Beer Tasting in the UK & Europe

Switzerland Beer

Experiencing the food and drink where one travels is an important aspect of the adventure.  Scottish haggis (is there any other kind?) should be a requirement for anyone traveling to Scotland, in my travel guide book.  (See my September 19, 2014 BLOG Post, Inverness, Scotland for haggis info). One who travels to distant places yet still eats at chain restaurants found ‘back home’ is not really experiencing travel to its fullest.  There is no excuse for anyone to order a Bud or Coors Light in Europe, or ever actually…. or eat at one of the many the Colonel’s locations.
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London, England (Last Stop)

Chard BuildingQueen Guards
Having returned the rental car in Cambridge, England we took a train to London and taxi to our VRBO rental.  Initial impression and safety appearance of our street seemed somewhat borderline.  However, the unit was comfortable and stylish and we soon learned there were many restaurants and much activity nearby. We had Indian food for the fifteenth time in Europe.  It is now quite apparent there are not huge variation in Indian food and we certainly have our favorites, but lamb vindaloo and chicken tikka masala is quite consistent across the US and Europe.

When you click on “Continue Reading” a slide show of ten photos will play at the TOP of this article.
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Cambridge, England

Cambridge Rain
By the time we arrived in Cambridge, England, we had been touring throughout Europe and the British Isles for almost six months. We were not very active tourists, but looking forward to relaxing on the boat back to Florida. Getting on the boat where all the important decisions are made for you and there would be a nice exercise room sounded very appealing.  It rained most of the time we were in Cambridge. It certainly seems like it would have been a nice but challenging university town to get a college education.
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York, England

York Minster Cathedral

The prominent attraction and landmark in York, England is York Minster Cathedral.  Our landlord was kind enough to escort us to hear the choir sing one evening.   While we had already been to many churches in Europe and Great Britain, we realize each church is unique if you take the time to learn about them.  For example, it is easy to gaze upon a huge stained glass window, think it is beautiful and move on, not seeing anything special or unusual.  In one window of York Minister, there was a surprising amount of humor.  For example, one pane depicted a wife twisting the ear of her husband who was on his knees.
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The Lake District, Keswick, England

Derwentwater Shores

The Lake District is a favorite destination where the avid hikers of England go on holiday.  VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner) properties for us to rent were scarce in this area so we stayed at a B&B.  Each morning the hosts would ask where we hiked the prior day and we did not have a good reply.  We explored nearby towns and went to a local sheep dog fair (see September 21, 2014 post), but hiking just to hike was not on our agenda. While I was taking the above photo on a chilly morning, several groups of women wearing wet suits waded into Lake Derwentwater and swam across for exercise.  While one may not be able to find a more beautiful place for a morning exercise routine, swimming in this cold lake had not even occurred to me….  This swimming also introduced additional waves for my reflection photos.
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Sheep Dogs in the British Isles

dog-herding-20140921-_ALL5843

Sheep are a major part of the economy throughout the British Isles.  Mile after mile of thick, sturdy and ancient rock walls attempt to contain the sheep in pastures, but inevitably they get out onto the roads.  Since more than one sheep owner might use the same pasture, the sheep are spray painted with bright colors and designs to designate the rightful owner.  Sheep dogs are an important part of any sheep raising operation.  While in the Lake District of England we went to what we would call a county fair and watched all matters involving sheep.  There were prizes awarded for the best made sheep staff or ‘crook’, sheep herding contests with sheep dogs taking whistled commands from their owners and sheep shearing demonstrations.
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Edinburgh, Scotland

Green Yes

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland.  How fitting that we happened to be there, just a couple blocks from their parliament, for the historic vote on independence from England.    I attended  two “Yes” rallies and spoke to those in favor of independence from England.  It would have been better for me to tell these young protestors I was Canadian, as the USA was not at all popular here….
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Driving in Ireland

Road in IrelandSingle Lane Road in Ireland with Pullouts

Driving in Ireland the most common speed limit is 100 kph or about 62 mph.  This is down a road that is so narrow the tall green hedge on each side of the road has a small notch cut out of it where the automobile side view mirrors snap off the branches.  Certainly road crews do some major trimming from time to time, but these mirror notches are a common sight.  These vines and hedges make the narrow roads even more precarious as they encroach over the roadway.  Beneath these hedges and vines are not just more plants but solid rock walls just waiting to rip your car frame apart.  Around hairpin turns, one lane bridges and 90-degree turns, the speed limit remains 100kph.  Sometimes the words “GO MALL” will be painted in the road, which means to go slow in Gaelic, but still no posted reduction in the speed limit.
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Inverness, Scotland

Loch Ness

Our most northern stop in the UK was Inverness, Scotland.  There was nothing specific from a photographic or tourism viewpoint that brought us here.  We used Inverness as a base to drive even further north into the Highlands and dine in the town of Tongue.  Of course we also wanted to explore Loch Ness as another one of those tourist ‘must-see’ places.  The above photo was taken from a lunch spot we discovered on the much less touristy east side of Loch Ness.  On the west side, restaurants seem to be around every curve in the road, but on this side, we were just about to give up on finding any restaurant when we found a real gem with the view above.
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Isle of Skye, Scotland

Old Man of Storr Sunrise

For some unknown reason we only scheduled four days in the beautiful Isle of Skye, yet an entire week was spent in Edinburgh and a week in York.  This planning was a bit backwards in hindsight.  Much more time could have been spent in this stunning island countryside.  The one day available to hike to the beautiful and unique Old Man of Storr provided only very dumpy light (photography speak), so I turned around and explored other parts of the island rather than devote an entire day to a single spot.  The Old Man of Storr is the monolith in the distant background of the lead photo above.
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