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Price Per person double occupancy
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Price Includes: Very nice 3 1/2 and moderate 4 star hotels, breakfast daily, 8 dinners (beverages not included), modern transportation, sightseeing as listed, baggage handling for 1 piece per person, and taxes
Not Included: Airfare, fuel charges, air taxes, travel/cancellation insurance, lunches, 6 dinners, gratuities to driver and guide.
Deposit Required: $300 per person will reserve your place. A $100 service fee will be charged for cancellation at any time in addition to our normal payment and cancellation policy.
Day 1: Depart for Ireland
We begin our adventure to the Emerald Isle with an overnight flight to Dublin, Ireland. Sit back, rest and enjoy the in-flight service.
Day 2: Welcome to Ireland
Arrive at Dublin airport. Transfer to your Dublin hotel under own arrangement. You are free to explore the city at your leisure this afternoon as your hotel will be within walking distance of the city center. This evening we enjoy an Irish welcome dinner together.
Day 3: Ireland's Midlands, Blarney Castle & Kerry
After breakfast we depart Dublin and travel to the town of Blarney for a visit to Blarney Castle and it’s magical Kissing Stone. We’ll take some time to enjoy shopping at 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.
Day 4: Ring of Kerry
Discover the famed Ring of Kerry for a 100-mile panoramic drive around the island’s southwestern tip. We’ll take in spectacular scenery - mountains, peat bogs, lakes and magnificent views of the Atlantic Ocean. We’ll make a visit to Muckross House, which was built in 1843 by the Herbert Family, in Elizabethan style. This house is one of the prettiest residences of Ireland. Muckross, surrounded by beautiful gardens, is in the heart of the Killarney National Park.
Day 5: Burren & Cliffs
This morning we travel northwards to Tarbert and take a short boat ride across the mouth of the river Shannon to land on Clare’s shore at Killimer. We make our way to the Cliffs of Moher. These majestic cliffs in Ireland rise from the Atlantic Ocean over 600 feet and extend for over4 miles. On a clear day, you can admire the Aran Islands, the Connemara Mountains and the many sea birds that live here on the cliffs. This afternoon we tour the Burren Region. The Burren is a strange and unique region in Europe. “Burren” means “large stones” and its name describes this impressive scenery perfectly well. You will also discover the testimonies of its rich history thanks to countless castles and monastic ruins. This evening you may enjoy an Medieval Banquet at Bunratty Castle. Guests are invited to enjoy an unforgettable evening in the splendor of this magnificent castle.
Day 6: Kilkenny to Dublin
After breakfast, we travel to Dublin via the medieval city of Kilkenny, which is perhaps the most attractive city in the country. Visit Cahir Castle en route, a stunning 15th century castle set on a small island in the River Suir. Here you will take a guided tour of the castle once the stronghold of the powerful Butler Family. Continue onto Kilkenny, visiting Ballyowen House along the way. Here you will have a tour of the house and stables, conducted by the owners. Guests will also enjoy tea, coffee, and fresh scones in the main dining room. Your lodging for the next two evenings will be in Dublin.
Day 7: Downpatrick, St. Patrick Centre
On arrival in County Down, visit the story of St Patrick and his place in Ireland’s history at the St Patrick Centre, located beside Down Cathedral and St Patricks Grave in the Medieval heart of Downpatrick. It features an interpretative exhibition which tells the fascinating story of Ireland's Patron Saint. The visit begins with the impressive 'In the Footsteps of Saint Patrick' Imax presentation about the life of St Patrick and has aerial video footage of some of the landmark sites in Ireland associated with the Saint. A series of interactive displays allow visitors to explore how Patrick's legacy developed in early Christian times and reveal the fabulous artwork and metalwork which was produced during this Golden Age. The exhibition also examines the major impact of Irish missionaries in Dark Age Europe - a legacy which remains to this day.
Down Cathedral overlooking Downpatrick, stands close to what is believed to be the mortal remains of Patrick, the Patron saint of Ireland. Visitors can access the cathedral via gardens at the back of the St Patricks Centre or through English street from the town centre. The Cathedral is impressive inside and has a wonderful organ and a very interesting seating arrangement. It is generally accepted that the main walls of the Cathedral date from the years after 1220. It suffered destruction on numerous occasions including during the wars with Edward Bruce in 1316 and finally, on the suppression of the monasteries in 1541, the Cathedral was laid waste. Rather than lose the connection with Patrick, the name began to be used for the growing town, which assumed the name Downpatrick. What the visitor sees now is an almost entirely new interior, a replica of that which it replaced. Return to your hotel in Dublin.
Day 8: Arrival in London, Hampton Court Palace
Upon our arrival in London, our tour director meets us at the airport and we begin our tour at Hampton Court Palace. In 1604, James I commissioned the King James Version of the Bible during the Hampton Court Conference and we visit the room where it happened. In the Chapel Royal, we hear how Henry VIII’s decision to allow production of the Bible was influenced by his last wife, Catherine Parr. After the tour we have time to stroll through the beautiful gardens and try and find our way to the center of the hedge maze. Our welcome meal is at our hotel this evening. Our hotel is in London for the next three nights.
Day 9: Westminster Abbey, Thames River Boat Tour, London Eye
We begin our day at the magnificent Westminster Abbey where most British Kings and Queens since 1066 have been crowned and the final resting place of many monarchs, heroes and poets. In 2013, on the 50th anniversary of his death, C. S. Lewis will join some of Britain's greatest writers recognized here at Poets' Corner. Although not open to the public now, we will learn about historic events in the Jerusalem Chamber. It was used by the 17 men who translated the first third of the King James Bible Old Testament and the last half of the New Testament. Between 1644 and 1647, the Westminster Assembly met here to prepare the Westminster Confession of Faith. Next, we enjoy the “Changing of the Guards” at Buckingham Palace before a guided tour boat ride including all the sites along the Thames, concluding with a flight aboard the British Airways London Eye, the world's highest observation wheel offering amazing panoramic views of the capital city. The remainder of your day is free for shopping and sightseeing on your own…don’t forget to stop by Harrod’s. This evening our dinner will be on our own to be enjoyed at a local London restaurant of your choice.
Day 10: Spurgeon’s Metropolitan Tabernacle, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Bunhill Cemetery, Tower of London
This morning we visit the Metropolitan Tabernacle, where the great Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) held his great revival meetings. He preached to as many as 6,000 people every Sunday, with copies of his sermons printed and distributed worldwide. During his lifetime he preached to an estimated ten million people. It’s still a thriving congregation in the center of London. Next we visit St. Paul’s Cathedral, a marvelous building designed by Sir Christopher Wren and recently renovated to its former splendor. This afternoon we’ll enjoy a visit to Bunhill Cemetery where John Bunyan, Isaac Watts, John Gill and Susanna Wesley are all buried, before we tour the Tower of London, including the famous Crown Jewels.
Day 11: Salisbury, Stonehenge and Oxford
We depart London and make our way west to the Wessex area. Our first stop is in Salisbury for a visit to the famous cathedral. The builders of the gothic church claimed it to be "so great a church to the glory of God that those who come after us will think us mad even to have attempted it." Once again we are on our way to yet another wondrous sight, the Neolithic monument of Stonehenge which dates to around 2800 BC. Following lunch we turn northward to our lodging this evening in Oxford. The remainder of the day is free to stroll through this delightful town before dinner.
Day 12: Oxford, C. S. Lewis Tour, Stratford-upon-Avon
This morning, our local guide leads us on a tour of Oxford, including the Reformers Monument and the Cathedral. Famous Oxford alumni include: Charles and John Wesley, Lewis Carroll, William Penn, Albert Einstein, John Locke and C. S. Lewis who was later on staff. It was here that Lewis embraced Christianity, influenced by arguments with his Oxford colleague and friend J. R. R. Tolkien. He fought greatly up to the moment of his conversion, noting that he was brought into Christianity like a prodigal, "kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance to escape”. We begin our C. S. Lewis Tour at the Headington Quarry Church, where Lewis attended and is buried. We also view the Kilns, house bought by C. S. Lewis, where he wrote "I never hoped for the like." We continue on to the Eagle and Child pub with it’s rich and colorful history for lunch. By the 1930s, the pub became one of two gathering spots for Lewis and his literary-minded colleagues and friends known as the Inklings. This afternoon we depart Oxford and set out for the charming Cotswold region. Driving through the beautiful small villages with the rolling brooks and bridges we arrive in Stratford-upon-Avon to surround ourselves by the world’s famous playwright Shakespeare. Upon arrival we view Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and stop for a tour of Shakespeare’s home in the picturesque village of Stratford-upon-Avon. This evening our lodging and dinner will be in Nottingham.
Day 13: Stratford, York, Edinburgh
After breakfast we continue north to York. York today remains as a true representation of medieval England. Taking a walking tour through these historic streets we arrive at York Minster, England’s largest cathedral. Inside you view the great stained glass window dating back to 1338 and reputably the size of a doubles tennis court. After lunch we continue northward to our lodging for the next three nights in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland.
Day 14: Edinburgh, Castle, St. Giles Cathedral, John Knox
This morning we enjoy a tour of Edinburgh which takes us to the historic sites of the Edinburgh Castle, the Queen’s Holyrood Palace and points out the Royal Mile. We visit the 15th century house where John Knox, leader of the Scottish Reformation and founder of the Presbyterian Church, lived for a short time before he died. Today it is a museum that holds an exhibition about his life. We also visit St. Giles Cathedral to which Knox was appointed minister of the church and listen to the guides testimony of Knox’s great personal sacrifice and the contribution of his powerful sermons. Free time will be allowed today for your sightseeing and shopping pleasure. Your evening is free to eat in one of the local restaurants.
Day 15: St. Andrews and Stirling Castle
This morning we enjoy a morning tour of St. Andrews whose Royal and Ancient Golf Club, founded in 1754, has given us the rules of golfing. Stroll through the town, walk along the North Sea jetties that border the manicured fairways and visit the ruins of the cathedral, destroyed during the Reformation. This afternoon we enjoy a tour of Stirling Castle. Stirling is one of the largest and most important castles, both historically and architecturally, in Scotland. The castle sits atop Castle Hill, an intrusive crag, which forms part of the Stirling Sill geological formation. It is surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs, giving it a strong defensive position. Its strategic location, guarding what was, until the 1890s, the farthest downstream crossing of the River Forth, has made it an important fortification from the earliest times. Several Scottish Kings and Queens have been crowned at Stirling, including Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1542. There have been at least eight sieges of Stirling Castle, including several during the Wars of Scottish Independence, with the last being in 1746, when Bonnie Prince Charlie unsuccessfully tried to take the castle. We return to Edinburgh this afternoon and take part in a farewell Scottish dinner together with time to share with each other the highlights of our tour.
Day 16: Return Home
We fly out today with many fond memories of our time in the British Isles.