The “Once in a Lifetime Travel Club” has just returned from a 23 day adventure to Ireland, Scotland and England.
Castles galore. We explored Kilkenny Castle, Dunluce Castle, Cahir Castle, Rock of Cashel, and Blarney Castle; many of which were the filming scenes of “Game of Thrones,” “Braveheart,” and other movies. Skilmacduagh Monastery was surreal with its ancient graveyard surrounded by sheep. Several in our club were brave enough to lean back between buildings and kiss the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle and visit its poison garden. Displaying even more courage, a few members crossed the swinging Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge out across the ocean. Everyone survived.
Next we climbed the unique formation of uplifted stones and boulders in the ocean at Giant’s Causeway - a UNESCO world heritage site, and we were later blessed to have seen the sunlit Cliffs of Moher, which are usually obstructed by rain and overcast skies. We explored the cities of Dublin, Galway, Kilkenny, and Belfast. It was exciting to watch a sheep dog demonstration at Glendalaugh, although the cute puppy-in-training stole everyone’s heart. We climbed to the Hill of Tara where all the Celtic Kings were conferred for thousands of years. Ne we entered Newgrange, an ancient burial site, to experience a light shining in like the sun does during Winter Soltice. This UNESCO world heritage site dates back to 3200 B.C. Our drive along the Wild Atlantic Way and through the Wicklow Mountain National Park was breathtaking. It was easy to see how Ireland is called the Emerald Isle. We were entertained with toe-tapping Irish music and dancing while we were served a tasty Irish meal. One of our members, Delbert Feeney, was asked to join an Irish dance team on stage and made us all proud.
We explored the ancient city of Edinburgh and were entertained with an evening of Scottish food (including Haggis) and Bagpipes, with lasses dancing over a sword. We were thrilled when Tammy Herpich was asked to join them onstage and valiantly danced over the sword. She was awesome.
We then traveled to the beautiful city of Inverness and spent time in the Highlands at the Isle of Sky, Orkney Islands, Culloden Battlefield, and cruised on Loch Ness hoping to spy Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster. Incredible views of heather, mountains, oceans, and thousands upon thousands of glorious sheep, even some Bah Bah Black sheep.
In London, we visited the London tower and saw the exquisite Crown Jewels. Other sites we toured were Buckingham Palace (although the Queen wasn’t in residence), Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathedral, West Minister Abby, and the Eye. We cruised on the River Thames, and spent a day at the Cotswolds. We were excited to view the Changing of the Guard at Windsor Castle and toured the beautiful St. George Chapel where all the royalty are buried. Another day we toured Dover Castle with its military museum, medieval underground works, and labyrinthine war-time tunnels. Some of us rode the tram around the castle. We then climbed a hill to take in the incredible views of the White Cliffs of Dover. While we were touring Canterbury Cathedral, we heard the choir practicing for a concert. It was music from heaven.
We later toured Stonehenge, the best-known monolithic monument in Europe, which is much more impressive than in photos. And last we visited the ancient Roman Baths and were disappointed we couldn’t dip our toes in the warm water, having been banned in 1997. What an incredible trip! We are looking forward to next year’s trip.
Applications are currently being accepted for those who would like to join our club for the June 2020 trip to Germany, Switzerland, France, Spain and Portugal. Call Patty Street at 417-217-0767 or Twyla Stone at 417-217-0584 for more information.