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Autumn 2016 Travels in Europe: One Last Look

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

We boarded the train for the journey from Edinburgh to Cairnryan on the coast facing Northern Ireland. The train ride was delightful, as train rides can be. Since the train never reached a high speed, we rolled along through hill and vale. Rich green pastures held vast flocks of sheep, some with black heads and others with white heads. Farms were separated with rugged rock walls that criss-crossed the countryside. Brooks and streams meandered across the plain. In the distance we could see the high hills of the highlands. The trees were in fall color, and we marveled at the forests of “Christmas trees” that were resplendent in silver green foliage. The lochs (lakes) beckoned with icy blue water. We knew we were in lightly-traveled Scotland because tree and bush branches hit the side of the train as it passed. One friendly traveler told our friend Rhonda that this part of Scotland has not changed over the years. We were crossing a valley above the tree line on an arched stone bridge when the train slowed to a stop. It was quite scenic, although we briefly wondered what would happen if the train had a problem and we were stuck on the bridge.

It was a beautiful trip and when the train reached the end of the line and we debarked, we realized that we were pretty much in the middle of nowhere and there were no taxis or buses. We needed to get from the station to the ship port for our ferry across to Belfast, Northern Ireland. Some people might panic in that type of situation, but we are seasoned enough to remain calm. Sure enough, I asked a mother with her children how to get to the port, and she offered to call a cab for us. Yeah! In about five minutes, we were on our way.

The only way to describe our crossing of the Irish Sea via ferry is plush. We were totally surprised. Complimentary food and wine, leather chairs, spa with massage, duty free shops and casino were a few of the amenities. I promptly fell asleep in a recliner in front of a large screen showing a burning fire place. We arrived in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in the mid evening after a delightful travel day. We promptly went to the hotel restaurant for the evening meal. We knew we were in Ireland–meat pie; pork stuffed with apple and walnut, and seafood chowder. We are going to bed full and happy. WEG