IRELAND & SCOTLAND
Arrive at Dublin Airport and drive to our hotel. A guided tour
of Dublin will familiarize us with this ancient city and introduce
us to its rich history. This evening we enjoy our first gourmet
dinner which dispels any possible doubts about the talents of
Ireland's great chefs.
This morning we head for the western coast, traveling through
the counties of Kildare, Kilkenny and into Tipperary to our first
stop, the Rock of Cashel. This site, perched high above the plains
surrounding the River Suir, includes many extraordinary examples
of Celtic art and medieval architecture. We will take the time
for lunch in a charming nearby village before we head off to Blarney
Castle where some of us will succumb to the promise of the "gift
of gab" by kissing the famous stone. We continue our drive
through quaint villages surrounded by rolling fields dotted with
cows and sheep. We arrive at our destination, the lovely little
Irish town of Kenmare, our base for the next two days while we
explore southwestern Ireland.
The brightly painted town of Kenmare is filled with charming shops
and pubs. At the edge of the village is a fascinating, prehistoric
early Bronze Age stone circle, one of the biggest in southwest
Ireland. Fifteen stones ring a boulder dolmen, a burial monument
rarely found outside this part of the country. After exploring
Kenmare, we drive through the gorgeous, wild landscape of the
Beara Peninsula. This mountainous peninsula has breathtaking vistas
around every corner. Our scenic drive takes us to the tiny village
of Glengarriff on beautiful Bantry Bay. After lunch in the village
we take a small boat out into the bay, where we glide by a family
of seals basking on an island. We get off the boat at Ilnacullin
to walk through the magnificent gardens. Tonight after a wonderful
dinner in Kenmare we'll have the chance to experience a true Irish
singing pub. This will be a night to remember!
Today we drive around the Ring of Kerry, stopping for photo ops
along this spectacular route. In Killarney National Park. we tour
the beautiful Muckross house and gardens on Killarney Lake. Our
next destination is the charming town of Doolin. Here we arrive
at our elegant historic country house hotel, located on the grounds
of an ancient castle, with fabulous views of the ocean and the
Aran Islands. We enjoy a gourmet dinner in Lord O'Brien's beautiful
This morning we head out to visit the intriguing landscape of
the Burren, the largest limestone area in Europe, covering over
300 square kilometers. We then visit the majestic 700-foot Cliffs
of Moher, one of the most strikingly beautiful landscapes in all
Ireland. This afternoon we see the fascinating Neolithic stone
tomb of the Poulnabrone Dolmen, dating from the 4th Century B.C.,
and then drive along the beautiful coast to Black Head, where
unusual limestone expanses form an eerie lunar-like landscape.
This area is rich in archaeological, botanical and geological
importance. How lucky that our wonderful driver/guide is a geologist!
We return to Doolin for another splendid dinner.
Today we visit the lively city of Galway, which was known in the
13th century as The City of Tribes because of the fourteen families
who each tenuously held power here. The city teems with a small
town vibe despite its size and has many wonderful craft shops
and pubs. After exploring Galway, we drive north through Sligo
and Donegal and arrive at our lovely country inn in the tiny village
of Ardara. After a wonderful gourmet dinner you can step into
the pub and join in with the Irish musicians.
On our last full day in Ireland we visit Glenveagh National Park,
Ireland's largest and most beautiful park, which lies in the heart
of the Derryveagh Mountains. We take a tour of its beautifully
appointed castle and lovely gardens. Tonight is another delicious
In the morning we cross into Northern Ireland and make our way
to Belfast, the capital city. After a quick tour of the city,
we say our goodbyes to Ireland and board a ferry that takes us
across the Irish Sea to Cairnryan, Scotland. On the ride to our
hotel in Glasgow, we'll get an introduction to Scottish history.
For anyone with enough energy after dinner, Glasgow is known for
its lively nightlife.
This morning we visit Stirling Castle, hearing the true story
about Scotland's most famous son, Sir William Wallace, and Robert
the Bruce, King of Scots. After a visit to a Scottish whiskey
distillery, we head back to Glasgow to explore before dinner.
After a sumptuous Scottish breakfast we travel along the "bonnie,
bonnie banks of Loch Lomond," hearing stories of Rob Roy,
the Robin Hood of the Highlands. We drive west to see the stunningly
beautiful "Harry Potter land". Our scenic drive takes
us through the spectacular area around Glencoe, where we have
time for a walk and hear the tragic tale of Clan warfare. We continue
on, passing Doune Castle where Monty Python and the Holy Grail
was filmed. We travel through Fort William, at the base of mighty
Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK, and see the most photographed
(and most beautiful) castle in Scotland, Eilean Donan. Heading
over the Skye Bridge, we spend our first night on the mystical
Isle of Skye.
We spend a full day exploring the Isle of Skye, with its ruined
castles and amazing scenery. We hear tales of Bonnie Prince Charlie's
Jacobite Rebellion against the backdrop of the jagged Cuillin
Mountains, discover the scenic Island Capital of Portree, take
a walk by its harbor, and sample some locally caught seafood.
Our journey heads to the north of the island past the mysterious
Trotternish Ridge with its spectacular cliffs and rock formations,
including the Old Man of Storr. The "Winged Isle" is
immersed in Celtic myths and legends. We hear about Selkies, the
mischievous faeries, and even learn the secret of eternal youth!
We spend a second night on this fascinating island.
This morning we head off the island to one of the most mysterious
stretches of water on the planet, searching for the elusive Loch
Ness monster. We make a stop at Urquhart Castle, a spectacular
13th century ruin (where most of the monster sightings take place).
We then journey south through Perthshire and over the Forth Bridge,
where we can enjoy fantastic views of one of Scotland's greatest
engineering achievements, the Forth Rail Bridge. From there it's
a short drive into Scotland's capital, Edinburgh, where we spend
the next two nights.
Our last day in Scotland will be spent in its culturally rich
capital city. We begin the day with a guided walking tour of the
medieval Old Town and the Georgian "New Town." The stunning
architecture in the center of the city classify it as a UNESCO
World Heritage site. The afternoon is free to explore, visit a
world-class museum or gallery, poke around the shopping districts,
or sip some Scottish whiskey while enjoying one of the most beautiful
cityscapes in the world. We regroup for a very special farewell
dinner in the city.
After breakfast we head to the Edinburgh Airport for the return