WAITING: Ep 2

Ep 2: Dublin City

Some of my views from out trip in March.

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WAITING: Ep 1

Welcome to my new photo series: WAITING. I am a photo snapper and my husband is a photo sit-watch-wait-frame-clicker. I have recently started taking pictures of him taking his pictures because otherwise there would be no record of his visit to the places we go and see.

Ep 1: On Top of the World

London from St Paul’s Cathedral

Trying to scratch the surface of London

John and I went to London to visit his cousin and see the sights. We fit a whole bunch into the 3 days we had to see everything. Each day we picked a spot to explore and went from there. One big thing every day and lots of little things to fill in the gaps. Every  morning we started off from London Blackfriars station, because we just loved getting off the train over the river.

IMG_5713St Paul’s Cathedral Day:

We awoke early and headed off to the city, stopping for a little breakfast at Alchemy Coffee
before arriving at this beautiful place.

After taking our pictures of the outside we went in and took the wonderful audio tour they have there. It was airy and bright. The dome was painted with stories from the Apostle Paul’s life.  The amount of history was overwhelming. It survived Blitz with only one unexploded bomb hitting it when all around it had been decimated.

IMG_5717We climbed up to all three galleries: The Whispering Gallery (the first gallery inside the dome, where you can whisper to one another across the dome), The Stone Gallery (outside of the dome with a spectacular view of all of London. pictured below), and the Golden Gallery (about 50-60 ft form the top of the 365 ft church, it was glorious). Then it was down into the crypt. If you are ever in London, this cathedral is so very worth the time. We spent around 3.5 hours in it.

The architect of St Paul’s, Sir Christopher Wren, built 52 churches in London after the Great Fire of 1666. We saw three of them in our wanderings. St Paul’s, Saint Magnus the Martyr, and St Martin within Ludgate.

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IMG_5730From St. Paul’s we went to lunch across the road and planned the rest of our day. I wanted to go to Fleet St and also see the Old Bailey of V for Vendetta fame. So after an amazing grilled gruyere and champignon sandwich at Cafe Rouge, we set off to find these places. We got a little sidetracked along the way by little churches nestled here and there in the city.

Finally we made it to the Old Bailey!

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Then on Fleet Street  we found the original Twining’s of London Shop!!! It was right across from the Royal Courts of Justice.

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IMG_5753We went down by the Thames and skipped stones then wandered around on the South Bank before going to dinner on Fleet Street at an adorable pub called The Old Cock Tavern.

A good first day!

Westminster Abbey Day:

We awoke early again and walked along the North Bank towards Westminster. Stopping for breakfast at St Stephen’s Tavern.

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Ah!!! It was so grand and so full. The amount of people buried within this church is overwhelming. The audio tour was really nice. It played music from the era they were discussing. At Handel’s grave “I Know that My Redeemer Liveth” played as the memorial was explained.  The Cloister was beautiful as well. So quiet and serene.

 

IMG_5788John, of course, knocked on this door :p

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After watching the clouds and a little nap in St James Park,  it was onto Buckingham Palace and all of the parks surrounding it. The picture above was taken from Green Park where we got a cookie. As we wandered between Green Park and Hyde park we came across The Wellington Monument and so we went up that too!

The last thing I had to see on this day was the Peter Pan Statue in Hyde Park.

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After a late dinner we headed back, weary and worn, but happy.

The Tower of London Day:

IMG_5829Our view for brunch on Sunday. We got a later start but still saw a whole bunch.

IMG_5833The New Globe Theater. Sadly it slipped our minds that there was a new one until we saw it and there wasn’t any Shakespeare playing at the time. Bother. We will just have to visit again.

While looking for the London Bridge we found the Wren Monument to The Great Fire of 1666. This monument led us to the last Wren Church of our trip.IMG_5835

IMG_5838This is St Magnus the Martyr by Sir Christopher Wren, built at the end of the 2nd London Bridge. It was one of the prettiest churches we saw on the trip. We arrived just after the service was over and the air was filled with incense. As we sat admiring the beauty, the sun came out from behind a cloud and streamed through the windows. Beams of light lit the incense filled air and touched down for a brief moment and then were gone.

IMG_5839The Fourth London Bridge.

The Tower of London was neat. It was so much larger than I expected it to be. Two rings of defenses and many eras of buildings surround the White Tower. We got to see the Crown Jewels, The Bloody Tour where it is said Richard III killed his two nephews to become king, and The Bell Tower where Thomas Moore was held while he would not sign the piece of paper making Henry VIII head of the Anglican Church.

IMG_5851 Tower Bridge from The Tower of London.

IMG_5855This guard had a really twitchy nose but he stopped twitching the minute I took a picture haha.

From The Tower we went back to John’s cousin’s house. We got to stay with her for our visit to London and it was so nice to get to know her better. On our last night, her boyfriend got Indian Takeaway from their favorite place and it was delicious! We also watch Vanishing Point. It was a really nice visit with them and a great quick city tour.

 

The Capital of the Highlands and Over the Sea to Skye

I think we found our spot. Everywhere we walked we felt at home and as if we could be there always. Scotland was beautiful. So much greener and like Seattle than I expected, but very different and a thing unto it’s self at the same time. As we road through the highlands to Portree, on the Ilse of Skye, I was reminded of the drives through Colorado to Silverton. Just beautiful.

We arrived in Inverness from York. Checked into a cute little spot just out side of town and wandered.

The first day of our adventure we explored Inverness and found amazing places:

Leakeys Bookshop; a converted church that might be the neatest book store I have seen!

The Old High Church which served as an English Government prison during the second Jacobite rising. You can still see bullet holes in some of the grave stones where quite a few Jacobites were executed for treason.

We got coffee at a little pub called Glenalbyn, right on the River Ness then began exploring again.

We saw Inverness Cathedral and then went on to The Ness Islands. They are a series of small little islands right in the middle of the river that have been made into one large park connected by little bridges. It is a great walk. IMG_5397

Next we found a late lunchIMG_5405 at another pub, The Gellions, then more wandering. Inverness is one of the happiest places to live in Scotland, according to a poll, and you could really feel it. So quiet and sweet.

We ended up at our hotel for dinner and I discovered Strongbow Cider 😀

 

Day 2: We retraced our steps and took more pictures and savored the serenity. Our lunch on the river with a view of the castle was gorgeous and delicious.

That evening it was off to Portree on the Isle of Skye. It was a 3.5 hour bus ride on a tiny 2 lane road winding through mountains and valleys. It rained a little on the drive and that just added to the beauty.

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We arrived safe and sound and checked into our next hotel. It was right on the Portree Harbor.

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This was the view from the front of the hotel

On Day 3 we awoke early and after breakfast headed to the visitors center to grab a bus to The Storr. It was the reason we picked Portree, we really wanted to climb The Storr and see The Old Man of Storr, three giant rocks that are an icon of the inner Hebrides.

The trek was well worth the visit. It was breathtaking. Being up so high and being able to see to the tip of the Isle of Skye, across to main land Scotland, and out farther to the Outer Hebrides was amazing.IMG_5506

After our hike back down we waited for the bus back to Portree. While waiting I fashioned a wild flower crown fitting a highland princess 🙂

The roads between Portree and The Storr were very interesting. They were mostly one lane each direction, but then occasionally (mostly over little bridges) the road would slim down to a little over one lane and the cars had to take turns going across… Anywhere else this would have been a major cause of traffic, but there were maybe 3 cars on the road so it was just interesting. I would have gotten a picture, but the bus drivers were a little to comfortable on those small roads and I got terribly motion sick. haha

Back in Protree we got dessert from the Granary and then Fat Panda Takeaway. It was a wonderful day.

Day 4! Exploring Portree and its surrounding parks and harbor. Very laid back. A whole bunch of food and lots of lovely pictures.

In the picture below, you can just make out The Old Man of Storr in the distance.

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Portree from a tower in a park. 

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Day 5 was just the bus ride back to Inverness.

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Eilean Donan Castle from the road

For our second stay in Inverness , we stayed just outside in Smithton. It was adorable and the hotel was incredibly comfy and had really really good food!

Once we checked in, we struck out toward Culloden Battlefield. We got about half way and the rain started pouring, so we returned to our cozy hotel for food and Scottish TV. 😀 We will just have to go back to Inverness and see the battlefield another time.

Day 6 🙂 Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle

We had booked a 7 hour Loch Ness tour with Jacobite Cruises on Day 2. So we set off and had an amazing day!

Our tour guide, Alan, was great. The tour was just perfectly timed and in all ways excellent.

From Inverness Bus Station we drove through the town and out by Loch Ness. Our first stop was the Corrimony Cairns a little west of Loch Ness. This Pictish cairn was never used but it was sealed so everything is very preserved. There are 11 standing stones around the cairn and it is in the middle of nowhere.

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IMG_5582Next we headed to the Loch Ness Center to learn about the loch and Nessie 🙂

We were fortunate enough to catch a glimpse…

From there we got back on the bus and went to Urquhart Castle which is perched on the loch. It was the Castle of the Grant Clan and it was blown up in the first Jacobite rising by Clan Grant so that it wouldn’t be captured. It has been in ruins ever since.

Down in Urquhart bay we caught the Jacobite Queen and spent almost 2 hours on Loch Ness and traveling up the Caledonian Canal back to Inverness.

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IMG_5628_2It was a wonderful, wonderful tour day.

Day 7: It was all travel back to York. It was a very pretty, uneventful trip and we were home by dinner 🙂

This trip merely whetted our appetite for The Highlands. Scotland is just the prettiest part of the world.