Saturday, June 4, 2016

Next 5 days, the Cruise Begins

We were up early to put our luggage out by 7:00, eat breakfast and be ready to depart at 8:15.  This procedure is why I don't do land tours.  Taking a 10 day bus tour that involves 8 hotels is not my idea of a relaxing time.  But doing it once to move from the 6 days in London to the ship was okay.

We didn't hit terrible traffic and got through London in good time and then drove west into the English countryside.  There were fields and fields of green to gold wheat and barley blowing gently in the breeze.  In the distance were nice rolling hills and we could have easily been in Kentucky from the appearance.

We stopped at a plaza on the highway for a rest stop and found Starbucks, KFC, McDonald's, Burger King, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, etc.!  Besides music and movies I think junk food is our next biggest export!

At noon we stopped in Salisbury (where no one had ever heard of Salisbury steak) for lunch at an historic pub where George V had some marriage festivity plus there were a few other historical events that I can't remember!  Our visiting time was spent at the Cathedral, built starting in 1221, and today houses one of four original copies of the Magna Carta.  We are asked to limit photos on ship's wifi so I will do a photo blog at a later date.  

We arrived in Poole and were transported to our ship and our accommodations are lovely.   There is a king size bed with a large mirrored dresser wall with drawers and vanity, two wardrobes and a sitting area with couch, table and two chairs plus a nice size bathroom. 

We attended the mandatory muster drill and then met for our port talk about the next day's events followed by dinner.  We are getting better at knowing people's names.  We came to our cabin immediately and Ted was asleep by 8:00 and we slept until 8:00 the next morning.

Our first stop was the Isles of Scilly, Tresco to be exact.  This small island sits so it catches the trade winds and has a tropical weather pattern.  It has an amazing garden, Abbey Garden, for a place so far north.  We walked several miles around the island enjoying the plants, sculptures, birds, ruins, etc. and were whipped by the time we returned to the ship.  After another great dinner, it was easy to fall asleep by 9 pm.  We have been too tired to enjoy any of the evening entertainment.

Sunday we docked at Fishguard, Wales and were taken to see a tapestry that was made of the last incursion into Britain by the French at the end of the 18th century.  It was just a two day battle but is their claim to fame.  The needle work was astounding and it took two years to complete.  After lunch we visited a dairy farm but coming from a family with folks still raising animals on gentlemen farms it was not of great interest to me but city folks enjoyed it.

In the afternoon we visited a woolen mill where the looms are still loaded by hand.  The patterns are created by one woman.  This particular mill has been in existence since sometime in the 1800s and has been in the current family for the last 105 years.  The machinery always fascinates me.

The next day we docked at Holyhead and traveled to Caernarfon to visit that town.  We visited an Edward I castle built starting in 1283.  The Edwardian town and castle acted as the administrative centre of north Wales and as a result the defences were built on a grand scale.  Its most recent use was the coronation of the last two Princes of Wales - Prince Albert in 1911 who subsequently abdicated the throne and 1969 when Prince Charles was coronated Prince of Wales and retains that title to this day.  If either William or George are given this title, the ceremony will occur there.  And I will be able to say I stood on that balcony and gave the royal wave!

Our lunch was at the Bell Tower Cafe with locals joining us to have dialogue about our respective countries.  The original city wall from the 13th century forms the alley that we walked to get to the cafe.  We had a bit of time to walk around the square and then the perfectly sunny day gave way to a quick rainstorm.  Our next two stops were at the Snowdonia Mountains scenic look 

and the town with the second longest name in the world.  It means The church of Mary in the hollow of the white hazel near the fierce whirlpool and the church of Tysilio by the red cave.  Whatever!

Before dinner, there was an Inner Circle cocktail reception.  After dinner we finally stayed up to enjoy the Welsh Choir that came onboard to entertain us.  The leader was quite a comedian and the singing was lovely.  

We sailed across the Irish Sea to the port of Dublin overnight.  We had to be on the bus by 8:30 and for some reason I was still tired.  We had a panorama tour of Dublin and spent time at St. Patrick's Cathedral.  Imagine my shock when I learned neither this nor the other cathedral in Dublin are Catholic.  For all my belief that Ireland was a Catholic country, it was not so in the beginning.  Catholics were persecuted, denied education and jobs and were not allowed in Anglican churches.  Next time I hear about reparations I am going to tell them "when I get mine, you'll get yours."  Next we went to Trinity College where we also visited the Book of Kells and the Long Room library, both very impressive.  Photos to come later.

We all had lunch in a local pub and then could shop, pub crawl or return to the ship.  We chose to come back and rest.  I kept telling Ali, our leader, we needed a day of rest!  That day I took it.

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