A Travellerspoint blog

August 2011

A Trek Thru the British Isles VI- More Liverpool, UK

Touring the sights in Liverpool, England and a ride down Penny Lane

"Easy Liverpool" was the name of the tour of our 3rd port of call, Liverpool, England. Our tour bus driver took us on a drive through the city starting at the Museum of Art and a beautiful park across the street. It was a lovely sunny day and there were flowers in bloom everywhere.

Liverpool City Park
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Streets of Liverpool, England
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The Beatles Hotel in downtown Liverpool
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From the park we went around the city until we arrived at our first stop of the day, the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. The Metropolitan Cathedral Church of Christ the King is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Liverpool. The cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Liverpool and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Liverpool. The Metropolitan Cathedral is one of two cathedrals in the city, The other is the Anglican Cathedral Church of Christ in Liverpool. The Metropolitan Cathedral is unusual looking to say the least. There was a competition to design the Cathedral that was held in 1959. The requirements for the design was first, for a congregation of 3,000 (which was later reduced to 2,000) to be able to see the altar, in order that they could be more involved in the celebration of the Mass, and second, for the Lutyens crypt to be incorporated in the structure. The winner of the competition achieved these requirements by designing a circular building with the altar at its centre, and by transforming the roof of the crypt into an elevated platform, with the cathedral standing at one end of it. It was an amazing structure. We toured the cathedral for a short time before moving on the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral.

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral
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Inside the Metropolitan Cathedral
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Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral, completed in 1978, is the largest in the UK and the fifth largest in the world. After seeing it, this massive beautiful structure became my favorite of those that I had seen. Liverpool Cathedral occupies a total area of 104,270 sq ft and was built mainly of sandstone quarried from the Liverpool suburb of Woolton. The cathedral's bell tower is the largest, and also one of the tallest in the world, rising to a height of 331 ft. It houses the highest and heaviest ringing peal of bells in the world as well. Walking inside the cathedral, I could feel my jaw drop just looking around.

Liverpool Cathedral
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Leaving Liverpool Cathedral, our tour bus took us to other less busy parts of the city. Our next stop was known to every Beatles fan like myself, Penny Lane from the famous Beatles song of the same name. Our driver made a quick photo stop for us so we could take a photo to commemorate our visit, we drove down Penny Lane while the bus driver played the song over the loud speakers. Everyone on the bus started singing including me. It was so much fun! If you are not familiar with the song, here it is:

Penny Lane video...

Me and the Penny Lane sign!
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Just off Penny Lane, I saw another familiar name from another famous Beatles song, the Sgt Peppers Bistro! It was amazing to see the actual places that were the inspiration for some of the Beatles more popular songs.

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Stopping for lunch midway through the tour Mom and I had a chance to sample some fish and chips while visiting with some new friends from Ireland that were also on the cruise. They were traveling while enjoying a 1 month vacation from work. One of the things I enjoy most about traveling is the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and learning about their countries and culture. One month annual vacations were the norm where our new Irish friends came from and I was very impressed.

Finally heading back to the ship at the end of the tour, I took a good look around, trying to burn it all into my memory. Standing out on our balcony as we sailed away from Liverpool on the Crown Princess, I noticed something unusual in the distance. As we sailed closer I realized that I was looking at wind turbines out in the middle of the ocean! What an amazing thing to see! Just another memory I would never forget about Liverpool. Liverpool had been a total surprise to me in almost every way and I could not have been happier to have had this opportunity to visit.

Quaint Liverpool neighborhood
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The Crown Princess parked at the dock
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Wind Turbines out in the ocean!
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Next up, I visit Belfast, Northern Ireland!

To Be Continued........

Gerrilyn Grant Gipson Esq.
Owner/Travel Consultant
Meetings & Events Unlimited Travel Services
Follow me on Facebook! The Travel Concierge

Posted by Gerriv 09:34 Comments (0)

A Trek Thru the British Isles V-Cobh & Liverpool

Shopping and Lunch in Blarney, Ireland and a visit to Liverpool, England

Cobh Ireland is a seaport town on the south coast of County Cork, Ireland. One of the major transatlantic Irish ports, Cobh was the departure point for 2.5 million of the six million Irish people who emigrated to North America between 1848 and 1950. On April 11, 1912 Queenstown was the final port of call for the RMS Titanic as she set out across the Atlantic on her ill-fated maiden voyage. 123 passengers boarded the Titanic in all; only 44 survived the sinking. Cobh was also a major embarkation port for men, women and children who were deported to penal colonies such as Australia. Another notable ship associated with the town is the Cunard passenger liner RMS Lusitania, which was sunk by a German U-Boat off the Old Head of Kinsale while en route to Liverpool in on May 7, 1915. Some 1198 passengers died during that disaster, while 700 people were rescued. The survivors and victims were brought to the town of Cobh, and over one hundred lie buried in the Old Church Cemetery just north of the town. The Lusitania Peace memorial is located in Casement Square opposite the arched building housing the Cobh Library and Courthouse.

The morning we docked in Cobh were greeted with misty skies. A light drizzle had begun to fall as I headed up to the buffet for breakfast. As leery of rain as an indoor cat, I planned many of our shore excursions for the afternoon in order to avoid the possibility of rain as much as possible. However, after seeing the beautiful hills of Cobh, I wished I had planned for an all day tour that included a detailed look at Cobh. This picturesque village was stunning, even in the misty rain.

My first view of Cobh, Ireland video

A View of Cobh from the bow of the Crown Princess
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Port of Cobh, Ireland
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By the time we left the ship for our tour the rain had evaporated and the sun had come out. It was a beautiful day. Our tour bus drove us through downtown Cobh before we headed out to the Irish countryside on our way to Blarney Woolen Mills in the town of Blarney, Ireland. Yes, Blarney is the town associated with the Blarney Stone and Blarney Castel. When I selected this tour, I had to decide between a visit to Blarney Mills or Blarney Castle as there was not time to visit both. After doing lots of research, I decided to visit the Mills to do some shopping and have lunch, rather than fight the crowds at the Castle and the lines of people waiting to climb a ton of stairs to go to the top of the castle to kiss the Blarney Stone. I decided that as I had made it all the way from Alabama to Ireland, I was not short on luck and did not need to fight my fear of heights to kiss a stone.

Downtown Cobh, Ireland
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The Streets of Cobh
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Blarney Castle
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Kissing the Blarney Stone
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Blarney Woolen Mills in the picturesque village of Blarney, is a 30,000 square foot retail store housed in one of Ireland's oldest and most authentic Irish woolen mills. There is a bar, restaurant and hotel also located on the site. We arrived around lunchtime and I could hear Irish music playing as we stepped off the tour bus. Feeling hungry we decided to have some lunch before shopping in the Mills store. The food in the restaurant was served buffet style and it was hard to make a choice. Mom and I decided on some authentic Irish Stew and an Irish Coffee to top it off. What a fabulous choice! The stew was rich and delicious and the Irish Coffee was delicious and gave us just enough of a buzz to get us relaxed before shopping.

Entrance to Blarney Woolen Mills in Blarney, Ireland
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Blarney Woolen Mills Yummy Irish Coffee
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After Lunch we did some serious shopping! There was so much to choose from in the Mills Store that it made me dizzy. After an hour or so, we finally completed our purchases and boarded the tour bus for the trip back to Cobh and the ship. It had been a lovely day in the Republic of Ireland and I was sad to leave as I watched the shoreline fade away from our balcony. There simply had not been enough time to see it all, so hopefully I would be able to return one day.

Our next port of call was Liverpool, England. To say that I was surprised at the sight of this bustle ling modern city would be an understatement. Docked practically in the middle of town, my view of Liverpool was an awesome sight! Instead of the small town that I had envisioned, Liverpool was quite the opposite. It was a large, cosmopolitan city with fabulous shops, restaurants, hip hotels and trendy wine bars. There were also world class cultural offerings such as museums, art galleries and cathedrals. Known around the world as the birthplace of the Beatles, the city payed homage to the band everywhere you looked.

Video of my first view of Liverpool, England

Liverpool, England
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The Beatles Story Museum in Liverpool, England
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The Beatles from the 1960s
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With warm sunny weather and a lot of sights to see, I looked forward to our all day tour of Liverpool!

Next up, part II of my visit to Liverpool, England.

To be continued.....

Gerrilyn Grant Gipson Esq.
Owner/Travel Consultant
Meetings & Events Unlimited Travel Services

Posted by Gerriv 08:45 Comments (2)

A Trek Thru the British Isles IV- Dublin, Ireland

A Visit to the capitol of the Republic of Ireland

The next port of call on our British Isles cruise was Dublin, Ireland, the capital of the Republic of Ireland. We docked on a misty, cloudy morning not too far from the city center. Mom and I headed up to breakfast early because we had an all day city tour scheduled to begin around mid morning. After breakfast I went up on the top deck of the Crown Princess to take some photos and video.

Port of Dublin Ireland
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View of Downtown Dublin from the deck of the Crown Princess
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Video of the Port of Dublin, Ireland

Dublin and the Republic of Ireland has a fascinating history. There is evidence of the existence of Dublin that dates back to the second century. Norman Vikings were the first settlers of the city. Dublin was later captured in the 9th century by the Danes. The Irish wrested control of Dublin from the Danes on a number of occasions during the next three centuries, until 1171 when the Danes were expelled by the Anglo-Normans, led by Henry II, king of England. Until the middle of the 17th century, Dublin remained a small, walled medieval town until 1649, after the English Civil Wars when the town was taken over by Oliver Cromwell. By the end of the 17th century a period of growth began when Protestant refugees from the European continent began pouring into Dublin. During the next century, Dublin grew size and wealth and became the second city of the British Empire. This growth made Dublin an exciting city for the Protestant members of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy, a group who had routinely denied basic civil rights to the native population of Roman Catholics.

Ireland became independent in 1922 after the 1916 Rebellion and the subsequent War of Independence. After Independence, Dublin became the political, economic, and cultural center of Ireland. Maritime trade is one of Dublin's most important activities and Dublin is Ireland's largest port and major exporter. It has also developed into the largest manufacturing city in Ireland. The city's most famous business is the Guinness Brewery, founded in 1759 and one of Ireland's largest employers and exporters.

Our city tour of Dublin began with a drive down the busy city streets. I was amazed by the beautiful buildings and all of the bridges along the way. One particular bridge caught my attention because it looked like a huge sail boat in the middle of downtown. Apparently this bridge is not a favorite of Dubliners because our guide, a wonderful, knowledgeable and extremely funny lady, made fun of the bridge as we were passing by. I thought it was great!

Downtown Dublin, Ireland
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A unique looking bridge in Dublin
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Looking out of the window of our tour bus I noticed a series of bronze statues of emaciated looking people erected along the sidewalk. Our guide informed us that the statues were a memorial to the victims of the Irish Potato Famine. It was one of the most moving memorials that I have ever seen.
Located on Custom House Quay, it consists of sculptures of starving people walking towards the ships on the docks to leave Ireland for other countries, mostly the United States, in hope for a better life. Ireland was struck with a great famine between 1845-49 when it was hit with potato blight, that destroyed most of the potato crop in the country. One million people died of starvation or disease caused from lack of food. I had never seen anything like it and I remember it clearly even today, months after seeing it.

Potato Famine Memorial in Dublin, Ireland
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The first stop on our tour was Trinity College. Trinity College, formally known as the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth, was founded in 1592 and is Ireland's oldest university. I found it very interesting that Trinity was set up in part to consolidate the rule of the Tudor monarchy in Ireland, and it was seen as the university of the Protestant Ascendancy for much of its history. Although some Roman Catholics had been permitted to enter as early as 1793, restrictions on their membership of the college remained until 1873 and the Catholic Church in Ireland forbade its adherents from attending the college without permission until 1970. Women were first admitted to the college as full members in 1904.

Our guide spent a great bit of time telling us about the discrimination against Catholics and women in Trinity College's early days.

Short video snapshot of our Trinity College tour

Trinity College, or University of Dublin, has graduated authors Jonathan Swift, Oliver Goldsmith, and Oscar Wilde. Its library houses the 8th-century 'Book of Kells', the famous decorated gospel book made by Celtic Monks.

Our tour guide in Dublin leads us around Trinity College
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I saw lots of unusual art scattered around the college grounds
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Trinity College Library, location of The Book of Kells
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The last stop on our Dublin Tour was Saint Patrick's Cathedral. Saint Patrick's is the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland, a member church of the Anglican Communion. Saint Patrick is said to have passed through Dublin on his journey through Ireland where he is said to have baptized converts from paganism to Christianity in a well close to where the Cathedral now stands. To commemorate his visit a small wooden church was built on the site, one of the four Celtic parish churches in Dublin. Saint Patrick's is the only remaining cathedral church in Ireland with a daily pattern of sung services. In addition to these services the Cathedral hosts many national religious commemorations. The Cathedral attracts some 300,000 visitors each year. I was to see many churches and cathedrals on this journey, but I can honestly say that St. Patrick’s was one of the most memorable.

Saint Patrick's Cathedral
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Interior of Saint Patrick's Cathedral
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Beautiful windows in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral
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Arriving back at the Crown Princess after our tour of Dublin, I wanted to pinch myself to make sure I was not dreaming. Alabama, USA is a long way from Ireland, but I was there and was loving every minute of it. What made it all the more awesome was that there was so much more to come on our British Isles cruise!

Next up I visit Liverpool, England, the home of the the Beatles and I take ride down Penny Lane!

To be continued........

Gerrilyn Grant Gipson Esq.
Owner/Travel Consultant
Meetings & Events Unlimited Travel Services

Posted by Gerriv 07:36 Comments (4)

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