Bummed, the three of us headed to Shannon. We were ahead of schedule when landing but had to sit on the tarmac for an hour because the hydraulics had gone out on the plane and it couldn't be steered. Other flights had to circle as we were blocking the runway.
We picked up our car from hertz and headed to the Cliffs of Moher. It was cool and windy but visibility was good. At Teresa's insistence we climbed to areas we were not allowed.
We decided to drive to the city center for dinner. After touring the main area of town we chose a restaurant- somewhat pedestrian though my chicken wasn't bad and Tierney enjoyed her lasagna. Teresa was unimpressed with the fajita.
Back to the inn where we chatted with our hosts who themselves were well-traveled, recently returning from Dubai.
The next day Teresa and I arose at 6:15 and by 6:35 were off to Shannon Airport, an hour and 10 minute drive.
Christine was allowed breakfast back at the B & B even though we had not paid for her. After she showered we headed back to the city to explore some more.
We ate at a place that claimed traditional and Italian food. I had a kebab, Teresa and Christine had fish and chips and Tierney had a pizza- unremarkable.
It took us two tries to find a pub with traditional Irish music. We left early so Christine could catch up on her sleep.
The morning started with scrambled eggs and tomato. We obtained help from a local to navigate around a detour caused by an accident. We stopped next in Donegal City. We had a nice lunch at the Blueberry Tearoom, then toured the castle and checked out the city.
We went to The Exchange for dinner and everyone enjoyed their meal.I had chicken carbonera, Teresa had Szechuan chicken, Christine escalope and Tierney had minute steak. We indulged and shared chocolate fudge cake and cheesecake for dessert
In the morning after a good breakfast, we did a walking tour of the murals, then off to the Giant's Causeway where we frolicked on the basaltic rocks.
We saw the pallets being delivered for the great bonfire on July 11, the eve of the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne. We saw many murals that stirred the passions of the Orangemen.
We then drove along the "Peace Wall". The gates were open until 8:00 p.m. Tierney created some additional graffiti on it. On the other side would be the Catholic neighborhood of Falls Road. That was our next stop. Murals were predominant there also, as well as memorials to the martyrs.
We then headed toward Grafton Street for actual shopping and window shopping. We found an Italian restaurant on a side street- The Bocca. I had penne cacciatore, Teresa had penne chili, Christine had spaghetti and meatballs and Tierney had fettucine with cream sauce and mushrooms.
We decided to split up with the girls who were to have no more than two drinks and back by 11:30. Meanwhile Teresa and I walked to Trinity College then found a Hard Rock Cafe where we split a Fudge Brownie Sundae. On the way back to the room we stopped at a bar to hear traditional Irish music.
The next morning we bought pastry and headed for Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. It was reasonably early so the crowds were not bad. There were exhibits about scribing in Ireland and other old books to view before seeing the famous one. Above it was a library with rare works. It included an original signed proclamation of 1916 declaring Irish independence. All 7 signers were hanged.
From there we went to the National Art Gallery which featured Flemish as well as Anglo/Irish painters. Not far away was the National Museum of Archaeology. The amount of gold in the B.C. artifacts was surprising.
We then walked to Stephen's Green to enjoy what had become a very nice day. We then walked back down Grafton Street and saw street performers including a marionette puppet act.
We went back to Grafton Street to find a restaurant - Tierney was looking for seafood. The Mackerel could fit us in at 9:15 so we did more wandering and shopping. Everyone enjoyed their meal. I had roasted sea bass with olives and herbs; Tierney had two appetizers: oysters and a crab cheese dish; Teresa and Christine had swordfish.
After dinner the girls headed to The Pavilion, a drinking mecca on the campus of Trinity College. Teresa and I found a pub with live music close to the hotel. The girls had discovered it the night before and visited it again after we left.
The hotel had 4 computers so Teresa and I played a while on them. Tierney took advantage of the free wifi.
We slept in a little the next day, The hotel delivered bananas, fruit granola yogurt cups and orange juice at your door each morning.
Our first stop in the morning was the National Gallery, quite impressive and free.We took an hour tour after we had looked around a while on our own, and we stayed a while after the tour. We then headed to the British Museum- again free- highlights were the Rosetta Stone and the Elgin Marbles (stolen from Greece)
We went to Aberdeen Steak House for dinner. I had chicken Caesar salad, Teresa had lamb shanks, mashed potatoes and green salad, Christine had chicken shish kebab over rice and Tierney had a rare steak with green salad. Back to the hotel.
In the morning we headed to the flea market on Brick lane. They had everything from sunscreen to bicycle parts. Tierney bought sunglasses, I bough a pastry. Next to the south side of the Thames where Tierney went to Tate Modern while we went on a tour of the Globe Theater. We met up afterwards and went to the Westminster Pier to take a tour by catamaran boat of the Thames.
After the ride we watched some street performers on the wharf for a while before heading to the Museum of London, which gives a history of the city from Roman times until the fire of 1666.
The girls were going out with Jamie, Christine's friend from DC so they left early. Teresa and I walked back later. We cleaned up and went to Leicester Square to spend the evening.We both had lamb kebobs for dinner. After walking a while and having trouble finding chocolate ice cream, I got a chocolate milk shake and Teresa a sundae with caramel and Smarties from McDonalds. Back to the hotel.
We decided to delay St. Paul's and instead went to the Temple Church of DaVinci Code fame. On to Westminster Abbey where Teresa gave us the Rick Steves tour.
Teresa and I went to the Natural History Museum, almost next door, to see the dinosaur exhibit and then stopped into a Catholic Church on Bompcourt Place on the way back. There was a Latin Mass going on. Further along we stopped for pastries; I had a fantastic pudding filled doughnut and Teresa had a piece of chocolate cake. For dinner we went to Grumbles on Churllton Street, about five blocks from Victoria Station. It is the first place in London I would recommend. Teresa and I had duck. Christine had a pasta dish and Tierney had Chicken.
From there we headed to Stonehenge and took the audio tour around it. First order of business afterwards was to go in search of gas, with Christine having been very concerned about our tank showing under 20 miles of gas left. Success.... and on to Bath. We found our B & B with little difficulty, cleaned up and Italian Pasta for dinner. I had a Mushroom Pasta dish, Teresa had Moroccan lamb stew and the girls each had pizza. We then walked around the town, which was quiet until England scored a goal on Estonia which prompted cheering from the scattered pubs.
Next was the Roman Baths tour, which was lengthy with the audio tour. We had expected the girls to go off shopping instead they had sat waiting for us outside for 1 1/2 hours. We must have missed them for we had been off wandering. I had a chocolate milkshake and Teresa a brownie.
The next morning we went to Barham for the Car Boot sale. Probably a couple hundred tables and cars; after browsing through a good deal of junk, Teresa bought a small bowl. I bought a coke. Back to Diss to use the Launderette and then to Dennis and Val's again where a huge crowd of relatives arrived. Our hosts served great food all day and there was quite lively and entertaining reminiscing. Luckily, everyone had a great sense of humor. We left for a short time with Betty and June to drive to the sites of Diss and to visit Michael at his house. Returned to Dennis and Val's where we exchanged email addresses.
Back to the car and onto Great Liverence where we looked at the small church and headstones from the Noble family. From there to Thedford, where there were more ruins of an abbey, this one was confiscated in 1540, one year after Bury St. Edmonds. Many English had great fear that Catholic Royalty such as Mary, James II and Charles I would restore to the Church the lands stolen when Henry VIII felt the urge to divorce his wife.The Church had accumulated lots of land, mostly through wills of the pious over several centuries. Abbeys were expensive to maintain; they were used as places to stay for Pilgrims and poorer travelers, as well as hospitals and refuges for the poor and needed the revenues from the abbey lands to maintain them. When they were confiscated, there was no revenue to maintain religious buildings that themselves produced no income, as the barons and kings put that revenue to other uses. James II wanted to allow freedom of religion. This was thought to be too much as the barons and king did not have much trouble convincing their subjects that the Pope was a worse guy than the guy who framed at least one wife so he could behead her. For dinner we went to a Pub and Teresa and I ate Spanish Chicken, June a steak and Ale Pie and Betty had ham. Rather mediocre.
We arrived but needed a loop around the city to locate our pub hotel room which was right outside the city walls. After cleaning up we walked the walls anti-clockwise (a British term) from Fishers Gate to Michelgate where we went into town and ate at a pub. Teresa had a Greek Salad. I had a burger with mushrooms and bleu cheese on panini with salad and fries. We were both very happy with our choices. We then walked through the town. We both got a strawberry-peach custard pastry as dessert. More walking, then back to the hotel.
Next morning I grabbed a pastry and coke on the way to the two hour and 15 minute walking tour of the city. It was free and a good value. We had a little bit of rain but it didn't cause problems for the tour.
After the tour we visited the shrine of St. Margaret Clitherow. Queen Elizabeth I had made it a capital offense to say Mass or provide a place to say mass in Britain. St. Margaret had allowed a young priest to say mass in her house. She was found out. The priest was hanged, drawn and quartered. St. Margaret, being a women, didn't suffer as horrible a death. She was laid down on a bridge and a door put on top of her. Rocks were placed on the door until she was squashed to death.
We then went to York Minister, the cathedral, and took a tour. We then climbed the tower and afterward toured the underworks which included the Roman Basilica, the Norman foundations and the medieval buildings. We walked around a little more before visiting the York Art Gallery. After that we walked around the town until we satisfied ourselves that we had seen it all. Back to the room. The weather wasn't great so we decided to eat at our B & B's pub. Teresa had Chicken Orange, I had Chicken Curry. Pretty good on both counts.
Next we went Helmsley where we ate some lunch and took an audio tour of the castle ruins. Then on to Durham and our B & B. For dinner we found a small Italian place. The starter of Garlic Bread Pizza with cheese was the best part of the meal. We walked around a little while before heading back to the B & B.
Next was Chester's Roman Fort on the Wall near the Trina River.
Next was Homsteads Roman Fort which was the most extensive and had the best views.
The next morning we headed to the Cotswolds which were very disappointing. We went to Broadway, Stow on Wold, Bourton on the Water and Northleaches. Bourton on the Water was the only one worth seeing or photographing.
For dinner we went to the Hog's Head which went non-smoking that day. The rest of UK did it July 1, 2007, which kept us from frequenting too many pubs since we were a bit early.