traveled on to Birr Castle, River Shannon at Offaly, Clonony Castle, City of Galway, Clifden city, and Connemara National Park. The rains continued off and on and picture taking was not really great. So today, we have only one photo.

We are staying at Maol Reidh Hotel in Tullycross, Renvyle, Ireland near the Connemara National Park. We asked the desk clerk what Maol Reidh means. She advised that it is Gaelic for "bald king". The nearby mountain is also known as Maol Reidh and is the highest peak in western Ireland at 814 metres or 2671 feet. The story goes that there was an eagle that was known as the "bald king" that lived on the mountain.

Our travels continue tomorrow, hopefully with better weather.

Posted by A-RPoulton 13:11 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

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