Europe

Day 2: Stonehenge and the Cotswolds by Míriam

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On Sunday we meet early in the morning to go on an excursion. The idea was to go to Stonehenge in the morning and in the afternoon visit some of the villages in the Cotswolds region, near Oxford and considered the heart of England.

From Oxford to Stonehenge there is just over an hour's drive, although you can also reach Salisbury by train and take a bus to Stonehenge, or go by bus directly from London (which leaves from Victoria bus station). When we arrive, we leave the car in the parking area, for which you have to pay 3 pounds that you then discount when you buy the ticket, which costs 6.60 pounds. Together with the ticket, they give you a free audio guide.

Stonehenge

The monument is very tourist today and it is forbidden to approach the stones (except during solstices). Perhaps the fact of appreciating the construction from a distance makes it not look as big as I thought (at least this was a bit my impression). The guide's explanation was very interesting, since its construction in several phases, theories about its use as an astronomical observatory, religious temple or funerary monument, and other curiosities, as references in various literary works and legends. After the visit, we bought something to eat at the food stop next to the entrance and sat down to make our little makeshift picnic. In the surroundings of Stonehenge everything is countryside, so it is easy to find a place to picnic. I bought a good piece of homemade shortbread for dessert. I was delicious, but with half I had enough; the rest, for the snack!

Traditional Woodstock CottageWoodstock Poster

After lunch, after 2 pm, we returned to the car to go to the Cotswolds. We had a good list of towns to visit, but since we had a good piece of road, we chose two towns near Oxford. Our first stop was Woodstock, a charming little village with cottages, flowers, secret passages covered by vines and a spectacular palace that surprised us. We walked around the town, stopping to see the houses, browsing a candy and cupcake shop ... and falling into the temptation of their ice cream with very English flavors: mint and chocolate, fudge ... In Woodstock, as a friend had informed us from Júlia, there is the Blenheim Palace, so before we left we wanted to visit it. We took the car and headed to the entrance to the palace park. It was after 5 in the afternoon and visits to the palace were about to end. We also wanted to visit the park, but the entrance cost £ 4 per person! We thought about it a bit, but in the end we decided to enter. The guard at the entrance of the park, a young boy, asked us how many we were going and if there were any children, to which Júlia replied "no, but we are a bit like children". We liked the boy. We asked him where he was from, because his accent was not the typical British. Australian? Canadian? The answer: Polish, he had only been in England for 5 years and was studying at the theater school. As we made him laugh a little after a boring day watching the entrance to the park, he only charged us two tickets for adults and two for children (and we saved one ticket!). The price for visiting the whole complex (the park, the palace and the gardens) is £ 17.50. Upon entering the park we realized its immensity. There was a lot of countryside, a lake in the middle with a stone bridge, and at the bottom of the entire palace. The impression was a bit like being in one of Jane Austen's novels, where the protagonists were picnicking in the countryside in an ideal environment ...

The Blenheim Palace ... ... and its gardens

Blenheim Palace was a gift from England to the first Duke of Marlborough for his victory against the French and Bavarians. There was also born Sir Winston Churchill, a descendant of the same Duke. The building was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987.

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