Correna’s Eastern Caribbean Cruise on the Royal Princess – Part 1

We arrived into Fort Lauderdale two days before our cruise. You will always want to arrive at least a day before as you never know what can happen. Since we are two ladies you know that shopping was in the cards so we arranged a rental car with Enterprise. We could have arranged for them to pick us up but decided to do the walk to the rental location.  The staff was very friendly and helpful. We did pay the extra for the GPS and it really came in handy.

Many people aren’t aware that your travel agent can arrange car rentals for you and can usually find a better rate than you can online as we have buying power and that usually drives a lower rate.

Now, onto our adventure. We left the car rental location and were at the first mall by 9:45am and back to the hotel by 8:00pm. Talk about sore feet and a much lighter wallet lol.  We managed to find some deals and it was great to shop at stores we don’t have at home!  We did find a great little BBQ joint for supper. Tomorrow we will be embarking and then off we go to the islands. Bye for now, until the next time I have Wifi 😊

The Emerald Isle With Stephanie – Part 3

The scenery in Ireland is some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. The past few days have consisted of scenic drives of the west coast. On the way from Limerick to Killarney, we start off with the Dingle Peninsula. This is the most stunning 46 km drive, and I highly recommend it if you are in the area. The coastline is unbelievable, with many spots to pull off for photo opportunities. You’ll want to give yourself up to 2 hours to complete the circle, especially if you want to take a lot of photos.

Dingle

Dingle Peninsula

The Ring of Kerry is the most well-known costal drive, and is longer than the Dingle Peninsula at 179 km in total. With stops for photos and snacks, this route will likely take you 4 or 5 hours from Killarney. If you can’t get enough of the jagged Irish coast, with crashing waves and green cliffs, be sure to take in both the Ring of Kerry and Dingle Peninsula.

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Blarney Castle

On our final days, as we make our way back up to Dublin before ending our journey, one of my favorite stops was Blarney Castle. The current castle dates back to 1446, though there are parts of the structure that date back to 1210. The Blarney Stone is located at the top of the castle, and you have the opportunity to hang upside down to kiss it. I opted not to, since it was wet and rainy. Since its still off season in Ireland, there were not a lot of crowds at the castle, which allowed me to get some fabulous photos inside and of the grounds. Some of the staircases are quiet narrow and steep, and often wet, so be sure to wear suitable shoes and go slowly.

The last day of the tour brought us back into Dublin, via the small town of Avoca. The Avoca Mill, which is Ireland’s oldest weaving mill, has been around since 1723. Though they haven’t been in production continuously since then, they are fully functioning today. The small staff of 18 produces beautiful hand and machine woven wool clothes, blankets and more. There is a shop on site of course, so you can treat yourself to a fabulous woolen piece for our chilly Saskatchewan winters.

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Avoca Mill

To finish everything off, Cosmos offers an optional excursion to Taylors Three Rock for a fun night of Irish Cabaret. You’ll be treated to a great 3 course meal, drinks, traditional Irish dance and folk singers. The hosts are fabulous, and have a great sense of humor. The venue is small and intimate, with every seat offering a good view of the stage. It’s a fabulous way to end the tour, with lots of laughs and good cheer.

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Irish Cabaret

It’s hard to believe my time in Ireland has come to an end. It feels like I have done so much, in such a small amount of time. I’ve made a complete circle of the island, and put on a lot of miles. I can’t wait until my adventures bring me back here again!

 

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The Emerald Isle With Stephanie – Part 2

I’m so glad this tour has included Northern Ireland.  Giant’s Causeway, and the whole northern coast, is not something to be missed. The stunningly beautiful landscape was formed from several volcanic eruptions, ranging from roughly 58 to 61 million years ago.  During your visit, there is an audio guide to go along with your walk, which tells you about the folklore of the giant Fionn MacCool and how he created the causeway. There are thousands of natural columns, and 3 different trails to hike. The views are spectacular, and the folklore makes it that much more interesting.

Gians Causway

Giant’s Causeway

After our visit, we make our way back into Ireland to Sligo via Derry and Donegal, both towns of which we get a quick stop for a bite to eat or cup of coffee, and a bit of time to walk the streets. There is a pub on every corner, and even more in between. You’ll never be far from a pint!

The next day is another full of stops and sights. Galway is the first pit stop mid-morning, giving us time for a snack and cup of coffee. Since its Sunday, most of the shops are still closed in the morning, so we don’t have much of an opportunity for shopping. The city is popular for tourists in the summer, as there are lots of festivals. There is also a great historical district with a pedestrian only area full of shops, restaurants and pubs. I’ll have to make a point of coming back here in the summer to experience the city to its fullest.

Cliffs of Moher 2

Cliffs of Moher

The highlight of this leg of the journey is the Cliffs of Moher. Located about 90 minutes from Galway, the cliffs are a sight to behold! I heed a warning first; it is extremely windy here, and the weather changes on a dime (much like Saskatchewan). Within 30 minutes there was sun, wind, rain and snow. Dress in layers, and make sure everything is secure; ball caps will definitely be gone with the wind. Once you get past the hurricane force wind (at least it seemed so), the views are spectacular.

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

The cliffs are nearly 700 feet high, and have the beautiful ocean crashing along the bottom. If the wind hits just right, it will carry the mist all the way up the cliffs. You’ll end up with fabulous photos, and scenery that is second to none.

The day finishes up in Limerick, where there is an optional excursion available to Bunratty Castle for a night of medieval feasts and entertainment. I’ve opted to just stay at the hotel tonight, and enjoy dinner at a nearby pub. It was a pretty long day already, and I’m definitely ready for bed. Tomorrow brings another day filled with small towns and majestic scenery.

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The Emerald Isle With Stephanie – Part 1

Céad Míle Fáilte…..one hundred thousand welcomes! I’ve been in Ireland for a few days now, and feel right at home. Though it’s a familiar land, there is still a foreign uniqueness to it. The first thing you need to remember driving is opposite of home, which means looking right instead of left before crossing the street. Luckily many of the streets have a reminder right on the street at each of the crosswalks; I’m guessing one too many tourists stepped out into traffic at the wrong time.

GuinnessIn the few days I’ve been here, I feel like I’ve already done so much. The Guinness Storehouse is a great place to start, since Guinness has been a part of Dublin’s history since 1759. You’ll start with a self-guided tour through their history, and finish off with a pint of the good stuff at the Gravity Bar with 360 degree views of the city. Jameson.jpgFor the whiskey aficionados, a tour of the Old Jameson Distillery is not to be missed. The 40-minute guided tour will bring you through their family history, the highs and lows of the business, and of course includes a taste of the world renowned whiskey at the end. The best way to get around to all the sights is with a hop on-hop off bus pass. The 2 lines hit all the major sights, plus include some bonuses such as complimentary pints, and food discounts.

Another highlight has been Malahide Castle, located about 40 minutes from Dublin city center. This castle was owned by the Talbot family for more than 800 years, and they have occupied the land since the 12th century.

Malahide Castle

After the castle tour, I set off to start a 9 day tour with Cosmos Vacations that encompasses the island. The group has 41 people, and seems to be a good mix of ages. We’ve headed up to Belfast in Northern Ireland, where we’ve just wrapped up a city sightseeing tour and a trip to the Titanic Experience Belfast, which is located at the original construction sight of the ship. This is the world’s largest permanent Titanic exhibit, and I highly recommend a visit if you are a fan of the history.

Tomorrow we head up to Giant’s Causeway on our way back into Ireland, where we will end up in Sligo for the night. I still have a full week here ahead of me, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the country has in store.