The entire world knows the history of the world’s most luxurious liner, The Titanic. Most know that the ship hit an iceberg and over 1500 lives were lost. The epic tale was forever memorialized in the movie.
Many people have a real interest in the history of this famous ship; if you happen to have any interest in the Titanic, a trip to the Titanic Museum in Belfast is obligatory.
The ship was built at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast. The Titanic Museum rises above the land in the exact area where the original ship was built. It is an astounding piece of architecture that has a five-story-high glazed atrium. Positioned at the center of the building this atrium gives visitors access to each of the nine galleries contained within the four wings.
Photos of this building are what first drew me to consider a trip to Belfast. The sheer size and brilliance of the building is quite breathtaking.
This past March I was fortunate enough to cross The Giants Causeway off my bucket list. If this archeological wonder is on your list I recommend a visit via the coastal highway from Belfast.
We only had a day but I could have easily spent longer sauntering through sleepy seaside villages , exploring beautiful seascapes and countryside. If like us you have a day consider a tour through McCombs- they are the best.
Belfast once famous for The Troubles , decades of bitter conflict, is now a peaceful city fast becoming a destination city in Europe. This past year a record-breaking 185,000 cruise passengers and crew called at Belfast. Soon the Disney Cruise line will begin berthing in Belfast so those numbers will continue to grow.
There are many reasons why a visit to Belfast should be considered. This blog will cover just a few.
My mother and I chose Belfast for a short get away as the city offers so many sights and is just a short flight from England. We were also enticed by the idea of a visit to the iconic Titanic Museum.
We were not disappointed by our choice and more than pleasantly surprised at the pure , genuine friendliness of the people of Belfast.
Once a city in turmoil and fear, the tenacity and courage of the people of Belfast paid off. This town is now truly a place to visit and explore in peace.....................some would argue a beacon of hope.
Meet The Big Fish, also known as The Salmon of Knowledge, it is a printed ceramic mosaic sculpture by John Kindness.
The outer skin of the fish is a cladding of ceramic tiles decorated with texts and images relating to the history of Belfast. Each scale tells a story of Belfast. The Big Fish contains a time capsule storing information, images, and poetry on the City.
Be sure to stop by and get a selfie!
Recently I planned a spring break trip to Belfast to meet my Mom and spend some time exploring this up and coming city in Northern Ireland. Living in Central Texas my options for international flight includes Dallas, Houston and now Austin. Austin Airport has numerous options for direct flights from Austin to London. I flew into Gatwick and decided to opt for a layover in London so I could spend the day in London and cross off a bucket list item – The National Gallery.
As I only had a day in London, I limited my sight seeing escapades to a small area of London, Westminster. I headed from Gatwick to Charing Cross, about 35 minutes on the train with a change at London Bridge.
Once you emerge from Charing Cross station a short walk around the corner and you will find yourself in the middle of Trafalgar Square. Obviously, a visit to Trafalgar Square is on most people’s "London List" because of the history of this area. This vibrant square is in Westminster and steeped in history it is also surrounded by museums and churches.
Rallies and demonstrations are frequently held at weekends on different political, religious and general issues. The Mayor of London supports this democratic tradition and gives access to the square for such causes.
Gennadi is a Greek village in the Sothern region of Rhodes. The village has a population of about 700 people and it is a “tourist town “in the making. That is a town that is trying to grown into something more than it is right now. It truly does has the makings of a great place to base your holiday in Rhodes. You will find Gennadi 40 miles south of Rhodes City and the International airport, 15 miles south of Lindos which means it is easy to drive or get a bus to any of the sights you want to visit. Read on to find out why I fell in love with this small Greek town……………
Go for the Beach...........
The reason I fell in love with this place was the calm, tranquil beach. Yes, it’s a pebble beach but that in itself has many advantages. The water of the Aegean Sea is crystal clear and so very refreshing. The beach here is typically quiet with a few Italian, Greek and German tourists soaking up the sun. I loved that you can rent an umbrella and 2 lounges for 7 euro for the whole day. Even better you can stroll the 20 yards from your lounger to the outdoor restaurant for lunch or light refreshments then stroll back for a nap. I spent two days at this beach and it was probably the most relaxing days I had all year. Loved it!!!
Go for the Fish Resturants........
There are two fish restaurants situated right on the beach that have clearly been around for a while. Both offer a two course fresh fish meal for 15 euros, both offer beach loungers and relaxing atmospheres but I fell in love with Klemis Taverna. The food here was fabulous and the service wonderful.
Lindos is an archeological site , a fishing village and beach. Tourists flood into Lindos for all three. The town lies on the east coast about 65 miles from the town of Rhodes. Lindos is quite beautiful with it’s towering acropolis, white cubed houses and the radiantly blue waters of the bay. In Lindos you can go up or down but at some point you will need to go back up. Our bus dropped us at the top a hill that lead down to the beach and the beginning of the town.
Symi Island is one of the smaller Dodecanese group if islands just 9 kilometers off the Turkish coast north of Rhodes. "Sizzling Symi" as the island is often referred to, is one of the hottest of the Greek Island with temperatures often rising well over 100 in the summer months.
The island is probably one of the most picturesque islands I have had the pleasure of visiting. As the ferry glides into the marina pastel painted neoclassical houses climb up the hillsides.
The island was once home to a thriving shipbuilding and sponge diving industry. Symi relies now almost entirely on tourism, mostly day trippers from Rhodes. We took such a day trip and it turned out to be one of my favorite days in Greece.
Soaking up the sun in Symi.............................Do it because....................
The seafood is amazing......... but be sure to look around don't just stop at the best looking seafood restaurant like we did. There are so many wonderful places to eat and NOT all are over priced like the one we stopped at.
Why Stay Here.................................
I don’t usually focus a whole blog on a place to stay but I really fell in love with The Florentine situated in Fulwood , Sheffield. I may be biased as I went to school at Notre Dame which is situated just up the road so I know the area well. I love this area of Sheffield with it’s beautiful tree lined roads and fabulous pubs and parks. Minutes from the city center this area offers so much. If you are fortunate to visit the city of Sheffield I highly recommend that you stay at The Florentine, here’s why………theflorentinepub.com/
The pub has a lot to offer, friendly staff, great drinks and, good food are always a recipe for a good night out. I was in Sheffield for only a few nights and on two occasions decided to stay in and have friends and family visit me at The Florentine - It was a good choice! Both nights we were able to relax in a friendly atmosphere , comfortable setting and enjoy some pretty good food. The Florentine offered a two for one fire roasted pizza deal which couldn’t be beat. The pizza and service was excellent both nights.
St.Pancras train station opened its doors to its first trains and passengers in 1868 .It is one of the finest examples of Victorian engineering found in England. It is a masterpiece of Victorian Gothic Architecture and one of the most elegant stations in the world. I recently had the pleasure of taking an hour and savoring the splendor of this building. On route from my hometown of Sheffield to Gatwick Airport I stopped here, before scurrying along with all the other passengers ,to enjoy sometime at the longest champagne bar in Europe.
St.Pancras Champagne Bar By Searcy's
If you ever have the opportunity to visit St.Pancras Station be sure to take some time and indulge your senses at the longest champagne bar in Europe-a truly fabulous experience. This really is well worth a trip to this unique train station. The Champagne Bar by Searcy is amazing in every way and every detail has been paid attention to including heated leather seats and blankets for chilly winter evenings, a button to press for a champagne refill and soft lighting. Champagne can be ordered by the glass or bottle, there is a drinks and food menu. I loved the quail scotch egg and I loved everything about this amazing bar. Check out the website for all of the information you need to make your stop here memorable. stpancrasbysearcys.co.uk/
I was born and raised in this town but I never turn down an opportunity to rediscover this city and all it has to offer. Sheffield was a steel town for many, many years, my grandfather and most everyone else in the city worked in the steel works. At one time Sheffield was the leading cutlery supplier to the world and stainless steel was developed here. The city produced expert silversmiths . It’s roots are the industrial era and it continues to embrace these roots. Now a city of 575,000 much has changed and much has stayed the same. A diverse city which offers an array of things to see and do much of which is free.
If you ever have the chance to visit this area take a few days and explore this diverse, ever changing historically interesting city .Here are my suggestions, come explore Sheffield with me………………..Welcome to my hometown -Sheffield!
Sheffield is a diverse city of 575,000 people. This city has so much to offer in terms of restaurants, entertainment and so much more. My visit with family was short but sweet but as always I found revisiting some of my old haunts exciting. Here I highlight a few of my favorites and the amazing thing is they happen to be free.
If you ever find yourself in Sheffield you must take a day and head out to the Peak District. This is an amazing National Park it's like no other. It offers outstanding views, beautiful villages steeped in history, stunning walks, cycling , birding opportunities, the list goes on. It is actually very difficult for me to try to describe the Peak District it literally is an area that must be experienced.
I have known this area since I was a child, I have walked the public footpaths, camped in the fields , played in the streams and hiked on the moors but every time I return to Sheffield I am drawn to this area. For this visit I chose Hathersage as the town to rediscover.
Hathersage is a tiny village nestled in the Peak District only 11 miles from Sheffield. This is home to many of the legends of Robin Hood and his merry men. This is a village worth exploring. It has a beauty all of it’s own with quaint cottages and it is surrounded by stunning scenery.
First Stop..........for Food of Course
My Mom suggested that we eat at a local cafe that she has enjoyed -The Pool Cafe ! This is a small cafe with plenty of cooked to order options and of course tea and cakes available.
After enjoying a full English breakfast we decided to take a walk up to Little John's grave. This particular landmark is what makes Hathersage famous- it is the site where Little John ,one of Robin Hood's Merry-men is buried. The walk to the site is uphill but worth the hike. The views along the way are quite beautiful.
Unexpected Layover- Shannon, Ireland
After a disastrous trip caused by Kiwi.com -blog in the works-I unexpectedly found myself in Shannon Texas for 10 hours. At this point in my journey I was beginning to feel like Tom Hanks in the movie Terminal so I decided a layover adventure was seriously needed.
After taking sometime to make sure I actually had a connecting flight I headed to the information desk of this tiny airport where I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t have too many options but I had one that fit the bill perfectly…………………
At the information desk I was directed first to a luggage drop off where this kind gentleman will store a suitcase for a mere 4 euros approximately $5-the best airport deal I have ever found.Next I was told to head right outside and find the #343 bus which would take me directly to Bunritty Castle ; easy and the return cost was just 7 euros. The bus-ride was only about 20 minutes and I was dropped less than a half mile walk to the castle.
Bunratty Castle and Folk Park
I have been blessed to visit Iceland twice. My first experience was in 2014 on a short stopover on my way back from visiting the UK. I only had two night so my trip was a whirlwind. I opted for a Golden Circle Tour to see some of the sights on my list and I loved it. The next day I spent alone exploring Reykjavik - I was not disappointed ! This was a great trip and I vowed to come back and explore more with Gene. We were blessed to do just that and spent 3 days exploring more of what Iceland has to offer. One of the things on my wish list was walking on the black beaches of Vik – it was amazing……
I love to take day trips. The idea of exploring a new place always excites me weather it is around the corner or on a different continent. If I haven’t had a chance to travel for a while I love to plan a local day trip but I also love to day trip when I’m actually on vacation. I know this may seem like a totally bizarre concept but it really isn’t. Let me explain how a little planning and willingness to explore can turn a wonderful vacation into a truly memorable one.
My mother and I have taken many vacations together this one began on the beautiful island of Jersey. Initially the plan was to spend our time relaxing and gently discovering all that Jersey has to offer -Jersey does have so much to offer. On further consideration after a little research I realized that a day trip to St. Malo, France was easily a possibility. I decided to surprise my Mom and purchase ferry tickets so that we could spend a day in the beautiful historic town of St.Malo.
I think my mother would agree this turned out to be the best day trip ever!
On one of my trips to the UK I travelled north with my mother and sister-in-law. It was her first visit to the UK and we wanted her to see a little of what Scotland has to offer. We were only there for a few days but Dornoch Beach, the town of Dornoch and some of the places we visited in the surrounding area were quite spectacular. My sister-in-law fell in love with Scotland as will you if you have the opportunity to visit.
Highlights of Past Trips to the UK
I was born and raised in the steel town of Sheffield,South Yorkshire. After attending Liverpool University I left on my first extensive trip outside of the UK. Some friends and I headed to Israel with a backpack and youth on our side. The love of travel was born. To cut a long story short a year later I found myself living in Germany where I met and married the love of my life ,an American! I have now resided in the States for almost 30 years and during that time I have been drawn back to the UK frequently to visit family and to ensure my children knew their heritage. In the last few years my nest has been empty so I have enjoyed to ability to travel and see more of the UK. Here are some highlights of trips over the years. If you are considering a trip try and make it a priority to visit more than just London.
Area surrounding my hometown of Sheffield.
Keep Calm and Drink Tea........
One of the things I miss the most about home is the food and drinks. I know what you are thinking; British food that's for the birds. Well I happen to love British food and if you know what to eat I think you will too. If you ever get the chance to visit be sure to try some of the food that I have highlighted here……………cheers!!!
Rome is definitely the place to live to eat and enjoy the meal!
Last summer I surprised my Mom by planning a whirlwind trip to Rome. She flew in from the UK and I flew in from the USA (via a stopover in Toronto). We met in the airport, got a taxi to our Airbnb and spent a wonderful, whirlwind 5 days exploring Rome. Before we left a friend of mine recommended a food tour. As eating and drinking is such a huge part of the Italian culture we chose to book this tour for our first night in Rome. The reasoning for this was to gain some insights before we were left to our own devices in exploring all of the culinary delights that Rome has to offer.
Taking this tour was one of the best decisions we made. We opted for an early evening tour at 4pm. This is very early for Rome as dinner doesn’t usually begin until much later. We were very fortunate as the other tour members rescheduled for a later time and my mother and I had our own personal guide for this tour. Luca was amazing! I checked and she is still working for the same tour company so if you have the opportunity to get her as a guide do it! –Buon appetito !
I discovered the world of "stop overs' on a trip home. ......Why haven't I been doing this for years?
I discovered that I could fly Iceland Air and get a totally free stopover in this amazing country. New country,break up the flying time this was too good to not explore.
So off I went to discover this new country- it was one of the best travel experiences I have ever had; so much so when I traveled next with Gene we took a three day stop over and he also fell in love with this amazing country.
If you ever get the opportunity to plan a trip to Europe consider a stop over here you won’t regret it. Iceland is expensive but it doesn't have to be. Below are some tips for seeing the sights on a budget.
Tips for Travel In Iceland: