After months of wondering, worrying, planning and packing the big day had finally arrived. Waking up early at 5:30
Location, Location, Location
Once deep inside the airport (unable to hail a cab easily), Kelly handed each of us an envelope with our page-protected itinerary. Imagine our surprise when we realized we wouldn’t need the google translate app we downloaded on our phones.
We were headed for ten days to explore the United Kingdom. Our first stop was London for two full days. After that, we would pick up a rental car at the airport (the only hiccup on our trip) and explore the Cotswolds for three days. During this time we would take a day trip to Bath and spend the morning at the spa. The final leg of our vacation would include a stop at Stonehenge, a short ferry ride and then three days on the Isle of Wight. Here is a quick recap of our ten days abroad!
Day One: Traveling to London started early with arriving at O’Hare just after 7 am. Having only traveled overseas via overnight flights, I was excited to see how leaving in the morning in Chicago and arriving after 10 pm local time in London would feel. Honestly, it worked out quite well and would easily pick an early flight again! Three movies and reading through the itinerary kept me awake and was able to fall asleep once settled at the hotel. This made for a full, well-rested day once we went to explore London.
Day Two: Waking up at technically midnight-thirty Chicago time but bright and early 6:30 am London time was the start to our first full day in London. Our hotel location was just north of Kensington Park and was an easy walk to the Bayswater Tube Station. This was our launching point for our adventures over the next two days. We had a quick breakfast at a local eatery (nothing fancy and not memorable). Looking outside the rain had started and during a break in the clouds decided to quickly run back to our hotel to grab raincoats and umbrellas. So glad we did – the rest of the day it was dry, sunny and beautiful. Our first destination was the Tower of London and it did not disappoint. We then traveled further into London, having lunch at a local pub (first fish & chips of the trip), then over to the National Museum and then a long walk back to the hotel via a stroll through Kensington Park.
Day Three: The next morning was more sightseeing – starting with the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. It also happened to be the weekend of the London marathon, so there were quite a few people hoping to catch a glimpse. After that, I walked around St James Park, Westminster Abbey, and Parliament before heading back to the hotel to change. We planned an afternoon tea at Kensington Palace Pavilion and it did not disappoint. A stroll through the garden helped work off the scones, sandwiches and tea cakes. We had to burn those calories as we had dinner planned at Darwin Brasserie at the Sky Garden. The view from the 36th floor overlooking London was breathtaking. We packed quite a bit into our last full day in London.
Day Four: Our next leg of the vacation took us to the Cotswolds. This is an area in south central England that has been classified as “Area of Outstanding Beauty”. That’s an understatement. The rolling hills and storybook towns are exactly how I pictured driving through the English countryside. After we picked up our rental car back at the airport, we started the journey from the Dockey Wood at the Ashridge Estate in
Day Five: A day of exploration for us in the Cotswolds. We started the day with homemade breakfast of scones, porridge,
Day Six: We woke early, had tea and scones at the cottage and then hit the road to Bath. This town did not disappoint – in both architecture or relaxation. We had four hours at the Thermae Bath Spa to enjoy the open-air roof-top pool,
Isle of Wight
Day Seven: We had to leave our little cottage and start our drive south. On the way towards the Isle of Wight we detoured and stopped to visit Stonehenge. The size of the stones is not captured in photos – how were they able to place them all and where did the stones come from??? So much mystery in the middle of an open field. After a quick lunch and shopping at the gift shop, we were on our way to the ferry crossing at Lymington. The crossing, thankfully, was short, smooth and uneventful – and I could see land at all times so no panic set in.
Day Eight: We now awoke in Ventnor, on the Isle of Wight with the
Day Nine: Our last full day was all about relaxation and downtime. We had breakfast at the apartment. Then explored the coastal path west and hiked over seven miles (yep, that’s us, taking it easy). We had a late lunch in town, watching two chefs make everything to order. We then finished wandering through town, buying out scones at a local bakery, enjoying the best local ice cream and returning to the apartment for a lazy evening overlooking the water as the sun set on our vacation.
Day Ten: All good things must come to an end. Our end started early,
This doesn’t even scratch the surface on what we did during our time in England. There is SO much more to gush about this adventure that one little post isn’t enough. Over the next few weeks, you’ll read more on our trip. The accommodations! The food! The adventures! Stay tuned!