September 13-24, 2018
Day 1: Depart the USA on our overnight flight to Edinburgh, Scotland, where centuries of history meet a vibrant, cosmopolitan city.
Day 2: Upon arrival into Edinburgh, we transfer to our hotel. The remainder of the day is at your leisure to begin immersing ourselves in the Scottish culture.
Day 3: The day begins with a tour of the capital city, Edinburgh. See the delightful contrast of the city between the 18th-century Georgian “New Town” and the medieval “Old Town.” The famed Royal Mile, backbone of the Old Quarter, runs from the Palace of Holyrood House to Edinburgh Castle. See the iconic sites of St. Giles Cathedral, Parliament Square, and John Knox House. During the visit of Edinburgh Castle see the Scottish crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny. Tonight, we enjoy an evening of entertainment with an included dinner and show. (B, D)
Day 4: Today’s adventure begins with the motorcoach journey through the rolling hills of the Scottish countryside en route to England. Before leaving Scotland, learn the local legends and lure of the famous Gretna Green, known as the ‘marriage capital of the UK,’ and see the famous Blacksmith Shop which is steeped in history and magical charm. Enjoy the scenic wonders of northern England with a visit to the Lake District. Be inspired by a local guide who talks about William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter, each of whom resided in this area. Relax aboard a cruise on Windermere, the largest natural lake in England, as you enjoy the tranquil setting and picturesque landscape. The journey continues as we travel through the countryside of Hadrian’s Wall, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site ‘Frontiers of the Roman Empire’ and considered Britain’s greatest Roman monument. This evening we arrive in Manchester, home for the next two nights. (B)
Day 5: Today’s excursion takes us across the Pennines (the ‘Backbone of England’) to the Viking city of York. A local guide leads us on a walk through the historic Shambles, a medieval shopping street filled with character and charm. See the Roman city walls and visit the spectacular York Minster, the largest medieval cathedral in the UK. After the tour, we have time on our own for exploring before returning to Manchester this afternoon. This evening, dinner is included at a local restaurant. (B, D)
Day 6: Departing Manchester, we continue to another capital city, Cardiff, Wales. Along the way, we stop in the traditional English town of Stratford-upon-Avon with its typical oak-beamed, gable-roofed houses. Visit the most famous house in town, the birthplace and childhood home of the Bard himself, William Shakespeare. We also see the school where he received his education, and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, erected in his memory. In the nearby village of Shottery, see Anne Hathaway’s cottage where the wife of Shakespeare lived as a child. Continuing on, experience the beauty of the Cotswolds - rolling hills (‘wolds’), river valleys, and sleepy villages where houses made from the Cotswold Stone and cozy shops line the meandering streets. Enjoy a visit to one of these charming towns before arriving in Cardiff early this evening for an included dinner. (B, D)
Day 7: The day begins with a guided tour of Cardiff, the largest city in Wales. During the panoramic portion, our local guide points out architectural sites that range from historic to modern, as well as provide history of the city. On the included visit to Cardiff Castle, whose walls conceal 2,000 years of history, we discover stories from the times of the Romans, Normans, Vikings, Victorian Era, and even WWII. After the excursion, return to the hotel where the rest of the day is free of planned activities for your independent exploration of this capital city. (B)
Day 8: A late morning departure from the hotel takes us to the port for embarkation of the ferry and the journey across the Irish Sea to Pembroke, Ireland. Upon arrival, we continue by coach to the seaport town of Waterford, the country’s oldest city. (B, D)
Day 9: Today is a full day discovering the sites of Waterford, Blarney, and Cork. On a visit to the House of Waterford Crystal, witness the master craftsmen at work as we watch the process of transforming a ball of red-hot molten crystal into an elegantly crafted piece of art. Continue on to Blarney where there is time for lunch on our own before visiting the famed Castle known the world over as home to the ‘Stone of Eloquence’ or the Blarney Stone. Legend has it, if you climb to the top of the castle and kiss the stone, you will never be lost for words and will receive the ‘gift of gab.’ The grounds of the castle are a curious place of ancient trees and stones, by legend a garden of Druid origin. The park has an aura of magic and mystique with Wishing Steps, Witch’s Kitchen, Druid’s Cave, and many other delights. Before returning to Waterford for the evening, enjoy a panoramic tour of Cork with the local guide where we see the hilltop steeple of 18th-century Shandon Church, a symbol of the city. (B)
Day 10: Leaving Waterford, travel to Dublin, the last capital city to experience on our journey through the British Isles. On the guided, panoramic tour of this historic city, travel along O’Connell Street with its monument to Daniel O’Connell and other figures from Irish History. See the General Post Office, one of Ireland’s most famous buildings, that was the rebel headquarters in the 1916 Easter Rising. Cross over the River Liffey which flows through the center of the city and catch a glimpse of the Temple Bar area. Visit Trinity College and see the Book of Kells, the famous 8th-century hand-illuminated gospel manuscript. See Grafton Street, one of the main pedestrian-zoned shopping streets and drive through Georgian Dublin, with the beautiful 18th-century houses and squares. Pass the National Museum, Parliament Building, St. Stephen’s Green and visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral before returning to the hotel for an afternoon of leisure. A special treat is in store tonight with an included dinner and evening entertainment. Music, song and traditional Irish dancers take the stage during a show you’re sure to enjoy! (B, D)
Day 11: Our final day is free of planned activities so you may enjoy as you please. Continue sightseeing, finish any last-minute shopping, or just relax at a pub and mingle with the locals. (B)
Day 12: It’s time to bid ‘cheerio’ to the British Isles as we depart for the Dublin Airport with warm memories of the castles, countryside and capital cities of our journey through these amazing countries. (B)
This tour is run in conjunction with Mayflower Tours.