Day 1: Depart USA
We depart the US today and fly overnight to London, England. Sit back and enjoy. We look forward to 14 days of exciting adventure as we explore the highlights of the United Kingdom.
Day 2: Arrive London
We arrive in London and are met by our Pilgrim Tour guide who will be with us the entire tour. Our tour will begin with a visit to Windsor Castle. Windsor Castle, the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world, is one of the official residences of Her Majesty The Queen. The Castle's dramatic site encapsulates 900 years of British history. It covers an area of 26 acres and contains, as well as a royal palace, a magnificent chapel and the homes and workplaces of a large number of people. This afternoon we check into our hotel and enjoy a welcome dinner together this evening.
Day 3: London
We enjoy a full day city tour of London. We begin with a visit to the British Museum. Founded in 1753 by Act of Parliament, from the collections of Sir Hans Sloane, the British Museum is one of the great museums of the world, showing the works of man from prehistoric to modern times with collections drawn from the whole world. Famous objects include the Rosetta Stone, sculptures from the Parthenon, the Sutton Hoo and Mildenhall treasures and the Portland Vase. Next we visit the Tower of London, founded nearly a millennium ago and expanded upon over the centuries since, the Tower of London has protected, housed, imprisoned and been for many the last sight they saw on Earth. It has been the seat of British government and the living quarters of monarchs ... the site of renown political intrigue, and the repository of the Crown Jewels ... It has housed lions, bears, and (to this day) flightless ravens ... not to mention notorious traitors and framed members of court, lords and ministers, clergymen and knights. This afternoon we enjoy a visit to Madam Tausaud’s – where else can you savor two centuries of fame and notoriety, and tell the great and good exactly what you think of them? In 1835, Marie Tussaud - former sculptor to the court of Louis XVI - established a sideshow of waxworks of famous contemporary and historical figures (not to mention some gruesome relics of the French Revolution). Today, queues stretch hundreds of yards down Marylebone Road all summer long, as tourists and children rush to rub shoulders with Kylie, Posh, Becks, and Brad Pitt. In addition to some astonishingly lifelike sculptures, there are also a number of interactive attractions: you can score a winning goal for England under the watchful eye of David Beckham, give a speech at the UN flanked by world leaders, or sing and dance on stage with Beyonce, Britney and Kylie. If that's not terrifying enough there's always the incredibly popular and gorgeously gory Chamber of Horrors.
Day 4: Oxford and Stratford Upon Avon
We check out of our hotel this morning and depart London and travel across the Chiltern Hills to Oxford. Oxford, the 'City of Dreaming Spires,' whose hushed courtyards have inspired generations of scholars and writers such as Lewis Carroll who wrote 'Alice in Wonderland', C.S. Lewis who wrote 'Chronicles of Narnia' and the immortal J.R.R. Tolkein, author of 'Lord of the Rings’. After our time in Oxford, we continue through the Cotswalds steeped in history and heritage, the area of England known as the Cotswolds is a charming blend of cottages with honey-coloured walls and thatched roofs, market towns with crooked half-timbered houses lining the High Street, and ancient stone crosses, all set in the gently rolling hills ('wolds') that are so typically English in character. The Cotswolds landscape has been shaped by its long history as a centre of wool production, your Guide will tell you all about the 'Cotswold Lion!' Our last stop of the day is at Stratford Upon Avon which is renowned for being the birthplace of the world-famous playwright William Shakespeare. We'll visit the Tudor-style birthplace of William Shakespeare, gaining a fascinating insight into his childhood with its typical parlour, bedrooms, kitchen, buttery and the glove-maker's workshop used by John, Shakespeare's father. This afternoon we travel to Cardiff, the Capital of Wales. Within the compact city centre you'll find unique attractions, top class entertainment – and quality shopping with a difference. Innovative architecture sits alongside historic buildings, the bustle of the city centre is only a few strides from acres of peaceful parklands.
Day 5: Bath
This morning depart for Bath, with an opportunity to view Pulteney Bridge. The Bridge, together with the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, is one of the world's most beautiful bridges. Like the Ponte Vecchio it is one of a handful of historic bridges in the world with shops built into it. Built for William Pulteney by Robert Adams, the bridge was an attempt to connect central Bath to land on the other bank of the River Avon and make Pulteney's fortune. In spite of its practical origins it is surely the most romantic bridge in the world, best viewed from Parade Gardens park by the crescent weir. While in Bath we will enjoy a panoramic tour of Bath including the Square, residence of famous British author, Jane Austen, the Circus, design inspiration from the ancient standing stones of nearby Stanton Drew and Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem, the Royal Crescent, one of the world's best known landmarks and Bath Abbey, the last of the great medieval churches of England. This afternoon is free to explore Bath on our own or enjoy an optional tour of the Roman Baths. We return to Cardiff where we will enjoy our dinner and overnight.
Day 6: Newport and Caerleon
We begin our day with a visit to Wales’ youngest city Newport and see the Tredegar House, set amidst 90 acres of award-wining parkland and one of the finest late 17th century mansions in the UK. The earliest surviving part of the building dates back to the early 1500’s. Here we will take part in a guided tour of the spectacular grand staterooms and history of the Morgan family and the notorious pirate, Sir Henry Morgan. Nearby is Newport Transporter Bridge, built to cross one of the greatest tidal variations in the worldwide. Designed by the eminent French bridge engineer in 1906 and still in working order. Next we visit Raglan Castle, one of the last stone built castles in Britain, not only a strategic location but also provided the occupants with fine views of the surrounding countryside and the hills beyond. This castle may look less sturdy and imposing than some of Wales' earlier, more robust fortresses but it must have been strong enough, for it withstood the longest siege of the Civil War from June to August 1646. Despite centuries of depredation, it remains one of the finest late medieval buildings in the British Isles. Our final stop of the day is the town of Caerleon. A town steeped in history, in 75AD Isca Silurum was established as a permanent garrison for the Second Augustian Legion 5,600 strong. The town changed to Caerleon, 'Fort of the Legions'. Explore the amphitheatre built in 90AD, Europe’s only remaining legionary barrack blocks and the Fortress Baths. History continues with the arrival of the Normans in the 11th-century, how a duel in the 17th-century founded a charity school, see the Tudor Inn where Idylls of the Kings was written, and why battlement walls were needed in the 19th-century.
Day 7: Cardiff to Edinburgh
This morning we check out of our hotel and fly to Edinburgh. Upon our arrival in Edinburgh we meet our Scottish tour guide and take part in a orientation tour of Edinburgh. Edinburgh, the inspiring capital of Scotland, is a historic, cosmopolitan and cultured city. The setting is wonderfully striking; the city is perched on a series of extinct volcanoes and rocky crags which rise from the generally flat landscape of the Lothians, with the sheltered shoreline of the Firth of Forth to the north. Edinburgh Castle dominates the city-centre skyline and from its ramparts you can look down on medieval lanes and elegant, sweeping terraces that hold over a thousand years of history, mystery and tradition. Yet you will also see a modern, dynamic capital where international festivals attract the world's leading performers, galleries display cutting-edge art, and bars, restaurants and clubs create a lively, cosmopolitan atmosphere with a distinctly Scottish twist. 'Edinburgh,' said writer Robert Louis Stevenson, 'is what Paris ought to be'. This afternoon we visit Edinburgh Castle, the most famous of Scottish castles and then on to the St. Giles Cathedral. The St Giles' Cathedral is the historic City Church of Edinburgh. With its famed crown spire it stands on the Royal Mile between Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh, it is the Mother Church of Presbyterianism. Late this afternoon we check into our Edinburgh Hotel where we will enjoy our dinner and overnight.
Day 8: St. Andrew’s
Today depart Edinburgh and travel to St. Andrews along the Forth Road Bridge from which you can see the Forth Railway Bridge. Located 9 miles (14 km) west of Edinburgh, the Forth Railway Bridge is a remarkable cantilever structure which is still regarded as an engineering marvel and is recognised the world over. The bridge was built to carry the two tracks of the North British Railway the 1½ miles (2½ km) over the Firth of Forth between South Queensferry and North Queensferry, at a height of 46m (150 feet) above the high tide. St. Andrews, Known as the home of golf, and home of Scotland's oldest university, is a small town with a sizeable
reputation that attracts visitors from all over the world. We will take part in a visit to St. Andrew’s Castle and the ruins of the castle of the Archbishops of St Andrews, dating in part from the 13th century. Notable features include 'bottle-dungeon' and mine and counter-mine tunneled during the siege that followed the murder of Cardinal Beaton in 1546. These siege works are the finest of their kind in Europe. A fascinating exhibition in the visitor centre brings the history of the castle and cathedral to life. Next we tour St. Andrew’s Cathedral. The remains of the largest cathedral in Scotland. The Cathedral Museum houses an outstanding collection of early and later medieval sculpture and other relics found on the site. We return to Edinburgh this afternoon as we drive along the coast, passing charming coastal towns such as Crail, Pittwnweem and Anstruther.
Day 9: Glasgow
We check out of our Edinburgh hotel and travel to Glasgow this morning. Upon our arrival we take part on a tour of Glasgow. Scotland's biggest city is a revelation to its growing number of visitors. We’ll enjoy a tour of Glasgow Cathedral which is one of the few Scottish medieval churches to have survived the Reformation unscathed, Glasgow Cathedral is truly magnificent, full of beauty and wonder. This afternoon we enjoy a visit to Kelvingrove's art gallery. The gallery offers exhibits such as the fully restored Spitfire LA198 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron. Kelvingrove also houses a superb collection of paintings by (among others) Botticelli, Rembrandt, Monet, Van Gogh & Picasso.
Day 10: To Ireland
This morning we depart Glasgow and travel to Cairnryan where we will take a ferry to Belfast. Upon our arrival in Belfast, we enjoy a tour of the city. Our tour will take in 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. Your tour will pass by the City Hall, the Opera house, The Crown Bar (dates from 1885), Queens University and the Botanic Gardens. Some tours will take in a visit to the Harland and Wolfe Shipyard, where the Titanic was built and launched in 1912. This afternoon we check into our Belfast hotel where we will enjoy our dinner and overnight.
Day 11: The Antrim Coast
Travel along the coast of Northern Ireland this morning with a visit to Giant’s Causeway. The Causeway was formed when red-hot lava erupted onto the surface of the earth. It was quickly cooled by the sea, which crystallised it and formed it into the 40,000 basalt polygonal columns, which today form the Giants Causeway. A must on any visit to the North of Ireland, the Causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is often referred to as the 'Eighth Wonder of the World’. This afternoon we make our way to Derry where we will enjoy a walking tour of this walled city. Derry was the last walled city to be built in Ireland. Walking the walls enables you to enjoy the overview of the Bogside on one side and the Waterside on the other. A walk on the walls is a walk back in time as they have always played an important role in the history of this famous city.
Day 12: County Sligo
We travel south this morning towards County Sligo via Belleek Pottery (not open during weekends). Belleek Pottery has been producing high quality Parian China at their factory in Belleek since its establishment in 1857. Visitors are invited to visit the factory and to see first hand, how this world-renowned pottery is created. There is an excellent retail shop and café / restaurant which serves its wares on Belleek china. This afternoon we enjoy County Sligo's beautiful scenery which was an inspiration for Yeats, who is buried at Drumcliff Churchyard, under loaf-shaped Benbulben Mountain. The lakes of Sligo, with their still waters and wooded islands, are truly spectacular, and form a striking contrast to the county's rugged uplands. The imposing Neolithic cairn on the summit of Knocknarea, known locally as Queen Maeve's grave, is a striking landmark. At Carrowmore, you'll find the largest megalithic cemetery in Ireland. We'll take in a visit to Carrowmore Cemetery which has over 60 stone circle and passage tombs making it one of the largest Stone Age cemeteries in Europe. It is the oldest Megalithic cemetery in Ireland as is said to have had over 100 tombs of which 60 still exist today.
Day 13: Causey Farm and Dublin
Depart County Sligo and travel to Ireland’s capital city, Dublin. En route we make a stop at Causey Farm. Causey farm is a working farm in County Meath, which opens its doors to the visitor and allows the visitor to see, first hand, how farmers earn their living. It is not all work for the visitor and during your visit you will experience how the Irish traditionally enjoy themselves with food, sports, music and dance. Various opportunities will await such as turf cutting, bread making, learn the art of Hurling, become an Irish Dancer, learn to speak Gaelic or become an expert in handling sheep and sheep dogs. After lunch at Causey Farm, we continue to Dublin where we will enjoy an orientation tour before checking into our hotel for our dinner and overnight.
Day 14: Return Home or Begin Irish Extension
After a final Irish breakfast transfer to Dublin Airport for departure flight home or begin your 3 day Irish extension.
Ireland 3 Day Extension • June 10-13, 2013
Day 1: Dublin's Fair City to Cork
This morning meet with your English speaking guide and enjoy a panoramic tour of Dublin City. Our tour will take us to the statue lined O’Connell Street, elegant Georgian squares and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Visit Oscar Wilde’s Trinity College, famous for the 1,200 year old Book of Kells and the magnificent Old Library. This afternoon we travel to Cork where we will enjoy our dinner and overnight.
Day 2: Cork to Kerry
This morning visit Blarney Castle. Attracting visitors from all over the world, Blarney Castle is an ancient stronghold of the McCarthy's and is one of Ireland's oldest and most historic castles. Built in 1446, Blarney Castle is famous for its Blarney stone - The Stone of Eloquence, which is traditionally believed, to have the power to bestow the gift of eloquence on all those who kiss it. Many legends tell the story of the Stone, but why not kiss it and find out the truth behind the legend. We’ll enjoy some time at the Blarney Woollen Mills. The presence of the Woollen Mills during the famine shielded Blarney from the worst effects of the famine, due to its employment of local workers. The success story at the mills continued until a disastrous fire in 1869. By August 1871, the mill was once again operational with a labor force of 222. In 1976 Chris Kelleher, himself a mill worker, bought the old mill property. Within a short period of time Chris and his family transformed the mill into what is perhaps the largest quality craft shop in Ireland. Next we enjoy the highlights of the ring of Kerry - Molls Gap & Ladies View. Molls’ Gap is a spectacular photographic viewing point on the famous Ring of Kerry Tour and famous Ladies View viewing point with gives a different perspective of this magnificent countryside, with the 3 Lakes of Killarney all surrounded by the Kerry Mountains. Ladies View received its name from Queen Victoria, who was so impressed with the view that she insisted that her ladies-in-waiting should also visit here. This evening we enjoy our dinner and overnight in the Kerry region.
Day 3: Kerry to Limerick
This morning we drive north to the Burren Region which is truly an exceptional part of Ireland. Next we visit the Cliffs of Moher situated on the Atlantic Ocean and bordering the Burren Area. The Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland's most spectacular sights. Standing 230 metres above the ground at their highest point and 8km long, the Cliffs boast one of the most amazing views in Ireland. On a clear day, the Aran Islands are visible in Galway Bay as well as the valleys and hills of Connemara. This evening we have the opportunity to enjoy an optional Bunratty Medevial Banquet at Bunratty Castle. Bunratty Castle, was built in the 15th century by the Earl of Thomond and stands on the banks of the Rathy River. From here The Earl ruled over his Chiefdom and entertained lavishly. For over 40 years the ladies of the Castle, aided and abetted by the Earl's Butler, have welcomed guests from the four corners of the globe to join them at The Earl's Banquet. The entertainment provided by the Bunratty Singers is a fitting compliment to a four course meal, a lively meal reception and of course good wine. The banquet is held twice nightly throughout the year.
Day 4: Return Home
We transfer to the airport this morning and fly home.