Traveling in Ireland

Take the Train to Ireland

          There are several ways to get to Ireland when you’re traveling through the British Isles and one of my favorites is to take the train.  Yes, you can actually take the train from Glasgow, Scotland to Belfast, Northern Ireland!  You purchase one ticket at the Glasgow train station and take the six hour trip by train and then ferry across the Irish Sea.  Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom and should be included in any visit to the Emerald Isle.  There is train service across Northern Ireland making it easy to visit Londonderry, too, but this is where the train tracks end.  There are no trains heading south into the Republic of Ireland from Londonderry. 

Glasgow, Scotland Train Station

Glasgow, Scotland Train Station

The Ferry at Stranraer, Scotland Going to Belfast, Ireland

The Ferry at Stranraer, Scotland Going to Belfast, Ireland

Ireland by Bus

          The rail lines in the Republic of Ireland are not very extensive and miss many of the important tourist areas, making travel by bus the way to go.  From Londonderry you can begin your journey south into the Republic of Ireland by bus where your first stop should be the beautiful seaside town of Sligo, Ireland.  Then, following the coast counterclockwise around Ireland you will eventually end up in Dublin.  Along the way you can visit Galway with nearby Clifden and Connemara, Limerick with the nearby Cliffs of Moher, Tralee and Dingle Town, Killarney and the Ring of Kerry and then Cork where you can ‘kiss the Blarney Stone’.   

Bus Eireann at the Galway Station, Ireland

Bus Eireann at the Galway Station, Ireland

Yours Truly Kissing the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle Near Cork, Ireland

Yours Truly Kissing the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle Near Cork, Ireland

Bus Eireann

          Bus Eireann is the state run bus service which provides both visitors and locals with reliable, safe and convenient travel throughout the Republic of Ireland.  The fares are quite reasonable, making it ideal for backpackers and anyone who doesn’t want to deal with driving a rental car on some of the narrow streets and roads of Ireland.  The routes of Bus Eireann mainly connect the larger cities and then you can use the local bus service to get around town.  So, why not leave the driving to one of the many friendly bus drivers while you enjoy the beautiful scenery of Ireland from your comfortable seat.

Clifden, Ireland

Clifden, Ireland

The Ring of Kerry, Ireland

The Ring of Kerry, Ireland

Navigating the Narrow Roads of Ireland

Camping at Lake Tahoe

Camping Is Pretty Wild

          Lake Tahoe is a large, deep, clear, freshwater lake straddling the California-Nevada border.  This alpine lake attracts visitors from around the world and whether you enjoy hiking, camping, boating, fishing, skiing or gambling at the Nevada state line, a trip to Tahoe will not disappoint.  I have been ‘going to Tahoe’ since I was a child and in recent years it has been for an annual camping trip with friends and family.  It seems that a lot folks these days cannot get along without the comforts of home, so it’s refreshing to see just how many ‘tent’ campers like us there still are out there.  It is always important to remember that when you are camping, you are in the wilderness, which means that encounters with wild animals are not uncommon.  Even though it is required that all food be kept in ‘bear proof’ steel boxes, these wild creatures still wander through camp, hoping that someone may have left a tasty morsel out on the camp table.  This year we were treated to a visit by one of these majestic animals as it walked right past us in camp.  We gave it a wide berth and it didn’t seem the least bit interested in us.

Bear Walking Through Camp

Bear Walking Through Camp

A Cautionary Tail

          An unfortunate incident occurred on the last night of our recent camping trip to Tahoe that I feel compelled to relate so that others can avoid the same situation.  It was an incident that cast a pall on an otherwise wonderful time.  After dinner we spent a pleasant evening around the campfire, chatting and roasting marshmallows.  Somewhere between 10 and 11 PM we all retired to our tents for the night since we had to break camp the next morning and head for home.  I had just settled into my sleeping bag when there came a hideous sound that could have awakened the dead.  It was a loud squeal-like barking of a dog crying out in terror and pain.  It lasted only about 30 seconds.  When the wailing suddenly stopped, I knew immediately what had happened…a coyote had snatched someone’s pet dog and carried it away.  I jumped out of my tent to see it I could help, knowing there was little hope that the dog could be rescued.  The entire camp had been awakened by the pathetic howling of the dog and the anguished crying of the grief-stricken owners that followed.  A number of campers tried to help and console them and some began a search of the entire campground with flashlights.  Someone thought they heard the dog or maybe even spotted it, but they were unable to catch it.  Then, one by one the searchers dropped out and the dog’s owners returned to their camp to continue their grieving alone.  In what can only be described as a miracle, the dog had somehow managed to get away from the coyote and was able to find its way back to camp several hours later.

Pope Beach, South Lake Tahoe, California

Pope Beach, South Lake Tahoe, California

On a Lighter Note        

          Looking back, I think we were the only ones in our campground who didn’t have a pet with them.  We saw many dogs of all sizes and breeds taking walks with their owners while we were there and I hope this unfortunate attack on one of them will be a reminder that pets and small children must be watched at all times while in the wilderness.  I’m not so sure, though, since the morning after the incident I saw a dog tied up outside the restroom unattended while the owner was inside.  We learned that the brave little dog that survived the coyote attack was a dachshund or wiener-dog.  Talk about Mighty Dog!  I guess the coyote didn’t realize that dachshunds are also descended from ferocious hunters.  Anyway, I now have an even greater respect for these little fellows.  As the British comedian Benny Hill once famously said about wiener-dogs, ‘they’re a dog and a half long and a half a dog high.  Kids love them because they can all pet them at the same time.  The only problem with dachshunds is that it’s hard to get the boy dogs to go out for a walk in the snow’.

The Cats of Russia and Ukraine

The Cats of Russia and Ukraine

          Cats and people are the same the world over.  Here are a few of the cats I came across in the cities of Rostov on Don, Russia and Yalta in the Crimea, Ukraine.

Lazy Cat in Rostov on Don, Russia

Lazy Cat in Rostov on Don, Russia

Sidewalk Kitty in Rostov on Don, Russia

Sidewalk Kitty in Rostov on Don, Russia

Cat on a Window Ledge, Rostov on Don, Russia

Cat on a Window Ledge, Rostov on Don, Russia

Cat in the Box, Yalta, Ukraine

Cat in the Box, Yalta, Ukraine

Cat in Yalta, Ukraine

Cat in Yalta, Ukraine

Cat on a Ledge in Yalta, Ukraine

Cat on a Ledge in Yalta, Ukraine

British Isles Destinations

Must See Destinations in the British Isles

If you’re planning a trip to the British Isles, be sure to include theses destinations on your itinerary.  These are some of my favorite cities in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.  Click on the heading for more details and photos.

Shrewsbury, England:  A picturesque river city in Shropshire with a medieval past.

Shrewsbury School Across the River Severn

Shrewsbury School Across the River Severn

Conwy, Wales:  A beautiful little coastal town in Northern Wales with an awesome castle.

Conwy Castle on the North Coast of Wales

Conwy Castle on the North Coast of Wales

Inverness, Scotland:  A city in the Scottish Highlands near Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle.

Inverness Castle, Inverness, Scotland

Inverness Castle, Inverness, Scotland

Galway, Ireland:  This eclectic city on the west coast of Ireland is the gateway to Clifden and Connemara.

Galway Cathedral on the River Corrib

Galway Cathedral on the River Corrib

 

Children of Mongolia

Children Playing in Mongolia

          Children are much the same all over the world.  They just have different toys.  While the children of Mongolia may not have all the fancy toys that Western children have, they sure look like they’re having fun out on the Gobi Desert.

Fun on the Gobi Desert

 

The Children of Mongolia

Russian Rainbow

The Pot of Gold at the End of the Russian Rainbow

          I caught this interesting photo in Vladimir, one of the medieval capitals of Russia just 120 miles from Moscow.  Vladimir is the first stop on the Trans-Siberian Railroad and the gateway to the stunning little village of Suzdal about a 20 mile bus ride north.  It was a rainy day as I explored the town of Vladimir with its many cathedrals and while looking out over the beautiful Oka River Valley, I spotted this rainbow that looks like it is coming right out or the power plant.

Russian Rainbow

Russian Rainbow