Monday, April 27, 2015

Goodbye England!

We packed our bags in the UK for the last time this morning and ventured east to London City airport for the final two days of our trip. A short one hour flight brought us in to Dublin where we checked in and walked out in search of a pub. We ended up at The Brazen Head which claims the title of the oldest pub in Ireland. The food was fantastic and the bartender was hilarious. If you're ever in Dublin, find it.

We didn't take any pictures today so here is Jackie trying to befriend a Scottish Yak with hay.

Come On You Gunners!!!

Sunday early afternoon we took the tube out to Emirates stadium once more to pick up our tickets for Arsenal vs Chelsea!

Unlike the FA cup (where we were in the opposing team section), we were able to wear our colors and yell as loud as we liked!

Our seats ended up being fantastic. Unfortunately the game ended as a draw (boring, boring Chelsea) but it was still an amazing experience being able to cheer on our favorite Gunners in person. As of right now we have moved up to 51,482 and 51,483 in line for our season tickets!

Back to London!

After a delicious Welsh breakfast we drove into Cardiff city to visit Cardiff castle. The fort itself was a traditional motte and bailey castle perched up on a hill surrounded by a moat. The outer wall was rebuilt back in the 1800s and used as a bomb shelter during the second world war.

After Cardiff castle we drove back to London for the final leg of the UK portion of our trip. After checking in to our hotel we ventured out to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese for pints and burgers on the recommendation from a co-worker. The nearly 400 year old pub had a very unique atmosphere and was well worth the trip to eat down in the basement bar.

Roman baths and ruined castles

We started the morning by touring the Roman Bathhouse in Bath. Very interesting to learn a spring-fed pool known for it's healing properties is lined with lead.

After the bathhouse tour we drove out of town and on our way to Wales. Our only castle of the day was Caerphilly, an old fort that was partially destroyed on orders for Parliament. Caerphilly castle and the surrounding city was a ghost town. Very eerie walking around with a giant stone castle to ourselves.

From Caerphilly we drove just north of Cardiff city to our hotel which provided another amazing view.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Heading West

On Thursday we finally checked out of our central London flat and took the tube to Heathrow to rent a car and drive west. Our first stop was the absolutely massive Windsor Castle. Unfortunately due to a time crunch we only had an hour in a castle that easily could have eaten four.

After Windsor we made our way to Salisbury where we had what turned out to be a private tour of the Salisbury Cathedral. Our guide lead us and one other couple on a two hour tour of the cathedral including access to the tower spire itself. This picture is from the bottom of the spire looking up around 120 feet of supporting structure.

The base of the spire had four exits outside where we were able to see all of Salisbury and the surrounding countryside. One of the exits was closed however due to a nesting Peregrine Falcon.

After Salisbury Cathedral we made our way out to this five thousand year old pile of rocks.

We weren't allowed to enter the Stonehenge circle but the path did lead up fairly close to it. Overall it was a very spiritual experience. We lucked out with beautiful weather too!

Back to England

Wednesday morning we woke up to the most spectacular view we've ever seen from our hotel room. We stopped downstairs for a Scottish breakfast (Jackie tried haggis, I avoided it) and then began our journey back to Inverness. We've already decided that we will be returning to The Torridon Hotel again soon.

 The drive back to Inverness provided even more beautiful scenery.

Finally the road widened back to two lanes...

Scotland Highlands

On Tuesday we grabbed our backpacks and hopped on a plane up to Inverness where we grabbed a car and went on a road trip. The highlands are absolutely beautiful...

Our first stop was Urquhart castle on Loch Ness. The Scots blew it up several hundred years ago to prevent it from falling in to enemy hands. Now it sits as a small ruin with a beautiful view of the lake.

Next was Eilean Donan castle. We pulled in at low tide which left the castle a bit exposed. This one was also blown up several hundred years ago but was reconstructed by a private family to show how it used to look.

Finally, after way too many miles of one-lane bi-directional road, we reached our hotel in Torridon. After checking in we enjoyed an absolutely delicious five course meal followed by peppermint tea and scotch over several games of chess (Marc won all four for the record).