Inaugural Cruise on the Norwegian Escape FAM – November 11-14,…
I recently returned from my Escorted 7 Day UK Journey with Trafalgar Tours and truly enjoyed our adventure.
On day one we met up with our group in the lobby of the Hilton Kensington for our morning three hour private coach tour of London with our local guide.
We took in a few highlights of this amazing city (Buckingham Palace, London Eye, Big Ben, House Of Parliament , River Thames, etc.). We had the afternoon at leisure to explore the city on our own so we decided to stroll to Holland Park , explore the lively Portobello Market and went to a local joint in the later afternoon for dinner.
On day two in the morning we checked out of the hotel to board the coach for our drive to Stonehenge to see the prehistoric solid standing stones. The free standing stones were about 13 feet high, which was truly unbelievable. We had free time to take pictures of these amazing monuments or to visit the café or do some shopping in the gift shop. After our time here we boarded the coach for our drive to the small quaint town of Bath where we visited the Abbey and then we had a self -guided tour of the Roman baths. We had plenty of time to explore the town of Bath before boarding the coach for our drive to cross the border to Wales heading for the town of Cardiff. After checking into the Jury’s Inn in Cardiff we had our Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant, which was formerly a church many centuries ago. It gave us time to enjoy our delicious local meal and to get to know our fellow travelers, too.
After checking out of our hotel day three would entail a full day of exploring the town of Cardiff, a private tour of Cardiff Castle which was truly amazing and then an afternoon drive to Liverpool. The Mercure Liverpool Atlantic Tower Hotel would be our home for the night. Liverpool was formerly big in shipping for importing/exporting goods and of course mostly famous for the Beatles. It is a vibrant city with all an abundant amount of restaurants, plenty of shopping and especially a great nightlife . We had free time to walk from the hotel to many cool areas and our visit to take pictures for original Cavern Club where the Beatles performed was especially memorable. We decided to get a bite to eat at a local joint Yanni’s to have the best fish and chips we have ever had thus far.
On day four we had an early morning start for our Journey to Edinburgh , Scotland which we were very excited about. Our drive would take to The Lakeside Train station for a short steam ride to Haverthwiate.
Once we arrived in Haverthwiate we then took a 40 minute scenic cruise on the Lake District on a Windermere Cruise. We would disembark in Bowness on Windermere where Beatrix Potter many tales were brought to life and this is the location of Laura Ashley’s famous Hotel The Belsfield . The charming village is lined with cafes, local boutiques and cobblestone streets. We thoroughly enjoyed our time here. In the afternoon we made a brief stop in Gretna Green which is on the English/Scottish border and was formerly the runaway wedding capital where couples would be married by the Blacksmith Priests . In the late afternoon we boarded the coach for our drive to Edinburgh/Scotland and we arrived in time to check into the Leonardo Royal Hotel Edinburgh Haymark for our two night stay.
After enjoying our buffet breakfast on day five the group gathered to meet our local specialist for our combined coach tour and walking tour of this medieval city . We drove thru the city to see some sights and even caught a glimpse of the Palace of Holyroodhouse (official Residence of the British monarchy) . The guide whisked us off the motor coach for a short walk from the city center to Edinburgh Castle.
The castle is perched atop Castle Rock with overlooks the city with reflects stunning views. We had a one hour private tour of the Castle with details on the background and history of the castle. Once the tour ended we had plenty of time to view the castle on our own seeing staterooms, the food hall, the crowned jewels, the pet cemetery and so much more….It was very magical and breathtaking….We had plenty of time afterwards for shopping on The Royal Mile and then we had lunch at a local Italian restaurant. We decided to walk back to the Hotel which was a nice way to see different areas of the city and explore on our own.
We departed the Hotel early morning on day six for our long journey from Edinburgh to venture south to the ancient cathedral city of York whose origins go back to Roman times. En route we stopped to see a small portion of Hadrian’s Wall which was once marked as the northern boundary of the Roman Empire which stretched nearly 80 miles and crossed some of the most beautiful landscapes of England…We then continued our journey and arrived into the walled city of York which was founded by the ancient Romans. Our Trafalgar Tour Guide took us on a walking tour of the city so we viewed the outside of the 13th century Gothic cathedral which had the most beautiful stained glass windows and two functioning bell towers, then we walked along the famous Shambles . We had ample free time to explore the city on our own before boarding the motor coach for the short drive to check into the Novotel York Centre Hotel for our one night stay.
On our last evening our group had the “ Be My Guest” Farewell Dinner at the privately owned Grange Hotel in York… It was a 4 star boutique style hotel which was built in 1830 with 41 historic rooms, an original sweeping staircase, two restaurants, a study room , a small gathering room and many other unique features. The meal was home cooked and very delicious . It gave our group an opportunity to spend our last night together , share our travel experiences with one another and reflect on our trip together.
On day Seven we had an early morning breakfast before our long drive back to London but our stop in Stratford Upon Avon really ended our trip on a high note. We had the opportunity to see Anne Hathaway’s cottage and then take a group picture together before heading to William Shakespeare house for our self-guided tour of the beautiful exterior gardens and then to view the interior of the house. We had plenty of time to take pictures, explore the quaint town, get a bite to eat at a local café and get some last minute shopping done before we boarded the motor coach for our return journey to London.
Overall, we had amazing and unique experiences with Trafalgar Tours, we saw and did a lot in 7 days, we meet and made new friends from many places (Canada, Boston, Maryland, Northern California, Connecticut) and mostly we have our travel memories to share with our family and friends.
After the tour ended we had a two night stay at the Rubens at the Palace Hotel in London and this really was a great way to end our vacation. The Hotel Is a Qu essential English style Hotel with an amazing It has 163 rooms . suites and apartments. The décor are in rich dark woods, Murano chandeliers throughout the Hotel, elegant Royal afternoon high tea in the Palace lounge, Full English breakfast is served in the English Grill plus they have two small intimate bars. We were lucky enough to be upgraded to a Junior Suite, which was spacious with a king sized bed, small sitting area with a small couch , writing desk, Nespresso machine, two large/long windows with an interior view, nice size bathroom with a large walk in shower,and high end toiletries. The staff was very professional, friendly, never missed a beat and always went the extra mile. The Hotel is located less than a 10 minute walk from Buckingham Palace and many other sights.. We decided on our last day to walk thru Hyde Park to Harrods which was about 35 to 40 minutes each way. Harrods was an amazing high-end shopping department, but fun to see food halls, candy halls, high end vendors and so much more. Also, I would recommend if you are staying in London for one night or more to purchase the Oyster Card, which gives you use of the tube/underground which is a great way to navigate around London. We purchased our Oyster Cards at the Tube station and you can load on any amount you like….