Everyone has their tour favorites – you tour with your family, you tour alone or you tour with a group of strangers that become friends.
While I was working, I made a trip up to Oregon every year to visit my Mom. This was and is a great trip but when I retired, I decided it was time to venture outside my comfort zone. As my past writings have explained, I have been to Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. These trips are listed under Celtic Quilt Tours LLC who work with Journey’s Connect. Both are awesome companies.
All stops and hotels are agreed upon before we leave our homes. Now some other tours have the option of driving yourself around the countryside and others provide either a bus or you go by cruise ship. I prefer the bus method and here is why. The driver and tour guide know the area and are happy to give you their knowledge of the area.
In Ireland, our tour guide and driver was the same person. Tony is licensed, has gone to school to be a tour guide as well as a driver. His running commentary was brilliant as well as educational.
In Scotland, our driver was Tony but our tour guide was Richard. How wonderful it was to be educated by a man wearing a kilt. It just added a tad more to the history, the scenery and the tour. Photo taken outside Holyrood Castle in Edinburgh by me.
In Wales, we had Judy as our tour guide with Tony driving (he is the master of GPS). Judy was so friendly and knowledgeable about Wales and we had a blast with her. But on the other hand, we were one tour that was always on time and ready to go. She took us to museums, castles, stately homes and beautiful gardens. We introduced her to the world of quilting. So it really became a win-win situation. This was taken at Cardiff Castle.
Here are some things I found out – always carry some coin as the toilets in the UK are pay toilets. Not all but most and if you crowd through with one person paying, you may get stop by a person who sits in a frosted glass area that will come out and ask for more money (yes it happened to us in Kensington Gardens). Also found out that just because someone tells you not to walk back to the hotel, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t safe.
After a terrific dinner and entertainment show at the Cardiff Castle, I decided that I needed to walk back to the hotel. Two other ladies joined me. We had a lovely walk back to our hotel and I got to do the Time Warp Dance outside a bar kitty corner from the hotel where we were staying. I know she was being cautious but it was fun walking amongst the college/party crown on a Friday night. And apparently Brain’s is a large beer distributor in the area – thought it was zombie beer.
Cardiff was fun and great but I really appreciated the area of Aberystwyth. I grew up in a beach town and this was like going back home. Whereas our sand is a finer grit, the beach at Aberystwyth was more like pebbles and into sizes of large, flat stones. The other visitors were so friendly and the staff was fabulous at our hotel, the Gwesty’r Marine. We were right on the Promenade so if you wanted an early walk or an after dinner stroll, the area was right there. The weather was warm, the sun stayed out late and the water was calm.
Plus we had Constitution Hill near us so we could climb up the hill or ride the funicular. The view was fabulous and there is a rest stop/restaurant at the top. Where I assumed that Wales would be cold and rainy, it was quite the opposite. It seems the UK was also going through a bit of the climate change. Plus if you want to see more of Aberystwyth, , check out Hinterland on Netflix. The first season, episode one show a lot of Devil’s Bridge. There are two tours – one is one pound and the other is two pounds. Depends on how much time you have and how fit you are.
All I can say is this was a terrific trip. We traveled over 2200 miles, we didn’t lose anyone, we saw great castles, factories, sceneries, quilt shows, museums and just had a great time. Save that money up and travel – either in the USA or overseas. It is so worth it. And it’s back to Ireland in 2019……