Aboard the Azamara Quest
Back on salt water again, we depart the Port of Southhampton, England and head for our first port of call - St. Peter Port on the island of Guernsey in the Channel Islands. Inhabited since 6500BCE, by hunters and fisherman, with historical connections to French Normandy, with its’ unique language D’gernesiais, modern history remembers the occupation by the German Army in WWII forever changing Guernsey’s demographics. Tourist highlights include the home of Victor Hugo and the famous brown and white Guernsey cows.
Ireland - 40 shades of green - not today as a steady downpour from lead-gray skies as we arrived Cobh (Cork) proved that we are fair weather sailors as we stayed onboard for a day of R&R.
The following day Dublin, the Republics' largest city,proved to be a day of blue sky and mild temperatures, perfect for walking its’ streets and enjoying a pint of Guinness, the creamy stout famous throughout the world.
Canadian memorial on the Liffey waterfront to those who perished in the Great Famine
Our next port of call is Liverpool, the famed home of the Beatles, where once again, dawn reveals a legendary British, dreary, sunless day. Nevertheless, wishing for wellies and a brolly, we wander the streets walking in the footsteps of John, Ringo, George and Paul. After an early dinner, we were treated to an evening of music at Liverpool Cathedral, classical by the Liverpool String Quartet, as befitting such a magnificent edifice, and Beatles songs by the Cavern Club Beatles, a tribute band.
Finally, a day where we awakened to sunshine, as we anchored off Douglas, Isle of Man. An island country unto itself, although dependent on the British Crown, but having the longest oldest continuously active parliament in the world, its own currency and language (Manx).
A vintage automobile display greeted us at the pier.
Belfast, Northern Ireland - home of the ill-fated Titanic, and having recovered from the turbulent times of religious strife between Catholics and Protestants (the Good Friday Agreement signed in 1998), is now a hot spot for Euros and Brits with its many pubs, and vibrant music. Although signs of the “The Troubles” is still evident, one would never know it in this commercially vibrant city.
Our next port of call is Greenock , the port of entry to Glasgow Scotland, the cultural capitol of this fiercely independent and distinctive Celtic society of the Highland clans. A short train (America, please take note of this fabulous method of moving people) ride from the port to city center allowed us to mingle and listen to the Gaelic conversations of the locals. After retuning to our ship, we next head for the Isle of Skye.
Having anchored in the bay, we tendered into Portree on the Isle of Skye. This isle, the second largest of the Hebrides is famous for its rugged landscapes and Bonnie Price Charlie’s final days. Our primary destination was to hike the Fairy Pools, a strenuous walk in the mist covered hills. No doubt a warmer, sunny day would have made this much more pleasant, but not as memorable.
At foot of the Black Cuillins near Glenbrittle are the Fairy Pools, beautifully crystal clear blue pools on the River Brittle. The pictures below hardly do the beautiful scenery justice.
Raising our anchor, the Quest sails overnight for another island, that of the Isle of Lewis, and Stornoway, the largest settlement. Originally a Viking settlement, it is now primarily a farming community of crofts (tenant farming on small landholds) as well as at the south end of the island, the famous Harris tweeds are woven.
Our final port before the end of this journey is Invergordon, situated on a narrow firth or inlet from the North Sea. A major service area for the North Sea oil rigs, it is an excellent jumping off place to the close by Inverness and the ever-elusive Loch Ness monster.
...................to be continued