Prestwick to Belfast

Man…you should have seen how small our toilet/bathroom was last night!!! The bedroom area was big and had plenty of room, but the distance between the toilet and shower was just wide enough to sit down on the toilet. Wiping the bottom was an acrobatic manouver!!! But we all managed! The shower was only just wide enough to fit in and wash, and you had to open the bathroom door to get dressed. That detail wasn’t mentioned in the internet booking….and probably should be! A larger person would never fit!

We caught the Ferry at Troon at 10am to get to Larne, Northern Ireland. The trip was for two hours and actually got a bit rough half way. I didn’t really like the rough bit! We arrived to a beautiful sunny day and travelled an hour and a half to a little village before the Giants Causeway. There we had a lovely lunch before moving on. We had heard so much about the giants causeway but never imagined it was so big and picturesque. I will add heaps of photos as it is well worth a look at and definitely a visit!

We moved on to a place that has a swing bridge from the mainland to an island, built by the locals to go Salmon fishing. It has become a favourite tourist spot as well. It was 5pm when we got there and we had every intention of walking across this narrow swing bridge. Sadly it was closing at 7pm…is a mile walk in…and when we went to purchase our tickets were told that there was a 15 minute backlog in both directions! We were never going to have time to do it plus get to Belfast for tea and booking into the Apartment! So instead we decided to drive the scenic route to Belfast….and it was worth it!

We arrived at Belfast at 7pm and it was still warm and sunny (although the wind was a bit cold). Our apartment is lovely and we have walked 5 or so blocks to a lovely restaurant for tea and are now back ‘home’. On our way home we met a lovely local man who gave us plenty of ideas to look at in the next few days. So it’s off to bed now and hopefully a lovely nights sleep….Dublin here we come!

Onich to Prestwick (Still in Scotland)

Had a great nights sleep! It seeemed to be light outside all night as well. But, it was raining again this morning. Our first visit was to Falkirk to visit the Falkirk Wheel. Now if you have never heard of this before you would never guess what it is! It is huge, very interesting and well worth the visit. It is a big wheel which brings barges from one level to another….kind of hard to explain, but the pictures will tell the story! It does the same thing aS locks, but gets the barges down or up in one movement.

Our next stop was to Stirling Castle. We were told that you could spend 3 hours at the Castle and that we did! What a neat experience! Tons of photos taken there as well…and the weather cleared up just for us 🙂

Next we drove down to Glasgow to have a look at the town. We parked outside the Science museum and wandered about. The Science museum was designed for children and was full of families because it is the School Holidays here. We had a quick look and then moved on. We watched a bridge open up for a boat to go through and then close up again. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to discover more of Glasgow, but we had been told that we didn’t need to spend long there. What we saw was okay though 🙂

Because we are taking the Ferry to Ireland in the morning we moved on to Prestwick. Our Bed and Breakfast place is great and within walking distance to the local shops. The rain has started again (well it did in Glasgow actually) but only a drizzle so we ambled on down to the local for a lovely dinner. Back now to upload the photos, shower and bed 🙂 Off to Ireland in the morning….next part of the holiday begins!!!

Onich to Stirling

After a bit of a restless nights sleep and taking Ibuprofen for sore backs (thanks to hard matresses) we moved on to the beautiful little seaside town of Oban. This place is renowned for the best seafood in all of Scotland. Naturally we had to sample some and after having a walk through this lovely seaside village we rewarded ourselves with an early lunch! Judy had Scallops, Robin had Salmon and Len and I had the Haddock. I think we made the best choice! Our fish was one inch thick and about eight inches long, and it just fell apart and was very moist….cooked to perfection!

From the town centre you could look up and see an old structure that looked a bit like the Colosseum in Rome. I had just said that it what it looked like when we read through a tourist info sheet and it described it exactly the same!!! It was built as a memorial to this mans family. During a time when there was no work for the stonemasons, he decided to give the men some work and commissioned then to build the structure. It took them 7 years to build it from 1895-2002. Sadly the man died before it was finished. We drove up to it and took some photos. There was a great view of the little town from the monument.

Our next stop was a power station called ‘Cruachan – The Hollow Mountain’ This power station is built throught the mountain and water comes from a lake at the top of the mountain. Robin asked heaps of questions as it is one of the only reversable ones. It also pumps water back up to the lake once a week. But it flows down every day! It was very interesting and we went for a ride into where the start motors are about 1 kilometre!

While flying along the road to Doune Castle, I saw a sign that mentioned falls. Looking them up on my iphone app it said that they mustn’t be missed. But we had passed them and had kept driving. It took awhile but I did manage to convnce Robin to turn around and go back to them. We were all so thankful we did. Not only were they great to see but we also had a lovely afternoon tea at the little pub/cafe.

Next was Doune Castle..a ruins – but also good to see. We met a NZer there from Invercargill. She was great to chat with, had been living in England for a year and loves it! The Castle was very big and high but had closed for the day so we just walked around it.

Now we are at Stirling. Have walked across the road for a lovely dinner! Have all showered and the other three are in bed while  I finish off loading these photos. This homestay is lovely. We are upstairs, it is quite new and clean and tidy.  Robins bed is under a ceiling window. He decided to sleep upside down so he can look at the stars. I think he was in bed about 5 minutes and was asleep! We gave up the double bed tonight for Judy and Len….so tonight I will be cooler..the nights are so hot over here! The ear plugs will go in and all will be quiet…even though the snoring will go on!

Inverness to Onich

What a lovely nights sleep and stay at Inverness. We went down to the ‘Local’ and had the most amazing tea! The best of the whole trip so far….I think! Scotch Mist again this morning but it cleared quite quickly until we got to Urquart Castle and it rained the whole time. We had a BIG discussion about going through the Loch Ness Information centre. I had seen a BIG green Nessie model on the way there and wanted Robin to stop the car for a photo..but was convinced that there would be another at the information centre. To see the display there, it was SOOOO expensive and we all decided it was a waste of money. So I missed my photo opportunity! Urquart Castle made up for my disappointment though. It was well worth the visit!…and to make it even better we got in free!!! It was great to walk around the castle and see how big it was. We were even able to climb up into the towers…and they were high!

From Urquart Castle we drove on to Fort Augustus and just by chance we saw the lock gates being opened up and the boats moving through the canal. These gates were amazing as the locks water levels were all at a different height and the boats travelled through a series of 8 locks to get down to lake level. It was great! From there we went to the Isle of Skye. Yay…another thing off the Bucket list! We drove down to the port to catch the ferry back to the Scotland mainland…enjoying the scenery all the way! It looked very much like driving along the desert road! The Ferry ride was for 30 minutes, and it was a neat experience. Lots of photos taken and fine weather as well! From the ferry landing we drove on to Onich for our nights sleep. This place was a little different…sort of like a camping ground with chalets, bunk rooms and motels. We had a room with a double bed and 2 singles, 2 toilets and a shower room. The entry was like a ski lodge with places to put all your gear and hang out wet clothing. The beds were hard and the room was very hot! I started off in the double bed with Robin but cooked! A half hour later while the other 3 were snoring I crept into a spare bottom bunk bed…put my ear plugs in and slept!!!

Edinburgh to Inverness

We left Edinburgh with another Scottish Misty morning! Arrived at Perth to have a look at an Abbey and ruins. After wandering through the connected church and taking some photos (we couldn’t go right in as there was a funeral being held there), we ventured down to the ruins and continued to take photos….until some ladies came out and advised us that we need to pay an admission fee to be able to explore the area. Oops we had already taken the photos we needed, so we politely said that we didn’t really want to go any further and said our goodbyes! Wow…we saved about 20 pound. We had parked on the main street and walked through the church instead of parking in the information centre car we missed all the signs…phew! We decided to then have a visit to Scone Castle…a local Castle that is well worth the visit! As we got closed we noticed heaps of locals lining the street and wondered if there was a special event? Arriving at Scone Castle gate there was a sign saying it was closed as the Queen was visiting it today!!! We couldn’t go to the Palace in Edinburgh as the Queen was ‘in residence’ and now we can’t go to Scone Castle as she is going there as well. We turned the car on and decided to carry on with the day…..until we were stopped by the police patrol. We had to wait for the Queen to pass before we could drive any further. Amazing! The Queen passed right by our car!!!

We travelled on and our next stop was Balmoral Castle. And this time the Queen wasn’t there! We did the tour and loved being there! Another thing off the Bucket list. We were a little disappointed that we were only allowed in the Ballroom. The rest of the palace isn’t open to public! From Balmoral, we continued driving on the Inverness where we are staying for the night. The place is a home stay..but we have a whole house to ourselves!!! It’s great!


A Day in Edinburgh

We woke to a very misty morning…Scotch Mist they call it…but that didn’t stop us! Off we went on foot until we could catch the on-off bus! We did the whole round but the crowd and cars were taking over the place! The reason why…Prince William was Knighted today at St. Giles Cathedral! We tried to get the best view from the top of the bus but didn’t actually see them. But we did get into the Cathedral later on in the day…the same day they were there!!! That excitement didn’t really compare with our walk around Edinburgh Castel. It is amazing and towers above the town of Edinburgh. Once the mist cleared we had a great view from the top. We also went out to see the Brittannica Ship with is docked at the port. It was going to cost nearly 40pound for us to go a through it and we only had a half hour before it closed. We didn’t thin we could do it justice in that short time…so maybe next time. I also spoke to a NZer on the bus and she recommended that we go to this ‘amazing’ castell near Aberdene…once again we just won’t have time as we are heading for Balmoral Castel tomorrow. I will just have to come over again!!! Anyway here are some photos from today 🙂

Windermere to Edinburgh

Another big day of travelling but once again saw some amazing sights! Firstly we drove around the Lakes Districts and sampled the wonderful sights that everyone talks about. You have to drive these roads to understand the experience….stone wall fences, narrow roads, steep hills, green land (well this time of the year anyway), lakes…just wonderful sights! We woke up to no rain but it was like we were in the clouds, quite misty, so it didn’t make good photography opportunities. We drove on to Penrith and visited an underground shopping centre! This wasn’t normal shopping so don’t think we had time to shop….this was a place built to attract tourists. It was a hill covered with grass…that you walked into (through a door of course) and the whole shopping centre was inside. It was great! We then moved on to Carlisle and did a tour through  Carlisle Castle…man is that place BIG! A fabulous experience as well. From there we had our first view of Hadrians wall and then moved on to the next place to view it. Talk about being in the middle of HISTORY!!! New Zealand is so young in comparison to England/Europe! And Europe is so big! Hadrians wall crosses the border between England and Scotland…and was build stone by stone by hand….about 2000 years ago!!!! Incredible. At one of the places Archeologists have dug up a whole Roman city and have a museum there with all the findings! We weren’t allowed to take photos through the museum but we could outside. They are still digging up artifacts and there is heaps more to go! Another wonderful experience. We are now in Edinburgh after a long 2 hour drive! The last half hour was in nose to nose traffic! The 3 lane motorway ends up at a round-a-bout…what a bottle neck to sort out….but Robin drove straight to our apartment (which is brand new by the way!) without any problems…..phew!!!