Dive into Great Britain ~ England, Scotland and Wales
Go for the Gold ~ See the Best of BritainAugust 2012
In This Issue
British Tavel Hints
Cruise the British Isles, Norway and France
Escorted Tour of Scotland
Northern Wales & Snowdonia 5 Day Escorted Tour
Walking the River Thames
Swinging London
Day Trips from London
In an English Country Garden
The Lake District ~ Beatrix Potter's Neighborhood
Croeso i Gymru ~ Welcome to Wales
Dinnae Forget Aboot Scotland

Mind the Gap

British Travel Hints

Loads of Free Stuff
Mind the Gap
Oyster Card
Heathrow Express
Gatwick Express
Nation Trust
English Heritage
Right to Ramble
National Trail
Bed and Breakfasts
Clotted Cream
Greenwich Foot Tunnel
Ceremony of the Keys Portobello Road
Richoux Tea Room
Sherlock Holmes Pub
Cornish Pasties
The "real" Half Price Theatre Ticket Booth

Nope. We're not going to give away all our secrets just like that.
If you want more details about this mysterious list, give us a call.

Featured Trips
White Cliffs of Dover   
 Taste of the British Isles, Norway and France

Join us for a Taste of the British Isles, Norway and France in September 2013, as we cruise round trip from London (Dover) and visit Norway, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland and France, on the Carnival Legend.

Sept 13 - 25, 2013
Pre and post cruise London stays are available.

12-Night cruise from $1359.00 per person, based on double occupancy -
$100.00 per cabin On Board Credit and more

Taxes and gov't fees additional ($115 - $228/pp)
Deposit $400.00 per person, due upon booking - This is a unique itinerary and space is very limited.

Contact your Travel Consultant at Firstworld Travel and Cruises to make your reservation.

St. Andrews 
Escorted Tour of Scotland

Land only escorted vacations start at $1625 depending on departure date and include:
* Two days sightseeing in Edinburgh. In August during the Edinburgh Festival, tickets for the Tattoo are included.
* Stops at St. Andrews and the village of Braemar for tea and buttery shortbread at the charming Fife Arms Hotel. A drive through the Balmoral Estate and Royal Deeside before arriving in Aviemore, set in Cairngorms National Park.
* A tour of the beautiful Scottish Highlands with time to explore Inverness, the Highland's capital.
* The scenic Isle of Skye and views of the Cuillin Mountains, lochs and cliffs, then a ferry back to the mainland passing Ben Nevis, the UK's highest mountain.
* After a cruise on bonnie Loch Lomond, continue to the lively city of Glasgow.

Chances are eight days won't be enough. Your Firstworld agent will gladly arrange for a stay at the beginning and/or end of your escorted tour. Or, since Scotland is so easily manageable by train or car, your agent can also put together a trip you can do completely on your own.


Featured Trips
Mount Snowdon Train
Northern Wales Snowdonia 5 Day Escorted Tour

Priced from $698 per person double
Snowdonia is one of the National Parks of Wales and an area of outstanding natural beauty. Snowdonia offers such diverse landscapes from the highest mountain ranges, tranquil lakes, fast flowing rivers and a wealth of forest trails to miles of golden sandy beaches on the Lleyn Peninsula.

Day 1: A morning departure from Cardiff travelling to Caernarfon arriving with time to relax before dinner.

Day 2: After breakfast we travel to Portmeirion (entrance included). Clough Williams-Ellis built Portmeirion between the years 1925 to 1975 on his own private peninsula on the coast of Snowdonia. The village also has several shops and restaurants and is surrounded by the Gwyllt sub-tropical gardens and woodlands and miles of sandy beaches. We continue to Porthmadog with its pretty harbour before returning to Caernarfon via Bedgellert.

Day 3: Today we travel to Llanberis and ride the famous mountain railway to the top of Snowdon. Your journey begins at the foot of the highest mountain in England and Wales. It continues through woodland, across an impressive viaduct before starting the long haul up to the ridge and onto the mountain itself. On fine days the views from the train and summit are breathtaking. The view from the top takes in the Isle of Man and the Wicklow mountains in Ireland. We complete the day with a visit to Angleseyand Llanfair P.G. better known as: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgo-

Day 4: Today we visit Llandudno, one of Britain's finest Victorian seaside resorts, bringing together a lively mix of fun and entertainment. Its long crescent promenade, wide shopping streets, sweeping sands and wealth of family attractions make it a perfect destination whether you're riding the famous tramway or taking tea in the award winning tea-room at the Victoria shopping centre.

Day 5: We depart Caernarfon and return home today to South Wales with a relaxing leisurely drive through this beautiful scenic country.
Your Price Includes
*Journey on the Snowdonia Mountain Railway
*Entry to Portmeirion Italian Village
Other Entry fees not included unless stated

Hotel: The Celtic Royal Hotel ... The popular Celtic Royal hotel is located in the centre of Caernarfon and has comfortable en suite bedrooms with television, tea, coffee making facilities, hairdryer and telephone.

Walking the River Thames Thamesof London  
The Globe Theatre
Lace up your Dr. Martens or pull on your Wellingtons and get ready to discover central London's most famous sights along the River Thames including the Houses of Parliament, St Paul's Cathedral, Tate Modern and the Tower of London. The Thames Path links these and other great icons in a free and easy level walk that reveals both the historic and contemporary life of London. London developed because of the Thames and the river is at its very heart.

Start your walk at the Houses of Parliament, officialy known as the Palace of Westminster; the very heart of British political life. Across the road is the Jewel Tower of the old Royal Palace of Westminster and beyond that, Westminster Abbey and Westminster's parish church of St Margaret. Edward the Confessor founded Westminster Abbey in the 11th century.

The Abbey has overseen the coronation of every English monarch since William the Conqueror in 1066 and provided the burial place for over 3,000 people ranging from Elizabeth I to Charles Dickens and the Unknown Warrior from World War I.
Houses of Parliament 
The Houses of Parliament, officially known as the Palace of Westminster, survived a notable attempt by Guy Fawkes to blow it up in 1605, but was eventually burnt down in 1834 and rebuilt. The only original part of the building that was untouched, apart from the crypt and chapel, was the Jewel Tower and Westminster Hall. When it was completed it was the largest hall in Europe, and today it is still a breath-taking structure. It has seen many significant events, such as the trial of Charles I and the lying-in state of Winston Churchill. There are guided tours of Palace of Westminster in the summer months.

Walk past the Houses of Parliament to the corner of Westminster Bridge where Big Ben stands. The clock tower is an iconic London landmark the world over. It is referred to as Big Ben from the nickname for the 16 ton Great Bell. When it was cast in 1856, the first bell was transported to the tower on a trolley drawn by sixteen horses, with crowds cheering its progress. Unfortunately, it cracked while being tested and a replacement had to be made.
The second bell was cast at London's Whitechapel Bell Foundry. The Foundry is still in the East End today. In October 1858 the bell was pulled 200 ft up to the Clock Tower's belfry, a Herculean task that took 18 hours. Big Ben first rang in July 1859 but, again, the bell cracked in the following September. However, this time the bell was simply rotated so the hammer didn't strike the crack, which is still there.

Look back onto Parliament Square with its statues of Sir Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and other notables. A detour can be made into Whitehall, straight ahead, to see Downing Street, home to the Prime Minister and Chancellor, or to see the Churchill Museum & Cabinet War Rooms, Britain's underground nerve centre throughout World War II.

At the corner with Big Ben, cross the road at Westminster Bridge and continue along the embankment with the Thames on the right. Follow the river east along the highway known as Victoria Embankment all the way to Waterloo Bridge. On the other side of the road are the backs of buildings on Whitehall, including the red brick and stone of New Scotland Yard.

Memorials now come thick and fast: the vibrant bronze relief of the new Battle of Britain London Monument is followed by the golden eagles of the RAF Memorial. Approaching the twin footbridges of the Golden Jubilee Bridge by Embankment tube station, set into the Embankment wall opposite Northumberland Avenue, is a plaque relief to Sir Joseph Bazalgette, designer of the London Embankments.
Royal Airforce Memorial 
Beyond Embankment Pier is Cleopatra's Needle, the Egyptian obelisk brought from Alexandria to commemorate the defeat of Napoleon. Across the road is the Savoy Hotel built in 1889 and the buildings of Shell Mex House, built in 1931.

Continue along the Embankment passing a number of moored ships, some of which have restaurants and conference facilities, to Blackfriars Bridge. Taking the pedestrian route under Blackfriars Bridge to follow a pleasant landscaped walkway along the waterfront to Millennium Bridge, which links St.Paul's to Tate Modern on the far bank - the historic core of the City to its historic pleasure grounds.
St Paul's and the Millenium Bridge 
To visit St Paul's Cathedral take the ramped steps up towards the cathedral and away from the river. A Cathedral dedicated to St. Paul has overlooked the City of London since AD 604, a constant reminder to this great commercial centre of the importance of the spiritual side of life.

The present Cathedral, the fourth on this site, was designed by Sir Christopher Wren between 1675 and 1710, after its predecessor was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. Cathedral highlights include the burial places of Nelson, Wellington and Wren and the three galleries set within the great dome, including the famous whispering gallery.

The Whispering Gallery runs around the interior of the Dome and is 259 steps up from ground-level. It gets its name from a charming quirk in its construction, which makes a whisper against its walls audible on the opposite side.

From the Millennium Bridge, follow the Thames Path signs. The walk leaves the river at Broken Wharf House and goes via the lane at the far end of Queens Quay buildings, rejoining the Thames beside the inlet of Queenshithe. Look out for the information plaque on the wall. Turn left here past Vintners Place, then onwards, going under Southwark Bridge and the station at Cannon Street to Waterman's Walk.

Nearing London Bridge, a gap in the offices on the left reveals the golden flame-topped Monument to the Great Fire of London in 1666 and the rebuilding of the City. It is still the tallest freestanding stone column in the world at 202 feet. The Great Fire began in a baker's house in Pudding Lane on Sunday 2nd September 1666 and burned for three days, after destroying most of the City which at that time had many timber buildings.
Great Fire of London 
After the Great Fire, Sir Christopher Wren's plan for London included only stone or brick buildings. It is possible to climb the Monument's 311 steps to the viewing platform for a heady panorama of the City and the Thames.

Arriving at London Bridge, the Pool of London marks the ancient heart of London's international port, established when the Romans built the first bridge here. Pass underneath London Bridge and walk past glazed modern offices to the yellow brick façade of old Billingsgate Fish Market.

Billingsgate flourished from 1000 AD right until 1982, when the market moved to Canary Wharf. In Tudor times, this was the heart of the legal quays, where goods liable for duty were checked by customs.

Beyond Billingsgate is the old Custom House of 1817, built close to the site of its 14th-century predecessor, where the writer and poet Geoffrey Chaucer, author of The Canterbury Tales, was Controller of Customs.

Stroll on past St. Magnus the Martyr church on Sugar Quay walk to the Tower of London. The Tower area grew up around the original White Tower, founded by William the Conqueror in 1100. The Tower is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat.
Tower of London 
After 900 years of constant service as a royal palace, fortress, prison, place of execution, arsenal, royal mint, menagerie and jewel house, this national icon remains the best-preserved medieval castle of any European capital. The Tower of London is famous for its Yeoman Warders, popularly known as Beefeaters, in their distinctive Tudor uniforms, and for the legendary ravens.

The Thames Path follows the river past the Traitors' Gate to Tower Bridge. Celebrate arriving with a visit to the Tower Bridge Exhibition, which offers superb river views from its high walkway. Tower Bridge
If all of this walking has tired you out you might want to consider purchasing an OystercCard. The Oyster card is a form of electronic ticketing used on public transport based in Greater London. It is valid on travel modes across London including London Underground, buses, the Docklands Light Railway, London Overground, trams, some river boat services and most National Rail services within the London fare zones. Best of all, it will save you money!


Dear Friends and Fellow Travelers,

No doubt like many of us, you have been watching the 2012 London Olympic Games. No doubt, you too have been charmed by the glorious scenes of London: Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the romantic River Thames, Hampton Court, and of course, the infamous Tower Bridge.

Great Britain is steeped in history and tradition. From the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace to ominous castles and stately mansions, from white cliffs in the south to Scottish bagpipers in the north, from Shakespeare's Stratford to Jane Austen's Bath, from clotted cream to a pint of ale, from Stonehenge to Giant's Causeway, this small but indomitable nation offers a wealth of beautiful sights and memories.

Don't get left behind in the pack; go for the gold and dive into the bounty of Great Britain!
These Boots Were Made for Walking ~ All Over Swinging London! AKA Taking Advantage of London Freebies 
London is renowned for being one of the world's most expensive cities, but there are many fantastic attractions that won't cost you a penny but may wear out some shoe leather.

Changing of the Guard Buckingham PalaceOne of the most popular London sights is the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace AND it's free! Get there early to get a good viewing position. During the ceremony (at about 10:45 am and again at 11:40 am), the mounted guards will ride past, up The Mall then down.

Want a picture standing next to a guard? Walk down the Mall to St James' Palace, walk past the courtyard of the Palace and turn left around the corner and there is a guard standing all on his own, you can go and stand right next to him! 

For more great free views, continue walking down the Mall until you pass under the dramatic Admiralty Arch. At Charing Cross circle, turn right onto Whitehall and walk past Admiralty House, Scotland Yard and other notable buildings. Just past the Cabinet Office you will see Downing Street  on the right. Head down and see #10 Downing St, the Prime Minister's residence. Continue down Whitehall to Parliament Square. Westminster Abbey is on your left and the Houses of Parliament on your right. If you turn left on Bridge Street you will pass Big Ben and arrive at the Thames River. Walk onto Westminster Bridge for a superb view of the London Eye. London Eye from Westminster Bridge 

If you're all walked out by now, then hop on the Thames river boat from Westminster to Tower Bridge. (Round trip ticket costs £6-7.) This is a terrific, cheap way to cruise the Thames and eyeball all of her glorious sights from the water. If you're game for more walking, take the delightful walk along the Thames Embankment. Click here for full details 

Another fun, free area to wander around is Trafalgar Square. The National and Portrait Galleries, and St Martin in the Fields are here, as are many of the Consular Houses. If you're in the mood for some free music, pop into Saint Martin-in-the-Fields for a free concert every day at 1:00 p.m.
From the NE corner of Trafalgar, proceed up A440 Charing Cross Rd to St Martins Lane, head north to New Row. Go right (east) down to Covent Garden. This is a great area to people watch, shop and browse. Walk the pedestrian area around the Market, depending on the time of day you should be able to watch the street performers. The Royal Opera, Transport Museum and Theatre Museum are here as well. 

Spending time at some of London's markets - some of which have been trading for over a hundred years - is a great way to get up close and personal with the locals. Food markets around the capital have blossomed in recent years, selling local, seasonal and artisanal products. Look out for the free samples!

Borough Market, Borough Marketin Southwark, on the South Bank of the Thames, is open every day this summer. Don't miss Mrs. King's Pork Pies, hand-made in the north of England from a 159-year-old family recipe, Greedy Goat for ice cream made from pedigree goat milk, and Neal's Yard Dairy, which sources from 70 cheesemakers all over the UK and Ireland and ages them in its maturing rooms under the brick railway arches of Bermondsey, close by.

Maltby Street, in Bermondsey, is a lesser-known alternative to Borough and the most recent addition to London's market scene. Open Saturdays 9 a.m. - 2 p.m., it has stalls tucked under railway arches. Top picks: custard doughnuts and eccles cakes from St John Bakery, Polish sausage from Topolski, Alpine cheese from Mons and Monmouth Coffee Company, which is often credited in revolutionizing London's coffee scene.

In East London, not far from the Olympic stadium, Broadway Market is one of the city's foremost hipster hangouts. The narrow street, which has hosted a market since the 1890s and has just been rebuilt, is lined with stalls on Saturdays, selling freshly shucked oysters, multiple types of olives, hand-filtered coffee and much more to a super trendy, creative crew. Try a Vietnamese banh mi sandwich, and have a pint of shandy (half-lemonade, half-lager) at the Cat & Mutton pub, which has been serving since the 1600s.

Incredibly, most museums in London do not charge entry, although you will have to pay for special exhibitions. Museum musts include:

The British Museum, which has an extraordinary collection of historical objects from around the world, including Ancient Greece, Anglo Saxon England, Imperial China and much more. Be sure you don't miss the Egyptian Mummies and the museum's most famous exhibit, the Rosetta Stone, which is inscribed with a decree in three languages: Ancient Egyptian, Demotic, and Ancient Greek, and has been on display since 1802.
The Natural History Museum, in South Kensington, is THE place to take the kids, particularly dinosaur-obsessed ones. There are hundreds of specimens on display, including life-size skeletons and four moving, animatronic dinosaurs - don't miss the terrifying T-Rex with 7 inch teeth.

Victoria and Albert Museum
Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington is the UK's largest art and design museum, with wonderful fashion, jewelry, glass, ceramics, architecture and more from different periods in history - Renaissance, Rococo, Art Deco and much more - from all over the globe. This summer it's showing "Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950," a collection of dresses worn by royals and celebrities - don't miss Princess Diana's Elvis Gown by Catherine Walker and look out for designs by Kate Middleton favorites Alexander McQueen and Jenny Packham - if you're inspired, her boutique is just down the road.
National Gallery
 If you love art, be sure to visit the free National Gallery in Trafalgar Square with access to over 2,300 paintings from da Vinci to van Gogh.

Tate Modern on the buzzing South Bank of the Thames (at the end of the Millenium Bridge, famously "unraveled" in the opening scene of Harry Potter, the Half Blood Prince) is currently hosting a Damien Hirst retrospective, which includes the bad boy British artist's shark in formaldehyde, enough spot paintings to send you dotty, and a room of live butterflies (admission 14 GBP). The museum has the biggest collection of modern art in the country - check out Matisse's The Snail, and the Rothko room.
Tate Modern
Tate Britain, meanwhile, is a boat ride away in Millbank, and exhibits British art from 1500 to the present day: Turner, Whistler, Francis Bacon, Lucien Freud and others. 
Spending time in London's patchwork of parks and green spaces is one of the highlights of a visit to the city. Pack a picnic and pray for good weather.

Kensington Gardens is one of eight Royal Parks and one of the most beautiful, with formal avenues of trees, ornamental flowerbeds, the Peter Pan-themed Diana Memorial Playground, created in honor of the late princess, and the Serpentine Gallery, which features a new architect-designed pavilion every summer. Make sure you check out Kate and William's new home, Kensington Palace, which recently opened to the public.

Don't forget to spend some time at Hyde Park watching the soap box orators at Speaker's Corner, near Marble Arch.

Richmond Park is the largest Royal Park, at 2,500 acres - three times bigger than Central Park - and a national nature reserve. Among the park's attractions are 650 free roaming deer; 144 species of bird, including woodpeckers, kestrels, owls and numerous waterfowl; bats; and 1,000 species of beetle. There are historic oaks in the wooded areas, ponds, ornamental gardens (don't miss Isabella Plantation), hills and grassland. It's a tube ride from the center of London: take the Richmond-bound District Line and get off at the very last stop.
Day Trippin' from London

Maybe it's your first time in London and you want to see as much as you can. Or maybe it's your fourth time and you want to see the surrounding area! No matter the motivation, there is a day trip or two to suit every interest. It's easy to mix centuries of history with today's world. With so much to tell you and so little space, once you discover how much there is to do, contact us for the specifics.

Can't wait for Season 3 of Downton Abbey to begin on PBS? Did you know you can tour the home and grounds? The real life Highclere Castle, in its current configuration since 1878, is the setting for one of PBS's most popular series and the seat of the Earl of Carnarvon and his family. We can't promise that the Crawleys will be in, but you can spend the day touring the castle and wandering the gardens. With his colleague, Howard Carter, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon discovered the tomb of the Boy Pharaoh Tutankhamen in 1922. The 8th Earl of Carnarvon opened an extensive exhibit of Egyptian antiquities to celebrate his ancestor's achievements. You may also view this beautifully displayed collection.

Highclere Castle Downton Abbey

While we're talking TV, how about that Inspector Morse and his current colleagues, Inspector Lewis and DS Hathaway? It's easy to spend the day at Oxford and soak up centuries of historical and literary references and it's even more fun when you take a Walking Tour and visit the scenes of some of the TV detectives' most popular cases. If your children or grandchildren are traveling with you, take the Pottering in Harry's Footsteps Tour. Afterward, give your feet a rest and do a little punting on the river Thames. You can get to Oxford on your own by car, bus or train or take a guided tour, relax and leave the details to them.

Lacock AbbeyFeel like stepping back even further in time? Take a private tour to Stonehenge, Bath and Lacock for a taste of Druids, Romans and Saxons. Step inside the circle of pillars at sunrise or sunset and absorb Stonehenge at its atmospheric best. Wonder at the ancient builders and their vision. Visit Lacock, a picturesque Saxon village used in the filming of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, as well as Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Have breakfast or early supper in a 14th century pub, depending on which tour you take.

Next you're off to the beautiful Georgian city of Bath, with plenty of time to explore before visiting the magnificent Roman Baths, still pumping a million gallons of boiling water per day. See where Charles Dickens lived and worked and sample fresh cheeses from a local dairy. This private, small group tour is the only way to get into the inner circle at Stonehenge.

How about living the life of a glamorous jet-setter? Hop aboard the Eurostar train and head for a champagne lunch on the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Have time to shop or museum hop in the City of Light and be back in London in time for dinner and the theatre.

Don't wear yourself out though! There are many more day trips waiting for you. You will run out of time long before you run out of choices.
In an English Country Garden...

Hidcote Manor Garden You don't have to be a gardener, or even an aficianado of flora to enjoy an English garden. The gardens of Britain, unsurpassed for their beauty and variety, are a continual source of pleasure and surprise, presented in a fascinating collection of garden landscapes. The unique and sometimes eccentric ability of the British over the centuries to create a wide variety of garden design is experienced in Medieval and Renaissance, formal and natural, park and cottage gardens - whether in England, Scotland or Wales all are represented. Many of these gardens cover huge estates with each tree lined pathway, every verdant nook and cranny, holding the promise of a glorious sight.

Some of the finest gardens are easily visited in a day trip or overnight from London. Such favorites include Snowshill, Mill Dene, Bourton House Garden,
Blenheim Palace and Hidcote-Manor Gardens, all found in the Cotswolds. Castle Combe VillageRenowned for the idyllic beauty of its landscape, the Cotswolds are officially designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty for very good reason. Offering green rolling countryside, picturesque villages built from distinctive honey-coloured limestone, river and canal walks, this tranquil region is easily accessible by road and rail from London. A self-drive week in this area is chock full of sight-seeing delights.

If driving on the left doesn't take your fancy, numerous companies offer British Garden Tours. You can walk in the footsteps of the Kings and Queens while visiting the creme-de-la-creme of British gardens. Whether you are a keen gardener or an armchair garden lover with an interest in British history and heritage, we can recommend a tour for you. From Sissinghurst in Kent - the world famous gardens created by Vita Sackville-West and Sir Harold Nicholson - to the pastoral open plan gardens at Stowe, Buckinghamshire, designed by Capability Brown, the choices are endless. Often bewildering. So give us call and let us help you choose the perfect garden tour.

StoweTIP: When touring the English countryside, a National Trust Membership will save you loads of money on entrances to many stately homes and gardens.

HISTORICAL TIDBIT: Lancelot "Capability" Brown (1716-1783) is considered England's greatest gardener. He designed over 170 parks, many of which still endure.
The Lake District ~ Beatrix Potter's Neighborhood

As a young woman Beatrix Potter spent many holidays in the Lake District and loved it so much in 1905 she bought a traditional Lakeland farm in Sawrey called Hill Top. Many of the whimsical illistrations in her her books featured Hill Top Lake District
Farm. When Beatrix died in 1943, she left over 4,000 acres of land to the National Trust. In accordance with her wishes, Hill Top Farm was kept exactly as it had been when she lived in it and today receives thousands of visitors a year. Relive your childhood with a visit to Peter Rabbit!

Ms Potter isn't the only reason to visit the Lake District in county Cumbria. The Lake District National Park is famous for its stunning scenery, abundant wildlife and cultural heritage.  This area is Paradise for hikers - or even casual strollers - and is absolute eye-candy for photographers.

Langdale Pikes
The Lake District attracted the attention of the Picturesque and Romantic Movements. Byron, Shelley, Wordsworth and Coleridge all lived there and it is easy to see why. The tranquility of the fells, valleys and lakes gives a sense of space and freedom. To walk freely across the fells, or climb their crags, is liberating and gives a feeling of wildness.

Castlerigg Stone Circle
For geology-buffs and history-aficianados, the Lake District's rocks provide a dramatic record of nearly 500 million years, with evidence of colliding continents, deep oceans, tropical seas, and mile-thick ice sheets. The landscape reflects a long history of settlement with many  internationally important archaeological monuments including stone circles, such as Castlerigg,  and Roman roads and forts, such as Hadrian's Wall. 

So if you want to see some of the untamed English countryside, wander through quaint villages, enjoy gorgeous sunsets over the lakes and mountains, walk, hike, backpack, swim, fish, sail or just laze around and soak in this delightful neck of the woods, we have a tour for you. Call for more details.
Croeso i Gymru ~ Welcome to Wales

Haven't you always wanted to hop in a cab and ask the driver to take you to the Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch Rail Station? Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch Maybe not, but it's still fun to have your picture taken in front of the rail station in the village with the longest name in the UK. Truth be told, even the Welsh can find their language daunting at times which is why most speak English or they wouldn't be able to communicate with the rest of the UK (and us). And at some point someone looked around and said, "We have to put up English signage." So even if you give up long before "gogo" , no worries. By the way, the name means: [St.] Mary's Church (Llanfair) [in] the hollow (pwll) of the white hazel (gwyngyll) near (goger) the rapid whirlpool (y chwyrndrobwll) [and] the church of [St.] Tysilio (llantysilio) with a red cave ([a]g ogo goch).

A good part of the fun of Wales involves rail. The Ffestiniog Railway takes you on a 13½-mile journey from the harbor in Porthmadog to the slate-quarrying town of Blaenau Ffestiniog. The historic steam trains climb over 700 feet from sea level into the mountains through tranquil pastures and magnificent forests, past lakes and waterfalls, round tight bends (even a complete spiral) clinging to the side of the mountain or tunnelling through it. Discover why engineers from around the world visited the Ffestiniog to see how it should be done.

The Welsh Highland Railway is Snowdonia's newest railway. Trains start a spectacular 25 mile scenic journey from beneath the castle walls at Caernarfon. The trains - hauled by the world's most powerful narrow gauge steam locomotives - climb from sea level to over 650 feet on the foothills of Snowdon, before zig-zagging dramatically down the steep hillside to reach Beddgelert, nestling in the heart of the National Park, then through the magnificent Aberglaslyn Pass and on to Porthmadog. This is train travel as it should be done. Pullman luxury on some of the most comfortable carriages on any preserved railway - standard or narrow gauge - you can step back in time to a more civilized age. At-seat buffet service, snacks, refreshments, a fully-licenced bar featuring locally-brewed award-winning beers. Welsh Highland trains also offer freshly cooked hot food and all trains have toilet facilities.
Snowdon Mountain Railway
 Of course there's more to Wales than historical steam trains. The capital of Cardiff may dredge up images of dreary coal mines and heavy industry, but that's late 19th century literature. Cardiff has changed dramatically in recent decades. It is now a lively and modern capital city, gaining popularity with tourists interested in its history and Welsh culture. It is quickly becoming one of the United Kingdom's tourism hot spots. Summer is a good time to visit as the city hosts large festivals with al fresco dining and drinking becoming ever more popular due to large areas of pedestrianization. The city centre has seen huge development over the last decade and is now considered to be one of the top ten shopping destinations in the United Kingdom. Cardiff is a very green city, having the most green space per person in the UK, and this is complimented by Bute Park which sits in the heart of the city. It has a reputation as a city of castles, having 5 different castles within its surroundings. And with most of the city sites within walking distance of each other, transportation is of little concern.

  Caernarfon Castle.jpg (67.24 KB)  But Cardiff holds no monopoly on Welsh castles. Caernarfon is possibly the most famous of Wales's castles. Its sheer scale and commanding presence easily set it apart from the rest, and to this day, still trumpet in no uncertain terms the intention of its builder Edward I. Standing at the mouth of the Seiont river, the fortress (with its unique polygonal towers, intimidating battlements and color banded masonry) dominates the walled town also founded by Edward I. History comes alive at Caernarfon in so many ways - along the lofty wall walks, beneath the twin-towered gatehouse and within imaginative exhibitions located within the towers. The castle also houses the Regimental Museum of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, Wales's oldest regiment. Caernarfon's position of pre-eminence in historic rankings is recognized in its status as a World Heritage inscribed site.

Not many countries can boast an Italian village, but Wales offers visitors the charm of Portmeiron. A popular tourist village in Gwynedd, North Wales, it was designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 Portmeirion and 1975 in the style of an Italian village and is now owned by a charitable trust. This charming village is a one delicious sight after another. Around one corner, a statue of a cherubic Fool stands blithely on the edge of a rocky precipice. Down another path, the World sits atop the shoulders of a Hercules statue, while the God-Empress Frigga looks on. Elsewhere, St. Peter pontificates from a balcony like a true Hierophant, in the shadow of a soaring Italianate Tower. Taken together, the assorted facets of Portmeirion are a delight to behold. And then there's the world famous Portmeirion pottery, a wide variety of which is available in the village.

Although Wales can be combined with a trip to England, Scotland, or Ireland, it holds it own as a destination. In addition to the above, visit the secret castles of Wales, little coastal villages with beautiful beaches, and the Dylan Thomas Trail to experience the landscape that inspired some of Britain's best literature.
Dinnae Fergit Aboot Scotland! 

It's easy for travelers to experience a bit of disappointment upon arriving at a new foreign destination and not immediately experiencing their vision of that country. Scotland, on the other hand, opens its arms and gladly gives you castles, bagpipes, kilts, breathtaking scenery and Celtic friendliness that will leave you looking forward to another visit. Four and a half hours from London by train, Edinburgh Castle stands guard over the old city, visible from almost every point. In its shadow stretches the Old Town whose wynds, courts and closes speak its secrets and mysteries.
Edinburgh Castle

Infinitely walkable, the streets of the Old Town quickly take you across Princes Street to the Georgian grace of the New Town, along the way eliciting visions of J.K. Rowling stopping by coffee houses as she penned her chapters of Harry Potter by hand. If your schedule allows you to visit in August you can witness the unforgettable experience of the Edinburgh Tattoo and festival with a wealth of music and theatre. Your Firstworld travel consultant can arrange your tickets for this world famous UK annual event. But Edinburgh doesn't roll up its sidewalks at other times of the year. 

Royal Mile EdinburghIn the Winter, Edinburgh sparkles with light and sound. Following the changing of the clocks the Storytelling Festival springs into action with talent around the world engaging in the ancient art of Storytelling. In the build up to Hogmanay you can enjoy a mug of gluwein and a turn on the famous Ferris wheel in Princes Street Gardens, before joining the famous Torchlight Procession winding through the city or partying until midnight before joining the world record number of people singing Old Lang Syne. Any time of the year Edinburgh embraces its visitors with welcoming charm.

A short 42 minute/$24 train ride away is historic Stirling with Stirling Castle, Bannockburn, the National Wallace Monument, the Church of the Holy Rude - all icons of Scotland's royal and often tempestuous past. The city has many more unexpected sites from a jail to a working brewery. "Braveheart" created a stir ofScottish Piper interest in sites related to William Wallace and Stirling is the heart of the historical excitement. With somewhat more economical accommodations than Edinburgh, Stirling provides a practical yet fulfilling travel option.

The beautiful Scottish Highlands continue to offer scenic beauty combined with history and the arts. Visit Cawdor Castle, famous for its association with Shakespeare's Macbeth who was promised the Thanedom of Cawdor by the witches. Loch Ness is one of the most popular UK holiday destinations. The central location of Loch Ness makes it the perfect destination for holidays in the Scottish Highlands. No holiday in Scotland is complete without a visit to Loch Ness. Over 20 miles long, a mile wide and 700 feet at its deepest, it is the largest lake in Scotland by volume. The surrounding area is filled with historic attractions, natural wonders, cozy places to stay, and superb eateries. 

 The Loch Ness Monster is just one of the many myths and legends to be discovered in this particularly beautiful part of Scotland. Cheesy? Maybe a wee bit, yet as your boat makes its last turn and you come upon the lone piper standing erect in the Castle Grant ruins, the plaintive drone will give you chills. (This is also a lovely experience for those who claim a bagpipe is best enjoyed at a distance.) Loch Ness is full of surprises! You can sit Loch Nessback and enjoy the landscape, explore the history of the area, visit the charming towns and villages like Fort Augustus, Foyers, Cannich, and Drumnadrochit, or just relax and enjoy the great outdoors. Take a leisurely walk along the shore at South Loch Ness or a bigger challenge like the 70 mile long Great Glen Way which traverses some of Scotland's finest scenery, it is all here just waiting to be discovered by you.

Explore a variety of attractions in Scotland and hear tales of kings and queens, see striking cliff-top castles, step onboard a Royal yacht in Leith, climb over 150 steps up St Rules Tower for views out across Fife, explore the castles of Ayshire or try a whiskey tasting at one of many distilleries. Each region has plenty to offer: history, science, religion, arts, scenery and so much more. In addition to sites above, Glasgow, Inverness, Balmoral, St. Andrews, and the Isle of Skye all beckon.

Call your travel consultant to discuss your trip to Great Britain.


Cheerio and pip-pip,


Dennis Hein
Firstworld Travel and Cruises
7443 Mission Gorge Rd
San Diego, California 92120

CST # 2006995 

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