UK, Dublin, Northern Ireland & CruiseAuthor: Harry Phillips
Date of Trip: May 2013
Recently returned from a 3 week tour and cruise. Flew from Victoria BC to Heathrow London and will say flying in the back is not fun anymore, cramped, long and boring. However with thought of an adventure at the other end it's tolerable. Customs and immigration is painless and quick...Heathrow knows how to do it. Travelled by Heathrow Connect to Paddington..cheaper than the Express and just minutes longer.
I always stay near Paddington at the Darlington Hyde Park Hotel in Sussex Gardens when visiting London and usually request the same room. I'm 75, usually travel alone and have found that this hotel suits me fine. It's clean, breakfast is great and it's handy to bus and tube. London is always a fantastic city to visit.
After 4 days in London travelled by sail rail to Dublin. Sail Rail is a great price, 39 pounds for the journey. The rail journey was by excellent Virgin Rail and by sea on the Irish Ferries Ullyses. Stayed at the Arlington Temple Bar, once again a great little hotel,good breakfast and a very good Irish Show with supper in the evening. Took sightseeing tour on the Green Bus once again a good tour. From Dublin travelled by Irish Rail to Bellfast and checked in early, no problem at the Isis Hotel, central, clean and reasonable. Visited the excellent Titanic Museum, took the HOHO tour of Belfast which included Falls Road, Shanklin Rd and the Crumlin Rd Gaol. This tour gave much insight as to the troubles that has beset Northern Ireland and at times continues to do so.
Travelled also by tour to the Giant Causeway. An all day tour up the scenic coast which was once again a great tour. These two tours were booked prior to departure from Canada through Isango and were very inexpensive and excellent value.
Sailed from Belfast on Stena to Cairnryan, rough crossing, then by bus and train to Glasgow. Been to Glasgow before so just passed through by Virgin Rail to Chester, a walled Roman City with many interesting old buildings. Stayed in a B&B, Chester Town House built in 1670 and certainly recommend staying here. Central to all sights.
Retuned to London, overnight at the Darlington and then by coach to Tilbury where I boarded the Marco Polo for a criuse to Edinburgh, Faroe Islands, Shetland Islands, Orkney Islands and a return to Edinburgh. Was very impressed with the ship, probably one of the last few liners afloat. She carries less than 800 persons. Giant, overpopulated cruise ships are not my bag. Line ups every where no thank you..... so this great ship suited me fine. She even looks as a ship should. The crew work hard to keep her in excellent condition. Food was great as was the entertainment and the tours most interesting. My only complaint is when travelling single you must pay a supplement even if you book a single cabin with a single bed. One would be hard pressed to accommodate two people in my single bed. They do it on all ships and it p's me off. Totally unfair and almost gouging.
After embarkation in Edinburgh travelled by East Coast Train to London. When travelling in Britain I always purchase a Brit Rail pass and this was offered as a 4 day Flex, First Class pass paying only for 3 days. Excellent value and on first you get coddled with food and drink plus much better seating. Trains are frequent,clean and very quick. Free WiFi is available also.
Once again checked in at the Darlington. Did some shopping...had to buy another suitcase. Next day by train to Canterbury, another old city with a large and very interesting cathedral. From there back to London and next day home to Victoria on a once again miserable plane ride. Flying in the front is perhaps the only way to go but really can't justify the added expense so pick an aisle seat a bear it.
Despite the air travel once again a great trip and am planning next year already.
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