UK trip 2013

Our three-week trip to England, Wales, and Scotland.

Day 1 - London

We got into Heathrow Airport at about 6 in the morning and arrived at our hotel a couple of hours later, so still pretty early in the day. After a meeting with our London guide, who armed us with maps and transit passes, we headed out to explore.

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Day 2 - Hampton Court Palace

The second day, all of the London pre-trip people had arrived and we did our first organized excursion to Henry VIII's favorite house, Hampton Court Palace.

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Day 2 - London Eye - Night Shots

On the way back from Hampton Court, we got off of the bus near the London Eye and had lunch, then we went over to the river and took a ride on the Eye. After a bus ride to the Tower Bridge, we walked across it to our hotel and had dinner. Later, Ed went outside to take some night pictures.

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Day 3 - Walking around London

On the third day, Ed explored on foot and via public transportation, and Andrea relaxed some and checked out the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London. Later in the day, we got some excitement when the Clipper Round the World Race boats arrived at St. Katherines Dock adjacent to our hotel.

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Day 4 - All Hallows Church, Lunch at Covent Garden

Day 4 was a little slower day for us. Our program director recommended a visit to All Hallows by the Tower, the oldest church in London, and a few blocks walk from the hotel. After a nice visit there, we took a city bus to the Strand and walked a few blocks to Covent Garden, where we explored and had lunch.

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Day 5 - London Bus Tour

On day 5, our last day in London everybody had arrived for the main tour, and we did a bus tour of the city with a great local guide. On the way back to the hotel, we got off of the bus at St Paul's Cathedral, where Sunday services were in progress, so pictures inside were not allowed. After a short stay, we walked to the nearby Milenium Foot Bridge and crossed the River Thames to the Globe Theater complex, where we had lunch at the Swan Bar, then took the water taxi back to the Tower of London and our hotel.

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Day 6 - Oxford

Day 6 was a travel day with several stops. First, we stopped at Oxford, home of the University of Oxford, the oldest university in the English-speaking world. Teaching at Oxford started in 1096. The University is made of of 38 colleges and 6 academically independent "Permanent Private Halls."

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Day 6 - Stratford upon Avon, road to Cheltenham

From Oxford, we made out way to Cheltenham, our next base. On the way, we stopped to see Churchill's grave, and in Stratford Upon Avon to see all things Shakespeare.

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Day 7 - Bath

After spending the night in Cheltenham, we started day 7 touring the ancient city of Bath and its Roman sites and then going on to visit Stonehenge.

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Day 7 - Stonehenge

After visiting Bath, we continued on to Stonehenge. Lots of pictures of rocks here, even after weeding out a lot. The site is amazing to see, and looks different as you walk around it.

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Day 8 - Wales

On day 8, we started our tour in Wales, stopping in the small town of Llangollen for lunch, then a stop in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, known mostly for the length of its name, and then eventually making our way to Caernarfon, a royal port town on the Menai Straits, which open to the Irish Sea. Ed got off of the bus in the town square and visited Caernarfon Castle, and then walked to the hotel, less than a mile away. In the evening, we visited a local Welsh family with a small group of our fellow travelers.

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Day 9 - In and around Snowdonia National Park

We spent most of day 9 in and around Snowdonia National park. We took a ride up the mountain on the Festiniog narrow gauge railway, visited the quirky village of Portmeirion, and then visited the National Slate Museum.

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Day 10 - En route to York via Chester

This was a travel day from Caernarfon, Wales to York, England with a long stop in Chester, England

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Day 11 - York

We spent the whole of day 11 in York, doing lots of walking, taking a boat ride on the river, a walk on the ancient city walls, and taking way too many pictures of the beautiful York Minster, officially known as "The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of St Peter in York" .

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Day 12 - Whitby Abbey

On day 12, we did a day trip from York up to Whitby on the North Sea. Overlooking the sea are the ruins of Whitby Abbey, built around 1075 and "supressed" in 1539 by order of Henry VIII.

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Day 12 - Whitby

After exploring the Abbey at Whitby, we went down into the town to walk around and have a lunch of fish and chips. Whitby is a seaside town at the mouth of the River ESK dating back to 656, when it was called Streancehealth.

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Day 12 - Castle Howard

Our last stop of the day was at Castle Howard, one of the more famous historic English family manors. I has been used as a setting for TV shows and movies, and is a popular venue for weddings, meetings, etc, for people who can afford it.

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