My First Trip to England by Car
To travel in England has been a fun, didactic, and beautiful experience. There were fairytale towns, cities, totally impressive cathedrals, different customs and tourist adventures. We have made many stops that have been characterized, among other things, by having almost always a more than something. Thus, in this tour we discovered the oldest street in Europe continually inhabited, the second oldest clock in the world in operation, the smallest city in England, the town listed as the most beautiful in the country, the oldest Gothic cathedral in use in England, the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world and a long list of other things that we will show you.
Day 1: Stansted - Cambridge
Well, the day came. The day arrived on which we had thought for months when we began with the organization of the trip. We start at 6.15 in the morning. The case, that without hardly sleeping, there we were, having a coffee, that we could not have nor emotion of the dream that invaded us. The objective was to ride on the plane and, in the journey, to sleep.
We had a good flight. We arrive at Stansted, one of the airports in London that is halfway between Cambridge. On the first day, we had booked the car at the airport. We picked up our bags and went in search of the counter. We were lucky and, despite going to pick up the car an hour earlier than we had booked, we got without having to wait. The truth is that the car turned out to be a marvel.
We put the GPS (that we carry), the seats, the luggage, and touched all the buttons. From what we see during the trip to Cambridge, I cannot describe much. In Cambridge, we decided to go directly to the hotel. But first, we want to go to the bathroom. We go to the one in the hall. Before leaving, I see a rope that comes out of the ceiling and I find it strange. I think that this system of pulling the chain is a bit archaic. Without hesitation, I ask. They are the ropes to ask for help if something happens to someone in the bathroom.
We left the car in the hotel's free parking, walked 5 minutes and took the bus to the center of Cambridge. At 10 o'clock in the morning, we are in Cambridge, with that strange feeling you have when you have not slept. The bus from the hotel takes no more than 10-15 minutes to leave us in the heart of Cambridge.
We chose a stop a little at random. We were guided because just the bus passes in front of one of the points we had pointed. And there we are going to start at the Round Church. It is striking for its circular plan. Its origin, from the twelfth century, says that it is an inspiration of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. There are very few temples in England with this peculiar architecture.
It is located in an intersection of several streets that are already in the center of the city. Given the circumstances, and that we had just stepped on the Cambridge floor, what we most want is to walk through its streets.
The first contact with the city after the church was somewhat chaotic. We found many Japanese almost taking the city. We did not expect something similar, because we do not mean a bus or two, we talked about many. Slowly, we got used to it.
We headed to the Tourist Office with the intention of obtaining a map of the place. They explain what we can see and we take advantage to buy tickets to King's College right there. And there we went. We wanted to see it before lunchtime.
From the Tourist Office to the College it is a small walk, but at that moment it is part of what we like most about traveling. We enter without difficulty at King's College. This site was built in the fifteenth century by Henry VI. It is impressive, the size of it, the gardens, each of the buildings that make up the complex, but if something leaves us speechless it is the chapel. Our first contact with English Gothic architecture left us speechless.
In this chapel, the marriage of Enrique VIII and Ana Bolena was celebrated. In fact, for such a celebration the choir was ordered to be built. It is an impressive place from which we left half drunk to the gardens. There we see how summer students mix with some tourists like us and how from the garden itself, for the first time, we can approach the Cam River, where life takes place as if it were a story.
It was almost noon, despite having arrived a few hours ago and with rain, it had stopped. The day was quite hot, and many boats take people for a walk along the river. It is one of the attractions of the city.
These boats are very similar to the gondolas but are longer. We stayed for a while near the river, and it is that until now we had told it, but accessing it is not as simple as it seems. In Cambridge, the colleges overlook the river. In much of the itinerary of it, it is not possible to access it and walk along its shore a few kilometers.
And here the famous Backs appear. These are the back of the college. Each has private access to a river area and its own bridges. So, one of our opportunities to get close to the river was from here that we had already paid for the entrance, although later we found other more free ones.
And, in Cambridge there are a few public bridges with free access. The best known is the Magdalene Bridge, the Silver Street Bridge and the Garret Bridge. After the visit to the river, to cross the bridge, to visit the College with its chapel, we feel that everything that we had on top of it starts to take its toll, and we need energy.
We make a quick stop at a cafe just to survive, first of all try to drink something and sit down for a while. So, after crawling through Cambridge, we almost reached the height of King College. We found the Great St Mary Church, from where we could climb to have an aerial view of the city. In Cambridge we find the charm of being on the street, of that British touch in decoration.
But the Church of St. Mary had something very good to offer us. We observed that in what looked like its garden there were people sitting eating, in a little green meadow that seemed ideal to rest. We decided to copy them, and we entered with the only downside that it was not a garden, but was a cemetery.
Such was our tiredness that, under a tree we sat down. We lay down, with a cross on one side, a grave on the other. There is the sun filtering through the branches of the tree that sheltered us, and the murmur of the people talking. The 15 minutes serve to give some strength, although it would not last too long.
We continue our walk through Cambridge, we go in search of the public bridges of which we spoke before. The first thing we find next to the Church and in front of King's College (corner of Bene't Street and Trumpington Street) is the Corpus Clock.
In the golden sphere there is no number or needles, only a few slits that light up every 5 minutes. And it is that only every 5 minutes the clock marks the time correctly. Its creator says that this is how the irregularity of life is represented. A dramatic touch of what the passage of time supposes. This clock was presented by Stephen Hawkins.
The truth is that this image, between gloomy and strange, makes the watch an attractive enough to photograph because of the attraction it arouses among tourists. We approach the vicinity of Queen's College. We are very curious to see the famous Mathematical Bridge, or Newton Bridge. For that we arrive at the Silver Bridge. From there we can perfectly observe this curious construction that connects the buildings of Queen's College, the new and the old. The area was very lively and the flow of boats on this stick-push system similar to the gondolas, is incessant on the River Cam.
From the Silver Bridge we look in the opposite direction to the mathematical bridge. There it is, for the lovers of Pink Floyd the first place where they played, The Anchor. We move through the streets until we find another bridge that lies further down where we can go down to the river level. From there we can see Darwin College, the first in Cambridge to admit students of both sexes. We face a jetty and a kind of park that goes along the riverbank where Cambridge goes from being a hectic place on an afternoon in August to a walk almost alone among the vegetation.
In a while we are going around, again tiredness shows as our feet hurt. We decided to take a little strength and get closer to Magdalene Bridge, the other public bridge. Right there, is the place where the boats leave. We sit on the edge of the jetty and see the boatmen (students mainly) up close for the first time. Not all of them are uniformed, but the Scottish print shorts predominate. In the background, other young guys are with their music equipment giving us a sound that is not very identifiable for us.
We stayed there for 20 minutes, watching the boats come and go. When we are going to stand up, we do not respond to ourselves, so it is time to make a decision. We wanted to have dinner in an English pub, but the fatigue was such that the stomach was closed. We look for a supermarket to go buy supplies.
As our itineraries are hectic and may be conditioned by weather, we always want to have food with us. But in this case it could not always be like that. We buy water, sweets, fruit, bread, snacks, some sausage, and we go in search of the bus to return to the hotel.
It did not take too long to arrive and, again, in 15 minutes we were at our stop. We unloaded the car, arrived at the room and neither the suitcases had to be undone, as we said in these trips, one is a turtle.
When we touch the bed, we touch the sky. As the room has a coffee machine, we took some of what we had bought, a warm coffee, a few cookies. It seems incredible to us all that the day has given of itself and everything that lies ahead. We put the alarm clock very early for 7.30 am and we fell asleep almost talking, and remembering everything.
Day 2: Canterbury - Cliffs of Dover
Our hotel did not include breakfast. We had breakfast in the room thanks to the purchase of supplies from the previous day. The truth is that when we wake up, after the beating experienced on the day of arrival, we did not get up light as a feather. Rather, it cost infinite to move. I do not know why at that moment I visualize myself as when in National Geographic they take out a sloth in action.
After a good shower, a coffee, some sweets and the car again with cameras, suitcases, backpacks, and GPS we set course for Canterbury.
We left the county of Cambridgeshire to enter the county of Kent. In England, there are beautiful roads worthy of a movie. Once again, the tension of the roads begins. Until this moment, the rain respects us. A good day dawns and we enjoy with the prudence of the two hours until arriving at the lodging. There, they recommend that we approach a few meters where the parking is located and from there take the bus to the center. So we park and the hotel is very close.
The journey from Cambridge to Canterbury takes about two hours, more or less. Our intention was to go to the accommodation first to see if, with luck, we could check in and leave the car and luggage. This day was going to teach us, among other things, a new experience, the accommodations at the Inn. We stayed outside again, but in this case really outside, because it was not like in Cambridge, a residential area. It was a roundabout with this accommodation, an Inn, which come to be Pubs that have rooms available. The room was perhaps the best we found on our trip. They were cozy, spacious, comfortable, and decent enough. The wifi would not work if you did not have a British phone number, which they lent us to get it. The pub decoratively speaking was nice, although the smell when entering was, not. It included breakfast and, well, it was a continental breakfast without great pretensions.
We take the ticket in the machine for 3 pounds and, without hardly waiting, we are on the second floor of a bus that brings us in 10 minutes to the center of Canterbury. Canterbury is a special corner, although for our taste everything eclipses its exciting cathedral, the oldest Gothic structure in use in England. We submerged through its streets. From one of the main High Street streets, we take Mercery Lane. Then the facades with wooden crossbars, white and irregularly shaped facades make up the street. A medieval architecture that bewitches us and leaves in the background the Porch of Christ Church Gate, from the 16th century. Its central figure is not the original one, and which gives access to the garden area surrounding the impressive cathedral.
The building from the outside is impressive because of its size. It is complicated to try to photograph it and there is room for it in the frame. Around it, a wide green esplanade is at the front. The interior of the Cathedral is really fascinating, and impressive we would say. It is full of stories, legends and a multitude of artistic and architectural details that escape us, but that as a whole bewitched us.
Another of the popular milestones of the elements found inside the temple is the tomb of the Black Prince. Above the tomb, a sculpture of a soldier in dark armor is the protagonist. That soldier buried there is the first-born of the King of England Edward III, an insatiable battler who died a year before his father and was buried here. He had a reputation for being implacable and not very compassionate.
Canterbury is full of stories and legends. Geoffrey Chaucer has contributed to them with his literary work. In fact, one of its attractions in the place is Canterbury Tales, where they recreate part of medieval life. A place that we did not visit, but which has been open for 25 years and is liked by many, especially lovers of this popular work.
The day of our visit was a sunny day and Canterbury was very lively. The Stour River bathes this place and, on both sides of it, the houses are born giving the appearance of channels. You can rent a boat that also includes a guided tour. Apparently, it lasts about 40 minutes and they were not expensive. In our case, it was in the morning, and it was not in our plans, and we wanted to walk more.
We walk along High Street enjoying the music in the streets, and the people. We arrive at the place where it seems that we are going to leave the old walls, The West Gate. It is one of the seven medieval doors of the XIV century that Canterbury had, and the biggest still standing. At its feet, crossing it, the river Stour passes again.
It is our second day in England and at 2:00 pm we are totally exhausted. It is not a muscular physical sensation but is like a fatigue that eats our energy. The truth that scares us because we understand that we have not done so much either, and we think that we are probably still picking up the pace.
We take advantage of the Westgate gardens right next to the medieval gate. A totally bucolic corner where there are more residents than tourists. The river crosses it with little houses on one side and endless colorful flowers. It forms a completely bucolic stamp. It also seems that it is in the only place where we have found, once again, banks to sit down. Although it must be recognized that it is a magnificent meadow to lie on the ground, like many people, to rest. We see people reading, children playing, people eating.
We take out our supplies, sandwich, fruit, water and when we finish, the dream takes over once more. But we do not let it stay. We returned to the center of Canterbury. It was about 3 o'clock, and a perfect time to catch the bus and return to the parking. But before that, we looked for the famous Canterbury Crooked House. It was totally picturesque. Then, the cliffs of Dover awaited us. We take advantage of the return to look again at the streets, the facades and the posters. We photograph the details and, above all, try to activate our body.
To get the bus we have to go to the same place where it had left us. We leave towards Dover. More or less, the distance is an hour and a quarter. We arrived without difficulty to the visitor center. There is a kind of regulated schedule to visit, theoretically until 7. When we arrived, before 4, we had to pay 3 pounds to park. The truth is that when we left there, at 17.45, the admission booth was already closed and we could enter for free.
We wanted to visit the Castle of Dover, but we were not able to fit in the planning and went to one of the things we renounce. When we passed by it, we repented, and it has been among many other things in "pending" list. It is a long visit and several hours are needed to travel it, apart from that they close soon. Although we could not resist approaching the entrance at 18.30 (when it was closed) to try to see more closely.
We return to the conditioned area of the White Cliffs. There starts the walk or halfway to the cliffs. The afternoon of that day was very sunny and hot. The humidity percentage made me personally feel like I was in a tropical country. Neither the wind blew nor cooled.
We plan to reach the lighthouse and turn around, more or less about 8 km away. It was a totally different walk, where the green of the prairies with the blue of the sky was impressive. The light and the heat were such that a kind of mist prevented the white cliffs from shining as we had seen in other images. There was not a single cloud in the sky, despite being on the coast. We see across the sea the French coast and, when we had doubts, our phone network, a bit crazy, told us we were in France.
We found them beautiful. It was something different, and a beautiful stop after two days lost between universities, chapels and cathedrals. We sat for a while and saw many rabbits run around. We approached the edge of the vertical and white cliffs to feel that dizzying sensation that contributed to the sound of the sea. It was quite calm that afternoon, by the way. At 5:45 in the afternoon we leave. The tiredness of sleep was gone. We had been there less than 48 hours and had barely stopped.
The truth is that even if we dine soon it was hard for us to think that at that time we had to retire. As we planned to go to Rye, a destination for the next day we download our itinerary a bit. Although we had had material time, luckily we reflected, and we realized that fatigue was there. Sometimes you have to learn to give up seeing things, to enjoy other.
So we started on the road, not towards the accommodation. This time, although tired, we wanted to dine in an English Pub. We had targeted a little village near our Canterbury accommodation. At 19.30 we were coming to dinner. The first drops of the day were falling, a fine rain that we did not know where it might have come from.
It was a nice English Pub. We sit by a small round wooden table next to a little window with English latticework. We saw the lights of the streetlights shine with the reflections of the water in the street and the light of the sky go out. We have a fish (of cod) and chips served in the plate in a more elegant way, with garnish, the batter of beer, and two drinks. It was a very nice place with not too many people and most, apparently of the place.
From there, we get back to our accommodation. I just remember leaving the suitcases, preparing a hot coffee, lighting two lamps and listening to the British television news. We take a look at the photos, charge the batteries, go online. Then everything is diluted and finally, we are not tired.
Day 3: Rye - Seven Sisters - Brighton - Winchester
Waking up at 7.30 in the morning on vacation is very hard, not so much because of the dream. There is a kind of glue that holds us to the bed. I would say that more than that, it does not allow us to change positions. We notice that fatigue that makes us think that day we will not be able to do anything that we have planned. In fact, we think about why we did not rent a room with breakfast in bed and direct access to the pool from the terrace.
I'm looking for a motivation, and I find it in the breakfast. We go down to breakfast. It smells like a cellar or, rather, those that were before in all neighborhoods. In the morning one waits more for a smell of lavender, cologne, soap, or citrus and not of a cellar. The breakfast is continental. We thought that our first Scottish-style cooked breakfast would come, but no, muffins arrive, a coffee, and a juice.
We collect everything, electrical adapters, chargers, clothes, glasses, and cleaning objects. And we're going to Rye pretty early. In no more than 50 minutes we are there traveling those British roads that at times we fall in love and at times we are disturbed.
We look for where to park, one of the uncertainties of this trip. On the other hand, moving independently with a vehicle gives us a lot of freedom. It allows us not only to know specific points of a map, but to see how they come together, and what's in between. It's something special. Traveling to Rye, we leave Kent County to move to Sussex County. In 3 days we have gone through 3 counties.
From what we had read, Rye was a small town where we would not spend too much time. Rye is a destination to walk around. It is a typically medieval English town and very inspiring. They say that one of the best preserved. And for us a very pleasant surprise.
From the main street, we go on the way to the Tourism Office which, surprisingly, despite the fame of early risers, was closed on our arrival. On Lion Street, we comes across the church and the clock. It is the oldest clock in all of England in operation. The clock is from the 16th century, and every hour and a quarter the figures touch the bell.
Seagulls tell us that the sea is not too far from there. They are tireless, flutter and are heard on that morning that is much more cloudy than had been the previous two. We would almost say that some rain threatens. The sea is barely 3 km away. Years ago, Rye was surrounded by cliffs and, depending on the tides, it was practically an island. For that reason, its wall was only developed by one of the sides of the place.
In the highest part there is a castle, today a museum. It is next to a beautiful square, Church Square, in whose center is the cemetery and St. Mary's Church, Anglican. Around, you will find the tudor houses, if you take right there Watchbells Street. The paved floor covers the entire center. Mermaid Street becomes an authentic postcard, with that slope and the set of houses through which the green leaves of the plants traps us.
In Rye we get carried away by each of its streets. We look at the shop windows and we were really surprised with the visit to the first small town that we had on our list of charming towns. We are not disappointed at all, just the opposite, it becomes one of those destinations we enjoy.
Back to the parking lot, we intend, if time respects us, and while we can, to eat outdoors. Our idea is to get closer to the Seven Sister, another scenic destination with which to alternate visits to towns, cities and historic buildings. One hour separates us from this coast .
The Seven Sisters are located in a Natural Park. The road is shorter than the Cliffs of Dover and less beautiful. But it is worth it, especially, because we like to dedicate some time to scenic destinations. This itinerary does not have many options, so we do not want to waste it.
We get carried away by the one we see that seems shorter. At the beginning, they all start on the same road and then fork. We took 40 minutes to get to the seashore. It is a green landscape, where cattle graze, nettles grow. After a while, we can begin to see the first profiles, again whitish cliffs. At our arrival it is difficult to distinguish them by the haze.
The day was getting quite strange in the area, between cloudy and sunny, with heat and embarrassment. There is no sand. The ground consists of whitish boulders on which it is difficult to walk. The tide was quite low and we spent a while until we could get close to the seashore. Some children splash on a beach that as a beach is inhospitable, but as a landscape for its uniqueness we liked it.
We eat there some sandwiches, water and fruit, and we record that place in our memory. It's charming to sit there, so far and so different. The sea smelled different too. The more we looked at the Seven Sisters, the more we liked them. After spending a good time looking, photographing, eating and resting, we set off on our way back. It is not a circular route, so it is about undoing the steps taken.
The heat continues to squeeze. When we get to the car we turn on the GPS on our way to Brighton, only with one intention. It does not involve much detour. We stop to walk around its dock for a while and enjoy. On our way to Brighton we cross towns and cities, listen to music. Perhaps for the first time, we are not exhausted, although we are quite tired, even more so when it is hot. The car's thermometer only showed 26 degrees but they were tremendously overwhelming.
In Brighton, we had read that parking was complicated and expensive. So, as we entered the city, we took the road parallel to the promenade and the first place we saw free we occupied, in the same street. From where we parked we saw the Ferris wheel, and we thought it would not be so far. The truth is that we parked at 1.7 km from the Pier, so that only in coming and going we marked almost 3.5 km at a stifling temperature.
The road that runs almost parallel to the promenade is quite high above sea level. Well, the trip helped us to see the sea on one side, and the houses on the other. For the first time we are in a city, clearly of other characteristics to what could be Cambridge or Canterbury. It is a much more "summer" city.
Brighton is a cosmopolitan city, with enough life, lively streets, intense traffic and a coastal place in the country. Despite the heat, we do not consider taking a bath. When we walk at sea level, we see that the atmosphere is very lively. We do not know if it influences a afternoon, or maybe we are directly in a British summer resort. The seashore has enough people, despite starting to be a bit late for the British schedule.
We entered the Pier, with crazy, varied and lively music, a lot of food smell, slots, water wheels, roller coasters, neon lights, dolls, cotton cars, bumper cars, models to put your face and take fun pictures. It is a kind of mini amusement park of free access, with stalls and varied attractions, located on a pier on the sea.
We want to be relaxed for a while without any pretension. Between some things and others, the time advances and the afternoon falls.
For that day we had reserved a table for dinner. And tonight we went to sleep in Winchester, not directly in the city, but in a Guest House on the outskirts, in the countryside.
The day we made the reservation, the owners told us that there was a very popular pub nearby (walking) and that, if we wanted, they would reserve a table for us. We accept for not complicating our lives, given that the accommodation was in the middle of nowhere.
The truth is that we had to start thinking about leaving Brighton to avoid being late for our appointment. You know, British punctuality. We had 2 hours on the road. This day is where we would travel the most kilometers. We walk towards the car again, uphill. It looks like a tropical storm was about to fall. We take it and, to get to our destination, we have to cross part of the city.
We are very excited because we wanted to see the Royal Pavilion, a Royal residence built by Jorge IV and reminiscent of Indian architecture. On the way to Winchester things get very bad. It starts to rain. There is heavy traffic and the asphalt does not drain. The downpour is such that it passed an infinite tension. There was a zero visibility.
Suddenly, we found three houses in the middle of the field, which one more beautiful. And for the first time, we see up close one of the typical roofs of the countryside, made of straw. We arrived at the Guest House in Sparsholt. Our room is not very big, but it's not bad. It has everything you need. It is very well equipped and it seems as if it were a guest room in our own home, with a bookshelf full of books.
We have views of a very beautiful garden and inside the amenities of the accommodation comes a flashlight. We understand right away that the flashlight is not there without purpose. They tell us that, to go to the pub, we have to take the flashlight, which is 5 minutes walk along that narrow road from which we came and that at nightfall there is no light. We trust the flashlights of our phones and, with that communication that characterizes us, we thank the woman.
After leaving luggage, in a few minutes we went to the pub, where we would enjoy the best dinner of our vacation in south England. We stroll among green vegetation, with that musty smell and the puddled floor. After opening the doors of the pub, the orange color and a warmth of home filled everything. There were a lot of people. They all sounded British and they had fun. It smelled of elaborate food, as if they were stews, but with an aroma different from ours, but it was especially pleasant.
They gave us a menu but we were completely disoriented. The same thing that is in the menu is written on a higher blackboard. The dishes with many ingredients, are described and seem quite elaborate. With the bad luck we are only able to translate chicken, duck, pork and veal. The sauces are not easy to decipher either.
Finally, we overcome the crisis. I ask for the duck with a beet and vegetable sauce. It was not stewed and the meat was very tender. The presentation, flavors, quality and attention was excellent. We went out and, yes, it was raining. To date we had complained of heat but that cool night was ideal even if it rained. As if we were in a children's camp, we began the return to the house by a black road without any light, where we could hear the water falling without stopping. We put the mobiles on and we walk with satisfaction.
Day 4: Winchester - Old Sarum - Stonehenge
We wake up again as if we had a drunk bear on us crushing us. It's 7:30 in the morning and we fall so tired at night that for the first time in my life, at least I do not even miss a bed. We are the first to go down to breakfast. We do it in an English-style dining room, curtains, maroon carpet, wooden table. There are strawberries, cereals and juice on a small table. We sat at the main large, oval table, with that important nobility touch with which the chairs match. There are all the cutlery set.
The host comes and asks us how we want the toast and if we want the full breakfast. While breakfast arrives, we take some strawberries. The toasts are waiting, and finally arrive, along with a tablet that brings the host showing us the weather forecast. The door opens and a couple enters. It's amazing, there in the middle of the field, where you need a flashlight to go out for dinner, there is a South African, Canadian, and two Texans.
The breakfast lengthens. It is so surreal and at the same time so funny that we have to exploit these pleasures of traveling. Finally, we are the first to leave the breakfast room, collect everything and take the car to get closer to Winchester city, less than 10 minutes away. A sunny and much cooler day accompanies us. The vegetation is still wet and it is a pleasure to start the car.
In Winchester we have a hard time parking. We found short-term parking but not long and, in the end, we chose to park in one of them, in Middle Brook St. We take the backpacks and we go. We are not far from the cathedral. Despite being early, Winchester is full of life. There's a kind of flea market in the middle of the main street.
We go directly to the cathedral area. Winchester Cathedral is the longest Gothic cathedral in Europe. It is an English Gothic building of great beauty. It must be recognized that the English cathedrals are truly impressive. The entrance to Winchester includes the guided tour, in English, of course. After the last guided tour we attended a few years ago, to the Tower of London, we wanted to see how we would face this one.
We have to wait a bit on the main floor. The visit starts on the right foot. We understand the guide very easily. Twenty minutes after, the thing gets ugly, as at some point we have not heard and we stop understanding almost simultaneously. We started to disconnect in such a way that it costs to re-engage. We do not know if it has started with the architectural elements but neither of them returns. At 40 minutes we are already desperate and lost.
In the interior of the cathedral, Jane Austen is buried, for those who love her literature. We will also say, for those of you who have seen the Da Vinci Code film, that some scenes were shot here. In the end, the visit to Winchester Cathedral takes almost 2 hours. We started to doubt about the parking time. We do not have much left but we started to walk around Winchester.
Another attraction that is spoken of is the Round Table of King Arthur. Inside the hall, in addition, there is a sculpture of Queen Victoria and a small door that leads to a charming garden. It is the garden of Queen Eleanor, with shrubs and aromatic plants. It is very cozy, which recreates the medieval gardens.
We left there. We had to see the castle and, together with the Great Hall, which we entered for free, we found in front a few stairs that give access to more ruins of the castle. We looked around several times and tried to visualize what would have been the old fortress, which was also a real residence.
From there, we headed to Westgate, one of the old approaches to the city. We continue walking, now we go in search of the house where Jane Austen lived the last years of her life. And, thanks to finding this corner, we discover new alleys and secrets found in Winchester. Because yes, we lose ourselves. Searching for the House of Jane Austen, apparently, only leads us to one thing, to see its facade, since nowadays it is a private residence. We had the location but, for some things or other, we take many laps to get there.
These turns lead us to an area with an even more medieval air, alleys and green areas. We found the house, we looked at it, we photographed it (only as proof that we were there), and we recognize that our heart does not vibrate either. We are not unconditional fans, but we are satisfied to have found it. Jane Austen was responsible for us seeing that other part of Winchester.
We cross another of its medieval arches and continue along the street of his house until we reach the remains of another ancient castle. It is the old Wolvesey castle. This castle was the palace of bishops. We like to visit the ruins of this castle. They are the typical ruins that make our imagination fly. When we look at the clock, chaos begins. An infinite chaos in which we see ourselves far, far away from the parking lot, and with the time of the last ticket.
We walk very fast and become disoriented. We have a hard time finding the parking lot, and when we arrived it was a good time. It was time to eat, for us at least. We considered climbing the Hill of St. Catherine, from where, apparently, there are good views, and a perfect place to take our snacks. But climbing is complicated. The GPS is disoriented. And for the first time we ended up with the car parked next to the brush taking a sad sandwich inside. At the expense of this we laugh.
Our planning included the afternoon in Salisbury but we see that it is early and that the next day we had it quite tight. So, we decided to take a turn at the last moment and bet on visiting Old Sarum and Stongenhe, two places that have opening and closing times.
The biggest problem was presented by Stongenhe. It is assumed that, in high season, the influx of tourists is very high. On the web, they recommended reserving the visit because, if not, there were chances of not being able to see it. We do not reserve, because we did not trust ourselves, since the trip is constantly in motion. We decided to risk.
Arriving from Winchester to Old Sarum was intense, but to get to Stonehenge was to live in the 80's! Old Sarum sounds like "Lord of the Rings", as an important city with power wrapped in a halo of fiction. Actually, Old Sarum is the old site where what is now Salisbury was. If you look for images on the internet, you will see that the aerial view of the remains of this city is quite surprising, and the idea of going to see it caught our attention.
To this day, under our experience, it is not worth it, it is the great disappointment of the trip. Only 3 or 4 very ruined buildings remain of what was the Old Sarum, before moving to the current Salisbury. There is no audio guide or a minimum brochure explaining the importance of that ancient Norman settlement. The visit is perfectly dispensable. From Old Sarum, grumbling about the visit, we went to Stonehenge. We swallow that long jam and the clock plays against us. The clouds come out for a walk and a slight spark threatens. That would be the beginning of the rainy days.
The Stonehenge car park is bursting. We do not have much hope, as there are only 20 minutes left for the closing of ticket offices and there is a lot of line. We stand and wait. A race against the clock where we dare not look at it. Finally, we get our passes.
The ticket price includes an audio guide. From the visitor's center we approach the megalithic monument in a kind of little train that seems of the same time as the "magnetic" stones that we are going to visit. Once we get off the train, there are not so many people up there. It is late in the afternoon and it has started to rain. Since the rain is not strong, it is not an impediment, but seems to us an advantage. And after 10 minutes of being there, we can enjoy the place without too much crowd, although with an umbrella.
Stonehenge is a megalithic monument around which many superstitions exist. It is a construction that dates from the Neolithic period. Today, the summer solstice is a big party in Stonehenge. So, miraculously, we have finally managed to make an impromptu change of plans and end the day with a lot of new experiences.
From Stonehenge, we head towards Salisbury, and look for our accommodation. It's not in the city, but it's on the outskirts, 15 kilometers away. The access to the rooms was by the outside of the pub-restaurant, between the laundry, the toys thrown on the garden floor, the tablecloths. So, at least, we dined well at a very reasonable price. We slept together with the clandestine arachnid workers and, luckily, we only had to spend one night there.
Day 5: Salisbury - Castle Combe - Bristol
We wake up in the shabby lodging of Winchester and went down to have breakfast to the bar. That night bar looked better than during the day. We find a bit of the smell of cellar and carpet in the morning, neither of which is refreshing. While we had breakfast, our eyes are half asleep, half awake, so what we seem to see through the window could be a hallucination.
But no, we approach the glass to verify that it is real, on the other side of the humid road there is a flame. Before leaving for other destinations, we have to stop at Salisbury. Today, we are going to Salisbury and the weather is not going to make it easy for us.
We chose this city as a stop because it has different attractions. In Salisbury, we find ourselves on the one hand with the highest church in England, for its spire. There is the oldest mechanical clock in the world, from the 14th century, and with one of the only 4 copies of the Magna Carta. It is also the best preserved, with the largest set of cloisters in Britain and with the oldest choir stalls in Britain.
When we arrive it rains, it rains a lot and there is a wind that ends my umbrella of 12 years. We are looking for a place to park and take one of the half-stay car parks that is quite close to the cathedral, as we think it will not take us more than 4 hours. We arrived early, before being able to enter the cathedral because they were working, so we had to wait.
While we wait for the time we can enter, we take the opportunity to see the exteriors, but the weather makes it very difficult. We can only see, between the half-destroyed hood of the umbrella, that part of the facade of the Cathedral meets Scaffolding. Finally, we have to take refuge in the cloister until the door opens.
Again a beautiful English cathedral opens its doors. We are more accustomed to English Gothic after having entered the previous days in others such as Canterbury, but nevertheless, we find it very attractive. It is a little overcrowded and instead of breathing a solemn air and silence as these places demand, at some point it reminds more of an exhibition center because of the crowd there is.
After spending a good time visiting the church, the chapels, the cloisters, the Magna Carta and all the most, we went outside, to the green meadow that surrounds the cathedral. Here we observed that it seems that it has stopped raining.
We began to walk to submerge ourselves in the city's hull, for which we crossed an arch that looks like an entrance through an old medieval wall. Around us a lot of people pass, as if it were a constant trickle. They have backs on their backs, shorts and they seem to come out of a quagmire. Some local race was celebrating that gray and damp day.
Tourists go to Salisbury attracted by the Stonehenge and its impressive Cathedral but the city itself has a certain charm. Of medieval character, walking through its streets becomes a moment of relaxation and tranquility.
The river Avon crosses it forming some channels inhabited by swans and ducks. During our visit the sun was encouraged to leave after the storm and everything shone in a more special way. The tourist office is located on High Street, the main street, where we also find shops and places to have a drink. After a nice walk around Salisbury, it's time to leave. We're going to visit a town, in many places, listed as the most beautiful town in England. Castle Combe, is an hour and a quarter from Salisbury.
The day we marked this point in our itinerary was because, through the internet, we came across some images that captivated us. It seemed to be just a street, but we wanted to be there, step on it and have our own photo. Already on the access roads to the town we feel like in a movie. When we get to the street that makes up this small village and we cross it with the car, because there is no way to stop inside, we feel excited. The threatening storm, with those gray skies, the sun that filtered through.
As we do not go by horse, but by car, we have to leave it on the wooded road that crosses the town. We are lucky and we found a place. We arrived at an hour when people are eating and we did not find this corner too crowded. We eat right there, under the structure that is in the square, while it starts to rain again. The rain lasts the same as our sandwiches and by the time we are finished, the sun has risen. We do not know if we like more cloudy or sunny days and we cannot stop photographing.
And being there we understand that it was the place to shoot different cinematographic works because it looks like a real set. It is a little village that looks like a postcard in a photo, a place that, when we cross it, no matter how small it may be, stays etched in our eyes.
We leave this charming place. Our destination is Bristol, a place that we chose because, of its location. We thought we could stay several nights there and in its environment there are several points of interest. Also, that day it was important to arrive at Bristol not too late, as every year the Balloon Festival is celebrated. In the early morning and late afternoon, in an enabled area, hundreds of hot air balloons take off in all colors and shapes.
We left for Bristol. And we looked for the place where the act was celebrated. Looking for the entrance to the Balloon Festival car park, which is held on the outskirts of the city we lost several times. The GPS was disorienting and we were lost. With that agony of despair we made a left turn entering the opposite direction by a lane that was an exit from the highway!
In the end, we managed to turn around without any major inconvenience. Of course, the scare lasted a long time. But the Balloon Festival brought us another disappointment. When we finally got there, the organizers informed us that if we wanted we could pass but only to see the booths. The ascension of the balloons had been suspended due to the weather, and too much wind.
So we turned around to the hotel with some regret, because we were very excited about the idea of coinciding our arrival in the city with this popular celebration. The selected accommodation in Bristol was the hotel. We took it without breakfast and got a very good offer for 3 nights.
Like all accommodations in England, this hotel has the so-called kettle, a kind of tea-coffee maker, with which we bought a variety of sweets and in the mornings we had the issue resolved. It is located next to the aquarium and the harbor and, around it, there are many places to go out to dinner every night. We had one of the refurbished rooms. It was clean and quiet and, as we told you, very comfortable.
We would arrive around 6 o'clock in the afternoon, just enough to check in at the hotel and, for the first time, unpack our bags. Then we went out to do a reconnaissance wheel. Bristol is a city plus city. Touristically speaking, it is nothing remarkable but we can say that, for us, as a resting point it was perfect.
That same afternoon, we went to the port area that was very busy, full of locals, people walking, and with music. We sat on one of the terraces, not on the sofa or the table and chairs, but on a typical English chair, with a drink. We enjoyed the afternoon of our first stop in civilization.
That afternoon, before sitting like gentlemen and feeling super lucky to be in that place, we were walking through the main streets. But the afternoon, apart from the wind, was warlike with the rain and on several occasions we were accompanied by the British downpour of which we have already spoken. It seems to drain a sea on your head for 15 minutes to then give some rays of sun that shine more strongly. But that day, no showers were interspersed with the sun throughout the afternoon.
After the walk through some of the corners of the city and a good time on that terrace of the port, from which we saw rain without getting wet to be on the pier and listen to tangos, while others danced, we decided to go to dinner. We dined Latin American food, in the port area. It is an informal place, with very good service and close to the hotel.
Day 6: Wells - Glastonbury
In the morning, we wake up tired like every day. It is a sensation that with the passage of time is not relieved. Today we do not have stiffness, or muscular pains but simply, general exhaustion. We took advantage of the coffee maker in the room to make some coffee, and proceed to tasting the sweets we have.
After shower and breakfast we are ready to leave, and without having to carry our bags. What a pleasure! The first destination of the day will be Wells, in the county of Somerset. Wells is the smallest city in England. It takes about 50 minutes to get there. It took us a while to find parking right in the square that gives access to the walled area, the so-called Market Square. Finally, not too far from there, just a few minutes from downtown, we found a parking lot where we can park for a few hours.
We start walking through Wells, arrive at the Market Square. From it we can already see the Cathedral tower. In this square a local market is held on Wednesdays and Saturdays. After crossing the wall, our first point of interest is the cathedral. The facade of this cathedral is different from the rest we had seen so far. It has more straight lines that we find very beautiful, decorated with more than 400 sculptures on its facade.
After having seen several cathedrals in the previous days, we often find confusing images in our memory, which lead us to intermingle with each other. But when we see the cathedral of Wells we know that this will not happen to us. It is different from the outside, and inside. Canterbury is hard to beat for us. In its interior we find the scissors arch of the twelfth century. Inside is also found, the second oldest clock in the world in operation. It is a medieval clock where it is worth staying a while to see its movement.
After visiting the interior of the cathedral, we went to the tourist office. There, after the explanation, the woman offers us a map. We take it and after doing it she asks for the price of it. Almost automatically we say no, and return it. The woman's face was like a poetry. And at that point, between parkings and entrances, the pounds rolled freely.
We tell you this anecdote, because at noon time, the very kind woman of the tourist office on the street, just seeing us, told us that she was looking for us because she had got a "free" brochure for us. We still laugh remembering it. Well, a few meters from the cathedral and the tourist office is what is said to be the oldest continuously inhabited street in Europe, the Vicar's Close. We had not seen any previous images, but just read about it. And in our imagination we expected an alley without more interest.
To our surprise we found a wonderful street that had to steal years of useful life to our cameras because, at least, we shot more than 70 photos of it. It is a totally residential, cobbled street, through which we can access under an arch, to enter a journey that takes us many centuries back to the 14th century. The chimneys are an element that arrived a century later.
The street that seems to remain intact for more than 700 years and that has an aesthetic that amazed us. We left the street, at a time when the sun was shining, in search of the Bishop's Palace or Episcopal Palace. It is surrounded by a moat with ducks and swans that gives a beautiful image. To enter, we go through a drawbridge. What is inside the building, in itself, did not captivate us. And what we did find beautiful was their gardens.
At the moment, the rain wanted to accompany us for a while. During some moments more intensely and in others less. On our walk we find the lake that reflects the cathedral (typical image of Wells) and some corner that becomes almost a postcard. After the walk through the magnificent fairytale gardens, we look for a place to eat. This time we have dispensed with our picnic menu and decided to find a place to have a drink.
During the meal, which was a classic sandwich of 1,000 ingredients, we think that there will be no strength to continue. But of course there is. In just a while we are back in the cathedral area. The scene of a series or movie is being shot on his door. The English skies threaten and play with the clouds and the elusive sun. So we think it's a perfect time to go back to Vicario Street and shoot it a few more times.
We strolled a bit more through the streets of Wells before leaving for our next destination. At about 5 or 5.30 in the afternoon we arrived at Glastonbury. Our stop in Glastonbury was always a doubt. In the end, as in Wells, we just arrived, and we visited it very calmly. We decided to approach with an idea, above all, climb the hill Glastonbury Tor, where the Tower of San Miguel is located and from where we see beautiful views. The rain was with us. In our case,it cost us to find the bus stop. On top of it, we arrived late and it had just left the last of the day. So, in our case, we went on foot from the same town to the tower.
The truth is that when walking through its streets, it is a rather small place. It gives off a special character, that has hippie airs around the corners. We thought it was a bit of a movie, with nothing clearly noticeable, though.
What we did enjoy was climbing to the Tower of San Miguel. That hill, historically, is identified as a magical place. Among the legends about this place are those who called this area the Avalon of King Arthur or those who link their existence with druids. There is less distance than it seems from the village to the top of the hill.
Above the wind blew as if there was no tomorrow, but the views that are seen from the valleys to the feet is a marvel. We stayed for a while taking pictures of the landscape. We ended up sitting sheltered behind a rock to protect ourselves from the wind, until we started the descent, in search of a supermarket to fill the provisions.
At 6.30 or so the town was practically empty. We bought in the only place we found, where food, in and of itself, were rare. We're on our way to Bristol, which was about 1 hour and a quarter away. That night we would have dinner at the restaurant in the harbor area again, after having had a drink on a small terrace.
Day 7: Bath - Bristol
New morning in the United Kingdom. The weather forecast for that day, like the previous ones, is unstable in its own stability. This translates into average temperature, foggy morning and sunny, midday with intense downpour. We have to carry short sleeves, long sleeves, raincoats, umbrellas and sunglasses, the quintessential British kit of every day. Despite the intense day before, we left early, something that without being aware was a great advantage for the development of the day. We were going to Bath, a popular tourist spot.
From Bristol to Bath it is about 40 minutes. In Bath we park near the train station. And we are guided through the streets that seem to lead to the center of the city. Bath is a city declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Bath has many points of interest but the best known, not only in the city, but in the United Kingdom, are its hot springs. The city is located in a land where its waters have very special properties.
Before the Romans arrived on the island, the Celts already knew the properties of them and had built a temple for their goddess Sulis. When the Romans made an appearance, the construction of the thermal baths was considered and the city was renamed Aqua Sulis. Later, in the Middle Ages, it would be called Bath. On our visit, we arrived quite early and did not have to do anything in line.
To us, to cross the whole spas, without stopping in each one of the informative little signs, it took us between an hour and a half and two hours. And we loved it.
We can see how the water gushes hot, with a slight mist and small bubbles. The reason why this happens is that the rainwater is filtered by the special terrain of the so-called limestone-cut Mendip Hills, by aquifers. In its route, we also check the interior rooms where the stones were heated, the indoor pool, a museum with numerous remains found in the excavations. The truth is that it is a very interesting tour.
The set is very well preserved, although it is true that it has undergone different transformations. Returning to the thermal baths, it is forbidden to bathe in the actuality since the aptitude of its waters for human contact is not guaranteed. Another place to visit in Bath is the Abbey. It is located next to the hot springs. We entered inside just after leaving the hot springs and it was full of people.
From the abbey, we take the street that leads to the Pulteney Bridge. This is a beautiful corner of Bath. There are different perspectives from which we get stunning views of the city. The river that passes under this construction is the Avon River. It is one of the only 5 inhabited bridges in the world. Some locals compare it with the Ponte Vecchio in Florence.
There is one thing that stands out in the city of Bath and is the color of its facades, cream, which derives from the limestone that was used for it. The city has its own color that stays in the memory. The city, then, took a classic look, was filled with residences and palaces. It became a noble place. It is well known that Jane Austen, spent a few years of her life not very happy among this busy society. They say that it was the cradle of her inspiration for some of her masterpieces.
Among its architecture, after strolling through the streets, we go in search of the Royal Crescent, dating from the century of the splendor of which we speak and which is considered an exponent of Georgian architecture. It is a half moon of semi-detached residential homes with very important dimensions.
As is typical of us, we are disoriented, since it is a bit separated from the urban core. It starts raining with desire and we have a good time wandering around and asking those of us who were there. Before arriving at the Royal Crescent, we went through another of the known points of the city, The Circus, a square completely circular and surrounded by residences that create a beautiful scenery, although given its size is impossible to contemplate entirely. It transmits a feeling of symmetry and perfection.
As the intensity of the rain increases, we retrace our steps towards the epicenter of Bath. We take the walk to discover more of this place between street and street. It really seems like a nice place with a lot of charm and life. Before we knew it, the parking time had expired and we were away from it. In our list of points to visit in Bath, we have the Assembly Rooms, which were former rooms for parties and meetings designed in the eighteenth century. It today houses the Fashion Museum on its lower floor.
We seemed certain to follow the precise steps but where, theoretically, the parking had to appear only a road appeared. It was raining hard, it was late, the ticket expired and, no matter how hard we looked, the sense of direction always took us to the same place, where there was no parking. After going back and having a good time, like two sponges, we arrived at the car where, luckily, there was no sign of a fine.
The thing was complicated, the rain did not subside. We had not eaten and we improvised a picnic with what we had in the car that we had to eat right there. We could not even lower the windows. On our itinerary, our next stop was Lacock, a small town already belonging to the Cotswolds that was reputed to be beautiful. Given the climatic situation and that the next day we were going to devote ourselves wholly to that area, we decided to do without Lacock and go back to Bristol, relax and see the 3 or 4 things that were left pending.
Before going to the city center, we approach the famous bridge of Bristol, the Clifton Suspension Bridge. In the urban nucleus, we approach the Corn Street, a beautiful street that has the Market of San Nicolas. We did not arrive even a single day in time to see the open market. This market is the oldest in the city and is considered one of the 10 best markets in the United Kingdom. It is located under a glass gallery. Of 3 nights we spent there, two afternoons we approached and in none, we arrived in time to see it in action.
We dedicate ourselves to walk the streets with peace, without looking for anything concrete. It becomes a very pleasant walk. On the other side of the port, we look for King's Street. It becomes a corner where beer lovers surely find not a place, but several that catch them. The best known, the Llandoger pub, which also has the reputation of being the place where The Treasure Island was written.
Of course, we can not forget the cathedral of Bristol. If any of you are of those who love the panoramic views of a city from above, Bristol's quintessential viewpoint is that it is the Cabot Tower. We do not go up but we do get close to see it from the outside. It is surrounded by a park and is located at the top of the city.
That night, we went to dinner at a place where we saw in the previous nights that long lines formed, which aroused our curiosity.
It is located in the port as well. We do not like buffets in a general way, but here, we let ourselves be carried away by the amount of people and the spectacular decoration of their interior. But one thing, it does not stop being a buffet. They give us a table, the drink is served there, and we have lots of international food stalls to choose from. The sight is very attractive, the palate quite mediocre, but the experience was fun.
And well, it's time to say goodbye to the city, go to the hotel, pack up, to go the next day in the English countryside.
Day 8: Cotswolds - English countryside
We left Bristol early in the morning. Our first stop is Bibury. Bibury competes with Castle Combe as the prettiest town in England. And we, after having seen the two, do not know how to decide. To get out of Bristol we take the motorway to, in a while, get into the county roads, which, although they are a little more stressful, are also much more beautiful. It took approximately 1 hour to arrive.
The first impression, before getting off the car, was a terror. We thought that we were in the placid and peaceful countryside and it was all full, above all, of Japanese tourists. Luckily in the Coln River, which crosses the village, an otter appeared in our life making little bombs. When we were watching it, we managed to get away from the crowd.
The typical image of Bibury is Arlington Row, a small street that goes to the other side of the small bridge where the otter was. It shows a row of perfectly aligned houses, with those brown roofs and wall honey color so characteristic. They were homes of weavers. Of course, it is a very photogenic place. If it were not because we are not alone, it seems a corner of the world away from everything. A scene from Bridget Jones's Diary was filmed here.
In Bibury, we parked in the street that is attached to the small stream. The next stop was Bourton on the Water, also called Venice of the Cotswolds. This town is bigger than Bibury. It is about 25 minutes from the previous one. To get to it, we continue touring the Cotswolds in the car and enjoying the experience immensely.
In fact, the day accompanies us and makes a sun with which the green of the fields shines more and the sheep in the meadows stand out more. On the way, we crossed other small villages that keep much homogeneity with the previous ones. It encourages us to lower the music in the car and lower the windows.
Bourton on the Water on our arrival is full of people. It's almost time to eat British. We leave the vehicle parked in a parking lot at the entrance whose pavement is grass. In a few minutes, we are on the main street. After walking for a while in the streets, we go through the door of the car museum and see the gardens of the houses. We sit in the green of the river next to many other people and devote ourselves to eat and give bread to the ducks.
That would be our last picnic of the trip and the truth that Bourton on the Water seemed a perfect place to take this option, it was really nice. Well, we decided that the coffee is going to be taken elsewhere in Stow on the Wold. That was the third town chosen for our stop, about 10 minutes from where we were.
Once the midday arrives in our visit to England, the clouds arrive, and that day although it painted sunnier it was not going to be different. In the scarce 10 minutes that separates one locality from another, the precipitations appear. In Stow on the Wold there is a parking lot at one end of the town, this time it is paved and, by the way, it is quite small. We leave the vehicle and begin to climb its street that has an incline.
Stow on the Wold was a town that we did not enjoy as it deserves and it was not its fault. Again, it was a charming corner but we were caught with that drowsiness that sometimes comes after eating that seems to tear us up to the strength of the last breath. The fact is that we did not drink coffee. Something we should have done at that moment, and we continued the visit.
The square of Stow on the Wold, the Market Square, is very wide. And this place was a pioneer in cattle fairs. Its location on top of a hill and the confluence of 7 roads turned it into a strategic nucleus in the area. It is said to have inspired the Lord of the Rings. Despite the fatigue, we are aware that we are getting what we were looking for, stops in the Cotswolds different from each other.
From Stow on the Wold, we travel again on the roads that slide through the hills of the Cotswolds, fully integrated into the English countryside. Here every detail is perfectly pampered, and we arrive at Chipping Campden. It is about 15 minutes or so. Just as in Scotland we spent the trip looking for their famous cows with bangs. The famous thatched-roof houses look almost like a wig.
On our arrival at Chipping Campden, the GPS took us through the back area of the nucleus, through a residential area where we could park without a problem. After a few steps, a drop fell and in a matter of 3 minutes, the sky collapsed on us with such intensity that we could only get under a small bridge that we found and shared with some other pedestrian. There was no umbrella or hood to support that torrent of water.
Luckily, from under our roof we could see how just a few meters away there seemed to be a place to have a hot coffee. It was time to make a stop. Let the clouds unload their anger in total freedom while we relaxed peacefully. We entered a place with English decoration, armchairs, roundtables, carpet, hot coffee and a scent of sponge cake that took away the sense.
We were there for half an hour or more, relaxed in one of those chairs that surround us. We see through the window as the water fell without stopping. Around us, others were with their laptops, or reading books.
Chipping Campden has its main street in High Street. In the center of it is the wooden structure of the old 17th century market. We stop there for a while, this town was an important commercial center. Then we walk along the street looking at all the details, the banks, the posters, the shop windows.
After the rains, and after that comforting coffee, the ride was wonderful. The sun was already coming out with that orange tonality of a summer's sunset after a storm. The facades seemed covered in honey with that soft orange hue. The puddles on the street reflected the houses of that well-tended countryside.
We had a good time with a feeling of absolute happiness. We reached the church of the town, again surrounded by a cemetery. We enter inside, just a few minutes and we go out again to breathe that fresh and calm air. There were not too many people in the place.
We look a couple more times around us to fix all those images. We head towards our next destination, where we would stay a night: Stratford Upon Avon. Leaving Chipping Campden, we found a pair of roofs of those of straw, and we cannot resist it. We must stop to take a picture. Getting to Stratford Upon Avon, in the county of Warwickshire, takes about 25 minutes or so. One of the things that has made it especially popular is that it is Shakespeare's birthplace. Although there are things that call our attention to this place more than that.
The first thing we do is get closer to our Guest House located in the same town and that includes parking. The attention we receive is very good. We asked for a recommendation for dinner from a typical pub in the area and they sent us one that we liked a lot. The room assigned to us is a quadruple that, has an immense space as something positive but, as a negative, it gives a rather soulless feeling.
The biggest drawback of this accommodation is in the bathroom. The shower has hardly any pressure and, when we say barely, it's a pretty generous rating with the situation. Once inside the room and, after about 15 minutes of talk with the hostess, we are ready to give us a tour of this town. They give us a key to enter at night.
The most visited points are related to Shakespeare and his family. Given our time of arrival, everything is closed and our only intention is to walk through the town before dinner. Stratford Upon Avon looks very similar to the one it had in the 16th century. In this place are the houses with golden facades and slate roofs, to give way to a very different style, the Tudor style, with its wooden crossbars.
Almost everything revolves around the writer. We, in principle, had the intention of visiting Shakespeare's birthplace the next morning, before leaving for the next destination. But before going to bed we discarded it. In the end, we were not particularly attracted to the recreation of the interior of the house. We were more than satisfied with the juice we brought in the city of Stratford Upon Avon during the time we were on the day of arrival.
The sunset light is always a good accomplice to beautify the images. And that day, for a couple of hours we enjoyed a lot for that city that seemed lonely. We found almost nobody in one of the main streets. We, on the other hand, could not stop. There are houses more than 500 years old. It is worth wandering and strolling. We are very struck by how, on that day, we had found several Sheep Streets in different towns. It leaves no doubt about the importance of the sheep in these lands.
During the walk, the light is coming on us when we are reaching the Avon River, a river that crosses the area and where we can find different boats. This river becomes, in some areas, a kind of canals. When we see that we can hardly shoot photos in the dark we are aware that we have been too late to have dinner in England. But luckily in the place that we had a tavern where there is a perfect table for us.
This is a local with a typical English decoration, very warm, quite ornate, and a friendly service. The home-style food, very plentiful and hot, was as if it came from the very core of the earth. That's what the food is close to the tongue and you feel like it has curled and scratched like a newborn lullaby. We had a great time and most importantly we were very comfortable. From there, we take a pleasant walk to the accommodation.
The tour of the Cotswolds has been a great experience. We ended up somewhat tired but very satisfied with the course of the day. Far away in our memory was the beginning of the morning when we looked at the Bibury otter.
Day 9: Oxford
That morning we left Stratford Upon Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. After having breakfast, in a short time, we were inside the vehicle on the way to the city, which takes to arrive, about 1 hour clock. We arrived quite early. From the bus that we took to the center of Oxford, the terraced houses were giving way to the entrance to the city. We asked that at the tourist office, where, on this occasion, we took a map, after paying the amount, which honestly, in the end, did not help us too much.
Well, let's start with the Christ Church College. In this college is another of the "most" in England , the smallest cathedral. College hours are until 5:00 but the cathedral closes at 4:45 p.m. During our visit, we witnessed an act of dance inside the cathedral that was quite shocking. There were aesthetics that caused many contrasts with the interior of the church.
In addition, it has been a place chosen by some films as a set, but it is for another one that most people go there, Harry Potter. The famous Hogwarts dining room is in this place and is visitable. Climbing the bell tower of the Church of St. Mary of Oxford can be your real undoing. The price was 3 pounds but we thought it was a great viewpoint and for us it is a must. Apart from the value of the old bell tower, both because of its antiquity and its aesthetics.
The views from above of the Radcliffe square and the colleges and the rest of the buildings that surround us trapped us for quite some time in the heights. We spent 15 minutes under the clock that there is in its facade waiting for that it gave the time to record it with the video. After the experience in the bell tower of the previous church, we were so satisfied that we did not want more panoramic views and we settled for seeing what is the tower from outside.
Very close to Christ College, is the shop dedicated to Alice in Wonderland. They say that Lewis Carroll was inspired by this small shop and in the gardens of Christ College to write his fantastic novel. Again, as every day, the clouds opened the floodgates and released their water. It was the signal, that it was time to eat. We no longer bothered to look at the clock.
We waited for the rain and took advantage of its presence to take refuge to eat. We chose a chain of Asian food and, in addition, was in the High Street, a central place that from the second floor offered us very lively views. Before leaving the city we went through the covered market of Oxford but, as it is usually our fate, when we entered through the door they turned off the lights.
We are ready to take the bus that takes us to where our vehicle is parked and, from there, to approach the hotel. The chosen accommodation in Oxford was a Guest House. The reviews were not bad on the internet. This Guest House is a bit like going to a grandmother's town house. With regard to breakfast, I wish it were like the one of the grandmothers in the town. In this case it was just normal.
After a while accommodating us in the Lilliputian accommodation, it would be about 7.30 or 8 when we went in search of a place to dine. The owner of the accommodation had recommended us a couple but we forgot the names. So one caught our attention because from the outside we could see that there were enough people, all with the appearance of being from the area. The place, through the glass, seemed very well decorated and, above all, it was pointed out that it was going to have live music in a short time.
The truth is that to enter there were people waiting. We put ourselves in the queue and our hopes came down when the two guys in front of us said that without reservation there was no table available. The most they offered was the terrace. However good the temperature in South England in summer, at night it was not what we wanted and it seemed that they did not either.
Basically, the conversation was the same (but with survival English). But we showed interest in waiting if they gave us an approximate time. And soon, after entering and leaving several times at the entrance, one of them tells us very kindly that we have a table ready. Our face of conquest and sympathy said it all. It is a very pleasant place, with an exquisite attention, very lively, well decorated, which gives it a special charm. We have ribs, salad and a British dessert, called Eton Mess that we loved.
After the lively night in Oxford, having dinner and enjoying the music, we set out to go to the hotel, which would be about 4 minutes away by car.
Day 10: Windsor - Stansted - London
We started the last day of "tour", strictly speaking. On this day we left Oxford in the direction of Windsor to later return the car at Stansted Airport, where we picked it up the first day, and then go by train to London to spend 3 days.
At this point we have infinite desire to go to London. In fact we had considered having spent another day to visit the Palace of Hampton Court. But, after all the cultural tour of the previous days, what most asked us the body was to arrive in London. It was not our first visit to the capital and it is a place that we love. To go back to London with tranquility to go for a walk we really wanted it.
From Oxford to Windsor it takes 1 hour to get there by car. Our main interest was to visit the castle. In the surroundings of the fort there are numerous parking lots, all of them quite expensive. The Windsor Castle is one of the official residences of the British Royal family. We arrived relatively early and we did not have to wait too long in line to enter, but we must bear in mind that it is a very tourist-oriented building.
Windsor Castle is more than 900 years old, it is perfectly preserved. When the queen is there the flag is kept hoisted. Inside we cannot take photographs. With the audio guide, you can walk through the walls of the imposing castle and travel through British history. We found it really interesting. In the same castle, you can also see one of the most incredible dollhouses, dating from 1924. It belonged to Queen Mary (grandmother of Queen Elizabeth of England). This doll house is impressive, has electricity, pipes, running water, a mini winery with real wines.
In the interior the royal guard pass by us and, we see the change of guard. This castle is connected to the town of Windsor through Victoria's Street, a pedestrian street and quite lively. Windsor does not have a very big helmet, but its little streets are curious. We went around the neighborhood. After eating, we approach in search of the point where we have one of the best known views of the castle: Windsor Road Great Park.
In this park there is a path in a straight line that connects Windsor Castle with Snow Hill. It is a hill that can be seen in the background from which they separate a little over 4 km. This walk is known as the Long Walk. We were not very eager to go back and forth 9 km. So, we approached to have that very popular panorama and to be able to check with our own eyes the beauty of this place, where the road seems to go up and down until we arrive to infinity.
After enjoying for a while the pleasant park we went to the car. We have to leave it at the airport before 6 o'clock in the afternoon. According to the GPS, the estimated time was hour and twenty. Everything that we tell you is little. The traffic jam that we lived that day surpassed any that we have lived in the last 5 years, in any place and date. We saw the minutes running, that they were the only ones running, while we remained locked in the car, on a four-lane highway where the leaves of the trees did not move.
The tension in the vehicle grew. We looked at the clock and we saw that we were not going to arrive on time. In a moment, we decided that it was best to lower the windows, raise the volume of the music and release the adrenaline through our singing. We made friends with the trucker next door, with whom we were constantly ahead of each other and entertained watching our choirs. Finally after more than two and a half hours, in which we also recorded videos for posterity, we arrived at Stansted. Well, after 9 days, we were back at the Stansted airport, with our trolleys, our big suitcase and all the accessories. But now how to get from Stansted airport to London?
We took the train for a single reason, the traffic. We came to see how everything was stuck. On the way out we were a little bit alike but on the day of return, we would not like to get stuck on the way to the airport. So for a long trip we decided that the Stansted Express train was safer and we did not think much about it. .
Tickets, if purchased in advance online are cheaper. We did not do it because we did not decide what to take. The trains leave every so often and will leave us at the Liverpool Street station, which was only 7 minutes walk from our hotel. When we took the tickets at the station we saw a sign that the train was coming in a minute. We started running like crazy on the platform. But in the end we arrived in time to catch the train.
It takes an hour or so to get there. We travel very comfortable and quietly. When leaving Liverpool Street station (in the City area of London), we feel we are in the throbbing London on a Friday afternoon. We took course to the hotel. The chosen hotel is a simple and comfortable hotel. It is within zone 1, as far as transportation is concerned.
Well after leaving the bags in our room, we take to the street. It was already late. It was not worth it at that point to take out the transport card. So we decided to go into one of the pubs that were in the surroundings where many people were already drinking the after-dinner beers.
We entered a pub that is located around Liverpool Street. On the top floor, a group is drinking beers and laughing. We sit at a table accompanied by velvety armchairs. There were not many options, so we ended up with a survival dinner.
After dinner, we take a short walk and get back to the hotel. We were finally back in London!
Day 11: Weekend in London
Saturday morning, we wake up full, after the arrival the day before . We have many plans and things to do in that city that is London and that we love. Also, there are things that can only be done on a Saturday in London. We went down to breakfast early. The hotel is buzzing. Taking the elevator is like taking the train, and it has waiting times. And it seems that one has breakfast in the dining room of a school.
When we go out on the street, the first thing we have to do is take out the transport cards. We approach the metro, as the 3 day travelcard no longer exists, now it has to be either 7 days or daily. We opted for the daily off-peak travelcard. Actually, we almost did not use the transport at the end because we walk and walk. But we did not know that we were going to resist to take the means of transport.
We did not get the London Pass because we had many coupons and we had already seen many of the places they cover. With our transport cards we enter the metro. We used the Tube Map to move around the London subway and it was a success. We arrive at Portobello Market. That cloudy morning, life ran around Portobello Road, the main street where this street market develops, with intensity. Since the 60s, it became popular with antique dealers.
We get off at the Notting Hill tube station and get carried away by the tide. The Notting Hill neighborhood, has its terraced houses, some facades of pastel colors and some of more intense colors. We take the subway to the station with the same name as the abbey. The location of this is in one of the most typical areas of London, next to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. After 30 minutes, we enter inside.
The visit to Westminster Abbey takes a long time. By the time we leave, it's time to eat and the streets are full. The green esplanade in front of the abbey and next to Big Ben is full of people sitting, lying down, eating, laughing and seeing it. So we crossed the street, bought some sandwiches, drinks, a little sweet and we enjoyed a while there lying around.
After eating, we go around the Houses of Parliament. We went to the banks of the River Thames, at the back of the Houses. Later we decided to cross the bridge to get closer to the other side of the river. There is the London Eye, which rises 135 meters high. Surely, an image is worth more than a thousand words but in this case we were not able to capture it because the people who were on that bank of the river were impossible. So much so, that there were some people regulating pedestrian traffic at the height of the London Eye because you could not walk either forwards or backwards.
We felt panic, as we thought that we would not be able to walk through London, but we could. Of course, we have not seen so many people together in any of our trips, in any city, like that day there. Well, we put aside the London Eye trying to get out of that crowd that was scary and crossed, again, by the next bridge. From that point the overcrowding disappears and we consider going to visit Covent Garden. We walk through its lively streets until we reach the Covent Garden Market. In the square through which we enter the gallery there is a huge circle of people enjoying a street performance. We stayed a while and entered the market.
We continue the walk, and go in search of a very concrete corner, within the district of Covent Garden: Neal's Yard. This is a super small corner but it seems taken from a painting, a very special place full of life. The word that best describes it is "colors". It is a place that you will not reach if you do not explicitly seek it. It is hidden and, for many, it goes unnoticed.
From Neal's Yard, we continue walking around and we find a street concert. Music crosses our path and London fills us with life again. It is a living city. We stayed there for a while letting ourselves go. We leave the district of Covent Garden to reach the London neighborhood of Soho. The Soho adjoins Chinatown. It's not very big, nothing to do with New York Chinatown. We see a Chinese restaurant.
And we continue walking. At that point, the afternoon is falling and our forces too but Trafalgar Square is waiting for us. From Trafalgar, we walked to Piccadilly Circus. And there, almost dragged, we see how the light of day almost disappears to take prominence the luminous commercial posters that move without stopping. It's cool and we camouflage ourselves in such a crowd, that we put on a meeting point in case we get disoriented while taking pictures.
In Picadilly Circus we only thought about sitting and having dinner. We have targeted an Italian restaurant belonging to a chain and it is on a street that leaves Oxford Circus. We take a bus to give a little sense to our travel card that day and to get a little closer. Before dinner, yes, we make a last stop, as we enter the Hamleys toy store. This store was founded in the eighteenth century and is considered the oldest toy store in the world. It is a 7-story building full of toys of all kinds, with real life lego figures. We were already quite short of strength but we could not resist making us giggle inside for a while before dinner. And from there, to the restaurant.
It is an Italian restaurant where we choose pasta and sauce. We dined with glass of wine included. After dinner, we can only go back and, of course, walking is inconceivable, not because of fatigue, but because of the distance. We have a bus in Oxford Street that takes us direct to Liverpool Street.
On the way we go on the top floor and we see how we leave the hustle and bustle of a Saturday night. We do not have the strength to go out for a drink and, in about 25 minutes we reach the hotel.
Day 12: London on Sunday
The beating of the previous day leaves its mark, as everything weighs on us. But again we decided to get up early, go down to the breakfast where we only had toast and left to continue touring the city. We wanted to go more calmly to Camden. But as the day is long, we approach the Tate Modern where we had read that from the cafeteria there were nice views, and in passing to see the Millennium Bridge.
The day dawns quite cloudy and fresh and we go, first, to the museum. The Tate Modern is the British Museum of Modern Art. Inside, we are struck by the minimalism of its architecture. After spending some time going around and taking some photographs, we went to the cafeteria, located on one of its upper floors.
From there, we have excellent views of the Millennium Bridge, the Thames and the Dome of St. Paul's Cathedral. Apart from the Tate Modern, there is also the The Globe theater. We left the museum and approached the Millennium Bridge on our feet. Our intention is to cross it and get to the other side of the river. it is a great place for photography lovers. So, from here, we left for the Camden Market. On Sunday we woke up quite cloudy but there we were, surrounded by many varied positions, from the most extravagant to the simplest. The market develops around the channels.
Shortly after arriving, there was a downpour for which we were forced to get into one of the premises in the area to take something until the rain stopped. After that short time, we go back out and enter the crowd. The Camden market has many corners. Between some things and others, the time to eat is over and the sun accompanies us. So we approach the part of the market dedicated to food. There are stalls with food from many places in the world that prepare for the famous "take away", so you manage to eat it where you can.
We give many laps. There are infinite number of Japanese, Indian, Spanish, Argentinian, French, Peruvian, American food. Finally, we decided on the Argentines, who prepare an Argentinean ternerita in a bread with a pint and an aroma. With the sandwiches in hand, spectacular meat, by the way, and with that chimichurri, we walked among the crowd. We are approaching the stables area of the market and listen to music. But very loud music so, as if we were the little mice in the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, we went to the call. And what do we find?
A lot of people singing a song, making a kind of huge rectangle and looking down. We try to put on tiptoe and poke our heads in the crowd to see who sings, or touches but it is almost impossible. We are struck by how everyone sings. We only see a little flag that says "Let it be" and I only think about the Beatles, but that does not sound like a version or anything. It has a lot of rhythm, a lot of soul. We manage to take a place between the heads and a man plays the piano and sings. A group of girls go out to sing between gospel and soul to do the choirs. We had to swallow the sandwich. We take out the cameras.
Returning to London, after witnessing that concert that we were by surprise, we decided that we had to put a cherry on the cake. We took, in another of the street stalls, a nutella crepe. Well, the day seems very clear after the rain. In fact, it is hot and it is time to consider whether or not we are going to do the biggest tourist trip we think there is in London at this moment. Go up to The Shard. The sky accompanied us. We almost wished it to get wet because we did not have to decide so, but with that clear sky, the views had to be great.
Well, there we arrived at that triangular glass building, wondering if there was a queue to go up. Of course not. There we go and we are the king. For a while we were very angry with The Shard. The crystals are not straight. So you can not hit the target to try to avoid obstacles, but there is one thing we have to say, the views are amazing. As a viewpoint, it must be recognized that it offers us a spectacular view of the city. Up there are some machines that tell us what we are looking at, depending on the direction in which we point.
And then, it has something really special and is that it allows us to look down, through the glass of the walls. We see the Tower of London, the Thames, the City and the infinite London in 360 degrees. To get us out of that loop of negativity, suddenly, a couple appears, with their best finery, sequins and costume, and some photographers behind. The boy takes the girl to one of the glass walls and, suddenly, he kneels. Then, a few glasses of champagne arrive and already the laughter takes over us. We can get the photographic alien that we had inside, trample it and enjoy the views alone.
As a conclusion, the viewpoint is great, in the sense that it has fabulous views if the day is clear. On the other hand, 30 pounds seems an abuse. We understand that they will have to amortize the construction of the skyscraper but it is totally exaggerated. Well, after this we headed towards the Buckingham Palace to take a little walk. The palace is the official residence of the Queen of England. Until the nineteenth century, this palace did not become an official residence. With the arrival of Queen Victoria, it enjoyed the new Palace status.
The lake of the Palace is St. James Park, the oldest of gardens or royal parks. We spent a good time crossing the park because we were constantly entertained with squirrels. The afternoon falls and when we leave the other side of the park we are very close to Downing Street, where it is located, at number 10 and in the middle of the city, the house of the British Prime Minister. The place is, as you can imagine, full of security, but we see that we are not the only ones standing in front of its black gates.
We went up Whitehall chatting quietly and thinking it was time to sit down for dinner somewhere. On our list of possible options, we have one on the same street, in the vicinity of Trafalgar Square. There is a typical English pub inside. From there, we take the road to the hotel. It has been a fantastic Sunday.
Day 13: London on a Monday
We woke up early, had breakfast and left luggage in the luggage room, as our flight left at 8:30 PM, to pick them up later. We head towards St. Paul's Cathedral on the bus that we caught at the hotel door. It is the second largest cathedral in Europe, behind the Basilica of St. Peter of the Vatican.
We take direction towards the Tower of London and the destiny causes that we arrive at a place that we had seen in some film. It is luck that accompanies us and in one of those streets that cross our path, the Leadenhall Market appears. The Leadenhall Market is a beautiful glass-roofed market located on Gracechurch Street. This market dates back to the 14th century, and is one of the oldest in the city. This was the Roman heart when London was Londinium.
We left the market, really excited to have found it on our way, at random, and we continued on our way to the Tower of London. The Tower Bridge should not be confused with the London Bridge, which was the first to cross the River Thames. After skirting the entire perimeter of the Tower of London we went to the subway. We cannot leave London without a walk through Hyde Park. Our intention is not to travel. We decided to access it through the famous Speaker Corner, in the area of Marble Arch.
We cross that area and enter the large esplanades that characterize this place. The English parks are green, like eternal meadows where you want to throw yourself and wallow. We walk until we reach Serpentine Lake. The skies threatened storm but, around the lake, numerous hammocks had no problem in being occupied. That walk is revitalizing and walking, we came to the Memorial to Diana of Wales. It turns out to be a kind of fountain where a lot of children were bathing even though the temperature did not accompany especially.
After the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, we decided to leave Hyde Park. This park joins with the Kensington Gardens. In fact, in these gardens, is the Albert Memorial, a striking and imposing monument erected by Queen Victoria in honor of her husband. It looks towards the Royal Albert Hall.
We leave the park and take the road to the Royal Albert Hall which is very close. At this point, my camera battery has gone into a coma. The morning is becoming almost late and we have not eaten yet. We decided to take a couple of buses to enjoy the views of the city and get closer to Piccadilly Circus, where we would surely get something to eat even if it was too late.
Sure enough, the hamburger shop that never closes its doors when you travel is there to give us help. When we left there, we did not have much time left but we had read that, as in New York, there was an M&M store nearby. Who can resist? Well we go in search and there we find it. We laugh, fill a bag of colorful chocolates and go to the hotel.
The plane leaves at 20:30, but it takes about 30 minutes to get from Picadilly to the hotel and then, once the baggage is collected, an hour's train. Everything is rolled except for a downpour that dropped us with our bags on our backs to the station that has no name.
We cannot believe it, we go home. At the airport, everything develops normally, more or less. Then, at the security checkpoint, a girl traveling alone tells us that she can stay with us until the boarding gate comes out and we board. And there we make a friend.
We can only smile. We do not bring any grief, or nostalgia. We thought it was a wonderful trip, with its rains and bright suns, with the medieval towns, London in full action, with its cathedrals, country roads, and highways with traffic lights. Of places full of people and others totally solitary. From sandwiches in the car and dinners in pubs full of charm.