Stonehenge had also been on my bucket list and I was so pleased to hear this world heritage site was part of this year’s tour. It was a little more of a production than I expected with the parking area being some distance from the site. But the folks that run it do provide transportation.
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument that originated between 2000 and 3000 BC and because of the age of the monument, there is a great deal of mystery. I did learn that:
It is a burial site
The Druids would hold ceremonies here
For the most part, the public is no longer aloud to walk up to the stones
That over the years the stones have been straightened when in danger of falling over
The visitor’s center opened in December 2013 and I could have happily spent more time there
According to some myths, the stone were healing rocks
Here is a short BBC video on this history of Stonehenge and here is the official visitors webpage.
Bunratty Castle and Folk Park in Killarney, Ireland was my idea of a perfect way to explore history. The castle was built in 1425 and restored in 1954. Visitors get to explore most of the castle, using tight, twisting steps. Folk Park consist of village buildings from the 19th century including farm buildings, a mill, church, homes, school and stores. We had a chance to visit with the mill worker and other members of our group were scolded by the school master.
I wasn’t excited about going to a sports stadium, but it turns out that Croke Park in Dublin, Ireland was one of my favorite things to do! We had time to do interactive sports and then a wonderful tour guide showed us around. We went way up in the bleachers to take this picture.
This park is the site of the 1920 Bloody Sunday in which 14 civilians (fans and players) were killed when authorities stormed a Gaelic football match. This was done in retaliation against 14 assassinations early in the day. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloody_Sunday_%281920%29
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, in Wales has one of the longest place names in the world. The village/train station originally had a shorter name, but in the 1800s they were renamed in an effort to increase tourism. The picture below shows the gift store.
Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and its second largest city in the United Kingdom. Our time in Edinburgh was short, but we had a chance to walk part of the Royal Mile (the main street through town) and see the castle.
Their website states “Chester is arguably the richest city in Britain for archaeological and architectural treasures preserved to this day from the time of the Roman occupation.” We had an hour or so to walk around this lovely town.
We went out looking for The Lock Ness Monster (Nessie) on the Lock Ness in the Highlands of Scotland, but sadly did not find him or her. But it was still a great boat ride and we got to see the ruins of Urquhart Castle (constructed in 1200s).
After the Lock, we went to see a shepherd with his sheep and sheepdogs.
There is only one place to buy jewelry made from the heather plant and that is from the Heathergems Factory in Pitlockry, Perthshire, Scotland, UK. The making of the gems is a cool process. First the roots of the heather plant are gathered and cleaned, then they are cut and dyed different colors from local, natural dyes and then they are bound tightly. Over time they roots compressed into a single multicolored piece which can then be cut and shaped like stone. Once shaped, the gem is shellacked and mounted for jewelry.