In a few hours we will bid farewell to our crew that has treated us so royally on our cruise.

They really outdid themselves preparing the meal for us today.

The pastry chef was rightly proud of his artistry.


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We’ve had an overnight stay at the port city of Cork.  This was the port from which my grandmother’s grandfather, John O’Sullivan, set sail for Savannah in the 1840’s

Today I toured Blarney Castle, home of the Blarney Stone.

As you can see, I completely immersed myself in the experience.  Kissing the Stone is supposed to endow you with eloquence.  Did it work?  I’ll have to leave that for you to decide.

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Today we toured the city of Dublin.  The highlight of the day was a visit to Trinity College.  Trinity is one of the most prestigious universities in Europe, considered on par with Oxford or Cambridge.

Trinity is pioneering in the field of robotics.  This picture came from an exhibition in the Science Building


The head of a prototype companion robot that can be customized with perfect eyes, perfect lips, whatever features are desired. Complete with facial expressions and movements, it will communicate via artificial intelligence and have a personality of our choice.  As science fiction becomes reality, will people choose to have personal relationships with robots?  And if so, what will be the social consequences? (Information taken from the exhibit)

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We are docked in Liverpool.  The skyline of the city is right over the rail of our ship.    A much bigger place than I expected.  Really a bustling modern city with an abundance of tall buildings.

The most impressive sight on our tour was the Liverpool Cathedral.  It is the largest Anglican Cathedral in the world and the longest Cathedral of any denomination in the world.  A picture just can’t do justice to the beauty and majesty of the structure.


One of the cathedral’s tales of notoriety is that when Paul McCartney was a boy, he auditioned for its boys choir and was rejected.

Everything in the city is connected to Liverpool’s four favorite sons – whether true or not.  John, Paul, George, and Ringo apparently sang or drank in every pub in the city.  How else can you get the tourists to stop in?


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Belfast Castle and Gardens

Today we got a delightful and informative tour of Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Its amazing and such a hopeful thing that this city is now a major tourist destination.  During much of my lifetime, mention of Belfast conjured up images of bombings and the deaths of so many innocent civilians caught in the crossfire of the ethnic and religious conflict.  Almost 2000 civilians were killed during the period of the ‘70s and 80’s called “the Troubles.”  At that time Belfast was considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world.  Today, thanks to many peacemaking initiatives, it is considered one of the safest.

Interestingly, the “peace wall” that was constructed to separate the Catholic and Protestant sections of the city has become a major tourist stop.


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William Wallace, AKA Braveheart


William Wallace is the great folk hero of the Scots, and considered the liberator of the Country. His image is everywhere throughout Scotland. The movie only helped to cement that reputation. This guy was an enthusiastic impersonator, but he was no Mel Gibson.

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Today I toured Edinburgh Castle and the city.  The castle dominates the skyline of Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, from virtually any vantage point.


This picture was taken from the overlook on one of the busiest streets in the city across Princes Street Garden, sort of like Central Park in NYC.

Edinburgh Castle has been a part of Scotland’s storied past since the 11th century.  It was a crucial stronghold during Scotland’s War for Independence.


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Celebrity Reflection


This is a day at sea as we’re headed up and over Great Britain to the west coast of Scotland. My cruise ship is the Celebrity Reflection, which carries 3046 people. That is no where near the 5535 occupancy of the Symphony of the Seas, the largest in the world, but still impressive.

So we are traversing the North Sea as I type this.  With a reputation for perpetual rough conditions, today the North Sea seems bent on maintaining its  stormy reputation.  Just trying to walk down the corridors is a formidable challenge.  I’m sticking to my bunk today.  Being horizontal seems to keep the seasickness at bay.

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Inverness – Cawdor Castle

Today’s tour took us across the Scottish highlands on our way to Cawdor Castle, built in the 15th century.  The scenery alone made the tour worthwhile, with vistas of lush green meadows with grazing sheep, against a backdrop of cloud covered mountains.

Cawdor Castle is most famous because of its literary connection to Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth.” In the play Macbeth was declared “Thane (protector) of Cawdor” by the three witches that visited him. The extra notoriety given to the castle because of the Macbeth reference is unwelcome, at least it is to one of the recent Earls that owned the castle. Because of all the tourists, he once remarked, “I wish Shakespeare had never written that damned play.”



The castle was beautiful, but what I really enjoyed was exploring the immense, magnificent formal gardens surrounding the castle.



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Today is my first taste of Scotland with an excursion to Inverness. Will be passing by Loch Ness to do a bit of monster hunting. 😆

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