Traveling with a group

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.DSCN0575.JPG

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.DSCN1280.JPG 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.DSCN2307.JPG This was taken at Cardiff Castle.IMG_20180803_073753.jpgIMG_20180803_095033.jpg

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.DSCN2434 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. DSCN2448.JPG 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. IMG_20180805_102011.jpg 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……

 

 

 

More of Scotland

First day of the tour started with a terrific breakfast and I do love the Scottish porridge.  Our first stop was Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh.  It seems like the majority of castles or palaces we visited did not allow photos inside. Not sure if it was a flash could do damage to the items inside but we could take photos outside or from the windows aiming outside.

This castle has 3 floors and areas were  built during different centuries.  The three floors have different styled columns – Ionic, Doric and Romanesque.  The royal family still comes out to this palace and when they do, the tours obviously are halted.  However the gift store is always open.  Our tour guide, Richard, told us that Prince Charles loves to visit and goes on early morning walks.  The Queen also attends the local church when in town.

The statue in front has had some added features.  The Abbey in the back still stands minus the roof.

DSCN1262.JPG The palace is worth the visit especially when you have a wonderful tour guide.  Richard had so much information like how the swans were named by the Queen, Sally and Sid. It is believed that she named the swan Sid after Sid Viscous after the lead singer in the Sex Pistols.  The gates surrounding the castle are quite ornate.DSCN1285

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Across this palace is a more modern government building.  The gift store had some beautiful items but when you are starting off the tour, you need to remember not to buy huge, expensive items that could get broken or damaged in your suitcase.  My purchases were confined to tea towels, thimbles, pens and postcards.

After a delightful group lunch, we were driven through the town for a panaromic tour. We went past the Greyfriar Bobby statue.  This was a dog that sat at his master’s grave for over 14 years.  Such devotion.  People pat or rub his nose so it is quite shiney.

Our evening group dinner was the first one where we met each of the tour group – how long had we been quilting, where we lived, other craft hobbies, etc.

As always, we are given instructions on when to have out bags outside the door and when to meet at the bus.  The nice thing about the tours is you meet terrific people, learn about other areas and you see the country from a comfortable bus.  Celtic Quilt Tours, LLC, obtains the best drivers and tour guides. You don’t have to worry about driving on the other side of the road, traffic signs or skinny little roads.

Day 2, we were on the road to Perth and the Black Watch Museum.  We started off with a Sashiko class taught by Susan Briscoe.  You usually see sashiko on indigo or navy blue material. We were given tartan material and the pattern was a thistle.  This was my start and I did finish it once I got home. It is very relaxing and just the opposite of redwork – meaning you stitch right to left as opposed to left to right.DSCN1315.JPG

The Black Watch Museum also provide luch for us. We were given a bowl of soup and 4-5 different types of sandwiches.  The tour gave a background on their uniforms, where they were stationed throughout the centuries.

We were also told that the blue/green tartan plaid was great to blend in with the water and the forest so your enemy could not find you easily.  The red tartan was also good for hiding any wounds.

The Black Watch Museum is worth the visit.DSCN1312.JPGDSCN1306.JPG

The towns also have beatiful baskets of flowers handing on buildings or in planters.  Just gorgeous.

DSCN1308.JPG  So if someone asks you to go to Scotland, just go. The people are wonderful, the scenery is terrific and the food is great.