If it’s Tuesday, this must be … oh, it’s Monday

We are bivouacked on the 24th floor of a downtown Birmingham hotel. I do not know how or why we got here, and I’ll leave it at that.

Today was a driving day. St. Andrew’s looks different without the fog.

We saw some Roman ruins along Hadrian’s Wall.

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Guess where I am

Turns out there’s more to St. Andrew’s than a golf course.

For instance, St. Andrew’s University is the oldest University in Scotland. It’s pretty interestingly laid out, with University buildings intermingled with the other buildings of the town.

And there are some interesting ruins, especially a cathedral and a castle.

The waterfront is probably pretty unusual, but the fog was getting thick by the time our late-day walk got us to the shore.

But yes, there is a golf course, the Old Course, the birthplace of golf, and on Sundays they don’t play golf on it – they open it up to the public to take a good walk without having it spoiled.

And that’s what we did.

Compare that to our experience at the car rental office this morning, where we stood in queue for over an hour before we finally got our car, and then through a series of missed turns took a half hour to drive the mile back to our flat to check out.

And then, it turns out to be a major three-day weekend holiday here in Britain, and we were turned away by our first restaurant for want of a reservation.

Fortune smiled on us at our next try, Forgan’s, where the manager squeezed us in, and we had a delightful meal.

Finished off the day with gin flights at the St. Andrews Brewing Company

Edinburgh

This post will be short on narrative and long on photos.

This morning we went to the bottom of the hill below the castle, climbed a steep path up the cliffs to the castle, and were turned away at the top due to construction.

But we made it around to the entrance, toured the castle, and walked down the Royal Mile.

We visited parliament, climbed a big gorse-covered extinct volcano, and finally found our way back to our flat.

Margaret’s Chapel, oldest building in Edinburgh

Inspiration for Raleigh’s iconic acorn?

Changing of the guard at Edinburgh Castle

Crashed a tour lecture in Parliament

Gorse-covered mountain

Monument to cousin Bobby Burns

Biggest Vermeer you’ll ever see

No, really. Rebecca is a Vermeer birder, and her eyes lit up when she saw the Scottish National Gallery has a Vermeer.

Imagine her surprise when the Vermeer was full-size. It is the largest known Vermeer. Also of note were a couple of Rembrandts, a Leonardo, and some really cool Cezannes.

Jewelry for a witch. This necklace was used to encourage women to confess they were witches.

Our other museum of the day was the National Museum, a really fun museum filled with a lot of animal remains, a bunch of machinery, a nice history of Scotland, a wing of women’s clothes, and a bunch of interactive displays for the kiddie in you.

The outside of the museum is a typical Edinburgh block stone facade, but the inside is a Victorian dollhouse, with some modern wings. I think I heard it was Prince Albert’s last project.

Sculpture of St. Andrew toting his cross, which became the Scottish flag.

We finished the day with a literary pub crawl, where a couple of thespians talked about Scottish writers and the dichotomy of Edinburgh. Cousin Bobby Burns was prominent, but Robert Lewis Stevenson’ s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (apparently it’s pronounced Jeekle) is the more apt metaphor for Edinburgh.

Maintaining a theme, we started our pub tour at The Beehive. Those of you with short memories might not recall the Beehive at the Dingle Peninsula. More obscure is a hike at Acadia N.P. known as the Beehive, which is archived somewhere.

Indiana Jones

Remember that scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark, when he backs his assailant into a plane’s propeller?

That’s a prop out the airplane window. When was the last time you flew in a commercial airliner driven by propellers? Boats, sure, but a plane?

We drove from Cork to Dublin, then flew to Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Castle. You’ll see a lot more of this tomorrow.

Not a lot else to say.

The view from our flat. Rebecca did it again.

Cobh is a made up word

The harbor at Cobh, just downstream from Cork, is the second largest natural harbor in the world.

It is the only port in Ireland where cruise ships can actually dock adjacent to land.

Cobh, back when it was known as Queenstown, was the last port of call for the Titanic, and the rescue port for the survivors of the Lusitania.

Irish acrobatics in Cobh.

The port was a major embarcation point for hundreds of thousands of starving Irish folks who fled Ireland in the second half of the nineteenth century as a result of the potato famine.

The name Cobh was given to the town because it’s more or less phonetically pronounced “cove,” and it looks Irish.

We took a quick train ride from Cork to Cobh this morning.

Cobh has just as big a hill to climb at the water’s edge as does Cork. There is one huge church partway up the hill in Cobh, made all the more imposing by the way it towers over the waterfront.

While we were on the train Rebecca told me to take more pictures.

More pictures, fewer words.

John Kennedy Garden

Political activism in front of the Lusitania Memorial

View of castle from train.

View of Bunky on the train.

Back in Cork, we found the English Market, the last item on our scavenger hunt list.

Don’t put a Cork in it

This guy could really play the fiddle.

It turns out Cork may be the best place to hear traditional Irish music.

First impressions of Ireland’s second largest city were a bit misplaced. After a run of small towns, Cork has the makings of a big city.

Our hotel is about a mile from the city centre, and the return trip is all uphill. Steeply.

The first issue was that the Tourist Information Center was not where it was supposed to be. The corner across the Lee River via the St. Patrick’s Bridge was under construction. Fortunately a kind stranger looked it up on his phone and gave us alternate directions.

At the center we learned the opening of the new center, identified on the tourist maps, was delayed. We had a good laugh over it, and got some maps for self-guided tours. There were supposed to be informational posters at key points of interest along the route, which were not immediately obvious.

It turned into something of a scavenger hunt, which added an element of fun and helped to break the ice.

In addition to the modernish buildings and whizzing cars, Cork has a fascinating maze of pedestrian-only streets, and two forks of the river surrounding the city centre.

The view out our hotel room window.

At night the bustle of the city dies back, and a pleasant, vibrant nightlife emerges.

And one easily finds numerous pubs featuring extremely high-quality music.

One such pub offered a lengthy menu of Irish, and not-so-Irish, whiskeys. It took them about twenty minutes to find the bottles of the two Irish whiskeys I ordered.

The day had begun in Killarney, where we embarked on the national park stretch of the Ring (in this case the Arc) of Kerry.

It was a beautiful drive through the mountains of Killarney National Park.