Another fantastic student tour with EF Education First Tours took place over spring break.
We flew to Edinburgh, Scotland and travelled to Stirling and Glasgow before taking a ferry over to Belfast in Northern Ireland and then travelling down to Dublin in the Republic of Ireland. It was an amazing trip and we had so much fun!
Scotland is a beautiful place with craggy mountains, wooded areas and rolling green hills. We tried some traditional foods such as Haggis, neets and tatties (ground meat mixed with oatmeal, turnips and potatoes), bangers and mash (sausages and mashed potatoes), steak and ale pie (steak stew with puff pastry) and fish and chips!
Our hotel was very quaint and within walking distance to downtown Edinburgh. We were able to explore the city on foot and walk along Princess Street with the Castle of Edinburgh looming over us!
It is perched on a rocky outcrop and sits high above the city which made it impenetrable for the enemy.
We enjoyed a city tour on bus with our guide Bruce who was a low lander so wearing plaid trousers instead of the high landers kilt! We walked the Royal Mile to the Castle and explored the many buildings learning about Scottish history. After dinner when it was suitably dark we went on a “ghost tour” in the bowels of the city (underground) and learned about the difficulties that the people had endured in the past.
Many died from the plague and it is said that they still haunt the streets of Edinburgh!
We traveled through the countryside up toward the snow capped mountains in the north and went to Stirling Castle where Robert the Bruce ruled.
This is the location of the great fight where William Wallace won a battle against the British.
Eventually he was captured and taken to London where he was drawn, quartered and beheaded.
His head was placed on a spike on London Bridge and his body was taken to the far corners of Scotland to show the Scottish people that Britain was in charge!
The next day we drove to Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city located on the River Clyde. We walked around the industrial city, visited the Modern Museum and enjoyed the shops and sights, then continued on to catch a ferry over to Northern Ireland.
We arrived in Belfast which suffered greatly during “the Troubles” when there was a conflict for many years between the Catholics and Protestants. The Titanic was built and launched in Belfast and we toured the new Titanic Museum which was opened in 2012 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s fateful maiden voyage. It is truly a magnificent museum and I highly recommend a visit.
We then drove through the gently rolling hills of green to Dublin, the largest city in the Republic of Ireland. We enjoyed eating Irish stew and shepherds pie, two popular dishes in Dublin. On St. Patrick’s Day March 17 we joined crowds from all over the world wearing green for the famous St. Patrick’s Day parade. Then we had a bus tour of Dublin touring St. Patrick’s Cathedral which had been built as a Catholic church but was changed into Anglican under King Henry the 8th rule.
Many of the students on the trip had some Scottish or Irish heritage and they were able to find their tartan and clan names.
“Definitely a once in a lifetime trip that we will never forget,” said Kyleigh Williamson of the trip. “Scotland and Ireland are two beautiful countries, and if EF Tours didn’t put on this trip I probably would have never traveled there.
“I’m happy we went, and I’m thankful for the good weather we had. Lots of touring kept our feet aching and cameras dying everyday, but it was definitely well worth it. A huge thank-you goes out to our tour guide, Mrs. Smith, for putting up with us and making sure none of us got hurt or lost. Thank you!”
Kaitlyn Berkelaar added: “Haggis isn’t gross it tasted kind of like meatloaf!”
Edi Taylor added: “The buildings are gorgeous and are made from stone and brick.”
Gabi Nustad said, “If you are looking for a place with no sky scrapers go to Scotland and Ireland. The buildings are so beautiful, old and made of stone.”
Brendan William thought that the countryside was beautiful.
Jessica MacDonald thought the land and the architecture of the buildings were great. “They sure know how to throw a parade! The crowds were amazing and Irish people are very patriotic!”
Cameron Sytsma said that there were too many highlights for him but he thought the Stirling Castle was amazing as it was built strategically on the top of a hill.
Sharon Smith a teacher in Williams Lake has been taking students on tours of Europe through 17 EF Tours of Europe