The Loch Ness Monster

An Encounter With the Loch Ness Monster
in Scotland

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

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

 

Blue Orb Travel ‘Best Pick’ Destinations

Add These Often Overlooked Travel Gems to Your Itinerary This Year

          Check out some of John’s favorite places by visiting these Blue Orb ‘Best Picks’ when you travel this summer.  By clicking on the link it will take you to our full article on each travel destination.

Shrewsbury, England

          A charming little town straddling the River Severn near the border with Wales.  Located in County Shropshire, England Shrewsbury is only 170 miles from London.

The River Severn, Shrewsbury, England

The River Severn, Shrewsbury, England

Konigssee, Germany

          This hidden gem of Bavaria is one point on a small tourist triangle that also includes Berchtesgaden with it’s Eagle’s Nest and Salzburg, Austria.  Just 100 miles from Munich, Konigssee is easily accessible by train and you can walk to the lake from the train station.

The Konigssee Lake in Bavaria, Germany

The Konigssee Lake in Bavaria, Germany

Nizhny Novgorod, Russia

          This shining gem just outside the Golden Ring is 260 miles from Moscow and one of the first stops on the Trans Siberian Railway.  Located at the confluence of the Volga and Oka Rivers, Nizhny Novgorod is the third largest city in Russia and is home to a fabulous Kremlin and many splendid cathedrals.

Kremlin at Nizhny Novgorod

Kremlin at Nizhny Novgorod

Luang Prabang, Laos

          Located off the beaten path in the hill country of Laos and accessible only by bus or plane, Luang Prabang is well worth the trip!  This French colonial town on the Mekong River is full of old world charm, wonderful restaurants, great shopping and inexpensive hotels.

Christmas in Finland

Christmas in Finland, Where Santa Lives

          When contemplating travel during the month of December we usually think of the Christmas Markets of Germany, Austria, France, Belgium and the Czech Republic.  One of my favorite Christmas shops is Kathe Wohlfahrt’s year round shop in Rothenburg, Germany.  But Christmas is actually celebrated throughout the world, including countries like Japan which are not traditionally thought of as Christmas destinations.  Many believe that Finland, which is an overwhelmingly Christian nation, is one of the most ‘Christmassy’ countries in the world.  After all, they say, Santa Claus himself lives in Lapland, a region in northern Finland, located near the North Pole.  The fact that there are as many reindeer in Lapland as there are people only adds to the mystique.  Whether or not you believe that Santa originated in Finland, the Finns certainly do and there is much evidence for it as one travels throughout this beautiful country.  I hope you enjoy these photos from my recent trip to Finland that make one think of Christmas.

Santa Claus Figure Outside Shop in Helsinki, Finland

Santa Claus Figure Outside Shop in Helsinki, Finland

Child in Finland Decked Out in Christmas Colors

Child in Finland Decked Out in Christmas Colors

The Finnish Orthodox Uspensky Cathedral in Helsinki

The Finnish Orthodox Uspensky Cathedral in Helsinki

     

Porvoo, Finland

The Old Train Station at Porvoo, Finland

          On a recent trip to Finland, Russia and Ukraine I had the opportunity to visit the beautiful little town of Porvoo, Finland.  Just a 30 mile bus ride from Helsinki, the capital of Finland, Porvoo is a small medieval town located on the River Porvoonjoki.  I was captivated by an old deserted train station located just outside of the old town and could only imagine all the comings and goings from this station over the years.

Porvoo, Finland

The Old Town of Porvoo, Finland across the River Porvoonjoki

Porvoo, Finland

Porvoo, Finland

Porvoo, Finland

Porvoo, Finland

 

The Old Train Station at Porvoo, Finland