A Taste of Ireland and Scotland
The 12 day escorted tour my wife and I recently took probably got its name because it is a fairly brief introduction to both countries. But since it also gave us a chance to sample the local foods and beverages of both beautiful countries, that may have been part of the thinking as well.
We had never been to either country and for many years had debated as to which we wanted to visit. When we learned about this particular CIE International motorcoach tour the decision suddenly became much easier. We didn’t have to pick just one, we’d see them both.
Starting out in Glasgow, Scotland, our tour traveled north to Lochs Lomond and Ness, through the Highlands and on to Edinburgh. The stop in Edinburgh included an evening walking tour complete with a visit to Greyfriars Cemetery and ghost stories. After a ferry trip from Scotland to Northern Ireland (yes, our motorcoach went across with us) we toured the newly-opened Titanic Museum. The Titanic was built in Belfast and this year marked the 100th anniversary of its fateful voyage. We proceeded from there to Dublin and then across the south and west of Ireland stopping in Killarney, Limerick and Galway.
When my wife and I travel we try to immerse ourselves into the local culture as much as possible, especially when it comes to food and drink. Our days often began with a full Scottish or Irish breakfast. (If you’re ever in Scotland you really must try my new favorite, haggis; it’s delicious). Other mealtimes offered us the chance to try their savory soups and lamb dishes, fresh, coldwater fish such as salmon and cod as well as breads, pastries and tea. Our visit to a Scotch whisky distillery allowed for a different kind of tasting and at the Guinness Storehouse we became “Certified Guinness Perfect Pint Crafters”.
While we changed hotels frequently, never spending more than 2 nights in any one location, our bag transfers were all handled for us and check-in and checkout were hassle-free. Our on-board guides provided political, social, historical and economic overviews of the areas we visited. One advantage of traveling this way was that so many things were pointed out to us and described as we traveled that we would have missed had we driven ourselves. There was also the added benefit that at the various exhibits and museums we visited the guide would have handled our admissions in advance and we were escorted right into the facility.
It would be impossible to summarize 12 days of travel in one brief article but certain other highlights stand out such as the Scottish bagpiper parade in Inverness, the medieval-themed dinner in a 1,000 year old castle, breathtaking views of the Cliffs of Moher along the rocky west coast of Ireland, kissing the Blarney Stone and enjoying tea and scones in a 200 year old thatch roofed farm cottage. While “Nessie” didn’t make an appearance during our boat cruise on Loch Ness we thoroughly enjoyed our trip and are convinced that this was the best way for us to “sample” Scotland and Ireland.
- Steve and Karen Deneke