Visiting London was not the sole objective of my English trip. I had always dreamt of exploring England in its fullest glory. I had always fantasized of venturing deep into the English heartland to come face to face with its candescent opulence, fabled history, glorious architecture, alluring countryside and the rich cultural delights..
Two full days was what I had for my English rendezvous. So after many rounds of meticulous planning and thoughtful research on English geography, here I was ready with my route plan for Day 1.
London==> Warwick Castle==> Stratford-upon-Avon==>Cotswolds==>Oxford==>London
‘Victoria Station Sir’, apt came the reply from the guy at my hotel’s reception. ‘The bus leaves from Victoria. But you better be quick, it shoots sharp at 9am’!!
And it did…..
- Warwick Castle
Leaving the gloomy London behind, I got the first glimpse of the legendary English countryside on my way into the West Midlands of the country.. A drive of close to two hours amidst the serene landscapes, there I was, standing at the gates of one of the most important medieval castles of England.
It was drizzling as I got bedazzled by the sheer grandeur and the beautiful setting of Warwick. Built in 1066 AD by the William the Conqueror, the castle is steeped into the legions of the British history. As I explored the fort compound, I could not stop myself visualizing the numerous battles, folklore & legends, and the lineage of knights and queens, which this great castle has been associated with, in its 1000 years of history.
Walking across Warwick Castle’s magnificent ramparts and into the underground dungeons is a sheer delight. I highly recommend climbing up the staircase to the top of the Princess tower. The sight of the imposing castle and the nearby charming Warwick town is spell bounding, to say the least..
The subtle charm of Stratford-upon-Avon hit me softly the moment I got down from my coach. World renowned for being the birthplace of Shakespeare, it radiated the aura of a typical English country town with some beautiful Tudor architecture, quaint streets and a laid back setting. I gradually made my way towards Henley Street, famous for housing the town’s most famous attraction..
And there I was..In front of one of probably the most significant landmark for all the literature connoisseurs; the Shakespeare House..The 16th century double storey mansion is still in good shape and contains many of his personal objects. It was here where he was born and grew up with his parents and siblings. He also spent here the first five years of his marriage with his wife, Anne Hathaway.
I spent the remaining time exploring the town on foot, trying to soak in its 800 years of rich history. Passing through many of the buildings that would have been even familiar to Shakespeare himself, was enough to get a run of goose bumps..
Leaving the beautiful Stratford-upon-Avon behind, we were on our way towards Oxford. “We are now passing through the villages of the beautiful Cotswolds”, announced the driver..And beautiful it was..The picture perfect setting of those lush rolling hills, the sleepy villages and the stone churches was a treat to the eyes.
The Cotswolds region is known for its natural beauty and villages with unusual yet beautiful stone houses. Gradually the area has expanded, and now touches the boundaries of counties like Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Worcestershire and Warwickshire.
I would have loved to go deeper into the region, but that would have meant devoting lesser time to my next destination, Oxford.
Visiting the elegant town of Oxford and its world renowned university was certainly a dream come true for me..(If not as a student, then as a tourist at least!!).
As I strolled across the university, the stunning architecture left me speechless and awestruck. In fact, I was told that Oxford contains examples of every major architectural style in England; from the Saxons to the present day!
It was like walking into a realm of architectural wonderland. Places like the Magdalen College Tower (Gothic), Queen’s College (Neo Classical), the Blenheim Palace (Baroque), and the Radcliffe Camera (Palladian) are sheer delights.
But if I need to choose one place, that showcases the majestic Oxford in its fullest glory, it has to be the Christ Church College. Made popular by the Harry Potter movie, this is certainly the go-to place in Oxford. One of the university’s largest colleges, its grandeur is there to be seen..Admiring the grand quadrangles and the elegant glass stained windows, I made my way into the famed ‘Dining Hall’, which according to me, would certainly be one of the world’s most beautiful ones.
Walking across the hall, I couldn’t help but get astonished with the long polished wooden tables, and the huge portraits, celebrating the college’s famous members like Henry VIII, Elizabeth II, Charles I, among many.
“Wish I could have studied here”..Well, watching the glum yet awe struck faces in the coach, I knew I wasn’t the only one visualizing myself throwing my graduation hat up in the air in the lawns of the Christ Church!!!
London, here I return!!!