Philip Farina

Phil Farina

Philip Farina

Europe » United Kingdom » England » North Yorkshire » York June 21st 2019

Back on the coach we bid a fond adieu to Scotland and cross over into England at Northumberland. There was an amazing view of the North Sea as we crossed back into England. The sun was shining and the warmth of the day was upon us. Quite the welcome back. We are heading today to York, our last stop before returning to London. Our first stop the town of Alnwick. It means town on the clear river. We examined the outside of the castle from the 11th century. It is an outstanding example of a Norman castle. It was updated by Queen Victoria and the outside was used in the movie as a back drop in Harry Potter and in the TV show, Downton Abbey. A quick photo stop, and on to the center of town ... read more
Alan snoozing on the bus
Remains of Hadrian's Wall
York Minster

Europe » United Kingdom » Scotland » Midlothian » Edinburgh June 21st 2019

Our vacation is beginning to wind down, but there is still so much more to do. Today was our second day in Edinburgh. One thing is interesting, that is the pronouncing of the word Edinburgh. Although it looks like it should be EDIN BUROUGH, it is actually, EDIN BORO. Kinda cool. Today we spent the day with William Wallace and Robert de Bruce. Now, many of you may have seen the Mel Gibson movie, Braveheart, the story of these two great men from Scottish history. Although a great movie, it is highly inaccurate, so take it with a grain of salt. Wallace and Robert were an integral part of the Scottish revolution for Scottish independence. There are many, many stories of their heroic actions. One interesting story involves the castle we visited today. In the early ... read more
Blair Castle
Armaments in Blair Castle
Drawing room Blair Castle

Europe » United Kingdom » Scotland » Midlothian » Edinburgh June 20th 2019

The sun has come out to grace our tour today. First stop Blair castle, a 700 year old Victorian style mansion redesigned in the 1700s into a castle. This is the ancestral home of the Duke of Atholl (or Athole) of the Highlands, a title granted to the first Duke in the 1703 by Queen Ann. The Duke must be from the Murray line and must be directly related in ancestry. When the last Duke died, there were no heirs. So the search began for a replacement. They found a distant cousin now living in South Africa. Bruce Murray was thus named the 12th duke of Atholl A heritage fund was set up in 1936 to manage the castle and it was opened to the public. The site is 11,400 acres and not only includes the ... read more

Europe » United Kingdom » Scotland » The Highlands » Nethy Bridge June 18th 2019

Last night we walked around a bit after dinner and headed to bed around 10 PM. Oddly it was as bright out as if it were 10 AM. I got up at 4 AM and noticed it was still bright out! Taking a gander at the map, I found the reason: we are considerably north and thus the Scots enjoy very long days. That’s great, but on the flip side, in winter, nights are also very long, so make hay while the sun shines. Speaking of the sun, today the clouds seemed behind us and the blue Scottish skies were overhead. Our first stop was the Culloden Battlefield Memorial. This was famous in Scotland as the last battle between the Jacobites, rebellious Scottish soldiers fighting to restore King James to the British throne, versus the British. ... read more
Beauty of the Loch
One of Many Castles
Over the Bridge to Skye

Europe » United Kingdom » Scotland » The Highlands » Glencoe June 17th 2019

Today our journey to the Bonnie Bonnie banks of Loch Lomond begins with an unusual sight, the sun. This is the first morning where old Sol decided to grace us with his presence. The green of Scotland is magnificent under sunny skies. A word about Tour Director. Imaging doing a job where you play mother to 30 people you have never met, all of whom have some preconceived notions about travel, food, vacation, accommodations, and needs. Imagine also, that you are on call 24 hours a day, have to plan each days activities, and make sure everyone is safe, happy, and on time. This is just a small concept of the Tour Director’s job. No matter what tour company you use, the Tour Director is critical to the quality and enjoying your tour. To add insult ... read more
Our cruise ship on the Loch
High Street Fort William Scotland
Hogwarts is everywhere

Europe » United Kingdom » Scotland » Lanarkshire » Glasgow June 16th 2019

Today dawned a little wet; as we hit the bus, there was a very light drizzle. As we departed Liverpool to head toward the lake district, the skies opened up. Our coach driver was fortunate in a way; he had to deal with wet weather but no traffic. Oh well… we settled in for the two hour trip to the lakes. Our first stop was a bit unique: a ride on a steam locomotive. Due to the light traffic, we arrived quite early, in plenty of time to enjoy a scone and coffee. Here we learned firsthand about the great scone controversy. It seems the cities of Devon and Cornwall differ on how one should eat a scone with clotted cream and jam. Devon puts the cream on first and the jam covering the cream. Cornwall ... read more
1900 steam engine
inside our train coach
Loch Windemere Ferry

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Shropshire » Ludlow June 15th 2019

Last night was a special treat. Many of us went on the optional dinner and entertainment excursion; it was wonderful. We took a short bus trip from the hotel to the Welsh cultural center, the Millennium Center, the home of the Welsh Opera, restaurants, and other entertainment options. It is located right on the old Cardiff docks and was amazing in design. The evening began with a taste of Meade, an alcoholic beverage based on honey and developed by monks. It was sweet and delicious. Our hostess sat us right near the stage so our view of the entertainment would be excellent. The tables were set with red and white wines complimentary of the house. We were given a number of options for dinner. I chose the salmon appetizer, the beef dinner, and the chocolate cake ... read more
King Richard III Castle in Ludlow
Entrance to Ludlow Medieval Church
Tudor Rows Houses

Europe June 14th 2019

For those of you who have never been and planning on booking a tour for your next vacation, understand that vacation and tour are mutually exclusive. Let me explain: a vacation is a time of leisure. You get up when you want, go where and when you want, dine in casual fashion and relax. Touring not so. Touring is regimented. You will get up early; on one tour I was on there was a wakeup call at 3:30am! Most days the wake up is at 6, breakfast at 7, departure from the hotel by 8. If you are not on time, that will cause trauma and issues for the tour director and your fellow travelers. You will not be popular. Dining is delicious, unique, and fixed. You will not have a choice of menu items beyond ... read more
Glastonbury Abbey, the longest church in Britain
Sign marking burial site of King Arthur
Inside the Abbey Ruins

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Devon June 13th 2019

Before we talk about today's tour, a word about the weather. Now I have been looking for the right words to use to describe the weather in the southern part of England and the kindest word I can find is unpleasant. A more apt description would include words like wet, cold, cloudy or deeply overcast or downright miserable. Our weather has been on and off rain, cold and drab. It rains in this part of the world 1 day out of 3, so dealing with rain is a must if you are planning to come here any time of the year. This is my first summer vacation ever where I was happy I brought a jacket. I even spent money on a heavy hooded sweatshirt to accommodate! Oh well, we will persevere. After another fine English ... read more
Local Cab in Polperro
My Namesake

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Devon » Exeter June 12th 2019

Today we left London proper and headed off to the Salisbury Plains and the UNESCO site of Stonehenge. Our day began early: 6:15 am a wakeup call, bags out at 6:45 and departure at 7:45. We were up on time and pleased to see the weather was cloudy but dry, with a temperature forecast to be around 55. Another fabulous breakfast of meats, fruits and breads,washed down with coffee and freshly squeezed juices were enjoyed. Feeling well fortified we headed off to the bus for the 2 hour trip to Stonehenge. Unfortunately, we got off to a bit of a late start as one of our traveler's bags got lost on the trip from one hotel to the next. Fortunately for all, they found it. But we lost 20 minutes of travel time. No worries, we ... read more
Proof I was there
Bath Abbey

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