S: 2011 Vacation
FC: 2011 EuropeTrip London, Glasgow, Belfast
1: Florence Nightingale | St James Park | Buckingham Palace St Jame's Park Regent's Street Piccadilly Circus
2: S | St Paul | Big Ben | Abraham Lincoln
3: Elementary Dear Watson
4: Windsor Castle | Did someone say the queen was coming? | Yep! | No Queen | So Beautiful!
5: Outside Our Train Window
6: 20 years Together | 18 year old Baby | St Paul''s' Cathedral Millennium Bridge | Still the Biggest Kid with His Parents | The T.A.R.D.I.S. | River
7: Dr. Who Experience! | Dr. Who
8: After a day of rain at the Tower of London, we boarded an overnight train & woke up in Glasgow, Scotland. The train was awesome! Met some Scots who offered to share some brew in their tiny room...chose to have hot cocoa in dining area instead. Next day we boarded the ferry to Belfast in N Ireland. Our last stop in the UK. | Now from our tiny hostel in London, our tiny sleeper birth on the train to a 2 bedroom/2bath apartment with lots of room!!! | Glasgow
9: The view from our window. The 1st night there was the most beautiful sunset over the mountains at midnight! | Still an unrestful people from the bombings in the '80's stemmed by the Protestants & Catholics fighting over the choice of the nation's independence of remaining an Irish nation or joining the Uk; Belfast people are very suspicious. The Crown Bar looked like a famous meeting place for conspirators because of their closed seating areas. Across the street & next to the two women statues, is the Europa Hotel. This was the site of the most bombings during the civil unrest. We met a Irishman who'd been working at the hotel when one of the bombs killed 6. 1 week after we left Belfast, they had the 1st bombings in 20 years! The court system had tunnels from the jail to the courthouse that transported rebels on trial during this civil unrest. Even now, the police carry semiautomatics and the jails look like concrete concentration camps.
11: Watch Out!
12: June 6, 2011 We left for our 2 week trip to London. Glasgow, Belfast. Dublin, & Ballinskellig. Everything was good getting there, however, we were very cramped on the plane. Shannon had the chance to catch up on all the movies we'd missed on the plane so he was in heaven. Tim & I sat together while Shannon was stuck on another row in the middle of the row! We had a hard time sleeping , maybe 2 hours total? As we landed & caught our train into London, I was a bit skeptical about seeing all the graffiti along the train line. but as we got closer to the city, it seemed better. Getting off the train @ Kings Crossing was tricky & caused tension as we tried to find Grays Inn Rd to our hostel. After debates & error, we finally were on our way to our Clink 261 Hostel. Our 1st time @ a hostel. The pictures on the Internet made this place look huge! However, it was very tiny! Beautifully decorated in a modern decor we found our 1st pub to eat lunch. As we sat @ our table waiting for the server to attend to us, we realized we had to go to the bar to order. Our 1st meal of wonderful fish & chips! Afterwards we were able to check into Clink. as we retrieved our backpacks, we had to get on the elevator single file because it was so small! It was smaller than a hallway & I felt like a sardine! Getting to our room was easy (#31 on 3rd floor) and proved to be rather small but we had plenty of room to still spread out. .
13: Tim went to sleep & Shannon & I ventured out. Figuring out the bus system was challenging. We got on the correct bus but going the WRONG direction! The bus parked in an unfamiliar town & we sat totally clueless until the bus driver helped us out! Finally we got into the middle of London & rushed to get our London Pass before the place closed. 10 minutes to go from 1 end of Regent's Street to the other! we made it just in time! Now we were free to explore! We found St James Park near Buckingham Palace & we were totally in awe of the beautiful grounds, statues & friendliness of the Londoners. As we continued, we got to Buckingham. Beautiful fountains, iron gates, & flowers but it looked smaller than what we'd seen on TV. We were able to see where Prince Charles & Princess Dianne as well as Prince William & Kate had stood on the balcony after their weddings for their 1st public kiss! Onward to wake Tim up for dinner & Big Ben! Massive & lit up Big Ben was such a sight to see! Across the bridge for a long walk to The Eye only to find out it'd already closed! We walked along the Thames in search of the Millennium Bridge but it was too far & jet lag was catching up so back to the hostel for showers & sleep. Having a bed to sleep in was sooo refreshing!
15: A true treat where we met "Watson". Afterward, a picture next to Sherlock's statue & on the tube to "The Music Experience" @ O2 on the other side of London. the rain started a gain but once we stepped into O2, what a treat! A dome-like area that had 'outside" restaurants. We strolled by until we got to the "Music Experience" which was a huge treat for Tim! Very unique & interactive experience for us as well. So glad we did it! The next day was to Windsor Castle by train. The beautiful castle is never a disappointment! The flowers & landscaping around the castle was so immaculate & delightful. The "miniature' doll house & Prince Albert's Museum was worth the long wait! Afterward we strolled through town and found a small church with the most vibrant & detailed painting of the Lord's Supper! It was so rich with colors & highlights it was the most beautiful painting I'd ever seen! Thomas Kincaid was child's work compared to this!
17: On our way back to London, we decided to see how long it would take us to get to the Tower of London to time our "Ceremony of the Keys' viewing to catch the Calandonian Night Train. The tube had cut off the two main lines & getting around was terrible! However, trying to catch the bus back proved even more challenging. We ended up walking the Thames River Walk from the Tower to St. Paul's. Very interesting since we were the only ones around the whole time. Our last day in London was very wet and cold! We went to the Tower of London and spent the whole day seeing all the exhibits! It had changed a lot since I'd been there 29 years ago. The swords and armory, the etching in the walls left by the prisoners was amazing and very detailed. We decided we couldn't do the Ceremony of the Keys and still make our train , so we went ahead to the train station to wait. The Highlights of London: the massive old buildings everywhere: thinking I'd pulled my panties down to go to the restroom only to pee in my panties because I'd pulled down my money belt instead: the ease of the transportation system and friendliness of the people: the history and experience of staying in our 1st hostel: and above all, the Dr. Who Experience!!! This was soo awesome! Tim was the oldest kid there with his parents!! We saw a lot of the actual props used in the show and got to experience being a part of helping Dr. Who save the planet. They had the T.A.R.D.I.S. and lots of the actor's clothes and monsters!!
18: The Night Train Sunday June 12,2011: We caught our 1st sleeper car which was nice to finally get on since we had to wait so long for it to arrive. Shannon and I shared a berth while Tim had to berth with a stranger. The hallway was the narrow example of our elevator experience @ the hostel. The berth room was even smaller!! No turning around with our backpacks. We finally found some space under the bottom bunk to store our backpacks out of the way. We even realized we had a sink under the counter. Thank goodness! None the less, it was very cozy. We met some Scots 2 doors down, a father and 40ish old son, Jim & Jim, who were very charming and flirtatious. offering a glass of whiskey to Tim and I. We declined and headed to the dining car. We sat and enjoyed 3 cups of the most wonderful hot chocolate i think I've ever had. So creamy & chocolaty. It felt like I was drinking a melted chocolate bar! We then retired to our car for some much needed sleep. I woke up about 1/2 way to Glasgow & went to enjoy the 1st view of Scotland from the hallway window! What a beautiful green site! Trees, hills, hedges & sheep.
19: Glasgow: It was a bit of a waist of a 4 hour layover. With the intension of going around the town, we walked and saw many old and beautiful buildings. but not a clue what it was. The day had set the tone with a cloudy, dreary and cold day, so back to the train station to wait. with much anticipation, we boarded our next train to Stranrear arrived. The train ride was smooth and relaxing and we finally reached our mini 'cruise" ship and was delighted to get a table by the window! As we watched Scotland pass awa9 and Northern Ireland appear, the beautiful ship had a movie room, arcade, shopping and eating areas along with Lots of Room! NORTHERN IRELAND: Our ferry landed in Belfast, Northern Ireland and we departed only to be thrown into the "where do we go" mode again. We decided to pay extra for a taxi. We found out later it was our best decision since no one knew where our apartment was located and the bus system wa0 a booger! One of the best moments was being dropped off in front of our apartments and opening the door to a huge 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, living room & kitchen apartment! Soo much room!! A shower and a bathtub! Yeah iIcould save my legs now & wash some clothes, walk around without bumping into a wall! We walked forever that night to a restaurant for food & Irish music. The food was good. I was surprised because my vegetable soup turned out to be pureed vegetables which looked like hot green baby food! Despite the look, it was excellent! However, the service was horrible. We never got our drinks until we were finished with our meal! Just a bad deal. Tim went on up to get some rest while Shannon & I found a nice park to walk. The people here seemed cold, hard and very scared?? Not sure why.
20: THE GIANT'S CAUSEWAY; 6/14/11 What a treat! We were 1icked up in front of our door & off we went! We had the most amazing weather! I was so warm! Our driver was very informative & fun as well as the 3 ladies who sat behind us. Tim ended up sitting amongst them. We saw so much of N. Ireland & the coast with it's quaint little towns. A mountain side plateau that looked like the profile of a face. It was the inspiration to the writer of "Gulliver's Travels". Here we saw friendlier people & learned about the reasons behind the 30 yrs of civil unrest from the 70's to 90's. The unionists(Catholics) & Protestants fight for territory & Irish independence from the UK. I saw my 1st glimpse of a seal sunbathing on the coastal rocks! We stopped @ a castle where a k2ng had landed exactly 391 yrs ago to the day! We finally made it to Carrack-a-bridge. Tim's new friend, Phylis, went with us for support & Tim's strong hands to help her. We walked a 1/2 mile up & down hills to finally reach the bridge. It was a single filed suspension bridge over the water to an island. So majestic, narrow & high! The island meadow found Tim exploring new trails & sides of cliffs that scared us to death! afterward, we left to our next attraction: Giant's Causeway. Unusual hexagon shaped rocks had been formed by volcanic activity & to be able to climb them was such a treat! The massiveness of the formations & the cliffs around were indescribably. Tim had his 1st shot of the smoothest whiskey on this adventure! After returning to Belfast, we stopped @ the historic Crown Restaurant looking for a bite & some traditional music. The detail of the decorations & woodwork was breathtaking. We noticed the locals were all on the 1st floor. Some standing & some sitting in round cubby hole areas with doors that reeked with the smell of past conspirators . As tourists, we were escorted to a more quieter area upstairs. The food was warm & good. But no Irish music! Later @ the apartment, the washer/dryer combo was challenging but worth staying up for the clothes to dry because we watched the sunset over the mountains from our apartment window!
21: The Beauty of the Road