November 9, 2012

Side trippin, London style

One of my favorite things about Europe is how accessible it is. 
You can be having a croissant in Paris one morning,
and then a few hours later you can very well be snacking on paella in Spain. 
Between trains, boats, and $18 flights on Ryanair,
no place is out of reach on that continent. 

The UK is slightly different, 
simply because it's so large and in charge. 
But, being the adventurers that we are,
we decided to take advangtage of the time we had in London and take a few side trips to explore some other places  in England. 

Below are a few snapshots of some places that, in my opinion, are just too good to miss.

Considered to be her majesty's home away from home,
Windsor Castle is only 40 minutes away from London city center.
Catch a train from Paddington Station and make a day of it. 
Take a tour around the State Apartments,
and get a glimpse into the good life. 

Stonehenge, Bath and Lacock
Visiting England without checking out the ancient stones would be like a sin, right?
Since we knew we would be heading west to check out Stonehenge,
we decided it would be worthwhile to make a whole day of it. 
I read a lot of great reviews about The English Bus tours,
and since they offered up an itinerary that tickled our fancy, we decided to give them a try. 
Couldn't be happier with how the day turned out!

Our first stop was, of course, Stonehenge
Let's see, what can I tell you about this place that you don't already know...
not much really. 
A bunch of old rocks, assembled on a grassy knoll, in some mysterious way. 
Worth a visit?
Of course!
It's probably the most important prehistoric monument in all of Britain,
and it also offers up a great setting for a mid-morning nap. 
Our next destination was the beautiful city of Bath
I seriously fell in love with this place.
It's tiny and peaceful,
but also offers up a unique experience with stunning architecture, great shopping, and iconic attractions.
Nestled right in the center of town are the Roman Baths,
a magnificnent temple and bathing complex that still flows with natural hot water.
For a few British pounds you can purchase a glass of this acclaimed water that is supposed to be filled with beneficial minerals (and that also tastes atrocious),
or you can treat your pallets to traditional afternoon tea at the Pump Room Restaurant
This was one of the most memorable experiences for me, and I highly recommend it to anyone who visits Bath. 

The restaurant decor is impressive enough,
but when they bring out that pastry tower,
your heart will melt into a big puddle of dough. 
We opted for the Traditional Pump Room tea ceremony,
and feasted on a selection of tea sandwiches, soft cheese with smoked duck crostini, homemade scones with clotted cream and cherry tree fruit preserves, pastries
and of course, some tea. 
I dream of those pastries at night some times... 
Honestly a must if you're ever in the area!
On the way back to London we made a couple of pit stops.
I won't disclose all the spots because the tour company prefers to keep the location of the last few stops a secret, but I must share one of them!
I felt so lucky to have had the chance to wander through the village of Lacock
Founded in the 13th century, it was unbelievable to me how well it has been preserved. 
but believe me when I say I'm not the only who thought it was breathtaking. 
 The tiny streets are often used as film sets.
You may have seen it in movies like Pride and Prejudice and Harry Potter. Nbd. 

Haven't heard of Watford before? 
Me neither... until I found out that it was the official location of the studios where Harry Potter was filmed!
I've mentioned before that I am self proclaimed Pott Head,
so there was no way that I was going to miss out on visiting the Warner Brothers Studio Tour
It was everything I imagined and more. 
A true Mecca for all my fellow Harry lovers. 

We rode broomsticks, drank butter beer, and walked through Hogwarts. 
My life is officially complete!
There are so many other destinations around London that we wish we had a chance to visit..
if only we had more time. 
Oh well, there's always next year!



Karen said...

These pictures are awesome!!! So amazing to be able to see those places!

cynthia said...

I just love how "British" it all is! What a great trip. :)

Jay said...

Oh my gosh, I would be ecstatic to visit the HP set! Definitely adding that to my list!