Cotswolds, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Oxford, Warwick Castle

I took ANOTHER day trip (I hope you guys aren’t getting sick of me saying that) with the Golden Tours company. This tour really tried to squeeze a lot of things in one 10 hour day! We began with Warwick Castle, moved on to a quick Stratford-Upon-Avon visit, and drove through the Cotswolds on our way to Oxford. Definitely an action-packed day!

Warwick Castle has become one of my favorite castles that I have visited (and I have visited a lot!).

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It’s now owned by Madam Tussauds Group (yes, the Wax Figures group), so it is definitely a bit touristy, but fun and interactive. They’ve definitely made it kid friendly, and even people who don’t know anything about history or even like history would enjoy it!

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The exhibits were wonderful (and sometimes creepy). This horse moved, which I was not expecting, and scared me half to death!

Like all structured group tours, time is always limited, so we only had a little over an hour to explore the castle and its grounds, which was not nearly enough time! So I had to breeze through a lot of the exhibits. It didn’t help that a school was having a field trip at the same time as our visit, so we had to deal with overly excited but moving way too slowly kids.

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View of the town from the top of the tower:

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We then headed to Stratford-Upon-Avon, birthplace of William Shakespeare!

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I visited this city back when I first studied abroad in London 4 (!) years ago. I was taking a class on Shakespeare, and we took a trip to this city to see Richard III at the Swan Theater. If you ever get the chance to see a play there, I cannot recommend it enough! The Royal Shakespeare Company did a fabulous job, and although I’d never been that much of a fan before the show, I was hooked after that! To this day, that is hands down one of the most mesmerizing performances I’ve seen.

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Shakespeare’s characters are everywhere!

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Swans: pretty, but pure evil.

We only had an hour (ahhhhh!!!), which is not enough time to do anything, really. I went with my friend Jackie, who has been to Stratford numerous times, so we decided to relax and have some tea. She took me to The Fourteas, a delightful cafe with a 1940s World War II theme. The walls were covered in WWII posters and memorabilia, the waitresses were dressed in gorgeous 1940s dresses, and the music was wonderfully nostalgic. I had tea and scones, and Jackie and I had a lovely little tea party!

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By the time our tea was cool enough to drink, we quickly gulped it down and rushed back to the bus.

We passed the birthplace of Shakespeare on our trot back. I didn’t have time to go inside, so next time I visit that needs to be a priority!

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While we were waiting for the bus to pick us up, I couldn’t resist snapping this shot. So quintessentially English….

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About twenty minutes into our journey towards the Cotswolds and Oxford, one of the passengers on the bus realized she had left her jacket (with her cell phone in the pocket) somewhere in Stratford. After a lot of pleading, we turned the bus around (not an easy feat on back roads) and went back. Luckily, she found it fairly quickly, and then we were off again.

Now forty minutes behind schedule, the bus driver had to speed down winding back roads. I get bus sick fairly easily, so even though I had taken medicine, I still got quite sick. Sadly, during the part of the trip I was most looking forward to I was concentrating so hard on keeping my lunch that I missed most of the drive through the beautiful Cotswolds.

After a long and nauseating bus ride, we finally arrived (late) at Oxford. Because we were so behind, we were given a very quick tour of the major parts of the city, and then had less than an hour to walk around, grab dinner, and use the restroom before meeting back at the bus for London.

I’ve also visited Oxford before, but I was hoping that I could explore the city more on this trip, which unfortunately did not happen. I just got to re-see the spots I had already visited, but at least I got to go!

Oxford is such a beautiful town, and full of snazzy dressers! Seriously, the amount of tweed I saw n the short amount of time I was there was astounding!

Oxford University is actually a collection of 38 colleges, which are scattered throughout the city. It is definitely a student town!

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Bodleian Library:

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Hertford Bridge, or as most people call it, the Bridge of Sighs, because of its resemblance to the one in Venice, Italy. The original bridge got its nickname because it was the last view of the city convicted criminals saw before they were imprisoned, and supposedly would sigh at their last sight of the city’s beauty. A less depressing legend promises that you will be granted eternal love and happiness if you kiss your partner on a gondola at sunset as you ride under the bridge while the bells of St. Mark’s Campanile ring.

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More of Oxford:

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Even though it was a Friday night, our bus missed the rush hour traffic, and we made it back in an hour (basically unheard of) and were in London by 7pm!

 

 

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