As a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), I have the opportunity to teach children about this fabulous and wide world around us through the Traveling Teddy program. Basically, where I go to do stories–Teddy follows and learns lots of new experiences along the way that he gets to share.
Not one for sitting still too long, Teddy eagerly jumped into my suitcase on his Celtic quest to learn more about Scotland and Ireland:
TRAVELING TEDDY’S JOURNAL:
After a 6 1/2 hour flight from the United States, I landed in Edinburgh, Scotland. There is a six hour difference in the time (9 a.m. EST in the U.S. = 3 p.m. Scotland Time) but since I took an overnight flight I arrived in the morning and had plenty of time to explore on my first day.
I changed my U.S. dollars into the British pound so I could buy some fish & chips, a bus pass and some souvenirs. The conversion rate of $1.00 USD = 0.60 GBP (British pound) means our money doesn’t go as far in Scotland and things are a bit more expensive.
On my exploration of Edinburgh, I loved seeing all the traffic navigating roundabouts and driving on the opposite side of the road. I loved riding the double-decker bus which is an easier way to get around because you can get on and off with one pass. There were Scottish pubs everywhere and people seemed eager to make friends.
I even saw a man outside of a pub wearing traditional Scottish clothing including the kilt. You can tell that history runs deep in this country with shops selling both authentic and souvenir-grade attire and family crests. Many immigrants came to the United States from this area so it is a popular place for people to visit who look into their ancestry.
I tried lots of traditional Scottish food including stew, haggis, beef and vegetable dishes and that oh, so yummy, fish and chips!
My visit to the Highlands was relaxing and exciting. I stayed in a small town called Culbokie in a pretty Bed and Breakfast. For an entire day I got to explore the Loch Ness Lake and search for the famous Monster. While I did not find the monster, I did learn a lot about the legend by standing near the loch and I saw lots of gifts bearing the likeness of Nessie.
Since Anietra is a travel writer and also writes about fishing, I always know to expect a day out on the water. In Scotland, she took me fishing for Salmon on the River Ness with her guide Ryan Rutherford. Unfortunately, lots of rain caused the river to flood so it was not great fishing conditions. I stayed at the fishing hut to guard the poles while the brave fisherman (and woman) suited up in waders and tried their luck.
I loved the culture of Scotland. The thick accents of the people and the idea that everyone is a friend made my visit here lots of fun.
When I landed in Dublin, Ireland I was hoping to bump into Bono – the lead singer for the band U2 which hails from here. While I did not see Bono, I sure did see all kinds of people from all over the world. I noticed many youth hostels around which tells me that Dublin is a hot spot for young people who plan to stay for only a short time before they head on to another country.
Ireland uses a different currency, so I traded in my leftover British pounds and added some U.S. dollars to get some Euro ($1.00 USD = 0.72 EUR (Euro)).
The pub scene is a lot of fun here. In fact, visiting a pub for an evening is considered an actual activity. I chose to also take in a show that featured traditional Irish music and that fast-paced dancing.
The city center of Dublin is very booming and metropolitan. I saw many beautiful churches and castles. Some of the castles were very elaborate with the grand facades and some of them crumbling but still very magical.
I even got a rare glimpse behind the gates of the Luttrellstown Castle which is an exclusive and hidden estate outside of Dublin. Since I make friends easily, the groundskeeper invited me in for a special sneak peek. Only celebrities and the well-to-do ever see behind the iron gates and the 4-mile wall that surrounds it. It was grand and for just that moment, I felt like royalty among the sprawling grounds, secret gardens, lavish paintings and antique furniture.
I’ve stayed in bed and breakfasts during my trip which is a fun way to travel. The owners are so personal and kind and those fantastic breakfasts really let me see the authentic way food is prepared. Most mornings I had scrambled eggs, fruit, toast and the most delicious bacon which looked more like thick cuts of ham.
As she did in Scotland, Anietra also hit the water in Ireland with her fishing guide Richie Johnston. They fished for Pike which is a great fish to catch in local waters along with trout and salmon. Today, they had success! The team caught 6 very large Pike — and of course, put them back into the water so they can continue to grow and live.
Ireland is a small country and you can get almost anywhere in a couple of hours by car. I wanted to visit the countryside and get a feel for some of the more traditional scenes in Ireland so I took a day trip to a small town called Galway on the west coast. Ireland is famous for it’s very green landscape and plummeting cliffs. I got to see that and understand why some people come all the way here JUST to see them. I got to sit on the coast of the Claddagh fishing village which is where the famous Irish ring got its name.
I would return to Scotland or Ireland in a heartbeat. I even picked up a few good words and phrases along the way like “a wee bit” and “getting sorted” that I can use at home and have fond memories of my fantastic Celtic trip!