So the group that has climbed cliffs in Ireland, chased sheep in Wales and had their breath taken away by the Scottish highlands is in their final city–Glasgow–from which they will make their way home tomorrow. Here are a few final pictures from the group.
Our last night in Edinburgh (Sunday), we enjoyed a meal together at a restaurant located on the famous Royal Mile. Yesterday morning (Monday), we experienced our best views yet outside the bus windows: the breathtaking Scottish highlands. From an overlook, we saw Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the British Isles.
Our journey also took us to Loch Ness, where we visited the Uruqhuart castle, and some of us (OK, it may have mainly been me) searched the waters for the loch’s infamous monster.
Today, we’ve been exploring sites near Inverness, where we are staying. We visited a battlefield and a prehistoric burial site.
Our travels will soon end, but we have all been grateful for this opportunity to experience the land of the Celts. Everywhere we’ve visited has reminded us just how old the old country is, full of monastic sites, ancient passage tombs, castles and castle ruins, and the cobblestones and passageways of cities. We’ve loved the sheep, the highland cows, and the fantastic bread. Thank you for following along with our travels!
Professor Julie Funderburk
Here in Edinburgh, we are experiencing the unseasonably hot weather along with the rest of of the Scots. The city is divided into “new,” built in the in the 1700s, and “old,” built in medieval times. We toured Edinburgh castle today, where we saw the changing of the guards (a couple of our students made a guard laugh and got him in a wee bit of trouble) and the crown jewels of Scotland. This afternoon, some are visting galleries, others taking a hike to Arthur’s Seat, a rock with a fantastic view of the city. We look forward to exploring more in this city tomorrow under unexpectedly Carolina blue skies.
–Prof. Julie Funderburk
Yesterday, we went to Conwy castle, which had many towers to explore, including a chapel tower that was finished with wood floors and even some windows so that we could imagine what life was like then.
In the afternoon yesterday, we visited Bodnant Gardens, a truly fantastic botantical garden experience. Other visitors thought we were a group of photography students because some students discovered the macro close-up function on their digital camers for the first time, so everyone was getting detail shots of all the beautiful blooms:
This is our last night in Wales; tomorrow, we head to Scotland on the bus. Everyone is excited about Scotland! We’ll send news from there.
–Prof. Julie Funderburk
Yesterday we took a big ferry from Dublin to North Wales, where we found our bus and headed for Caernarfon. Along the way we visited the village with the longest name in Europe and one of the longest names anywhere, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. If this name sounds made up to you, then you are correct, as it was invented in the 1860s simply to give the place some notoriety. We too fell victim to this ploy and happily posed under the sign. We also made a stop at Bryn Celli Ddu, an ancient tomb and passage grave.
Once in Caernarfon, we have all enjoyed the old narrow streets of this quaint town, home of the famous Caernarfon castle, where we learned to say “thank you” in Welch (“diolch” is the spelling, but that won’t help you pronounce it). Today we crawled around the magnificent castle, built here by an English king to help him conquer Wales, and we posed in the place of investiture for the Princes of Wales.
We even traveled underground on a train to visit an old slate mine. Meanwhile, the weather is atypically sunny, the sunset is pink on the water, cows can be heard from the harbor, and tomorrow will bring more beautiful countryside!
After enjoying a traditional Irish breakfast this morning (sausage, bacon, beans, fried egg, black and white puddings–which are not at all what we think of as “pudding”), our group was first in line for the Book of Kells. Here, we saw how the monks painstakingly created these Irish medieval gospel manuscripts. Leaning close to the glass cases, we were amazed by the intricate detail and bright colors. The adjacent Long Room of the Old Library at Trinity College was breathtaking–two floors of old books in beautifully carved cases and interesting artifacts such as the oldest harp in Ireland. At the National Museum of Ireland, we saw Bronze age gold treaures, the metalworking prowess of the Celts, and the preserved bog bodies from the Iron Age. We have walked and walked but are excited for the rest of the day in Dublin.
–Julie Funderburk (English professor who was deeply moved by the Long Room!)
We have had one awesome experience after another so far! We are now in Dublin after glorious days in Galway and surrounds.
Yesterday we traveled in the rain and wind to Inish Mor, the largest of the Aran Islands. The ferry ride over was exciting as it pitched and rolled through the rough waters – a few green faces were evident. The highlight of the day was the great Dun Aengus, the ring fort at the top of the cliff. While students struck terror in the advisors hanging over the cliff, all made it back and declared the day great fun
After a very early start this morning, we visited the Hill of Tara, where the high kings of Ireland were crowned and the sheep still rule. We explored Knowth, one of three 5,000 year old passage tombs at Bru na Boinne. The carvings and wonder of the structures was maind blowing (as our guide said it would be). Tomorrow we set off for Trinity College and the Book of Kells in the morning and the National Museum of Ireland in the afternoon. Wow!
I’m sure you all know that we made it safely to Ireland. We are staying at Sleepzone Hostel in Galway, Ireland. On the way here we were rerouted over Iceland and Greenland because of the erupting volcano. This detour added an hour and fifteen minutes to our flight. We were able to see the volcano and got some pictures from the plane, be sure to check those out!
Yesterday we went to Clonmacnoise, which was one of the first monastic villages in Ireland, a place of Christian pilgrimage that many still visit today. We saw the ruins of eight churches, many old graves, and three high crosses.
Today we were very busy! We visited The Burren, which is a rolling, rocky landscape that was formed by the movement and melting of glaciers. It is home of very rare plant species. We then went to The Cliffs of Mohr, one of the seven wonders of the world! The view was breathtaking! Harry Potter, Princess Bride, and Robin Hood were all filmed at this site! It is also very popular for surfers.
We also stopped at a 12th century church to take pictures. Keep checking for future entries.
By: Natalie Gay and Niran Lohmaneeratana