United Kingdom – 2023
Kilarney to Chester, Wales
June 12 to June 17, 2023
Click on the photo for each day to view that day's photos
Day 28 - June 12, 2023
Our trek continues as we leave Limerick and head of Adare where we see some old buildings with the famous thatched roofs. Adare is quite pretty with a lovely golf course, the ever present church and nice parks.
After a stop at an overlook with views of the Killarney valley, we arrive in Killarney where we have an hour to walk around before taking a horse drawn carriage ride through a wee bit of the Killarney National Park. We are here for two nights and tomorrow we will tour more of the park.
Then dinner and a show with Irish music and dancers titled Gaelic Roots. This is considered a “slow and easy” day.
Day 29- June 13, 2023
Today actually was an easy day. Perhaps the easiest of the trip so far. The day started(?) with a 5.5-hour tour on the bus around the Ring of Kerry (see map – we stopped some). Simply gorgeous! I compared it to the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton. Our first stop was simply at a little Inn for a quick coffee break and the first shot here shows all the coaches with the same idea. Busy place.
The beauty is everywhere, and we had wonderful weather…again. Very unusual. Mark (Tour Director) says he has seen it where visibility was 20 feet. The circular “Ringfort” dates back over 3,000 years. The people would live in the inner ring with the livestock in the outer ring.
Bud E. knows how to make friends. Yesterday it was a Clydesdale cross horse named Bella, today it was at Sneem (where we stopped for lunch) where he a charmed a young lady (who is the best milkshake maker in town) into letting us take her photo. He also likes to play hide-and-seek in the flowers. I managed to get a few shots of a small, black and white bird that turns out to be a “Pied Wagtail”. Then, back to Killarney but not before getting some great shots of the three lakes of the Killarney National Park.
We were here about 2:30 so after a brief rest, I walked the park a bit, had fish and chips on the patio of the hotel restaurant and then some street photography before calling it a day.
Day 30 - June 14, 2023
We left Killarney behind today and our first stop was the Blarney Castle (1446 AD https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blarney_Castle) and The Blarney Stone. According to legend, kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of the gab (great eloquence or skill at flattery). Quite an interesting place. The grounds are a huge garden with lots of trails, flowers, trees, streams, waterfalls etc. Beautiful. Also, there are too many photos of Bud E. Bear today but he just seemed to find his way into them.
The castle is a steep climb around and around and around an old stone, circular staircase. Once you reach the top, as you will see, you literally must bend over backwards to “kiss the stone”. I decided against it (to hard to do for an old guy and…yuk) but Bud E. was up for the challenge. I doubt it will make him more talkative however.
Next we went to the port of Cobh (pronounced “Cove”) and toured a lovely cathedral and a museum showing the history of emigration and the port. This was the last land stop of the Titanic and the Lusitania was torpedoed just offshore. The emigration from Ireland to all parts of the world came through here going back centuries.
The last few shots are from our final stop today, Cork.
Day 31 - June 15, 2023
Ho hum. Another day, another castle. What’s a day in Ireland without a castle or a cathedral…or both. Just kidding.
Today we left Cork and headed to Kilkenny. First a walk around town, the markets, the narrow streets, a stroll along the river, a European Robin, and shots outside the castle. Then a tour inside. The Kilkenny Castle is indeed beautiful. Originally built in 1195 it was owned by the same family for over 700 years! Many renovations over its life but lots of original parts remain today. The tapestries are over 400 years old. The parquet flooring is from the early 1800s, and some of the furniture is original as well.
After Kilkenny it was on to Dublin where we were treated to an “Irish Cabaret”, dinner and show. Great show. The Irish dancers are all world champions, the lady singer was a star in Celtic Woman which toured the world, and the male singer was the lead in Les Misérables in London west end theatre. The other two musicians are also world class.
Finally a couple long exposure shots of the street below my hotel room.
Day 32 - June 16, 2023
Today is our last day in Ireland. Tomorrow (first thing, on the bus at 6:45) we board a ferry and head to Wales. We started the day today with a tour of St. James Gate, the home of Guinness. Unlike the tour of the scotch distillery, while this is the actual brewery, you don’t get to see the real thing. It is very interesting, but it is all about how Guinness is brewed and the history. Each floor tells a part of the story as you go up and by the time you get to the top, about 7 floors up, you need a drink. So, you get a free pint of Guinness. I passed but Bud E. wanted his so…. There is a correct way to pour a Guinness. They are quite meticulous and once it is about ¾ full they let it sit for 3 minutes before topping it off. There are outstanding 360º views of Dublin from here.
Next a bus tour around the city including a stop where there is a huge cross and where Pope John Paul II visited Dublin in 1978. 1.2 million people attended.
After a brief stop for lunch, we are off again on the bus to Glendalough, an old Monastery dating back to the 900’s. The countryside is very pretty. A walk around the Monastery, then out to a nearby lake. On the way we saw a Great Blue Heron. They are very tame here. I was less than 20 feet away. At home he would have been long gone.
Back to Dublin and a brief walk around town. Of course, while I am looking the other way, Bud E. makes a new friend, a Leprechaun. Then dinner with some bus mates before heading back to the hotel (very nice) to edit photos and turn in early for the early. 5:00 am wake up.
Day 33 - June 17, 2023
Well, that was quite the day. I guess I could say that about most days. Today we sailed from Ireland to Wales. We then drove by a place with the second longest name in the world. Go ahead, try and pronounce it. 58 letters. Our first stop in Wales was the town of Conwy (yes, no “a”) and a gorgeous castle completed in 1287 AD. There is also a wall around the town that we walked on so some great views from up there. The gates in the wall are so narrow, the buses only have a couple inches on either side to get in and out. I got a few shots of a couple baby seagulls. I know they are not well-loved birds, but I really felt sorry for one little guy. He had slid down the slate roof and tried valiantly to climb back up but couldn’t make it. He was crying out for Mom who was ignoring him. There was nothing I could do for him.
Usually, our bus can’t park in these places due to limited parking, so they drop us off and come back later to get us. Some joker, who shall remain nameless, got the group to pretend to be hitch hikers when the bus arrived back to pick us up.
On to Chester (just over the border into England) and a short tour about town. There are the ruins of an old Roman amphitheatre dating back to the first century. And much of the beautiful main street is hundreds of years old. The buildings with windows that extend outward from the building are from before 1670. Apparently the clock is the second most photographed clock in the UK, behind Big Ben in London.
Then to our hotel for tonight and dinner. After dinner Bud E. wanted to walk around the hotel (built in 1862) and of course he gets in trouble. First sitting in a couple very large chairs, amongst some mimosas, on a statue of a horse with a knight, between some lions, in front of a Roman soldier, then in front of a display of old suitcases (appropriate!) and finally crashing a costume party. Really! The nerve of some bears!