Our two-week extraordinary England adventure was one of the most memorable times of my life. How's that for extraordinary!? But why, you might ask? Well, it was the first time I had ever step foot on European soil. Sure, I had been outside of The States before (Canada, Mexico, and several Caribbean island nations), but now I was in the land written of in textbooks! I was in England! Kings and Queens, castles, knights, Her Majesty's Armed Forces (and that time when we kicked their butts in our little Revolution), Princess Di, the British Rock Music invasion, and so much more! England! I just could not get my head around it at first. Finally, we left the airport! lol :-D
We ignored all of the advice about jet lag and headed straight to Stonehenge! We were too amped up by our desire to see and do and experience! So off we went, and it was terrific. I knew I would love it because I love ancient stuff, but even my wife was blown away, standing in the shadow of Stonehenge. Do not listen to the naysayers - go to Stonehenge!
Our next stop was Wells, UK and to the Wells Cathedral...which was closed. :-( Alas, we had spent too much time in Avesbury and Amesbury, and we missed it. There is always next time.
We finished day one by checking into our hotel in Bath, UK. Bath is, to this day, still one of my most favorite cities on the planet. If I plan a trip for you, you can bet you are going to Bath! Our first real meal in England was at a place called "The King of Wessex" which is a JD Wetherspoons pub. We had not yet realized that Wetherspoons is basically their version of our TGI Fridays, but it did not matter - we loved it! Order at the bar, pay first, tip a few coins, and your food will be brought out to you? What!? So different! But hey, when in England... Oh, and did I mention the delicious English beer yet!? Heaven!
After Bath, we worked our way through the many different towns of the Cotswolds - designated as an "Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty." If ever there was a place where the word "quaint" could not be overused, it is the Cotswolds. Such a lovely area to stroll and have Afternoon Tea (or High Tea - you will learn the difference). And drink beer!
Next up, days of debauchery and laughter and beer (I am quite sure we are not welcome back in a few places) with a little learning and exploring mixed in, with our friends Kerry and Mike from Cheshire, UK. They were gracious enough to let us stay with them, and I would highly recommend the same for you. (Not sure they would agree though. ;-) lol) We toured their hometown a little and met the family, they taught us the proper English language (a.k.a. Brit slang and sayings), and then took in the neighboring Chester - an ancient Roman walled city. You know my propensity for anything ancient by now, so you know I had to see it. And drink more beer!
Following Chester, we took some time in Conwy, Wales - to visit Conwy Castle - and in Liverpool, England - to visit the birthplace of some "mop top" band everyone has been ranting about. Both stops were a lot of fun and very enriching indeed. Of course, I did not skimp on the beer!
Then we all jumped in the car and headed up to York, UK. Wow! What a town! It is hard to describe the experience of being in York accurately. The leaning buildings, the stories of blood-filled streets, the Vikings, the ghosts... Ghosts, you say? Oh yes! Wait and see for yourself, my friends! But maybe it was just the beer!
We parted ways after York and took the train through the beautiful English countryside, awash in sunlight (not that English rain everyone kept promising me), down to London. Like our final day in Cologne, Germany, we also only had one day to explore London. That was a mistake! Being from New York, we made the error in thinking that London and New York would be similar enough and a quick peek should cover it. Wow, were we ever wrong! Sure, they both have world-class dining and entertainment, but London has just a few wee years more history than New York. We grabbed a lightening-fast tour with an exceptional tour guide during the day and finished the day with a beer tour! Naturally!
The moment I returned home, I swore I would one day go back to England. I loved my time there and wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone. Just don't forget the beer!