My very first adventure overseas was to London. I was so excited and nervous to be flying over the vast Atlantic Ocean. This was something I had wanted to do for as far back as I can remember. There were so many things on my mental “To Do” list. Once our plane ticket reservations were confirmed, I worked on our “itinerary” for months. Yes, months! I thought to myself… if I don’t ever get to go back… what do I want to see and do the most? Then I started researching and compiled my list.
With that in mind, hop on board for a short and sweet synopsis of our trip to London. Jammed packed with all sorts of fun things to do in this exciting city!
As soon as my hubby and I got off the plane (I barely slept on the red-eye), I was wired and ready to go. The fact that I hadn’t slept in 24 hours didn’t stop me. This was my moment, this had been what I had been waiting for! My first trip to the U.K. and then following that, a high speed ride on the Chunnel to Paris (but that’s for another entry J). We made our way to our hotel, dropped off our things and ate a quick breakfast before excitedly heading out.
Each day was packed with all sorts of fun adventures and of course, partaking in some quintessential London activities. A must-do was to take one of their famous black cabs (which were roomier than I had thought), and get our picture taken by (or in) about a hundred red telephone booths. This never got old during our week long stay. My husband and I had fun pointing them out whenever we saw them. I even bought a cute coin bank in the shape of their iconic red telephone booth as a souvenir.
When travelling to a foreign country, I like to get a sense of their history and culture. But, also make sure there is plenty of time for the hot spots, tourist stops and anything else fun. My husband and I stayed in the city for our entire stay and took guided bus tours for day excursions visiting many beautiful and historic landmarks. It really is nice including tours when travelling in a foreign country. There are so many to choose from and the options seem endless. You are sure to be able to find one that fits your needs. It’s a nice and relaxing way to travel around without having to rent a car, figure out where you are going, wait in line (when with a tour, you breeze through all of that) and they know the traffic. They know what time to visit and also when to avoid. They take the hassle and guesswork out and you and your family can just enjoy the day.
One of our excursions took us to see the Roman Baths, Stonehenge and Windsor Castle. Seeing the beautiful ancient Roman Baths and their highly advanced (some of which is still used today) aqueduct system was truly amazing. This is one of the best preserved Roman remains in the world. The city of Bath is stunning. Their Georgian architecture is gorgeous and if given the chance, be sure to take a walk around the city and soak it all in. No pun intended. J
Stonehenge was amazing and larger than expected. You just can’t get a feel for how large it is from magazines and TV and I was literally overwhelmed by the magnitude and presence of this location. I have always wanted to go to England and this was one of those places that I always felt like I would never get the chance to see. And when I did, I was overcome. I was actually drawn to tears when I saw it. Even after walking through a cheesily painted tunnel to get to it, hehe. Whenever I saw or read anything featuring Stonehenge, it always looked like it was in the middle of nowhere. It was surprising to see this wasn’t completely true. There are roads that run by it, and pretty close too. Although, that didn’t detract from how impressive this site truly is.
Windsor Castle was interesting and definitely more commercialized than expected. Surprisingly, what looked like the only way to the castle was through what was basically a shopping mall and a few eateries. I was shocked! I totally wasn’t expecting that. Once you get past all of that, the grounds really are amazing and the castle is huge. Windsor Castle is an official residence of The Queen of England and is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. Pretty impressive!
Another tour we took was to see the Cliffs of Dover, Dover Castle, and Canterbury as well as the beautiful Canterbury Cathedral. The Cliffs of Dover were breathtaking and majestic. They reach up to 300 ft in height and stretch for 10 miles east and west of the town of Dover. The chalk consists of seashell fragments and small sea organisms. If you are visiting on a clear day, you can see France! My hubby and I walked down to the shore and took in the beautiful site. We had lunch at a local hotel restaurant that overlooked the ocean and I tried their traditional fish and chips. It was super delicious and seemed like the perfect meal while looking out over the English Channel.
Dover Castle is the most iconic of all English fortresses. We climbed the Great Tower, took a tour of the Secret Wartime Tunnels and Underground Hospital, and wandered around the property. There were great views of the grounds and water from many different locations. I can only image how intimidating this large and solid fortress must have looked to anyone looking to conquer this location.
Canterbury was originally built by the Romans and has cobbled streets and timber-framed houses. Their beautiful Canterbury Cathedral was founded in 597 A.D., and contains intricate carvings and stained-glass windows. This beautiful and iconic church is actually the headquarters of the Church of England. This has been an important site for pilgrimages because of the death (murder) of Thomas Becket. After Pope Alexander canonized him, he was elevated to sainthood and his shrine became the most important place in the country for pilgrims.