My heart has truly been stolen by this country in more ways than one. I was fortunate enough to go on an amazing spring break trip around Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, and Wales.
I was able to see the unique culture that is spread around the British Isles and Ireland. From the rolling hills of Scotland to the shores of Ireland me and Denae who is also studying at AHA London Centre sought out adventure with the purpose of seeing the places we had learned in our Britain Today class. In Britain Today, a wonderful class taught by one of the AHA London Centre professors, we have learned about the complicated relationships between the English people and their conquered territories of Scotland and Ireland.
Aberdeen– “The Granite City”
Our first stop was Aberdeen, Scotland. Aberdeen is in the northern part of Scotland and is now the closest city to the oilrigs and is the largest seaport in the northeast. Aberdeen is home to one of the busiest heliports in the world, the city is nearly completely comprised of buildings made of granite, and was an interesting place to try and search for strong Celtic traditions. We learned all bout the strong ties to the sea at the Aberdeen Maritime Museum- well worth a visit if you are ever in the area. It was an amazing museum that visually demonstrated the city’s influence on ships, oil rigs, and other sea related activities. Though we came up short in our search for a traditional Scottish traditions we were able to learn about the influence the sea has on the Scottish people in the area.
View from the Aberdeen Maritime Museum
After a beautiful train ride through the highlands we reached our next destination, Inverness! Inverness is right on the edge of the highlands and is the town closest to Loch Ness. The city was centered around a beautiful river and in between lovely rolling hills. It was nice to be in the country, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and able to enjoy the peaceful nature that loomed around.
We took a ferry ride around Loch Ness, and were amazed how much it reminded us of the Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest. As we entered the ferry and started our trip around the loch the sun began to peek through the clouds. On the edge of the loch is situated an ancient castle ruins, Urquhart Castle, where several ancient kings of Scotland resided. The ancient ruins mapped out the transitions the areas have seen during the fight for Scotland.
Loch Ness — crazy similar looking to the Puget Sound area!
Loch Ness is most famously recognized for the Loch Ness Monster who is believed to have been residing in Loch Ness for several centuries. The monster has brought tourists and hunters from around the globe to search the deep waters of Loch Ness.
Bazpackers Hostel– amazing!
The area around Inverness was rejuvenating and breathtaking. Not only was the area beautiful but the people were some of the friendliest I have ever met. We were blessed with a hostel filled with adventurous and kind people willing to sit down over a cup of tea and share travel stories. Not only did we get our fill of Scottish highlands but we were able to hear some raw and wonderful Celtic music!
Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness
After two amazing days in Inverness we took another train through the Scottish highlands down south to Glasgow where we spend just over twelve hours. Glasgow was not as unique as Inverness but did provide us with a wonderful meal of Haggis- traditional Scottish food! I’ll leave a link at the bottom if you want to know what makes up this tasty meal!
Snowy hills of Scotland
Woke up early in Glasgow, made our way to the airport, and after a short hop across the water were in Belfast, Northern Ireland! Many who know me personally know that I love Titanic! Belfast was where the Titanic was built and has strong ties to boat making, having built many of the largest, fasted ships of all time! After walking down the Titanic trail we ended up at the Titanic Belfast museum and spent over two hours going through the amazing museum that told the history of Belfast’s ship building, Titanic’s creation, and its sad sinking.
The museum helped take Titanic from the big screen into reality. It hit me that so many people in the United States, Europe, and even more so in Belfast were affected. The people of Belfast spend years imagining, creating, and perfecting Titanic just to see it fall to the bottom of the Atlantic. Thousands died that day and their memories are not lost to the people of Belfast.
In the afternoon we explored the now modern city- found a wonderful hamburger and milkshake shop, walked around the shopping area, and Denae even tried out for Britain’s XFactor! Though it wasn’t a successful audition it was great fun to interact with the Belfast people!
The next morning we were off to Dublin! As many know Northern Ireland is disconnected from the Republic of Ireland and have been since the mid 1900s. Ireland has a long history of discontent and hatred towards the English. The English often dominated the lands of Ireland, claiming them for their own, and you can tell there is still some hatred between the two lands. Northern Ireland has remained with the United Kingdom due to their protestant beliefs. Ireland is a majority Catholic state and because of the religious differences between the north and south were separated.
Trinity College, Dublin
It was wonderful to be able to compare the two parts of Ireland! Our time in Dublin was most definitely a walking time. We walked everywhere! It was a wonderful way to see the city and try and take in the unique culture!
The Temple Bar, Dublin
Temple Bar is a wonderful area in Dublin known for its traditional Irish pubs that nightly have Celtic performers. We went to the most famous bar, The Temple Bar, had a pint of Guinness and listened to a wonderful group of guys who entertained us with the best Irish music!
Cafe perfect for people watching!
After a satisfying night of Irishness we went back to our hostel and got a good nights sleep to help us rejuvenate for our full day in Dublin! We woke up, took a stroll along the river that runs through Dublin, and then took an amazing guided walking tour of Dublin! We had an enthusiastic guide that helped bring the history of Ireland and Dublin to life.
As we walked through the streets of Dublin he made us feel like we were stepping into a historical time bubble! This tour made us see the beauty in what could have easily been seen as just another European city. Dublin came alive and our eyes were opened to an Irish history we had never known about, and I know I will continue try and discover.
Outside Dublin Castle
After two days in Dublin exploring Irish culture we hopped on a ferry, met wonderful, extremely friendly Irish people who made us feel so welcomed and sad to leave this country, and made our way to our final stop Wales!
Our time in Wales was a travel time. We took two trains and a bus and were able to see the Welsh countryside. It was beautifully green, the meadows were filled with either sheep, mini horses, or different wildlife, the hills seemed to go on forever, and it was overwhelmingly peaceful. This travelling around the Welsh countryside was a wonderful end to an amazing adventure!
Dublin High Street
Once we got to Cardiff we were more then ready for dinner and then a short wait to get back to the city we had come to miss so much—London! It is true when people say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. My spring break trip overwhelmingly amazing.
I was able to explore the United Kingdom and Ireland—a culture that I have come to love so dearly. I was able to meet people who genuinely loved to explore this amazing world we live on, people who love the culture they were born into, and people who were ready to take moments out of their day to share a piece of themselves with a traveler like me. I’m excited for the next few weeks I have left here in the UK and cannot wait for my next adventure!
Loch Ness Monster- http://www.nessie.co.uk/htm/the_evidence/sight.html
BEST HOSTEL EVER! http://www.bazpackershostel.co.uk
Titanic Belfast- http://www.titanicbelfast.com
Temple Bar- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_Bar,_Dublin
Amazing Walking tour Dublin- http://www.vikingpubcrawl.com/viking-free-walking-tour.html
Miniature Horses! http://www.bmhs.co.uk