In England, it’s common to have a month-long Easter break. That’s right, a whole month :D You’re supposed to use it to study. I did that a bit – luckily my classes are all first year, so they weren’t too-too bad. We decided that it would be good for my mom and cousin to come visit me. We could tailor a trip to our personal interests and I could see part of my family.
Trips happened sort of rapid-fire. One day I was in London watching Phantom of the Opera with my friends, the next I was headed to France to visit Kelsey, and a few days later I landed in London again to meet up with my mom and cousin, sans stopping at Canterbury. But, I made it successfully to each destination without any major disruptions, and that’s all that matters :)
The first place we went was London, of course, where we all landed. We spent ~3 days there wandering around.We popped past “the sights” but spent most of our time looking at other classic London places. We wandered around Piccadilly Circus for quite a while – my favourite place in all of London. You can really feel the “life” there.
Afterwards we went to Hamley’s – a HUGE, 7 floor toy store – where we spent…a long time :)
The next day we went to Cambridge, woo!! It was even more beautiful than I’d expected. I liked it much better than Oxford, though I can’t really put my finger on why. I think it’s the proximity to the river that Cambridge has that I love. That and the larger amount of vegetation make Cambridge seem much more natural and calm. The very first thing we did was go on a punting tour – a classic thing to do at Cambridge, and something I’ve always wanted to do there. It was one of those rare peaceful moments in life. Floating down the river was just utterly relaxing.
Afterwards, we explored the city of Cambridge. We spent a good bit of time walking around the local market, then continued on to the city itself, popping in random little shops as we walked around. We grabbed a bite to eat in a local pub before we left, then headed back to London.
Upon arriving back in London, we decided it would be cool to go to Harrod’s (a huge, deathly expensive department store). We spent a couple hours in there, wandering around all the different sections.
We decided to head back early that night to prepare for the next day. That was nice in that it allowed us to relax for a bit. On our way back to the hotel, we began a tradition of grabbing snacks as a mini-supper from the convenience shop, so I was able to introduce my mom to a few of my new favourite foods.
As we left our hotel the next day, we saw fans, photographers, and reporters outside St. Mary’s hospital. Kate hadn’t gone into labour yet, but they were all prepared!Then, we decided to go to Borough Market, an immense food market in central London. It’s really cool to wander around and see just what all is there, but we also grabbed a small variety of food for lunch.
Afterwards, we did something I’ve wanted to do for years – ride on the London Eye. It’s such a symbol of London, and you get great views. It is a bit pricey, however ordering online ahead of time helps. I’d like to go up in the Shard someday also, however it’s also expensive, so I’ll have to wait on that :)
We had planned on going to see a play in the West End that night, but I suggested we tour the Houses of Parliament. My mom said I could either do the play or the tour – as much as I love plays, touring Parliament really seemed like a special opportunity. It was particularly cool to visit after taking my Modern British History class – I felt like I had a much greater appreciation for it.
You see statues of Lions and Unicorns everywhere – the lion symbolizes England, and the unicorn symbolizes Scotland (Wales is the red dragon, and Ireland doesn’t have a national animal).
The next day, we took a train to Oxford. We set our stuff down in the hotel, and immediately after headed back to the train station to go to Stratford-upon-Avon (Shakespeare’s birthplace). The train ride was adventure enough we accidentally got off a stop too early, where the trains rarely come. Mom wasn’t happy. Luckily though, there was a bus that ran to the station, so we caught it to town centre. It was cool to see Shakespeare’s birthplace, but there wasn’t a ton else in the town. I liked wandering around though, plus the architecture was cool, so I enjoyed it.
That night, we ate dinner at “The Eagle and Child” aka “The Bird and the Baby,” a place frequented by Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. I’d been there on a previous trip to Oxford, but my mom was eager to try it and it’s really a cool place.We spent a full day in Bath the next day. We’d planned on doing 1/2 a day there and 1/2 a day in Cardiff, but quickly decided that that just wasn’t going to work for either place. Bath was an absolutely beautiful city. Every building is built from a honey-colored limestone (like the Cotswolds), giving the city a warm and unique appearance.
The hop-on-hop-off bus tour proved to be an efficient way to see and learn about the city. After taking the tour, we walked around the city, popped in a few random different shops, and went to the Roman Baths.
My cousin added so much humour to our trip. At one point she fell, terrifying us all, but decided to reenact the moment a minute later for a photo op.
The next day was one of my favorite sightseeing days of the entire trip. In case you don’t already know – I am a HUGE Doctor Who fan. So what else am I going to do when I find myself near Cardiff other than see the sights? It’s cool to be able to watch a Doctor Who episode and say “yo, I’ve been there.”First off, we went to Dunraven Bay, aka Doomsday beach, the main place I wanted to see. It was a long train ride to get there (I had to beg my mom to go) but it was oh, so worth it. Getting to it was an adventure though. A lady on the bus trying to be helpful told us that we’d arrived at our stop, when we actually still had 2 miles left to go. Mom wasn’t happy. She told me we had to book it to the bay in order to make the next bus which came in an hour. So, we walked as fast as we could, taking pictures as we walked. Finally, we arrived at the bay, and I climbed down to stand where Billie Piper had once stood, clambering back up as soon as I had gotten there. We ran to the bus stop missing the bus by seconds. Mom wasn’t happy. Since we missed the bus anyway, it would have been nice to spend a bit more time walking and taking pictures and appreciating Dunraven Bay :/
Next off, we went to Llandaff (population 8,997…I don’t think they get many tourists) aka Amy and Rory’s hometown of Leadworth. The Cathedral Green features in the Eleventh Hour.
Then, we headed back to Cardiff central to see some locations from the Rose Tyler era.
For an afternoon snack, we took a 1-car train to Cardiff bay and went to a place called Eddie’s Diner – the location at which the Doctor delivers his …”invitations”… to River, Amy, and Rory. And we sat in the same booth they did!
And just because you’re having a day full of Doctor Who doesn’t mean you can’t still reference Harry Potter. The Knickerbocker Glory we split was delicious.
And so concluded the southernmost part of our trip!