England is one of the most historic and influential countries in the world. It is here that the English language was born though it is very difficult to understand them now and the Industrial Revolution began here too. It has played and continues to play a very important role in shaping the world and London, the capital is on par with New York city in having profound influence on both finance and fashion.
Day 1: We landed in London, on a Saturday afternoon to be met by the typical English weather, gloomy and drizzling. As much as we wanted clear blue skies it was also in a way very welcoming. We spent the day walking around London’s Palace of Westminster on the north banks of the Thames. We endured the rain, and got glimpses of the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben Clock Tower and Westminster Abbey. We rode on the famous London Bus and we ate near Victoria Station. Our Hotel was south of the Thames in Waterloo and it served as a great location to navigate the areas from Victoria to Westminster Abbey.
Day 2: On Sunday, we started the day early with a visit to Madame Tussaud’s and somehow everyone magically becomes years younger inside the museum. We ran from wax figure to wax figure, waxing eloquently about the accuracy of the figures. New York might have the currently most popular Madame Tussaud’s but this is the original.
We then went to Buckingham Palace for a stroll, basking in the regality of it all. In the summers one can enter the Palace and see the State rooms and the Jewel collections.
We chose instead to head to Millennium Bridge, our guide stopping en-route to show us many of London’s small gems. Millennium Bridge is the newest bridge to cross the Thames and offers unequaled views of the Thames, Tower Bridge, Globe Theatre and St. Paul’s Cathedral. We spent an hour relaxing by the bridge and touring the Cathedral. At day close we knew we had a lot more of London to see but for now had to head to Scotland.
Day 3: On our return from Scotland, we entered England near the Sefton Coast through Wales near Chester. Chester is a Roman town and is one of the most well preserved walled cities in UK. About an hour from Chester by train is Formby, a coastal town that is home to the Red Squirrel Forest Reserve and large sand dunes that dip into the sea. We spent an hour trekking in the area. On our way into Chester we stopped at Liverpool to change trains and got a glimpse of the famous English city at night.
Day 4: Another early start to the day and we went into Chester town, and walked around the ruins, through the old city, and on the banks of the River Dee. It was the perfect setting for rafting, and this thought was further strengthened by the presence of the Mark Twain showboat. The day took a more tiring route as we detoured into Wales on our journey south to the Stonehenge. By the time we reached the historic site, it had shut and we could only catch the views from behind a fence. Thank god I had my zoom lens. Stonehenge has been criticized for being nothing more than a pile of stones, but when there, the views and the patterns themselves are somehow powerful and draw you in. There are many theories to its design but the mystery just adds to its cosmic pull. We headed into Salisbury for the night.
Day 5: Salisbury is home to the Cathedral with the largest spire in the UK and is a beautiful building. The sculptures and the stained glass windows are rich in shape and color. We had to rise early to go see the monument and walk around the city but it was worth it. One of the 4 remaining copies of original Magna Carta is here and the Cathedral is also believed to have the oldest working clock in the world. We returned to London and started our day with the Change of Guards at the Palace. It starts at 11:30 am so get there early especially if you want to see the guards changing inside the palace gates. We then proceeded to the Tower of London and while we walked through the castle we were transported back many centuries. Despite the crowds the tower maintains its Middle Ages appeal.
We drove around London, catching more of the spots and in the evening went to London Bridge and the Southwark area on the South banks of the Thames for a good sumptuous Turkish dinner. London like NY has some of the best restuarants. We had seen a lot of England and knew this was just a sample, but it was enough to raise our interest in the country and left us wanting to come back in the future.
Date of Travel: August 18-19, 2007 and August 23-25, 2007
Tour Organizers: TCI and Europe Incoming (not recommended)
Travelers: Usha Balakrishnan, P. Balasubramanian, Jayanthi Balasubramanian, G.K. Raghunandhanan, Anandhi Raghu, E.V. Muthukrishnan, Vishali Krishnan, Rahul Krishnan, Rithul Krishnan, Ram Sitaram, Dharini Balakrishnan, Gautam Raja, Shwetha Shrivatsa, Karthik Raja
Author: Shwetha Shrivatsa