Monday, October 6, 2008

My first trip! =)

Hi everyone! Long time no blog! I just got back from an absolutely incredible weekend tour of Oxford, the Cotswolds, Bath, and Stonehenge. It began at 4 AM on Saturday morning. I’ve never seen that hour before; the darkness is comparable to 11 PM and the coldness absolutely unspeakable, but that did not stop us from making it to our bus into London on time. After arriving in London, we hopped on our “International Friends” mini bus of 16. 5 American students, 5 Canadians, 2 Aussies, and 4 Singaporians made up the company. The bus chatter made me feel like I was back in my days as an intern at Fusia Communications, if you catch my drift.... After some light dozing on the mini bus, which, by the way, was driven by an adorable English man named David who we were undoubtedly obsessed with, we made it to our first destination: Oxford! Debbie of Oxford Tours led us around the city, pointing out where people from her nieces to J.R.R Tolkein studied. She was the most enthusiastic woman I’ve ever met. After the tour, which brought us around museums, libraries, various colleges, and famous buildings which have been in movies that feature famous Brits from James Bond to Harry Potter, we had some free time to explore the shops in the city. Jenna, Kathleen and I all bought matching “Oxford Blue” rugby shirts, our only souvenirs of the weekend.

After our Oxford departure, we made way for the Cotswolds, a collection of adorable English villages that are pretty much untouched by anything modern, except for the cars, which now line the streets and driveways. Burton and Stoe-on-the-Wold are two similar towns filled with shops and pubs, including the oldest in all of England! It was unfortunately closed, so we popped into the tea shop next door for some jacket potatoes, a dish that is equally huge and delicious on this side of the pond. We kept saying our moms would have loved these villages! We then moved onto the residential neighborhoods of the Cotswolds. Their beauty cannot be conveyed in words, so you must all promise to tour them at some point. You can thank me later. Upper and Lower Slaughter and Bibury were utterly picturesque. Each house was cuter than the next, making the Cotswolds a spot I’d love to visit again in my later years.

After a very full day, we made it to the hotel and essentially collapsed on our beds after enjoying the best meal we’ve had since our arrival. I took Oxford Debbie’s suggestion and bravely ordered a meat pie. My life changed and I no longer think the English food is gross. This pub alone was worth the trip into the countryside!

Sunday brought some rain and another full day of touring. We visited Bath and saw the Roman Baths, which are much cooler in person than in pictures. Thought it rained during our trip, the baths are under awnings. We then strolled around the city for a few hours, noticing that it is the most Italian of any English city. No surprise there, as Bath is know as a “Roman City.” From Bath, we moved on to Castle Combe, which was my favorite stop of the entire weekend. Castle Combe is another picturesque English village, similar to the Cotswolds, but 10 times better. It’s known as the prettiest English town, and with good reason. Little streams with little ducks made this city girl want to move into one of the little houses in little old Castle Combe… for retirement, of course! After Castle Combe, we visited Lacock, a medieval town which pops up all over every Harry Potter movie. I felt famous to walk on Daniel Radcliffe’s coveted ground. We visited a Scottish Wollen Shop, and chatted it up with a little old man, who was the best thing about Lacock!

Our final stop of the weekend was Stonehenge. Though it’s essentially a huge clump of rocks, it is awesome in its own right. We got some good pictures there and then snoozed our whole way back to Canterbury… after a three hour wait for a bus home in London, of course! No complaints, though. It was a great weekend, and I recommend the touring company “International Friends” to anyone and everyone looking for a fun weekend get-a-way.

Next weekend will be spent in London, followed by the ever-talked-about trip to Wales! Can you believe how close it is?! Cheers!