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Ireland & Scotland
August 2022

By Terri Gabriel, Travel Advisor, Plaza Travel - a FROSCH Company

Group photo with coach bus in the background

I’ve just returned from a 14-day trip
with Insight Vacations, The Best of
Ireland & Scotland. Our adventure
began in Dublin and ended in
Edinburgh, covering nearly 1,500
miles during our 14 days! Insight
Vacations’ coaches only have max 40
seats, which provides quite a bit more
legroom than a standard coach – it
was actually very comfortable!

We had a lovely group of 24 people – 19 amazing women and 5 brave men – from the US, Canada, and Australia. By the end of our 14 days together, we all had great new friends.

Dublin is a vibrant and alive city, and the people there are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met! We visited Trinity College Library to view the Book of Kells – one of the oldest medieval illuminated books in the world. Then on to the Guinness Storehouse where we learned all about how this dark staple is created and were able to sample a pint. We traveled south through Ireland to Cork and visited Blarney Castle. Legend has it, if you kiss the Blarney Stone (a block of limestone built into the battlements at the top of Blarney Castle) you will be gifted with eloquence and persuasiveness.

Photos at Guinness and Blarney Castle

Killarney was our next charming stop. We took a quiet horse and carriage ride through the national park. Stunning greenery and sheep-dotted hills were everywhere I looked. Our itinerary included the Ring of Kerry – a beautiful scenic drive around the rugged Iveragh Peninsula – and a stop at the Cliffs of Moher (translation “the cliffs of the ruined fort”). Fun fact – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and the cult classic The Princess Bride were both filmed at the Cliffs! The view from the top was absolutely breathtaking.

Killarney horse and carriage ride
Cliffs of Moher

We traveled north to Galway and Sligo Bay, leaving the Republic of Ireland and entering Northern Ireland. The history of Ireland fascinated me. We had a fabulous local guide in Derry (also known as Londonderry) who lived through “The Troubles” during the late 60’s through the late 90’s. His accounting of the way life was during this time of conflict sparked an interest in me to learn more. He suggested reading “Say Nothing” by Patrick Radden Keefe. We then visited Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage site with a huge area of basalt columns resulting from volcanic activity ages ago.

Derry mural

Then we were off to Scotland. We took the ferry and it was about a two hour ride on a comfy boat with a lovely coffee bar and duty-free shop.

Group on ferry to Scotland

As we made our way up to Inverness in the Highlands, the scenery was stunning. It was exactly how I pictured Scotland would look!

Terri with green mountains behind her in Scotland

highland cattle in Scotland

About an hour outside of Inverness
was the Clan MacPherson Museum.
My travel mate Robin's ancestors are
from this clan, so we arranged with
the hotel (Kingsmill Hotel in
Inverness) for a private car and driver
to take us to visit the museum. It
housed a lot of Scottish clan history.

Clan MacPherson Museum

As we traveled south to Edinburgh,
we made a lunch stop in St. Andrews
and visited the famous course they
say is the birthplace of golf.

We timed our trip to end in Edinburgh in time for the closing night of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. In Britain, the meaning of Tattoo is “an entertainment consisting of music, marching, and the performance of displays and exercises by military personnel.” The Tattoo only happens for three weeks every August, and due to the pandemic, this was the first production since 2019. I highly recommend it – it was a fabulous show of multi-country military bands, dancing and singing held on the grounds of the majestic Edinburgh Castle.

Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

We were fortunate to have great weather with a little bit of everything – sunshine and rain, hot and cold. Layers are the way to pack for this trip. And don’t forget to pack a scarf and a hat (or you can always buy beautiful new wool warmies en route)!

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