Day 8 – July 21st; This day had us up early to catch the train from Cleethorpes to Dundee Scotland and we were both excited to see the Northern part of the United Kingdom. I too had never visited Scotland although I had traveled to England many times and had even been to Wales a time or three.
In order to catch an early morning train on a Saturday a person needs to awaken early of which we did, only problem is the management sleep in and so did all the other guests. There was a door downstairs that displayed an alarm which was set and if we opened the door everyone within a two-block radius would be aroused and angry at the two Americans slipping out of Nottingham House. There were two alternatives, to go down the fire escape which consisted of a narrow metal ladder (which looked as if it had the carrying capacity of an 80 pound weakling,) that was draping next to the brick building with our luggage being carried by a couple in their late fifties three floors down starting from the roof. I looked and became weak at the knees, Connie looked and said, No way in Hell, so back into the building we went, opting then to knock on a door of which we saw one of the waitresses enter several times the night before and we noticed a bed in the room, so we took a chance that she was living on premises and the gamble knock paid off. The young lady was pleasant although she looked as if a rough night of drinking were responsible for her swollen eyes and unruly hair. She turned off the alarm, bid us farewell and we walked to the station where there were only a handful of Brits awaiting the train to Doncaster of which we changed trains again.
The train ride was non-eventful until we stopped about 2 hours south of Newcastle upon Tyne and the reason of why I mention this city is that is where the party crowd exited. When we picked up the twenty or so men, Connie and I both figured that they were all going for a guy’s weekend to the British Open where we too were bound. But after seeing some of the crazies with very little on, short, short jeans cut to the crotch and shirts cut away to show lots of man skin and many giving each other the tongue and hearing Congratulations on getting married, we soon discovered this was a “Hen Party” with dudes. Not all seemed to be gay, there might have been a couple out of the entire group who were not fondling another man or pinching each other on the ass or …… However, when they brought out the Tequila I joined in the fun of drinking as each of them loaded up with more booze than clothing for the weekend trip. One unfortunate guy lost his bag, as they were moving car to car changing seat and make out partners, with that going on and the tequila being freely passed from lips to lips his gym bag with clothes and toiletries were not found. Once we reached Newcastle the train became quite empty. We changed trains again at Edinburgh (Waverly) station and we talked with a nice Scottish lady for most of the rest of the trip to Dundee. We grabbed a taxi right away and the driver quickly took us to the Hampton Inn in Dundee within about five minutes time. After checking in we found a couple of pubs – one namely The Globe, took some photos and watched some of the third round of The Open with many other local Scots. We had dinner to go at Istanbul Take Away where they had delicious Gyros and Pizza. We ended up eating there twice since it was so delicious and the staff were Super Friendly. End of Day 8, Sunday, July 21st – 2 miles, 5081 steps & 3 floor;
Day 9, Sunday July22nd – We walked to the train station and to our dismay there were literally hundreds of Americans, Scottish and British men and a few women boarding the train in Dundee to Carnoustie, home of the 147th British Open. The thing I remember about Carnoustie was watching the Frenchman Jean van de Velde losing in dramatic fashion The Open in 1999 of which he held a three-stroke lead going into the 72nd and final hole of the Championship. With his name and legacy all but engraved on the Claret Jug, Jean Van de Velde made some poor shot decisions that will be remembered for as long as the Scottish days are long. Needing to make only a 6 on the par-4 18th hole at Carnoustie Golf Links to secure the British Open on Sunday, Van de Velde squandered the championship in excruciating fashion (for him and for us watching thousands of miles away or for those who were fortunate to see history in the making), clanging one shot off the bleachers, then dumping another into the water, taking his shoes off, rolling his pant legs up to hit out of the water, reconsidered since it was in deeper than van de Velde realized, taking a drop and then chunking that shot into a bunker before finally making a triple-bogey 7. These horrible link shots put him into a three-man playoff with Justin Leonard and Paul Lawrie, who won the championship by three shots in the four-hole format.
This left Van del Velde and the French forever wondering about the 18th and what could have been.
So after arriving by train to the course, walking around to find a beer, spending some money for gifts and self at the gigantic golf store, taking our photo with the prized and famous Claret Jug and then walking the entire course, following favorite Phil Mickelson for a few holes, the two of us then settled into the second row of the first set of bleachers close to where the Frenchmen’s ball went into the water some 19 years earlier. Here we had excellent vision of the approach shots onto the 18th green, occasionally one not making it and landing in the moat or in one of the bunkers.
YES, we saw many famous golfers including the eventual Champion – Francesco Molinari, the first Italian to win a Major Golf Championship. We saw Tiger on the leader board, English favorite Justin Rose, Ireland’s favored Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and Ricky Fowler to name a few and saw each and everyone of them walk to the 18th green right in front of our great spectator viewing point. Day 9 total – 8.3 miles, 19,008 steps, & 8 floors;
Day 10, Monday July 23rd; Took the train to Edinburgh where we drug our suitcases a couple miles in town then caught a taxi as we were most nearly there at the Hilton. If we would have taken the next stop into Waverly Station we would have been a mere ½ mile from the Hotel, but that is part of the fun – adventuring into unchartered territory for us. We took advantage of a two day tour bus pass and explored the town by bus and had a couple of pints in The Last Drop in the Grass Market area with many a pub and restaurant and lots of outdoor dining and drinking seats. We set our sights for the next day’s anticipated visit of the Edinburgh Castle which is more of a town fortress than castle. Day 10 total – 3.7 miles, 9,873 steps, & 13 floors;
Day 11, Tuesday, July 24th. Immediately after breakfast we hopped the bus to the Edinburgh Castle which is quite the tourist spot, in fact it is the most-visited paid Tourist attraction in all of Scotland and we gladly paid our 40 pounds each which was included with the Edinburgh Majestic Tour as was a quick peek into the a Scottish distillery of which we purchased a what resembled a milk can with Magnum Original Scottish Cream Liquer aka Highland Cream that had a red checkered Scottish knit cap that fitted over the screw in lid.
Taken from Wikipedia: “Edinburgh Castle (Scottish Gaelic: Caisteal Dhùn Éideann) is a historic fortress which dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, from its position on the Castle Rock. Archaeologists have established human occupation of the rock since at least the Iron Age (2nd century AD), although the nature of the early settlement is unclear. There has been a royal castle on the rock since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century, and the site continued to be a royal residence until 1633. From the 15th century the castle's residential role declined, and by the 17th century it was principally used as military barracks with a large garrison. Its importance as a part of Scotland's national heritage was recognised increasingly from the early 19th century onwards, and various restoration programmes have been carried out over the past century and a half. As one of the most important strongholds in the Kingdom of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle was involved in many historical conflicts from the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century to the Jacobite rising of 1745. Research undertaken in 2014 identified 26 sieges in its 1100-year-old history, giving it a claim to having been "the most besieged place in Great Britain and one of the most attacked in the world".
Few of the present buildings pre-date the Lang Siege of the 16th century, when the medieval defences were largely destroyed by artillery bombardment. The most notable exceptions are St Margaret's Chapel from the early 12th century, which is regarded as the oldest building in Edinburgh, the Royal Palace and the early-16th-century Great Hall, although the interiors have been much altered from the mid-Victorian period onwards. The castle also houses the Scottish regalia, known as the Honours of Scotland and is the site of the Scottish National War Memorial and the National War Museum of Scotland. The British Army is still responsible for some parts of the castle, although its presence is now largely ceremonial and administrative. Some of the castle buildings house regimental museums which contribute to its presentation as a tourist attraction.
The castle, in the care of Historic Scotland, is Scotland's most-visited paid tourist attraction, with over 2 million visitors in 2017 and over 70 percent of leisure visitors to Edinburgh visiting the castle. As the backdrop to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo during the annual Edinburgh Festival the castle has become a recognisable symbol of Edinburgh and of Scotland.” Day 11 total – 7.3 miles, 18,926 steps, & 6 floors;
Day 12, Wednesday, July 25th; Early to rise we walked to the Edinburgh Waverly Station and headed out to explore Ireland via Holyhead in Wales. I spent most of the morning and early afternoon looking out the window at the gorgeous countryside while trying to book us on a daylight trip to Dublin from Holyhead on Stena Line Ferry. There were no openings for the afternoon crossing, only availability in the dead of night with a full moon only a couple of days away, but Connie won’t do even do cruises, she watches too much crime TV and that Woman’s channel where dames are always getting tossed off the ship by their lovers or come up missing and the spouse or the boyfriend is always the number one suspect because of a fight they once had two years earlier. Due to not having endless time and not wanting to spend a day and night in Holyhead for obvious reasons, it is a port town and not much else I tried everything trick I could on the internet with several refreshes and trying to book over and over when I noticed a “Senior fare with a bicycle” of which I clicked for 2 Seniors and 1 Bicycle to cross at a very reasonable rate, much lower than the 2 adult fares without a bicycle for two. I booked immediately and we were confirmed on that afternoon ferry arriving early evening into Dublin. Connie and I rehearsed our story on why we didn’t have a bicycle with us upon check-in and hoped that ID wasn’t requested. Our bicycle for two had been stolen in Edinburgh and so we were afoot, no longer traveling by bicycle, but going to hoof it and we practiced our sad, forlorn expression when mentioning about our long lost blue bicycle with a basket on the front that we’d had for 25 years and had taken it all over the globe only to have it lifted from us in Scotland as we enjoyed a pint at The Last Drop. To our utter dismay, they didn’t even notice that we didn’t have a bicycle for one or for two and that all we had was a suitcase each, one backpack and a Harrod’s toy bag filled with snacks and souvenirs. All that stressing and rehearsing our necessary fibs for nothing, not a single raised, suspicious eyebrow was cast upon us.
The Irish Sea was for the most part quite calm, some wind, clear skies and excellent service was ours as first-class Senior Citizens without a bicycle. Televisions galore, we had brought our books and the cafeteria was open as was a snack bar with coffee, tea, juices all included with the price of a first-class affordable Senior fare. When arriving into the port of Dublin, after unloading there was a taxi awaiting with a kind, gentleman of about 65 years of age who had taken two phone calls from both his son and his daughter of which he was none too happy with as both wanted him to stop what he was doing and come give each of them a ride home from whenever they were. He told us they were grown and without much responsibility and woe is he. We were taken right away to the Hilton Garden Inn Dublin Quay along the river just across from most of all the pub and restaurant action. We did a bit of walking and exploring a pub or two that day. Day 12 total – 4.5 miles, 11,391 steps, & 3 floors;
Day 13, Thursday, July 26th; Connie and I walked around the town a bit, then caught a train from Pearce station in Dublin out to Bray along the shore where a carnival was permanent for the most of the summer, everyone wearing shorts and a light weight top, Connie and I with our swimsuits beneath our shorts, ready to take a swim in the Irish Sea. The seashore was rocky, but I still braved the cold sea as few were experiencing the water. We strolled slowly taking in all the views of the Cliff Walk as I let the warm sun dry my wet body and hair.
Taken from Wikipedia: “Bray (Irish: Bré, formerly Brí Chualann) is a coastal town in north County Wicklow, Ireland. It is situated about 20 km (12 mi) south of Dublin city centre on the east coast. It has a population of 32,600 making it the fourteenth largest urban area in all of Ireland and the ninth largest urban area within the Republic of Ireland (at the 2016 census).
Bray was a resort town, and its proximity to Dublin make it a destination for tourists and day-trippers from the capital. Bray is home to Ardmore Studios, and some light industry is located in the town, with some business and retail parks on its southern periphery. Commuter links between Bray and Dublin are provided by rail, Dublin Bus and the M11 and M50 motorways.
Bray is a long-established holiday resort with hotels and guesthouses, shops, restaurants and evening entertainment. The town also hosts a number of festival events.
In the town's vicinity are two 18-hole golf courses, one tennis club, fishing, a sailing club and horse riding. Other features of Bray are the amusement arcades and the National Sealife Centre. It has a beach of sand and shingle which is over 1.6 km (0.99 mi) long, fronted by an esplanade. Bray Head, which rises 241 m (791 ft) from the coast, has views of mountains and sea. The concrete cross at the top of the head was erected in 1950 for the holy year.
Bray is used as a base for walkers, and has a mile-long promenade which stretches from the harbour, with its colony of mute swans, to the base of Bray Head at the southern end. A track leads to the summit. Also used by walkers is the 7 km (4.3 mi) Cliff Walk along Bray Head out to Greystones.
In January 2010, Bray was named the "cleanest town in Ireland" in the 2009 Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) survey of 60 towns and cities.”
When we arrived back later that afternoon we hopped the Ireland Tour Bus, got off at the Teeling Distillery where we both loved our first Whiskey tour, enjoyed a few pubs, especially the live music by Sharon Hussey of her CD titled Tradisfaction, www.sharonhussey.com (of which I got Connie a copy to listen to when arriving back in Arizona) at the World Famous “Temple Bar” and had an excellent meal later at the hotel. Day 13 total – 6.9 miles, 16,322 steps, & 9 floors;
Day 14, Friday, July 27th; The day looked a bit dreary and to Connie’s satisfaction it looked as if rain might find us. Did I mention she brought lots of rain gear with a jacket and hat and I decided that I did not want to lug more poundage aka luggage and opted to possibly getting a bit damp when / if moisture was dominant as is usually the case, but this is the only day where rain might have a chance to see Connie’s rain jacket. We boarded the train to see the Castle of Blarney which was about 3 hours away by train and then another twenty minutes by bus or taxi.
The grounds are immaculate in and around Blarney Castle, a slight rain greeted us as we got our tickets and walked to the castle which was about a half mile strut with flowers of gardens to make the hike seem like a couple hundred yards. The rain became a bit more intense as we waited in line to begin the tight stairway crawl through and to the top of the castle which had seen its glory days fade with many rooms not having a roof and as we reached the pinnacle of the castle, near where the Blarney Stone was laid, it was down right pouring, a summer, rain storm indeed where the castle became very slick as it is made with rock which has been smoothed for stairs, walkways, foundation, floors and walls. The line quickly dispersed and only a handful of us dared to continue walking the catwalk, barely able to see with water crashing down horizontally and vertically. Connie said, “surely you’re not going to try and kiss that stone upside down are you, not in this torrential downpour!” I responded back with, “of course I am, I didn’t travel all the way to Blarney, walk to the top and then let a fierce rainstorm stop me!” She said that she was not going to do it and I pleaded with her to stay with me so that she might take some photos that I might have proof that I did indeed kiss the Blarney Stone and being a writer made it even of more importance as those that kissed the stone became gifted with great eloquence of words. My turn to kiss the rock came sooner than expected and two helpers steadied me while I hung upside down, grabbed two bars, faced the ark like rain and put my lips upon that block of limestone which I’m sure the germs from the others was already quickly washed away due to the heavy pour of rain from the heavens. I must admit it was a bit unnerving looking down several stories and seeing hard rock as a landing zone and the rain making every slight move a slip and slide event, but hey I am Dr. Rico Austin, the most interesting writer in the world, so I must experience LIFE to the Fullest! And then, Connie kissed me so that she might claim to have nearly kissed the Blarney Stone as my lips still tasted of slimy, green limestone and were as smooth as french wine.
Taken from Wikipedia: “Blarney Stone (Irish: Cloch na Blarnan) is a block of Carboniferous limestone built into the battlements of Blarney Castle, Blarney, about 8 kilometres (5 miles) from Cork, Ireland. According to legend, kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of the gab (great eloquence or skill at flattery). The stone was set into a tower of the castle in 1446. The castle is a popular tourist site in Ireland, attracting visitors from all over the world to kiss the stone and tour the castle and its gardens.
The word blarney has come to mean "clever, flattering, or coaxing talk". Irish politician John O'Connor Power defined it this way: "Blarney is something more than mere flattery. It is flattery sweetened by humour and flavoured by wit. Those who mix with Irish folk have many examples of it in their everyday experience." Letitia Elizabeth Landon described its contemporary meaning in an article entitled 'Blarney Castle' in 1832.
The ritual of kissing the Blarney Stone, according to the castle's proprietors, has been performed by "millions of people", including "world statesmen, literary giants [and] legends of the silver screen". The kiss, however, is not casually achieved. To touch the stone with one's lips, the participant must ascend to the castle's peak, then lean over backwards on the parapet's edge. This is traditionally achieved with the help of an assistant. Although the parapet is now fitted with wrought-iron guide rails and protective crossbars, the ritual can still trigger attacks of acrophobia, an extreme or irrational fear of heights.
Before the safeguards were installed, the kiss was performed with real risk to life and limb, as participants were grasped by the ankles and dangled bodily from the height. In the Sherlock Holmes radio dramatisation "The Adventure of the Blarney Stone" (first broadcast on 18 March 1946), a man attempting to kiss the Blarney Stone falls to his death. Holmes' investigation reveals this as a murder as the man's boots having been surreptitiously greased before the attempt.”
We had a great day and Connie was pleased as punch over her not getting wet and I looking like a drowned London rat, shivering the entire train ride back to Dublin. Day 14 total – 5 miles, 10,965 steps, & 16 floors;
Day 15, Saturday July 28th; Another early morning, followed by an extremely long day of Ferry rides and train trips with an overflowing Wales train where I gave my seat after the first stop to an elderly grandmother, standing and swaying to the rock of the ancient railways most of the way to London. There were even a couple of stops where no one exited and not another individual was allowed to board because of being over capacity, but hey I loved the adventure. We arrived at London Euston station and walked literally across the street to the Hilton. We walked around the neighborhood a bit that evening and stopped into Mabel’s Tavern where an International Ladies bicycle race was taking place in London and saw the most horrific crash near the finish line that made both Connie and I feel ill to the stomach. We did not watch the replay on the tellie as the British call the television set. An early evening because tomorrow would be our First Class Eurostar Adventure as we would take the Chunnel to Paris, France. Day 15 total – 3 miles, 6,974 steps, & 5 floors; Total for Week 2: 40.7 miles, 98,540 steps, & 63 floors;
Next blog will be the final and third week of this European Vacation as we visit France & Paris!
Photos at the end of this Blog after the signature:
"Have a Double Shot of Reality" TM
"Peace, Love & Tequila" TM
Author - "My Bad Tequila"
50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading - Winner 2016 of The Authors's Show
John E. Weaver Excellent Reads Award - 2017 Winner of Fiction Adventure & Memoirs
Hollywood Book Festival - Honorable Mention (Wild Card genre 2011)
Readers Favorite Book Awards - Silver (Fiction - Mystery - General genre 2011)
Amazon eKindle - #1 Top Rated Kindle eBooks (Mexico Travel genre 2011)
"Five Parrots in a Palm Tree" - Superb Island Reading award 2011
#1 Book to Read, June 2011 - NY Professional Reviewer, Fran Lewis
Readers Favorite Book Awards - Finalist (Fiction - General genre 2011)
Arizona Authors Association - 3rd Place (Fiction Book of the Year 2011 - 2012)
London Book Festival - Honorable Mention (Wild Card genre 2012)
Los Angeles Book Festival - Honorable Mention (Wild Card genre 2011-2012)
New York Beach Book Festival - Honorable Mention (General Non-Fiction genre 2012)
New Mexico - Arizona Book Awards - Finalist (Fiction - Mystery genre 2012)
Bibliocracy.com - Author of the Month (June 2012)
Suspense Magazine - Review & Article (July 2012 issue)t
Book Town - February's Book of the Month (March 2013) www.booktown.ning.com
Co- Songwriter - "My Bad Tequila"
Songwriter - "Havin' a Beer on the Santa Monica Pier"
Connie & Golfin' Fanatics takin' the 10:08 from Dundee into Carnoustie
to watch the British Open 147th year!
Rico at the Globe Pub in Dundee, Scotland established 1823
The bay outside Edinburgh, Scotland upon our arrival, by way of Dundee to see the Open
Watching Saturday's round of The Open at the Globe in Dundee, Scotland!
Sunday's Championship Round of the British Open - 2018!
Rico all excited about being in Scotland & seeing the British Open in person!
the 147th British Open - Carnoustie Golf Course!
Following Amigo Phil Mickelson a few holes, he waved at me which surprised Connie!
She asked, "Does Phil know You?" Of Course, Phil knows Rico!
Rico with the Claret Jug at 147th Open at Carnoustie!
Tiger short of the 18th Green & not happy as he disappeared from the Leader Board!
Don't know who this is behind Rico, but his golf ball almost hit us!
a selfie with Jordan Spieth, why not? He's a good ol' Texan Boy!!!
Lots of folk just stayed & watched the giant screen as it was near the Beer Garden!
One more glance of that Claret Jug close up, may never be that near it again!
Connie & the Penguin!
There were different, brightly colored Penquins all over town of Dundee, Scotland!
Two young Scottish pipers outside The Open grounds on the way to the train!
Queen's Hotel in Dundee, Scotland which is quite nice inside, lots of golfing photos!
YESSSS, a Phoenix Pub in Dundee, Scotland!
Rico & Connie at Phoenix Pub established 1856 about same year as Phoenix, Arizona!
Connie loved those Scottish Pipers, the music is stimulating in Edinburgh!
Edinburgh Majestic Tour lookin' at the Ghost Bus Tours!
Our view from the window of Hilton Hotel room out over Edinburgh!
Entering Edinburgh Castle concert and jousting area!
Edinburgh, Scotland from the Edinburgh Castle!
Photos in the "Last Drop" pub in Edinburgh!
an interesting read concerning " The Last Drop" in Grassmarket area in Edinburgh!
Braveheart & Rico outside the Scottish Whisky Experience!!!
Yes, there are Unicorns in Scotland! & I've seen them!!!
walking the deck while crossing the Irish Sea from Holyhead to Dublin on Stena Lines!
We rode the Irish Rail a couple of different days!
Seacoast near Bray, Ireland from train!
Rico in the Irish Sea, summer lovin' happened so fast, summer lovin' .....
Bray Head Concrete Cross erected in 1950 for the Holy Year!
Rico on the hike to Bray Head, Connie slow walker!
Waitin' in line to get a Guinness Beer!
must admit, I'm not a big fan of Guinness but many others are;
When You say Guinness, You've said it all! oh, wait that is Budweiser - St. Louis, Missouri
I don't remember the significance of this statue, but hey, nice set of "baskets!"
Top of the mornin' to ya from McDaids on Harry Street, established 1779, Dublin, Ireland!
Wise words from William Shakesbeer!
Time to take a Tour and drink some Irish Whiskey;
Notice that the Irish spell "Whiskey" & the Scottish spell "Whisky"
The Phoenix sign at Teeling Distillery! We just can't get away from Arizona!
and this is the reason behind the Phoenix, Irish Whiskey reborn!
three copper stills, all named after Teeling's three daughters!
And, that's a fact Jack!
Yep, a little bit more about the "Phoenix!"
Knowledge is Power!
Connie outside an Irish Pub along the Quay in Dublin!
Inside the famous "The Temple Bar" which is huge, great musica & lots of cerveza!
Sharon Hussey with the violin and some other guy on the guitar!
www.sharonhussey.com if you want to hear some great Irish tunes!
Here is Sir William Temple's story of Temple Bar if you can read it!
and, not to be outdone, a plaque of Lady Martha Temple!
Blarney Castle Countryside - oh, how lovely a Green!
getting ready for the climb and some moisture lingers in the Irish air!
Rico & Connie getting ready to enter Blarney Castle, not raining yet!
inside the main foyer of Blarney Castle!
between this sign and the Blog mentioning Blarney Castle
you have a pretty good idea that you may need to see this place for yourself!
Rico getting laid out on his back to kiss the Blarney Stone as rain is coming down hard!
Rico kissing that Green Limestone so that he may continue to write great novels!
As you can see clearly from the photo that Connie is quite proud of herself
and extremely happy to have brought her rain jacket on this excursion, that & she stole a kiss from me immediately after I kissed the Blarney Stone!
Some Girls have all the Luck!
and now to have a pint and get out of the rain while we await our taxi!
Join us next Blog when we discover France & Paris!