WEEK THREE: Bushmills, Dublin, Holyhead and Llanberis

AAAAH. FINALLY, WE WERE getting into the swing of a real vacation in this last week. There were only two hiccups that popped up—a twisted ankle (foolishly not wearing my ankle brace), which is definitely on the mend and not holding me back much and needing to do a little shuffle of accommodations/car rental to adjust for arrival times in Holyhead, Wales.

Note to self: always verify car rental hours before scheduling ferries or any other conveyances (Hertz closes their doors at 1700, ferry arrives 1830—oopsie). And, don’t rush when making new accommodations—be sure everything is right before clicking the “Book” button.

We said good bye to Donegal and Ireland as we wandered up through a zillion roundabouts—even I (lover of roundabouts) was getting tired of them … just a wee bit. We saw sheep, cattle, trees … more sheep and glimpses of shoreline—unfortunately, Gabby chose the fastest route that took us through more inland roads than coastal roads. The coastal route would have been glorious, but it would have added too much time. Bushmills and the Giant’s Causeway were our destination for this bit of travel. And it did not disappoint. The weather and scenery were amazing. We even had time to attend church during our short stay in Bushmills. And, no … we did not go to the distillery. Nature was our goal along this lovely bit of Northern Ireland. Click on the photos to enlarge them.Red Telephone Box Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway Erosion Patterns at the Causeway

From Bushmills, we traveled back down south, touching on the outskirts of Belfast—a huge metropolis—before working our way back into Dublin and our hostel for three more nights. Each time we arrive, we find new things to do—wondering the streets of Dublin. We were checking out the farmers market one block off O’Connell Street when my ankle twisted on uneven pavement—it really pays to keep a keen eye out for uneven surfaces if you have ankle issues  I was not <pout> and it knocked half a day out of our sightseeing.

I’ve been wearing both knee brace and ankle brace since the incident on Monday (hate wearing them) and all is well. It took a couple of days of taxi rides into town before I felt comfortable walking around and by Wednesday, we were back to “normalish” touristing.

The first of the “recovery days” was spent on a Gray Lines tour of Wicklow Mountains and the Glendalough area. The scenery was magnificent, the stops we made had marvellous photo ops … and our tour guide, Richie, was wonderful—a great commentator, full of that Irish “gift of gab” (in a very good way) and fun to chat with. There was plenty of giggles on his tour. The history of the area was told in a way to hold your attention—nothing worse than a dry bit of history to put you to sleep—not with Richie. So glad we made the trip! Click on the photos to enlarge.

GrayLine's Driver, Richie

Great commentator and conversationalist, Richie was our tour guide for the day on the Wicklow Mountain and Glendalough tour.

roof and trees near Glendalough Military Instillation on Glendalough/Wicklow Mtn Tour Glendalough/Wicklow Mountains Creek Near Guinness Lake Glendalough Tower and Graveyard Glendalough Scenery Church and Round Tower at Glendalough

Thursday was ferry ride day into Holyhead, Wales and we had a good time. The Stena Lines is a lovely boat to ferry across the water—and I booked us seats up in the lounge, so it was even better.

Because of the mess-up by moi, we only had the one night in Llanberis, so not a ton of time to wander in Snowdonia <insert huge pout> This is a gloriously beautiful area and deserves multiple days to begin to absorb its beauty. This will require another trip <insert grin> to make sure I get “my Snowdonia time” in. Definitely! Actually, Sandy and I talked about it and decided we’d make sure to spend a few days here on our return trip—after visiting my London friends and before we hop on the ferry to go back to Dublin.

Aaah. One final note: It’s called “Payback”—Sandy was trying to wrangle some horses that decided to come out of a gate that we had permission to open (to turn the car Muddy print on a shoearound) … and one stepped on her foot <insert grimmace> so we’re being super cautious today. Only the front half of the hoof stepped on her foot, thankfully, but the knee-jerk reaction to pull it away may have caused more of a problem …

We did a little look around in Llanberis, but she’s alternately icing it and keeping it elevated. We’ll see how things go—I’ll be catering to her needs as she did to me when I had my little incident.
Llanberis and our hostel (click on photos to enlarge):
Little Cabins at the Hostel View of Hostel Grounds View of Hills of LLanberis LLanberis View from Hostel

And … now, it’s time to get this blog launched so you can read it. Have a blessed Friday and weekend.

 

Celtic Invasion Vacation: Wales-Part Two

AS MY TRIP CONTINUES TO unfold on these pages, I am having fun reminiscing and looking through all of the photos I managed to accumulate. Rather daunting, actually. You are only seeing a small fraction of the shots I took. At some point, I will be putting most of them (at least the ones I deem ‘sharable’) onto my Flickr page for you to peruse. Until then, you must be satisfied with the smattering I include in the blogs (fewer, this time—I’m afraid the last one was way too photo-heavy).

Snowdonia—and Wales in general pull at my heart-strings, for sure. There’s something quieting about the natural beauty of this area. I’m sure my blood pressure was down quite a bit. It’s the ‘woody-ness’ of the region, I think. Have you ever heard of Forest Bathing (also known as Shinrin-yoku)? Sounds a bit weird—I know, but really, there are scientific facts behind it. Here’s a link if you want to check it out.

So, now—onward with my adventure…

Day Five (honestly, the days were starting to blur, so

Confusion

Confused? Which way did we go?

chronological order may not be precise) was mostly spent wandering around the town of Caernarfon, to see the beautiful castle and town, but we also managed to get out into the country to wander around the rolling hills and bluffs of Ysgol Poithy Felin.

Beautiful Vista

Hills and dales, where the sea meets land…

Three brave (or perhaps fool- hardy?) souls managed to somehow negotiate the cliffs to poke around in the rocky beach below. I was content to stay above, drinking in the beauty of the area. It was amazing. Our evening was the highpoint of the day—first, a BBQ’d dinner, then a concert by Jonny Dyer and Vicki Swan. They’d planned on

Jonny and Vicki

The melodic duo, Jonny Dyer and Vicki Swan sang and played for us

leaving around 8pm, but stayed well beyond that, playing the most magnificent music (I purchased a few of their CDs—insert huge grin) until around ten or so. After bidding them safe travels, we all went to bed very happy, indeed.

Day Six involved lots of driving. We met up with Jonny and Vicki in Llanberis for a boat ride out to an island to try to spy some puffin…I didn’t see any. But it was

Boat Ride to Puffin Refuge

A puffin refuge, but not a puffin to be found

a nice ride. Back at the docks, we said goodbye to our musical friends and continued our adventure, after wandering the town for a bit. From there, we went back into Holyhead, to Winefried’s Well (loved the architecture), and…well, like I said, it’s all a bit of a blur. We did get back to the cottage relatively early, figuring we’d walk to the local pub for dinner. Plans changed and we ended up going into Holyhead for dinner at a lovely pubby-restaurant, The Old Boathouse at Red Wharf Bay (I think). Delicious food.

Day Seven was pretty much spent driving to our final destination (with a tiny bit of sightseeing on the way)

River In Town

This river flows through town, with businesses on both sides. Don’t remember the town name —sorry.

—a beautiful, old hotel in Mold (in Flintshire Wales), where we spent our last night as a group. We took in the sights as we drove, but it was mostly pre-departure day preparation day for the majority of the Invaders. We had one final ‘house concert’ in one of the Invaders rooms, then we retired for the night.  Then next morning—very early, we all drove into Manchester. Marc dropped a few at the airport so they could catch their flights and the remainder of us were deposited at the

Manchester

Last look around Manchester before heading back on the train to Bewely Hotel

Bewley Airport Hotel. I would continue on my trip the next morning, Nicholas took the train down to Cardiff (spent the night and back the next day) so he could go to the Dr. Who Experience, and Jan and Jim would head out for home the next day. We had breakfast together and said our goodbyes. It was lovely, but I was exhausted and looking forward to getting on to my next stop so I could recover from all the fun I had in the last seven days. I needed a vacation from my vacation…so I could continue my vacation.

If there is one thing I’ve learned—especially on this trip, going into any vacation, you must know your limits. Thankfully, I do know mine, but still, I have a tendency to stretch those limits on occasion—sometimes finding that little extra I need, but other times, finding myself completely spent at the end of the day. I have decided, no matter which way things go, I choose to see every experience I have as a rich one, filled with lessons for me to learn. I have found that I never regret the things I’ve done, though, perhaps I shake my head at some of my choices. And laugh.

Next year, Marc’s plan is to go back to Ireland to explore the northwest corner and the Giant Causeway, and possibly a trip to Isle of Man. If it’s at all financially feasible, I’m going to attempt to make the trip (I usually travel every other year, but there have been exceptions made in the past). Marc has already opened up the reservation doors and space is limited. If you are interested, make sure you check it out. Remember, this is not your typical “tour”. It’s a vacation for like-minded people who want to enjoy a bit of history, beautiful scenery and Celtic music.

Until next week (sorry for the delay in getting this posted—internet problems), may visions of vacations-to-come dance in your head, beckoning you to break out of your every-day life, to explore the world around you, whether just outside of your back yard or across the border somewhere.