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#CatTravels: 48 Hours in Ireland


Years ago, back when I worked at the now-defunct Honolulu Advertiser, I plugged in “Dublin” in a travel booking website and found roundtrip tickets from Honolulu for less than it would cost to fly to Vegas.

And I didn’t go.

It always lingered in my mind, the fact that I let that opportunity get away from me.

So I’ve been thinking about Ireland ever since.

Not that I have any connection to the North Atlantic island. I’m not Irish (that I know of) and I don’t drink Guinness.

But I do love Oscar Wilde (his middle name was O’Flahertie), soda bread, Lucky Charms and the color green.

All kidding aside.

Ireland is one of those magical places, where the lush countryside is as emerald green as it appears in travel guides. The sea cliffs are as dramatic, people as friendly. Everything about Ireland is exactly how I had imagined. It’s the kind of place that makes you believe in fairies and monsters.

When we were planning our honeymoon to the United Kingdom, we, of course, included Ireland. Our friends had just come back from a two-week adventure across the island — the largest in the British Isle archipelago and third-largest in Europe — driving along its southern and western coastlines, staying at little bed-and-breakfasts along the way.

It sounded so quaint and idyllic.

There was no way we could be that relaxed on our two-day jaunt.

Originally, we were going to spend five days in Ireland. But my husband convinced me to rebook our flights and hotels so we could spend more time in Scotland, instead. So we had just about two full days in the country — and really, that wasn’t enough.





We flew into Dublin and rented a tiny Nissan Micra from locally owned Dan Dooley Car Rental. Like in the rest of the British Isles, you have to drive on the left-hand side of the street, opposite of how it is in the U.S. And having a small car, trust me, was a good thing. (Roads are perilously narrow.)

We were heading to Cong, a teeny village straddling the borders of Galway and Mayo counties with less than 200 residents. (It’s also the home of Sir William Wilde, historian and father to the prominent playwright.) Its claim to fame is Ashford Castle — and we were staying there for the night.

It was going to take about two and a half hours to get there — I was driving, too! — so we stopped halfway to Cong at a small town called Kilbeggan, famous as the location of the oldest recorded incidence of a tornado in Europe.

But that’s not why we were there.

We wanted a drink and a quick bite to eat (above, second and third). And the Saddler’s Inn delivered — with a cold pint of Guinness and ham and cheese sandwiches. (That was the only thing on the menu!)





Just before sunset, we arrived at Ashford Castle (above, first), one of Ireland’s finest luxe hotels converted from a Victorian faux lakeside castle. It was built on the site in 1228 by the Anglo-Norman House of Burke right on the banks of Lough Corrib, Ireland’s second largest lake.

We had some time to kill before dinner, so we walked around the property, which sprawls over 365 acres of land, much of it wooded. There were neat paths that meandered through perfect gardens. Such a gorgeous area! The hotel offers various activities that allow you to truly absorb your surroundings, including cycling, skeet shooting and kayaking in Lough Corrib.

We had dinner at Cullen’s at the Dungeon (above, fourth), the more casual dining experience at the castle. I tried an Irish specialty: beef and Guinness stew.



We had breakfast in the immaculate George V Dining Room (above, first and second), with a buffet spread that included cheese, salami, croissants, soda bread, scrambled eggs, bacon, black pudding and fruits.

We needed the fuel for our long, complicated drive north to the Céide Fields in the northwestern tip of Ireland.




The Céide Fields is an archaeological site that contains the oldest known agricultural field systems in the world. Using various dating methods, it was discovered that the creation and development of the Céide Fields goes back some five and a half thousand years.

We first stopped at a viewing spot to see the 365-foot cliffs of Ballycastle (above, first), these horizontal layers of sandstone roughly 350 million years old. Mayo County is home to the country’s highest cliffs — yes, taller than those of the famed Cliffs of Moher — and second highest in all of Europe at Croaghaun, Achill Island. (The Benwee Head cliffs in Kilcommon Erris stand nearly 900 feet straight above the wild Atlantic.) The coastline here was just breathtaking.

But we had come to see Céide Fields.

We walked up to the visitor’s center (above, second) built on the archaeological site of what is considered the most extensive stone monument in the world, stone-walled fields preserved beneath a 5,000-year-old bog. We got to see parts of the wall (above, third) that had been uncovered.





Then we were back to Ashford Castle for some hawk flying. The oldest established Falconry School in Ireland gives you chance to fly a hawk around the woodlands of the castle in a one-hour private Hawk Walk.

Uh, of course we were doing it.

We met Tommy (above, first), one of the instructors and bird expert, who introduced us to Andes, a Peruvian hawk and champion hunter. He explained how this whole thing was going to work: the hawk would be tied to the glove as we walked to an open area on the castle grounds. Then we would let it fly away, calling it back with a small piece of raw beef hidden in our gloved fist. “You don’t train a hawk,” Tommy said. “You learn what it needs.”

These hawks — and falcons (above, third) — were amazing. Among the most intelligent birds in the world, hawks boast exceptional eyesight, able to perceive the visible range and the ultraviolet part of the spectrum. Not only can they see greater distances than humans, their visual acuity is eight times that of ours. In addition, these birds of prey can attain speeds in excess of 150 miles per hour, traveling thousand of miles a year. They are pretty astounding creatures, and handling them was very humbling.







It’s hard to top flying a hawk, but spending a night in Doolin (above, first) wasn’t too bad, either.

Doolin is a coastal village in Clare County, best known for being the capital of traditional Irish music. We didn’t know this at first, but when we checked in at the charming Twin Peaks B&B (above, second), the owners were quick to tell us to get our meals before 9:30 p.m. After that, they said, the music starts and you’ll be hard-pressed to find an open seat.

And they weren’t kidding.

The pubs on the town’s very small main street was packed with people eager to hear live traditional Irish music. We popped into The Chocolate Shop (above, third and fourth), next door to Doolin’s famous Gus O’Connor Pub, for a little snack. This place is one of the few shops that carry the Wilde Irish Chocolates, handmade artisan chocolates that are to die for.

We stopped by O’Connor’s just for a quick bite — I got a burger with bacon and cheese, my husband got fish and chips — then called it a night. We had a big day tomorrow of surfing and beer-drinking.






Prior to our arrival in Ireland, I had been emailing with Cathal “Ben” Bennett, owner of Bens Surf Clinic located in Lahinch, known as one of the best surfing spots in all of Ireland (above, first three).

The beach is the spot for lessons, too. There are several shops offering surfing instruction and board rentals, so it was a perfect place for us to get wet in Ireland.

Ben had emailed me the night before and said the waves were decent and the conditions really good. He wasn’t kidding. Aside from the nip in the air, we were greeted with blue skies and sunshine — and small waves. We suited up — we were wearing a 5/3 mm wetsuit and booties — and paddled out.

To be honest, I was a bit concerned about the cold. The water temp here was around 60 degrees — the average water temperature in Hawai‘i is 74 degrees — and I had never worn a wetsuit before. But as soon as we paddled out — and Ben did tell me this — the cold wasn’t a factor at all. My hands warmed up pretty quickly, and by the time I got out to the lineup, I didn’t feel the chill at all. In fact, it got a bit warm. And when we got to shore, we shed our wetsuits and wore T-shirts for the rest of the morning.

I have to say, this was probably one of my favorite experiences on this entire trip.

We wandered around Lahinch for a bit, grabbing a beer at a local restaurant that faced the ocean and popping into the Celtic T-shirt Shop (above, fourth), which specializes in artistic Celtic designs. Cool little town.






After cruising around the beach town, we jumped into our rental car and drove two and a half hours to Dublin, where we were going to spend the night before heading back home.

You can’t come all the way to Dublin without visiting the Guinness Storehouse, especially if you love beer the way my husband does.

Open in 2000, Guinness Storehouse is a Guinness-themed tourist attraction at St. James Gate Brewery. The building in which this seven-story beer lover’s mecca is located was constructed in 1902 as a fermentation plant. Now, it tells the story of Guinness, the beloved Irish dry stout that originated here.

The self-guided tour covers the history of the brewery, the process, a showcase of advertising, even an interactive exhibit on responsible drinking. The draw, though, is the tasting. You learn how to properly drink a pint of Guinness — lift the glass to your mouth and take in a good-sized mouthful to get the perfect sip — and what makes this stout unlike any other.

Then you can head up to the Gravy Bar with 360-degree panoramic views of Dublin — and where you pick up the free pint that comes with your admission ticket.

Not surprisingly, a lot of people just head straight up to the top floor and skip the exhibits.

We had been told by everyone, even some Scots, that you have to drink a pint of Guinness while in Ireland. “Guinness doesn’t travel well,” people said to us. And they were right. There’s something about the perfectly brewed mouthful, that slight tang, its thick and creamy head, that you don’t really get anywhere else but here.

Then again, you can say that about everything we experienced in Ireland. It’s so much better done there.

Thanks to everyone who followed our #FoxHoneymoon here, on Facebook, on Twitter or on Instagram! It was a pleasure sharing our experiences with you! Hopefully we have inspired all of you to take that dream trip to Europe — or anywhere in the world, to be honest. There’s lots of exploring out there. What are you waiting for?

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#CatTravels: The Highlands, Day 2


If the first day in the Highlands in Scotland wasn’t packed with enough memories to create a Shutterfly photo book, the second day just turned that into a full-length motion picture.

We visited the most photographed castle in the British Isles, ate Scottish ice cream, gazed at a waterfall, and hung out at the most famous loch in the world.

And it started with breakfast.


The Berkeley House, where we had stayed the night, provided a great breakfast the next morning, complete with a nice selection of cereals and breads, and the option to order a full breakfast.

So in Scotland — as in Ireland and England — there’s something called a full breakfast. It comes with eggs, often scrambled, back bacon, link sausage, buttered toast, baked beans, maybe a grilled tomato or mushrooms, sometimes haggis, and on occasion you might get a slice of black pudding. I only ordered it once — back in Edinburgh — and it’s a lot to eat at once. Here, at the Berkeley House, I just opted for fruits and yogurt.

We met up with our tour bus from Timberbush Tours and headed out to explore another part of the Highlands — really, the highlight of the two-day adventure.



We were extremely fortunate with the weather. I was worried Scotland was going to be fiercely cold — and the Highlands even worse. It turned out that we had blue skies and sunshine, even in northern Scotland. Our tour guide, Marty, said it’s only this clear and sunny about 50 days out of the year — and we were lucky enough to catch it like this on our trip.





Our first stop was the famous Eilean Donan Castle (above, first) located on a small tidal island where three lochs — Loch Duich, Loch Long and Loch Alsh — meet in the western Highlands. The castle itself overlooks the Isle of Skye and is surrounded by the forested mountains of Kintail. It’s pretty spectacular.

This castle is one of the most photographed icons of Scotland — and one of the most photographed castles in all of the United Kingdom. It’s not unusual to see it on shortbread tins, postcards, calendars and whisky bottles.

This 13th-century stronghold of the Clan Mackenzie and its ally, Clan Macrae, was rebuilt between 1919 and 1932 and included the construction of an arched bridge to give easier access to the island. A visitor’s center opened in 1998 — and there’s even a live webcam there, too. (The castle was featured prominently in “Highlander.”)

We walked around the castle, much of it restored and rebuilt, and took a ton of photos and selfies (as you do), before heading to Loch Ness in search of the mysterious creature fabled to live there.



But first, we had to eat!

We stopped at Fort Augustus, a small village at the southwest end of Loch Ness with a population of roughly 650. As you could probably guess, this town relies heavily on the visitors to the loch, made famous for its cryptid resident.

We ate lunch at Scots Kitchen, ordering beef nachos (above, first) and roast beef with veggies and potatoes. I was surprised to see nachos on the menu at a Scottish restaurant. And even though it wasn’t your traditional American-style dish, it was completely addictive. The beef tasted a lot like taco meat, with the cheese and red onions a perfect complement. I thoroughly enjoy it.




Loch Ness (above, first) is the second largest loch in Scotland by surface area but, because of its insane depth (755 feet at its deepest point), it is the largest by volume. This one loch contains more fresh water than all of the lakes in England and Wales combined. It’s best known for the monster, affectionately known as “Nessie,” which allegedly lives here, along with European eels, northern pike, white sturgeon and a variety of trout and char.

Loch Ness also serves as the lower storage reservoir for the Foyers’ pumped-storage hydroelectric scheme, which is designed to “soak up” excess power generated by wind and wave farms, using it to pump water up to a reservoir. Turbines here were originally use to provide power for a nearby aluminum smelting plant. Now, the electricity generated supplies the National Grid.

The lochs have locks, too (above, second and third). Opened in 1822, the lock system is part of the 60-mile Caledonian Canal that links Inverness to Fort William. The canal was originally built to provide a shortcut for merchant skippers between the east and west coasts of Scotland.

Of course, visitors flock here for one purpose: to see if they can spot the infamous Loch Ness Monster.

This large, reptilian creature lurking in the loch has been urban legend since 1933. Evidence of its existence has been largely anecdotal, with the occasional photos and sonar readings suggesting that something big — really big — does live down there. We didn’t see it — but that doesn’t mean we don’t believe it’s down there!






After visiting Loch Ness, we headed to Pitlochery for a nice walk to the Falls of Bruar, a series of waterfalls on the Bruar Water (above, first three). While today this area is heavily wooded, it was once sparse and barren. This gorge is a living memorial to the poet Robert Burns, who came here in 1787 to admire these falls. He wrote, “The Humble Petition of Bruar Water,” in which he urged the 4th Duke of Atholl to plant its bleak banks with trees. Larch and Scottish pines were planted in the 18th century, only to be cut down during World War II. After the war ended, trees were replanted in the area. You can see Scots pine, hybrid larch, fir and spruce.

It’s a short but scenic walk to the waterfalls — maybe about 15 minutes — with a nice bridge to best view it. The natural waterfalls has been attracting visitors since the 1720s, and it continues to be a popular destination for travelers.

After the walk, we wandered around the nearby House of Bruar, a collection of retail departments including a 15,000-square-foot food hall that showcases the best of Scottish foods and drinks — including locally made ice cream.

If that’s not the best way to end a two-day tour to the Highlands, I don’t know what is.


Thank you to Timberbush Tours and our guide, Marty (above), for taking us on this magical two-day adventure into the Highlands. Definitely a highlight of our trip to Europe!

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#CatTravels: The Highlands by tour bus, Day 1


If there was only one thing we were going to do on our honeymoon, it was visit the Highlands.

At least that’s what my husband said.

While we were on our way to Ireland.

True story.

It was the day before we were going to catch a plane from Edinburgh to Dublin when he tells me that he wanted to spend most of our time in Europe in Scotland.

I wish he had said this before we left Hawai‘i.

So I scrambled to change our flight, cancel our hotel stays in Western Ireland, and find last-minute accommodations in Edinburgh.

And despite the frantic rescheduling and the ensuing stress it caused, the decision to stay in Scotland turned out to be one of the highlights of our entire trip.

For that, we’d have to thank the Highlands.

This historic region of Scotland north of Edinburgh — that area is referred to as the Lowlands — is sparsely populated, with stunning mountain ranges and picturesque lochs (lakes) dominating the landscape. The tallest mountain in the British Isles — Ben Nevis, which stands 4,409 feet above sea level — is located here, as does the infamous Loch Ness and its legendary inhabitant.

The Highlands also boast Britain’s largest national park, the 1,748-square-mile Cairngorms National Park, which accounts for 6 percent of the size of Scotland — and dozens of small villages and charming towns near glens, across islands and along coastlines.

It’s easy to get seduced by Scotland here.

A friend I met at a writers’ conference put me in touch with a tour operator that specializes in the Highlands and islands of Scotland. With more than 16 years of experience and an arsenal of knowledgable guides, Timberbush Tours is one of Scotland’s longest running tour operators, offering 1-, 2- and 3-day tours of this region.

We decided to jump on the two-day tour to the Highlands, which included a visit to a couple of castles, a few lochs, and the Glenfinnan Viaduct best known for its role in the “Harry Potter” films.


Tours run out of Edinburgh and Glasgow daily. We met outside the Ensign Ewart pub on Lawmarket (i.e.: the Royal Mile) at 9 a.m. on a Saturday. The tour was full, so we settled into our seats on the air-conditioned bus for the long journey to the Highlands.

Stirling Castle

National Wallace Monument

View of the landscape from the National Wallace Monument

The great thing about any tours is that you can see a lot in a short amount of time. (And, especially in our case, we were led around by a hilarious, extremely knowledgeable guide named Marty who said things like, “That, over there, is Loch Lochy. We call it that because we ran out of names.”)

In our first day, we visited Stirling Castle (above, first), which dates back to the early 12th century and has long been considered one of the most important and historic castles in Scotland; drove past Doune Castle, a medieval stronghold used in the filming of the cult classic “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”; and walked around the National Wallace Monument, (above, last two) a tower commemorating the 13th-century Scottish hero Sir William Wallace. (Think “Braveheart.”)

Next, we headed to Trossachs Woolen Mill in Kilmahog, Perthshire, where lives the world-famous Hamish, a hairy Highland cow (or coo). (He’s so famous, actually, he’s got his own Facebook page!)

The carrots and potatoes you can purchase to feed the Highland cows.

Meet Hamish!

Highland cattle are a Scottish breed of cattle with long horns and long, wavy coats in black, brindled, red, yellow or dun. They are stunning cows, for sure, and very iconic to the Highlands. And hand-feeding them was a thrill, to say the least.


We stopped at the woolen mill for a bit to eat lunch. I had Scottish pancakes (above) — which seems just like regular pancakes except these were thicker and smaller — and bacon (which isn’t at all like the bacon we have in the U.S.). It hit the spot, nonetheless, and after about an hour here, we were on our way to Glenfinnan.



Along the way, we crossed through Glen Coe, a volcanically formed glen that is known to offer one of the most beautiful vistas in all of Scotland. We stopped at the Three Sisters (above, first), three steeply-sided ridges that extend north into the glen.

We noticed a winding trail that cut across the landscape here (above, second). Turns out this is part of the West Highland Way, a 96-mile trail from Glasgow to Fort William in the Scottish Highlands. About 85,000 people use the path every year, with about 30,000 completing the entire trail. Needless to say, my husband quickly put this on his travel bucket list.





Next stop: Glenfinnan, a quaint village with a monument at the head of Loch Shiel erected in 1815 in tribute to the Jacobite clansmen who fought and died here (above, fourth). We walked along a short path (above, first) to a lookout where you could see the loch in one diction and the Glenfinnan Viaduct (above, third) in the other. The bridge was made famous in the “Harry Potter” movies, when Hogwarts Express took the young wizards to school.




We spent some time wandering around the area around Loch Shiel. One path (above, first) took us through an area filled with dragonflies (above, second) and butterflies, flitting about. We walked through forests where we spotted Scots pines (above, third), a species of pine native to Europe that can grow up to 110 feet. The wood is used for pulp and sawn timber products.



Our final stop on the first day of the tour was Fort William, the second largest settlement in the Highlands with about 10,000 inhabitants and a major tourist town that attracts hikers, climbers, bikers and skiers.

We stayed at the Berkeley Guest House, a quaint bed-and-breakfast just off the main street. The original house was constructed in the late 1800s but has since been renovated into more modern accommodations. The owner, Norrie MacLean (above, second), grew up in the Western Isles of Scotland and had spent 23 years in Canada before buying this place in 1997 and opening it as a B&B. (His son bought the house next door and converted that into a bed-and-breakfast, too.)

“I moved back because I wanted to fish,” MacLean said, always a twinkle in his eyes. “But I’ve only fished once.”

We ended up eating at a nearby hotel — the pubs and restaurants in town were surprisingly packed, with wait times up to 40 minutes for a table! — and calling it an early night. We had a long day tomorrow — more riding around the countryside — and a Loch Ness monster to see!

Thank you to Timberbush Tours for taking us on this magical two-day adventure into the Highlands. Definitely a highlight of our trip to Europe!

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#CatTravels: A lesson in Scotch whisky


The only thing I knew about Scotch whisky was that, well, it was alcohol.

That’s really about it.

I had no idea whisky made in Scotland was such a special thing.


When we arrived in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland (above), last week, one of the things my husband wanted to do was check out a whisky distillery.

To be honest, that wasn’t on my Top 5 list of things to do in Edinburgh. I’m not a whisky drinker, much less an aficionado, but I figured this was a good opportunity to learn a little something about Scotland’s national drink. So I booked a tour to nearby Glenkinchie Distillery, located about 15 miles from Edinburgh in a picturesque part of the country, to see first-hand what makes Scotch whisky so unique.



We got on a bus near Princes Street with a group of French high school students. It took about 30 minutes to get to the distillery, where we toured the malting floors, production area and cask room. (We couldn’t take photos during the tour, since Glenkinchie is still a working distillery.)

This is a classic and historic distillery, started in 1837 during the time when distilling became legal. (In 1777 Edinburgh houses maybe 400 illicit distilleries.)

Blended Scotch whisky constitutes about 90 percent of the whisky produced in Scotland. These blends contain both malt whisky and grain whisky. Producers combine the various malts and grain whiskies to produce a consistent brand style. Think Bells, Dewar’s, Johnnie Walker, Whyte and Mackay, Cutty Sark, J&B, The Famous Grouse, Ballantine’s and Chivas Regal.

Glenkinchie, though, became well-known for its single malt whisky. (It’s one of six distilleries in the Lowland region of Scotland.)

OK, so all that was interesting. But here’s what I didn’t know. Scotch whisky is like champagne in France: there are rules to it. Meaning, you have to adhere to a certain set of standards before you can call the whisky you brew Scotch.

As defined by law, Scotch whisky has to be:

• Produced at a distillery in Scotland from water and malted barley (to which only whole grains of other cereals may be added) all of which have been:
• Processed at that distillery into a mash
• Converted at that distillery to a fermentable substrate only by endogenous enzyme systems
• Fermented at that distillery only by adding yeast
• Distilled at an alcoholic strength by volume of less than 94.8 percent (190 US proof)
• Wholly matured in an excise warehouse in Scotland in oak casks of a capacity not exceeding 700 litres (185 US gal; 154 imp gal) for at least three years
• Retaining the color, aroma, and taste of the raw materials used in, and the method of, its production and maturation
• Containing no added substances, other than water and plain (E150A) caramel coloring
• Comprising a minimum alcoholic strength by volume of 40 percent (80 US proof)

“The whole process has to be done in Scotland,” said our tour guide.

And did you know this? Only Scotch whisky uses this spelling; all others are spelled “whiskey.”

“You know what ‘E’ stands for?” she asked us, a twinkle in her eyes. “We say it stands for ‘effort.'”

After sampling four different kinds of whiskies produced by Glenkinchie, we had the fortunate luck of staying with a guy in Edinburgh who is incredibly knowledgeable about Scotch whisky — and a member of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.



Founded in 1983, SMWS is the world’s foremost malt whisky club — with a location in Leith (above) where you can sample the best single cask, single malt whisky it has for its members only.




Here, you can taste whatever the society has available — all rare whiskies from single casks. (Remember, most whiskies are blended.) That means whatever each bottle comes from an individual aging barrel, instead of being created by blending together the contents of various barrels to provide uniformity of color and taste. Even whiskeys that are not blends may be combined from more than one batch.

So these single cask whiskies are very special, very rare Scotch whiskies — and we were privileged to sample them.



Even though I’m not a fan of whisky — with or without the “e” — I can totally appreciate the process, the subtleties, the effort put into each bottle, and the passion aficionados like Andrew have for Scotch whisky.

I think I feel that way about ice cream.

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#CatTravels: The mystic of Stonehenge


Blame my fascinating with all things rocks, but visiting Stonehenge in England has long been on my must-do list.

But I’ve met a few people who have discouraged me from the side trip to Wiltshire from London, a two-hour drive west.

And you’d have to drive through London. I haven’t met a person yet — including Londoners — who said that was a good idea.

But my husband shared my desire to see this prehistoric monument, so I decided to plan a side trip to Bath, a quaint spa city in Somerset in southwest England, which is much closer to Stonehenge (and the wetlands nature preserve from my previous blog.)


Now, I’m not going to lie: driving around England sans GPS (and WiFi to use Google Maps) wasn’t easy. But we somehow managed to find both the preserve and this iconic site — and while driving on the other side of the road!

The nice part was seeing a different side of England. Up until this trip, I had only stayed in London. And there are only so many museums and pubs you can visit in a week’s time.

Seeing a more rural side of the country was a great experience, even despite the UK’s love for roundabouts.

So we left our hotel early in the morning, meeting the misty roads just after sunrise.


I had heard from a few people that the experience at Stonehenge had dramatically changed in recent years. No longer can you drive right up to it and walk around the massive stones. Because of vandalism — people were even chipping off pieces of stone to take home as souvenirs — English Heritage, which manages the site, decided to build a visitor’s center and exhibition area about 1.5 miles away from Stonehenge and now limits the number of people who can see the site each day. (Right now, more than 1 million people make the trek here.)




You have to park at a car park next to the center — parking is free — and walk through an informative display of the history and cultural significance of the monument and surrounding area. There are five replicas of neolithic homes outside, with axes, pottery and other artifacts that help connect the ancient stones with the people who lived and worked in the area.





After you tour the exhibition area, you catch one of the four-wheel-drive vehicles to the site. You can, like we did, get off a little earlier to walk about halfway to the site yourself, through open fields and cattle pasture.

Despite the biting chill in the air, I actually liked the walk. It was nice to see the monument off in the distance. You really got a sense of the landscape surrounding this UNESCO World Heritage Site.


But, of course, we came to see the rocks.

Stonehenge is the remains of a ring of standing stones surrounded by hundreds of burial mounds. Archaeologists believe it was built anywhere from 3000 BC to 2000 BC. And its meaning and purpose have been debated for decades.

Just this September researchers from the University of Birmingham discovered as many as 17 new chapels and hundreds of archaeological features around the monument using ground-penetrating radar equipment. (Read more here.)

So this was an exciting time to visit.



Even though we were there with more than a hundred other people, circling the standing stones with cameras and iPhones, it didn’t feel crowded or frantic. In fact, the whole experience was surreal and serene. You could definitely feel the weight of this sacred place, but it was calming and peaceful, too.


Seeing Stonehenge was definitely one of those travel memories that will stick for awhile. And even though it would have been ridiculously cool to walk around the stones and touch them, just seeing them was enough.

So worth the stress driving through roundabouts.

Visiting Stonehenge: Cost is £13.90 for adults, £8.30 for children ages 5 to 15, £12.50 for students with a valid ID and seniors over 60. It’s located near Amesbury in Wiltshire. Visit the website or call 0870 333 1181 for more information.

Follow Cat on her #FoxHoneymoon to England, Scotland and Ireland on Twitter @thedailydish and Instagram @catherinetoth. Track her travels at #CatTravels.

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