... TRAVEL....repeat

... TRAVEL....repeat

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

L E - H A V R E - Normandy France

31st May..

Let me begin by mentioning that the weather today was so wet and gloomy... there were flood warnings in Europe and there seemed no chance of let up in the rain. Our initial plans to make our way to Honfleur didn't pan out due to the distance and transport woes....so we caught the shuttle into Le Havre for a little look around.

War memorial statue...

Le Havre natural history museum... which housed some lovely exhibits..

Le Havre Cathedral..

...and probably the highlight of our stop... the 'funiculaire' or cable car... that took us to the top of the hill and back down....a beautiful view... out of the rain....and for next to nothing.

 It was then back to the ship.... we needed to pack and and get ready for our early start.
Although this was a sad night...our last evening on the Caribbean Princess we were also excited because  tomorrow morning we had early flights to Amsterdam and that was going to be epic!

E D I N B U R G H - Scotland

29th May..

It was a cold morning as we caught the shuttle from the port into beautiful Edinburgh.
We set out on a lovely walk from the shuttle stop to the Royal Mile.
Edinburgh has more than its share of beautiful buildings... and monuments.... The Scott Monument is an impressive 200+ feet high.

Once again I was mesmerised by the pipers as we passed..... Dad...I wish you still played.

Our first stop was The Edinburgh Dungeons....  we had pre-booked tickets here for a taste of something totally different.... a bit of theatre and suspense. It was a very interactive type of show with some unexpected frights and a giant drop at the end.
It was loosely educational.... but more about the drama and scare factor.

We were always shadowed by the grand scale of  Edinburgh castle  sitting up on the hill overlooking the city.

 We wandered the Royal Mile.... stopping here and there for souvenirs...and to visit some of the woolen /tartan stores.... there is such a lot of history about the clans...tartans... and traditions that we found so interesting.

We may have visited the odd church or maybe two...

After our morning on foot...we pushed our way into a noisy and crowded pub at lunchtime ... and luckily found a table near the back....Donna put on her brave pants and ordered the haggis. We all had a taste and although it wasn't unpleasant...I was happy to leave it to her.

Thanks Scotland for having us.... I really hope I can visit again one day. (although Ill probably skip the haggis)

Saturday, August 6, 2016


28th May...

A lovely early start this morning.... we had pre-booked a Highlands Tour with Nigel and we were excited to get started. Nigel was fantastic...so welcoming with a real sense of fun. We were lucky to have Nigels son Thomas as our tour guide for the day.

We set off to lovely Dornoch for our first stop... Ian walked across the greens of the 'Royal Dornoch Gold Course... no time for a game though.

The drive was so scenic...although by now we expected no less.
These Hairy highland cows (Hairy coos) ... were so lovely..

 ...and hairy sheep too..

Our next stop was a castle that appears to be straight from a fairy-tale ....the beautiful 13th century  Dunrobin Castle.

Once again we were greeted by a piper...

Stepping inside we could see it was quite different to Stirling castle... and the tour through the castle was just beautiful... once we stepped out of the foyer...photos were not allowed. Their obvious love of safari hunting was evident in the house and inside the museum onsite.

The view from the castle windows showed spectacular manicured gardens...

Then once down in the gardens....the view back to the front of the castle was breathtaking.

The timing was perfect to attend the falconry display.... gosh that was interesting and a lot of fun. The Falconer had such control of these birds as they swooped in low over our heads and showed us their speed and hunting abilities.
My photos are all of the cute fluffy owl because he was slow enough for me to capture.... the falcons were so fast...all my camera captured was a blur.

From Dunrobin we headed to Shin Falls... these waterfalls are the spot to watch the salmon leaping back up the stream.... we didn't see any ourselves no matter how long and hard we looked.

A quick stop at 'Millionaires View' . with its spectacular view of the mountains of Sutherland and the Shin river.

Our final stop of the day was the Glenmorangie Whiskey Distillery.. we took a very educational tour of the distillery... and a tasting at the end... a lovely way to end the day.

 Thanks for another amazing day Scotland.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

G L A S G O W - Scotland

26th May 

Ummm.... lets face it....what says "We are in Scotland!!" more than a piper greeting us.

After our incredible day in Belfast yesterday we made the decision to find ourselves a taxi driver again and get out into the country. Today's driver was John and he was brilliant. We mapped out the sites we wanted to see...and left the rest to him...and it couldn't have been better.

Our first brief stop was just out of Glasgow at Dumbarton Castle.... just a quick photo opp and then back in the car and onwards.

It was such a scenic drive through to  beautiful Luss...a little spot on the shores of Loch Lommand. It was impossible not to imagine living here.... although the cold might change my mind come winter.

 Just having a chuckle to myself here... photography rule #101 ... wait until tourist gets out of the frame! I captured a lovely sneaky photo moment of one poor unsuspecting tourist..haha

From Luss it was on to Stirling Castle...

Stirling Castle is one of Scotlands largest castles...constructed between 1490 and 1600 and has been besieged 16 times during its long and bloody history.
We really enjoyed or visit here... with entrance to the castle and incredible scenic views from the wall.

The interior was opulent and fit for a castle...although in my opinion it kind of lacked 'warm and cosy'

On the outer wall is a series of 'Stirling Sculptures' telling the story of James V's greatness....  although the one I captured here does look a little ghoulish.

We could see the famous 'Wallace Monument' in the distance....I sort of felt all 'Outlander'ish...

It was then farewell to Stirling....and into Glasgow....because we couldn't visit this part of Scotland and not set foot in Glasgow.

Glasgow Cathedral was on our list for a stop....and we were not disappointed.

 Then with our last final glimpse of this beautiful region we were back to the ship...exhausted and happy to have spent such an amazing day in Scotland.

Monday, August 1, 2016

B E L F A S T - Ireland

What an AMAZING day this turned out to be.

I still cant believe how we fitted everything in....but we did and I am so grateful.

From past experience we learnt not to procrastinate too long.... so we grabbed a taxi and headed out into the country. Out Taxi driver had such a broad accent we had quite a bit of trouble understanding him at times.. as he did us.. I'm sure.

Let me say this about Ireland.... you never tire of the view.... green paddocks for miles... hedges...white houses...sheep and rolling hills.

We followed the beautifully scenic coast road around to the Carrick-A -Rede rope bridge ... the bridge was first erected in 1755 by salmon fisherman.

 I cant begin to describe the view... beautiful green rolling hills turn into rugged cliffs and then meet the ocean.. plus a rope bridge... sigh.

We were blessed with the most beautiful weather....it was cool but pleasant and the long cliff top walk to and from the rope bridge soon warmed us up.

From the rope bridge it was a short drive to the incredible 'Giants Causeway' a world heritage site with the most spectacular volcanic rock formations... it seems impossible to imagine they weren't made by hand.

After climbing the rocks... taking in the view... and learning a little about this part of the coast we were back in our taxi and heading toward Belfast for a visit to the Titanic Belfast.

The Titanic Belfast was an amazing 6 levels of the Titanic story... from the building of the ship....the interiors of the cabins.... the story of the passengers and a moving story of the sinking.
Its incredibly well done and if our schedule wasn't so tight I know we could have spent many hours there... the highlight of the visit for me was the  glass floor section which shows the wreck exactly as it lies on the floor of the ocean today. It was so life sized and graphic.... so real.

Then if my day couldn't have been more special.... we caught a taxi into the City Hall for me to meet a long time Blogger / Scrapbooking friend Sian Fair (From High In The Sky). From the early beginnings of our trip Sian and I had kept in contact with the hopes of a catch-up. Its always difficult on a cruise as time in a port is limited and I held my fingers crossed for months hoping it would work out. I felt so thrilled when we made a time and place....and so grateful that Sian could make the time to meet me.... little old Mardi from down under.

We were waiting outside the city hall a little early...scanning the crowds waiting for Sian to appear...my heart skipped the moment she approached...it was surreal and Sian was just as I imagined... the sweetest  little package with the most musical Irish voice. (such a contrast to my booming ockerish aussie voice...oh well..we are what we are)

Our time was short and we left with so many more things to talk about.... but I am so grateful it worked out...and it was a very special highlight of my holiday. How lucky am I.