Great Britain is a land rich in history and romance—from the bustling streets of Edinburgh and London to the hilly countryside and thatched-roof cottages of the Cotswolds region. But sometimes, it’s not the beauty of the destination that you remember most. Sometimes, your most memorable experiences stem from unexpected encounters along the way—as was the case for Stephen U., who explored England, Scotland & Wales with Grand Circle. I loved the email he shared with me so much, I couldn’t resist sharing it with you.
My wife, Marya, and I took the Grand Circle tour of England, Scotland & Wales in September of 2007, including the optional extension in the Scottish Highlands. On our first day, our group drove from Aberdeen to Inverness. Along the way, we stopped at Balmoral. Since the Queen was in residence we could not tour the grounds, but we did visit the small church where she attends Sunday services. We bought some postcards and were returning to the bus parking lot when we had to stop at the road joining the Balmoral residence with the main road. Three SUVs with darkened windows were driving from the residence toward the main road. Marya and I were looking very intently at the middle SUV (which we thought would be holding a VIP like Prince Charles or Prince Philip.) Meanwhile, the first SUV slowed down at the corner so the driver could check the main road for traffic before entering. The driver pulled almost to a direct stop about three feet away from me, looked directly at me, and then looked over my shoulder … the driver was the Queen!
While only the luckiest of travelers will experience a royal encounter as Stephen did, there are plenty of other awe-inspiring aspects of Great Britain and Ireland, as your emails prove. Visions of how green and lush Ireland is are always brought back when I open my inbox and see your wonderful photos and read your stories from your Ireland vacations. Here, Bonnie & Chris E. and Stephen B. share how their Program Directors made their Ireland trips so memorable, and Georgia G. sends a lovely photograph of Kylemore Abbey taken during her recent trip.
We had never been to Ireland and this was such a wonderful tour. Our Program Director, Barbara Long, was really excellent and our group was very compatible. We spent several days in Dublin before the tour. The route our tour took us on was mostly around the perimeter of the country and we were able to hit most of the highlights of the country, as well as Northern Ireland. This tour is highly recommended! We still keep in touch with some of our traveling companions.
This photo is taken from The Blarney Castle. It really is that green.
Bonnie & Chris E.
6-time travelers & Vacation Ambassadors
My wife, Shelley, and I just returned from our Ireland in Depth trip that was made even more enjoyable due to the fact that our Program Director was above and beyond terrific. Eileen Farrell was not just a guide, but an extended member of the family who wanted to show her “family” her neighborhood. Her knowledge of the flora and fauna, history, and overall pleasantness made the visit even more than we had expected. Yesterday, our latest brochure arrived from Grand Circle and, lo and behold, who was one of the featured Program Directors? None other than Eileen.
This was our third trip with Grand Circle and in every instance the Program Directors were a great compliment to the trip itself. Details like these cannot be found in reading materials, but they certainly remain with us long after we have returned home.
3-time traveler & Vacation Ambassador
Oceanside, New York
I am happy to share this photo of Kylemore Abbey near Galway in Ireland with you. It was another beautiful trip.
19-time traveler & Vacation Ambassador
Thank you, Georgia. Your photo is simply stunning—and I’m not the only one to think so: Grand Circle associates selected this picture as one of the winners in our 2009 Photo Contest. When you get a chance, take a look at the other amazing entries sent in by your fellow travelers. Perhaps they will inspire you to enter our2010 Photo Contest …