Adventuring through the United Kingdom and Ireland
Today we arrive at Dublin airport, where we meet with our driver and guide. We then transfer to the city centre and enjoy a panoramic tour of Dublin. In Dublin, we will see O’Connell Street, the Phoenix Park (the largest public park in Europe), Merrion Square (where Oscar Wilde’s House can still be found), Grafton Street and its quality shops. Not far from St. Stephen’s Green in Kildare St., you will see the house of Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula. Afterwards, we stop at Whitefriar Street Church – this house of worship is one of the most well-known and largest houses in Dublin. It has many notable details, including a shrine with the remains of St. Valentine, which Pope Gregory XVI gifted to the church in 1835. Next, we visit Trinity College, founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth 1st on grounds confiscated from an Augustinian priory, this is the oldest university in Ireland. Within its walls, visitors will be able to admire Parliament Square and its 18th Century edifices. Trinity College has had many famous students such as Jonathan Swift and Samuel Beckett who later became a lecturer in French at the university. At the end of the day, we check in to our hotel in the Dublin area for dinner and overnight. After breakfast at our hotel, we travel through the Wicklow Mountains. County Wicklow is known as “the Garden of Ireland”. This region features all the various types of scenery which make Ireland so beautiful. The coastline is bordered by charming sea resorts such as Bray and Greystones. Nestled in the heart of its gentle and rounded hills are Enniskerry and Avoca, both are very picturesque villages. Next, we visit the Glendalough Visitor Centre and Site. This early Christian monastic site is set in a glaciated valley with two lakes. The monastic remains include a superb round tower, stone churches and decorated crosses. The Visitor Centre has an interesting exhibition on Glendalough, detailing the history of archaeology and wildlife in this area of Wicklow, including an audio-visual show. Afterwards, we visit the Centre at Solas Bhride (Brigid’s light/flame) where we will have an opportunity to walk in the footsteps of St. Brigid. Our pilgrimage will include a visit to Solas Bhride Centre, as well as St. Brigid’s cathedral, the original monastic site of St. Brigid, the round tower, Brigid’s Fire Temple and St. Brigid’s well. Last, we return to our hotel in the Dublin area for dinner and overnight. Following breakfast at our hotel, we visit the Hill of Tara, best known as the seat of the High Kings of Ireland. Tara was at the height of its power as a political and religious centre in the early centuries after Christ. Afterwards, we visit the Loughcrew Megalithic Centre. In a landscape of inspiring beauty and intriguing history, the cairns at Loughcrew form the largest complex of passage graves in Ireland. The cairns are megalithic structures originally built about 4000 BC as burial chambers. Next, we visit Trim Castle, the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland. The castle and its grounds were used as a location in the Mel Gibson film “Braveheart”. Afterwards, we’ll check in to our hotel in the Meath area for dinner and overnight.
Enjoy Historic Belfast Sites
After breakfast at our hotel, we depart for Armagh. On our way, we will stop at Monasterboice. In the 5th century, St. Buite founded a monastic community near Drogheda in County Louth. Today, it is home to an impressive collection of ruins, including: an old graveyard, two churches and a sundial. It is most famous for its spectacular high crosses, especially the cross of Muineadach. Muineadach is an outstanding example of the high crosses of the early Christian period and is noted as being the tallest in Ireland. Next, we stop at St Brigid’s Shrine before making our way to St. Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral. This cathedral was built in Neo Gothic style from pale limestone with large twin spires dominating the approach up flight after flight of steps. As our journey continues, we arrive at Armagh, the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland. Last, we check in to our hotel in the Armagh area for dinner and overnight. This morning, we visit Downpatrick Cathedral which stands close to what is believed to be the mortal remains of Patrick, the Patron saint of Ireland. It suffered destruction on numerous occasions, including during the wars with Edward Bruce in 1316. Then we visit Down County Museum which collects, conserves and exhibits artifacts related to the history of County Down from the earliest times to present day. The museum’s permanent exhibitions include “Down Through Time” which explores 9,000 years of human history in County Down. Next, we visit Saul Church before taking the ferry from Strangford to Portaferry. Afterwards, we will check in to our hotel in the Belfast area for dinner and overnight. Today, we enjoy a panoramic tour of Belfast. Here, we will see the leaning Albert Memorial Clock tower (Irelands answer to the Tower of Pisa) and the Opera House, which is one of Belfast’s great landmarks. We will pass by the City Hall, the Opera house, The Crown Bar (dates from 1885), Queens University, and the Botanic Gardens. Time permitting, we will visit the Harland and Wolfe Shipyard where the Titanic was built and launched in 1912. Afterwards, we’ll take the ferry from Belfast to Cairnryan. Next, we’ll travel to Glasgow to check in to our hotel in the Glasgow area for dinner and overnight.
Exploring Cultural Scotland
After breakfast, we enjoy a panoramic tour of Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city. The variety of internationally renowned museums, galleries, varied architecture and numerous shopping opportunities make this city unique. Glasgow offers visitors a wide range of year-round entertainment with an art scene that produces innovative works and attracts high profile exhibitions. Next, we visit Glasgow Cathedral, which stands majestically in the heart of Scotland’s largest city. Afterwards, we visit Provand’s Lordship which is one of only four surviving medieval buildings in Glasgow. We’ll step back into medieval Glasgow with a visit to this fascinating building. The rest of the day will be spent at leisure in Oban. We’ll check in to our hotel in the Oban area for dinner and overnight. Today, we take the ferry from Oban to Isle of Mull. Next, we travel through the Isle of Mull and take the ferry to the Isle of Iona where we will enjoy a walking tour of the island. Afterwards, we visit Iona Abbey & Nunnery. The isle is an enduring symbol of Christianity in Scotland. St. Columba and his followers came here from Ireland in 563 A.D. and founded a monastery that became the heart of the early Scottish Church. Today, the Iona Community continues the tradition of worship first established by St. Columba 1450 years ago. Then we return to our hotel in the Oban area for dinner and overnight. This morning, we travel through the Trossachs region. We then enjoy a panoramic tour of Edinburgh, one of the world’s finest capital cities known for its cultural diversity and impressive history. The medieval streets run through the entire city, each telling their own story about the 1000-year-old traditions and myths of Edinburgh. Throughout our city tour, we will get to know different parts of it, such as: the Royal Mile, the Princes Street Gardens, the Calton Hill and many more. We then check in to our hotel in the Edinburgh area for dinner and overnight.
Visiting English Highlights
Today, we travel to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne where we visit Lindisfarne Priory. Lying just a few miles off the Northumberland coast is the intriguing Holy Island which was once one of the centres of the Christian world and remains an important place of pilgrimage. The island is only accessible by a causeway and is cut off from the mainland twice a day. Upon the island, Lindisfarne Priory was founded in 635 A.D. by St. Aiden who had travelled from the Scottish island of Iona but made famous by his predecessor St. Cuthbert. In the preceding centuries, the priory became well known for its Christian scholars, and, it was here that the beautiful Lindisfarne Gospels were created. The modern-day priory ruins are still impressive in their scale and rich decorations. An interpretive centre on the site charts a fascinating history of the early saints and scholars, Viking raids, and suppression by Henry VIII. Afterwards, we check in to our hotel for dinner and overnight in the Newcastle upon Tyne area. Today we depart for Leeds, and en route, we visit Durham Cathedral, one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in Europe. Built in 1093, the Cathedral is famously known as the Shrine of St. Cuthbert and the resting place of the Venerable Bede. Durham Cathedral also boasts the most intact surviving set of medieval monastic buildings in the U.K. Afterwards, we enjoy some free time at Whitby, before checking in to our hotel in the Leeds area for dinner and overnight.