Gillette, Andrea – The Three Lands

The Three Lands Epic Tour began with a desire to see Ireland. I was going to rent a car and see a few things over a week… on the cheap. I then invited my Mom to see the places her Grandmother (my Great-Grandmother) came from and the trip grew from there.  It bloomed into a multiple country odyssey that began in Vancouver and went to Ireland, Scotland and Iceland.

Ireland for 13 days.  Dublin was a blur the first day – walking tour after being up for 18 or more hours, and 20 hours after leaving home we were in bed in the early afternoon.  We had a few days there to acclimate before heading out on a Rabbie’s Trail Burners bus tour – 9 days around the Emerald Isle.  It was wonderful, seeing the Giant’s Causeway, Kylemore Abbey, Ashdown Castle, the Dingle Peninsula, the Ring of Kerry and so many places in between.  One of my favourite stops was at the Cliffs of Moher.  It was so windy we could lean into it without falling over and one of our American bus mates couldn’t wrap his head around the pronunciation, so he called it the Cliffs of Mohair (hee hee).  We met a lot of wonderful people and returned to Dublin ready to continue our journey…

Scotland for 7 days.  It was so easy to get around Edinburgh- and we definitely got around during our two walking tours on the first day.  Five and a half hours of walking – too much, but we saw so much and learned a lot from our guide.  We enjoyed the haggis (no really, we did!) and left after a couple of days on another Rabbie’s Trail Burners tour for a five day adventure.  We had the most amazing driver, named Suu!  She was beyond fantastic; informative, fun and full of stories about the things we were seeing and things that may or may not have happened… she leaves it to you to decide.  We toured the Isles of Mull, Iona and Skye – seeing the lochs, Highlands, castles and ruins of castles – and the wonderfully hairy Highland Cows (pronounced coo’s).  We loved every moment – met even more wonderful people and returned to Edinburgh ready to carry on…

Iceland for 3 days.  It was disorienting to fly into Keflavik Airport at 11:30 pm and find it light outside… and trying to get to sleep.  By the time we got to bed, at 2:30 am, the light coming in our window made me glad to have my sleep mask.  So different being so far north.  We had two full days booked with tours so we needed to sleep so we could enjoy the Golden Circle tour.  I was very excited to see the Rift Valley at Thingvellir National Park – where the tectonic plates are pulling apart.  The terrain all over Iceland was dramatic, from the flat coast and lava fields to the soaring glaciers and cliffs of ancient sea beds.  It was unexpected and fascinating to see.  Our second trip was to see the Glacier Lagoon at Jokulsarlon.  Amazing and cold, I knew it was beautiful from the research I’d done, but the pictures don’t do it justice.  It is so much better to be on the water gliding past the blue ice, with the glacier in the background. We stopped to see the infamous glacier topped volcano that caused a lot of problems for Europe a few years ago, and had a clear day to see the entire glacier at once.  We had a lesson in pronouncing the name too – although it is a tough one, you should try it – Eyjafjallajokull.  See, easy!  Iceland was welcoming and full of contrast – green and desolate, warm and cold – and I’d go back in a heartbeat.

Our once in a lifetime trip started with too many options and was narrowed down with expert help from our travel consultant.  Aside from flights and hotels (the big stuff) it would have been tough to decide what to see, how to get around and the companies worthy of our hard earned dollars…  I sincerely thank Lois from the bottom of my heart for all the emails and advice offered before she actually booked everything and returned my smoking credit card (figuratively, as we live in BC).  It wasn’t a cheap trip, but it was so worth it!

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