Northern Ireland and Scotland

 Northern Ireland and Scotland

We just returned from another amazing group adventure, this time in Northern Ireland and across Scotland.  If you’re looking for gorgeous scenery, amazing history and a friendly and inviting culture Ireland and Scotland are perfect for you.

Our trip began in Dublin where we were introduced to Dalkey Village and Castle.  This affluent community just south of Dublin has been home to Bono and Van Morrison, as well as many other celebrities.  It began as a Viking settlement and was a thriving medieval port.  In fact this port is rumored to be the one through which the plague entered Ireland in the 13th century.

The Dalkey Castle Heritage Center offers educational Castle tours that are enhanced by actors performing scenes as bowmen, cooks and the Lady of the Castle.  The information they share is interesting and often quite comical.  A good time was had by one and all.

 Northern Ireland and Scotland, Mummies at St. Michan's church

On we went to St. Michan’s church where we met some interesting relics from days gone by, mummies to be precise.  The mummies of St. Michan’s have been a tourist attraction since the 1600’s.  The most interesting one is a 6.5 foot tall “Crusader” who legs had to be broken and tucked underneath him to squeeze him into his coffin.  In the old days visitors were encouraged to shake his hand, which still rests in a raised position along the edge of the casket.

By day three we were moving out of Dublin and on to Belfast.  Along the way we stopped at a place that’s been on my bucket list for years, Newgrange.  This enormous circular mound (almost 300 feet wide) is older than the pyramids of Egypt.  During the winter solstice it aligns perfectly with the rising sun shining a beam of light onto the burial chamber deep within. 

Belfast is a fascinating city.  Back in the 1970’s and 80’s Belfast was one of the most dangerous cities in the world.  Now that the “Troubles” are over Belfast is a vibrant, captivating city where we participated in a Taste and Tour adventure.  We walked from one pub to another, enjoying a different course at each.

Our drive along the wild Atlantic way from Belfast to the Giants Causeway was one of our favorite parts of the trip.  Featuring gorgeous ocean views, idyllic little villages, and beautiful plant life this drive along the “Nine Glens of Antrim” was terrific.

The Giant’s Causeway is overwhelming.  Resulting from intense volcanic activity this bridge to Scotland is a must see.

If you’re a Game of Thrones fan you’ll remember the Kings Highway.  Well we spent an hour strolling along the lovely lanes and through the Dark Hedges known as the Kings Highway.  It was a nice stretch of the legs and truly beautiful.

Our ferry over to Scotland was also an adventure.  We were amazed at the size of the ship and by the smoothness of the crossing.  No seasickness here.

My husband the golf enthusiastic would tell you our time at St. Andrews was his favorite part of the trip.  The town of St. Andrews is historic, featuring dozens of medieval buildings and ruins.  Alive with great pubs, eateries, shops and bakeries this is a great place to spend an afternoon.  Believe it or not I ate the best Napoli pizza here I’ve ever eaten, even in Naples.

Edinburgh was a group favorite.  The walking tour of Edinburgh and the Castle was truly fascinating.  Edinburgh is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe, history and gorgeous architecture surrounds you for miles.

If you haven’t been to Ireland and Scotland I encourage you to go.  The citizens there love Americans; you’ll be treated as an honored guest.

Joy Gawf-Crutchfield owns and operates The Joy of Travel.  Contact Joy at 918-339-4805