Just back from the very 1st trip

Wow! First a big high-five to our 4 Tour Directors. They had their hands full with the many first-time events, but they did it with grace, humor and patience! This was our 2nd Tauck trip (our 1st was a riverboat down the Rhine in 2013) and it was equally as memorable.

The Langham was a very nice hotel and made a great base for a few days. We arrived 1 day early to do some independent sight-seeing and get adjusted to the time change from the US. The Le Soleal is a very nice ship - Tauck had about 100 guests on-board, which was probably about 1/2 of the passengers. The crew/staff were always helpful and the ship's food was very good/excellent the entire trip. (The crew is primarily French and almost everyone spoke both French and English.) The Conrad Dublin was also a fine hotel within 20 minute walk of many major sites in Dublin. Nice lodging all around.

The London Marathon threw a scheduling challenge into the plans - Tauck needed to move the London sightseeing 1 day later, so we saw Hampton Court Palace instead of touring Portsmouth. We were treated to a ‘private pod’ ride on the London Eye (10 in a car instead of the usual 25+), given early access to the Tower of London (before it opened) which let us see the crown jewels without the crowds, followed by lunch at popular pub.

Of all the stops on the route, we most enjoyed the small stops – Isle of Man (a castle, thatched village, sea life, train ride), Isles of Scilly (Tresco garden was wonderful), and Guernsey’s WWII history. These offered picturesque settings, quaint villages, friendly guides and sights that none of my friends have ever seen!

In Cork I passed on seeing Blarney Castle and instead visited Kinsale, a small city with an RMS Lusitania connection…nice shops and a quaint small-city feel (I found out I had ancestors from Kinsale--cool). The journey to Liverpool from Cork takes extra time, so it limits sightseeing to just the afternoon...a quick city tour, Liverpool Cathedral and then off to the Beatles museum.

Belfast still shows the lingering signs of the conflicts from a decade or two ago, but we had our best shopping day here (some linens are still made in Ireland, but not as many as years ago), and the Titanic experience is fascinating...I could have stayed longer. Dublin has some great manor houses (castles?) and gardens, but I was most impressed by the library at Trinity College (after viewing the book of Kells).

My biggest suggestion would be to work in a day-trip to Giants Causeway in Belfast or maybe a behind the scenes tour of the Tower Bridge in London. I wish Tauck the best in refining the trip for future travelers.
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