The city of St. Andrews is approximately two hours away from the city of Edinburgh. So behind the wheels, we were off to explore the Golfer’s Oasis!
The “home of golf”, the city of St. Andrews is most famous for the its Old Golf Course because the most popular links course is the frequent host of The Open Championship, which is one of the four main championships. The sandy beach just along the course is famous for the song “Chariot of Fires” running scenes.
So with two crazy golf fans we headed straight towards the Golf Course in the city of St. Andrews. And I must tell you not knowing much about golf in particular I loved the environment and the vibe of the whole place. We spent the morning exploring the golf course, with a lot of history filled in the place we completed about an hour on the ground. Walking on the ground we headed to a small stone bridge which is very cute and famous in respect of it’s history. A very famous player had clicked a photo on the bridge when he had completed his game way before everybody which makes the bridge a photographic place to click photos.
After clicking numerous photos, we moved on to the club house to shop. So spent some time there and decided to head to the beach! Tired and hungry we did not want to delay our lunch so, we cut short our time at the beach and headed in the city to eat some delicious food.
We went to a food joint named “St. Andrew’s” and had the most delicious meal of our lifetime. Okay, so one very interesting story that happened was, we ordered our food, and it was taking little bit of time so we slept, then the food came! We had ordered the typical English meal. We enjoyed our meal and asked for the bill, as we were sitting a level above, they were taking some to get us things, so we all slept again! We must have slept peacefully for an hour so and then realized that they had not brought the bill to us yet, so we all freshened up and went down, paid the bill and left. Now after such a nice sleep, we all wanted coffee, so we headed to a nearby coffee cafe and had amazing coffee.
But our day was not over yet. After the coffee, we again headed to the beach to take in the last view of the beautiful ocean. Sat in the fresh air, watching the people go by, some playing with dogs, some group of friends enjoying themselves and some just taking a nice walk! We sat there taking in the culture of the place, which was relaxed, laid back and yet interesting!
Taking the last few moments on the beach we headed out of the city and went back to Edinburgh!
There is not much to say about the place, except for the feeling and vibe you get in the place. So here are some pictures that you can enjoy and hopefully get the essence of what we felt, while we were there!
Our next destination was the city famous for its stone-like structures! The city itself is known as the Stone of Destiny!
Let me take you on a tour of this beautiful city of Edinburgh, and this might also calm your curiosity of how to spend a day in the city of Edinburgh.
As we reached Edinburgh, we first met our host in Haymarket (a wonderful attraction of Edinburgh) who treated our palates with amazing Indian food, the traditional dal chawal! Oh what lunch, a saying came to my mind after that, “A girl can leave India, but India will never leave a girl!” That was exactly the scenario. Anyways, after having the most wonderful traditional lunch we headed out to explore the city of Edinburgh!
We first went to the Edinburgh Castle, which is located on a small hill, much above the skyline of the entire city. We noticed on the way to our castle, that there were a lot of people and a lot of police on the streets. We found it unusual even for a city like Edinburgh. So after we parked our car while walking towards the castle we asked a kind policeman about the situation. On conversing with the policeman we found out that there was a concert, which is about to start in the premises of the castle. So we hurried up the stairs to see, if we could still go inside the castle. Just outside the castle gates, the government of Edinburgh has built a stadium like structure where people can attend concerts and other events! Which I thought was quite clever.
When we reached the entrance of the castle, we saw the mighty stage which was set-up for the concert. Also, we caught a glimpse of the band which was going to perform, rehearsing they were known as “Il Divo”, never heard of them, but they sounded very good. Though they were setting up for the concert, the tourist were allowed to go inside the castle and visit. So we did that, there is only a certain distance you can go to without a ticket, after that you need a ticket. So we did not buy a ticket and went till where it was allowed without a ticket. We did not have much time and it was already evening time so we passed. If you have time and want to visit the Castle, you certainly can.
Attached to the Castle is the Royal Mile. The Royal Mile is One mile long streets, forming the main street of the Old Town. This street ends near the ocean. The street is filled with all the major points of attraction in the city of Edinburgh. So if you start walking down on this street you will find everything! Along the streets are numerous eating joints, souvenirs shops and much more! Weather, permitting you can spend all day on this street!
When you go further down the street you can find St. Giles Cathedral which is a wonder in itself! Along the street there are numerous street artists that are constantly entertaining with some or the other twists and turns, its a great fun to watch!
Just parallel to the Royal Mile is the Princes Street. This street is famous for shopping, name a brand and it is there, don’t name a brand that is also there! Want to shop head to the Princes Street!
We were very very tired of walking from the Royal Street to the Princes Street, and now we were ready to head back, but the biggest obstacle in front of us was how to go back to the car! We did not want to walk all the way back because it was quite a distance, we could see the castle from Princes Street but did not know how to take a short cut! Stuck with the decision on what to do we decided to take the part less known. And boy, am i glad we took that path!
When on the path, we entered a beautiful garden, I have no idea, if google enlists it on the attractions of Edinburgh, but it was worth a look! We were tired so to give our legs a little bit of rest we stopped on a bench and attempted to sleep, but thanks to the rains, we did not have it in our destiny. So we started walking further, it was raining but not so much, and thank the heavens, we reached our car without getting drenched.
After reaching the car we headed out to the ocean and spent sometime there before heading back home.
We also visited the University of Edinburgh, just a drive through, and the Holyrood Palace, which we visited on the last day of Edinburgh. The Holyrood Palace, is a palace for the Queen of England, its known that this Palace is her favorite place to stay in.
After experiencing the Vibrant London and on the road attractions, we headed to a more quieter place with less hustle- bustle into the district of lakes. Lake District is called so because it houses Sixteen absolutely jaw-dropping Lakes!
Packed and on the road we hopped on the Euston London to Oxenholme. We had to catch a train from Oxenholme to Windermere, and from there starts our self-drive adventures.
Tip: So if you are traveling from Virgin Trains to Oxenholme and you have a connecting train to catch, chances are that it might get late and you might miss the connecting train. But you don’t have to worry because there are trains from one stop to another quite often and the ticket is valid for the next train as well, but it works if you are traveling on the same date. (From my experience)
Once in Windermere, the town is small, not that small but relatively small, we walked down from the train station to our lodging. A beautiful sunny day with a little cloud over our heads we reached the lodging with our bags. “The Grey Wall” as the name suggests the walls were grey which gave a vintage English feel of the place. Basically our lodge was a pub and the rooms were a floor up.
We all had lunch in the Pub because we were to tired to go anywhere. After a delicious lunch we headed out for a drive to Ullster our very first lake!
After returning we headed to our rooms, freshened up and got dressed for the night. Okay, now the thing is, the FIFA World Cup going on so the Pub was full with people, and it was England who was playing. And there I witnessed the typical English sports culture, where people had drinks in one hand and celebrated every goal the team made! I was absolutely glad to witness this proper culture!
After everyone was dressed we headed out to the Lake. And oh, the whole town was DEAD silent. Whatever noise came, came from the pubs around the lake. We spent some time on the lake and then suddenly saw people coming out on the streets, which indicated that the match was over. Though there were people on the streets, still the town seemed DEAD silent. Then I realised England must have lost, and it had!
Up on our feets the next day we headed out to explore the picturesque Lake District early! Our first stop was Grasmere, as “The Grey Wall” did not give us breakfast we decided to have it there. On the way to Grasmere we saw a lake called Rydal, which was absolutely beautiful, seldom did we know hat it was just the beginning for many more awe-striking lakes to come.
Reaching Grasmere did not take very long. When we reached, everything was close. We were quite hungry and were looking for breakfast. So we parked our car a little outside the town of Grasmere and started walking into the town. We crossed the beautiful Dove Cottage on our way to the town, but did not go inside. There was a very cute place which was about to open, so while we waited for it to open, we talked to a complete stranger duo of father and son, and on talking to them we came to know that the World’s Best Gingerbread is just a few meters away. So we walked to the shop, it was a vintage shop that had absolutely delicious homemade Gingerbread, the shop was known as “Grasmere Gingerbread”. Just beside that shop was the Wordsworth Garden, so we walked through the gates and witnessed the place where William Wordsworth came to write.
The Parking of Dove Cottage
The Dove Cottage
Inside the GingerBread Shp
The Gingerbread Shop
The Gingerbread Shop
After sometime we headed to the breakfast place and had a typical English breakfast, which included, scones, tea, salmon, eggs and toast! And trust me this breakfast was quite heavy!
Tip: Salmon that they serve are usefully boiled, which according to your palate might not taste very good. But the people of UK are very customer friendly, so if you request them to bake them or fry them, they will be happy to do it!
On the road again we were now headed to Keswick where we planned to have our lunch. The roadside attractions made us stop every time! An extremely notable stop was the one we made on Thirlmere lake. There was a small 20 minutes hike on the lake which we took and enjoyed the amazing view from the top.
After experiencing the beautiful drive, we finally reached the city of Keswick! Just near where we parked was an amazing flee market. We walked along the market and to the Derwenwater, which by the way was quite a walk! The walk was not tiring and we got to see almost the whole town. Along the walk way was a beautiful garden and when we finally reached the lake, oh my, what a view! The mighty lake had a nice mountain range on the other side and a land which was accessible to people where they could sit and enjoy the view, but we all napped!
After waking up, we realised to start back on the road, and we were not hungry so ice-cream became our lunch! On the road again we wanted to take a circle of the while Lake District through scenic route, but we got lost in way too many places. So we decided to enjoy the lost route. On that route we saw multiple lake namely, Bassenwaithe, Grummock Lake which is considered one of the most beautiful lake and the last one was Buttermere.
After enjoying the most confusing and re-routed route ever, we headed back to Windermere, where we took a boat ride, we were lucky enough to get the last one! We ended our day by eating at a restaurant named Pizzeria and headed home early to pack!
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Up, up on the feet again we were off to explore the attractions which the countryside of England had to offer! The family of seven was now extended to the family of eleven as five more amazing and fun humans joined us on the trip hosted by the lovely organisers of Golden Tours.
We left early in the morning with the enthusiastic travel guides of the Golden Tours. Our first travel guides view out of the window was the 22B, Baker Street the house of the famous and beloved detective Sherlock Holmes. Heading out the city our very first stop was the Warwick Castle. It is a defence castle built in 1608.
The castle is located in a beautiful location and the preservation department has done an absolutely wonderful job in keeping the castle intact with the rugged walls telling the history of the castle. The rooms of the castle are filled with furniture demonstrating the life inside the different rooms in this castle. The wax statues everywhere showed us the different kinds of people who lived and worked in the castle.
The ambience of the castle kept things interesting for the kids, a very lovely day could be spent in the gardens by just relaxing or watching the show which the staff of the castle put up everyday! A show of canon shooting is displayed by five people working constantly to make the canon work, its old so…. Another interesting show is the Eagle show. All these shows are free to watch and take place on particular timings so make sure you attend them if you are a curious soul.
After spending ample amount of time in the beautiful Warwick castle, we all moved on to our next destination, which was the beautiful town of Stratford-upon-Avon! The main attraction other than reminiscing in this beautiful town was the small house of our very own William Shakespeare.
He was one of the eight siblings and lived and died there. He spent a very dramatic life of which you can read all about on Wikipedia! 😛 The unknown fact about the compound of the Shakespeare house is the statute of Rabindranath Tagore, commonly known as the Indian Shakespeare in England.
After enjoying the house of this writer we headed out to our last destination of the trip, which was the city of Oxford! We were fortunate enough to visit some of the campuses of the most renowned Oxford University. Tired as we all were we still had some bit of energy left here and there to explore and shop! Souvenirs from the prestigious university of Oxford were not only a must buy, but a necessity!
We headed back to London, and had the most delicious cuisine on Edqware Street in the restaurant called Al-Mubarika!
The next day came again with driving outside London city, and up in the morning we headed out to visit the wonderful Windsor Castle! Oh what a lovely castle!
The castle is not a museum but some halls which are open for public are also being used by the Queen and the rest of the family. One particular area was quarden off where no visitor was allowed was the residential area for the Royals.
The compound of Windsor castle had the Doll house which was sadly under renovation so was closed for visitors. The State Apartments were up for display. These rooms flaunted the royalty of the Royals! The beautiful crockery displayed the luxury they enjoyed and the weapon display showed off their power! They were all operational rooms. The compound also included St. George’s Chapel where the lovely Royal couple, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle got married.
The entrance of the Windsor castle has more security check than on an international airport, so make sure you either book a fast track ticket or reach super early if you have a normal ticket.
On entering the premises, bang opposite the gate is where you can pick up your audio books, make sure before heading inside that it’s working and proper, because there are no other exchange stations once you are inside the castle.
Have a fun day at castle because people who work there are super friendly and nice!
After we finished our visit of the castle, we headed out into the Windsor city, which was as lovely as the castle itself! Our hunger pans found us an Italian restaurant called “Clarence” and oh my what food! Our stomachs were full but our tastes buds weren’t a least bit satisfied!
Fortunately, as we were sitting for lunch we we’re lucky enough to witness the “Catapult” which is a display of English Airforce. The main function was held in London and Donald Trump was also there. But we did catch a glimpse of it! It was a hundred years display, and the aircrafts formed the shape of 100 and flew over our heads and also they diplayed the colors of England when they flew! It was absolutely amazing!
You ask, but you were sitting inside the restaurant how did you know they are coming? The secret to know is, if the restaurant is playing songs on radio or wifi, it will stop when the plains are passing because they put signal jammers.
After spending a lovely day in Windsor, we headed back to London and started packing our bags!
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The tiredness of the day prior had not even worn out and we were back on our feet to explore the Charming Canterbury!
Our beloved Captain, Araf Ali took up the responsibility to drive us to the town of Canterbury, which was about 2 hours from the vibrant city of London.
Our prime motive for visiting the town of Canterbury was to visit the Canterbury Cathedral which is a renowned cathedral because of the famous Saint Thomas Becket, around whose name mystery still revolves. And we were there for a special purpose and met 20 other familiar people with the same purpose!
As soon as we stepped into the town of Canterbury our eyes were left in awe-struck! The town probably had the least people but it also could be because it was a Sunday and we reached quite early in the morning. After walking a while we decided to get a cup of coffee. We stopped at Cafe Nero the cafe which probably serves the best coffee in all of United Kingdom. In that cafe we got acquainted with a couple who came into town every Sunday. They lived a little outside the town of Canterbury, for more than 30 years. This kind couple pointed us in the direction of the best offset and the most unplanned places we went to, Herne Bay!
Let me come to that a little later.
We had our coffee’s said our goodbyes’ to the wonderful couple and headed to the Canterbury Cathedral as we were there to attend the service and it was time. Standing at the gates of the Cathedral we greeted the ones who had reached us, and as we turned around we saw some more familiar faces. We greeted them and walking from far away were some more familiar faces approaching us. Every face that we greeted had a smile ear to ear and we were all delighted to be in each other’s company. We weren’t family, but it was the best family reunion one could every imagine or ask for.
After catching up with our beloved familiar faces we headed inside the Cathedral. The magnificence of the Cathedral left us all in awe! The beautiful Canterbury Cathedral surprised us with every step we took. The service was a beautiful setting with soulful prayers being sung in chorus. We sang too!
After leaving the service we all headed to explore the Cathedral. It possess too much history and mystery! You have got to visit it to believe it! The most fascinating story of all was of the Saint Thomas Becket. He was given the title of ‘Saint’ after his assassination which was apparently falsely been ordered by King Henry the second of England. The exact order of the events are still under speculation.
After exploring the beauty and the mystery of the Cathedral we all headed out to our different respective destinations. The wonderful couple had suggested us to visit Herne Bay. Initially we were supposed to go to Cliffs of Dover but we decided to take the advise of the aged couple. And thank God we did! Taking the advise felt like serendipity because we cruised into a place which was the least touristy and the most jaw-dropping of all! The beach couldn’t be more pure and the wind in our hair just re-assured of our moments there. We calmed our heads and rested our eyes beholding the vision which was in front of us!
The voices of our stomach broke our meditative state, and our captain showed us the was to Mushy Pea which was probably the place where we had the best Fish and Chips!
The wonderful day ended on an amazing note when we came back to London with memories which will definitely have a special place in my autobiography!
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Pictures: Taken by Shaheen (the Author of the blog) and Zainuddin Aarif (the authors uncle)