We settled back into London (in a new part of town) at the Astor Quest Hostel. Our first day was quite lazy as we had already seen what we wanted to in the area, so we relaxed. We went out to dinner at a local Indian restaurant-Masala Zone-and the food was utterly amazing! I had been craving Indian since we arrived and it exceeded my expectations. After dinner we went back to the room, watched a movie, and went to sleep so we would be good and rested for the morning!
Warwick Castle grounds
The following day was hands down our worst day so far. I really wanted to go to Stratford-Upon-Avon as I had a good recommendation that it was some place I wouldn’t want to miss. However to get there by train was going to be more expensive than we could swing so we decided to do a day tour from London because it was cheaper. We picked a tour that went to Warwick Castle, Stratford, through the Cotswolds, and to Oxford. As Erik really wanted to go to Oxford it was a good compromise, or so we thought. Now neither of us are really the “organized tour” type so we knew this was going to be an experience, but we were not prepared for just how bad it really was.
Our tour guide
We got on the bus at 8am and were the youngest people by about 20 years, red flag number one. We set off and the guide talked nonstop literally about nothing for the first hour of our 2 hour drive from London to Warwick, red flag number two. The guide then comes to tell us that the wonderfully cheap tickets I bought online do not include admission and that we can upgrade for the small amount of another £25 each, that flag was up and waving hard but given that we were an hour out of London our choices were limited–the guide messed it up and only charged us £18 each so that was a slight plus. We arrived at Warwick Castle to discover a small Disney tucked into the English countryside. While the castle was gimmicky, tacky, and all together terrible the grounds were very nice and as it was a beautiful day we didn’t mind sitting outside and got quite a few nice photos.
Next stop Stratford-Upon-Avon. Unfortunately it was tourist central and Shakespeare’s birthplace museum/visitors center/thing was another huge let down. The town itself was in a very pretty spot and I can best compare it to a Hampton. It was the kind of place that if I lived in the UK I would like to go to for a weekend and rent a place outside the town center, but unfortunately in our case it was another tourist trap. We had lunch and then hopped back on the bus to drive through the Cotswolds (supposedly the most beautiful countryside in England) before arriving in Oxford. Now in the Cotswolds defense it was a very nice area, but was the kind of drive that you wanted to be in your own car for so you could stop and walk around the little towns and really appreciate the landscape, as opposed to speeding through on a coach bus.
The Great Hall
The final stop at Oxford was the cherry on top of the shit sundae that was our day. It was here that we discovered that a bus from London round trip would have cost us £11. I couldn’t stop laughing upon hearing that and Erik, well he was mad. We would gladly have gone to just Oxford instead of paying quite a bit for a wasted day. Travelers Note: don’t make travel decisions late at night when you’re sleep deprived
We followed our tour guide with her ridiculous yellow umbrella around Oxford and saw the dinning room that was used to film the Great Hall in the Harry Potter movies.
When we finally got back to London we went in search of dinner, and to sum that one up quick for you, the hostel had a weird oven without temperatures and I accidentally set our dinner on fire and ruined it. So after drinking our bottle of wine we set out in search of a pub for dinner where we met a few Germans, a few Brits, and a couple beyond drunk Scott’s. It was an all around ridiculously entertaining night and made up for our terrible day.
The next morning we almost missed our train to Brussels because we mixed up the stations but we made it. There will be a recap of our time in Belgium soon.