England & Ireland - 2003

There were two trips to England in 2003.  There was the family European trip we do every year, and there was the trip with Mikey and me in November of 2003.  For the family vacation, we decided to take a trip again to Ireland as part of our yearly trip to Europe.  Read below to find out more about these fun trips.

England - 2003 (Family Trip)
England - 2003 Pictures

Ireland - 2003 (Family Trip)
Ireland - 2003 Pictures

England - 2003 (Mikey Trip)
England - 2003 November Pictures


England - 2003 (Family Trip)

Welcome to our trip description of England as part of our European England and Ireland 2003 trip.  Decided to spend a week in England again, but this time focusing more on Bath, Warwick, and the Cotswolds since we really hadn't been back to Bath since 1999 and it was on a day trip by coach.  We left on June 5th and our trip began as usual with a day's recovery by riding around in an open-top double-decker bus on June 6th (a Friday).  We use this approach to reduce the effects of jet lag and an easy way to get around London since the sight-seeing bus allows us to hop-on and hop-off when convenient.  There is also a Thames river tour included as part of the package.  We used the hop-on/hop-off bus to tour London yet again, but got off at the Tower of London to walk around from the outside, take a few pictures, and then get on the Thames River tour to take some pictures of the riverfront area.  This is a relaxing way to see the city and walk when ready since we are quite tired from the 8 hour flight from Denver to London.

Learned a B&B Location Lesson
I drove to Bath on June 7th (a Saturday) and we stayed at a B&B that is outside of the downtown area of Bath.  The place was quite nice, but I learned another valuable lesson when staying at a B&B.  If you think it's important to be close to the center of the city or pubs and restaurants, be sure the B&B is within easy walking distance.  If it isn't close, you will have to either drive to town, or take a taxi.  I didn't know how far the B&B was from the city of Bath, but it turned out far enough that we needed to take a taxi in to the city for the several days we were there.  This added about 8 Pounds each way (16 Pounds per day) to the price of the B&B since our legs were tired from all the walking in Bath.  I repeated this same mistake in the Cotswolds as well, although we couldn't take a taxi due to its rural location, we were forced to drive everywhere.  Some folks like being away from the noise of the city, so the B&B location isn't a problem, but to those folks that like to go to a pub for some good beer, driving won't be an option.  One upside to the B&Bs that are slightly out of town is that they have free parking that is usually safe.  Daily parking costs can be quite expensive in a city like Bath.

Bath and Castle Combe
We spent a lot of time in Bath and the surrounding area seeing such sights as the Roman Baths, the Bath Museum of Costume, Museum of Bath At Work, and Castle Combe.  The Roman Baths have a nice self guided tour (you listen to one of those electronic telephone looking gizmos that gives the history by pressing buttons on the handset).  Very interesting, and of course, very old.  The next day we walked to the Bath Museum of Costume to see their fine collection of historic clothes starting from the late 1500s and up through present day.  Then it was off to the Museum Of Bath At Work.  This is a somewhat odd museum although it is still interesting.  Feels like it's run by just a few people, with a simple tour of the museum done by a local.  The museum shows 2000 years of earning a living while telling the story of the city of Bath since Roman times.  It includes the history of "fizzy" water dating from the 1800s by Jonathan Bowler who described himself as a "General Engineer, brass founder, gas fitter, locksmith, and bell hanger."  The equipment that was used can still be seen today.  You should check out this somewhat strange museum.

Later in the day we took a tour of Bath using the "Bizarre Bath" walking tour.  This is a good walking tour late in the day with plenty of humor.  We visited the ancient village of Castle Combe on our way out of Bath towards the Cotswolds.  It's about a 12 mile drive northeast from Bath to this quaint village that is very picturesque.  The houses look similar to those found in the Cotswolds, probably due to the wool history of this area of England, and are quite old.  There really isn't a castle any more (some remnants up on the hill above town), but there is the Church  of Castle Combe dating from the 1200s with an interesting cemetery, and a river known as "Bybrook" that was used at one time to power the Woolen mills.  The church has had some restoration, and is still a nice site to visit.  There is a tomb in in the church of a knight known as Walter de Dunstanville dating from 1270, in armor with his legs crossed at the knees which indicates that he fought in two crusades. There is also a lion at his feet that indicates he died in a battle. The "Combe" part of the name refers to the narrow valley where Castle Combe is located.  It's a very wooded area, at least where the village center is located, and is quite peaceful.  After taking some pictures and strolling around the village, we headed for our B&B in the Cotswolds.

Cotswolds - Mickleton
The last time I was in the Cotswolds we stayed in Stow, but we really didn't see much of the area so we decided to have a return visit to the area.  The Cotswolds are primarily known for their historical woolen industry and the quaint old villages with thatched roof homes.  We arrived at our B&B (Brymbo B&B) located in Mickleton in the late afternoon after having driven there from Bath and getting lost in a couple of places along the way.

Mickleton is about 10 miles from Stratford-upon-Avon and 5 miles from Chipping Campden.  The owners at Brymbo were very nice folks, and if staying for 3 nights, they will take you on a guided tour around the Cotswolds.  We didn't stay for that long so we didn't get the tour, but there were others at the B&B that did, and they raved about it.  I didn't know much about the area so I didn't know that our B&B was not within walking distance of a village where we could eat at restaurants and have some fine ale at a pub or two.  It's located in a peaceful part of the countryside in a farming setting in a more modern home.  We felt as though we were guests at someone's house while staying in bedrooms on the other end of the house. The folks that run it are quite nice, offering us lots of pamphlets, books, and advice on what to see while in the area.  There is a pub within easy driving distance that has some of the best food I've had in England. It's called "The King's Arms" and not only served excellent food, but also had a variety of ales (watch out for Pig's Ear or Speckled Hen, these beers are potent - but good).  Walking to the pub from the B&B would probably be a bit dangerous since there are no street lights and the road has almost no shoulder.  So if you are a couple that wants to drink at the pub, someone gets to be the designated driver while the other one drinks.

We decided to visit Warwick and Kenilworth castles while home-based in Mickleton, since they aren't very far away.  It was rainy at Kenilworth which made it hard to take good photos due to poor lighting conditions, but the castle is a beautiful ruin and well worth seeing.  We will definitely go back to this castle again.  Warwick castle is a major attraction, so you can never go wrong touring the castle and roaming the upper walls while taking pictures.  The nearby Warwick cathedral is also very much worth a visit if you have enough time.  On one of our days, we drove to Stratford-upon-Avon looking for a laundry since we needed to clean some clothes, but the only one in town (we were told this, can this be?) had hot water problems and was closed.  We drove around the small town and eventually headed back to Mickleton where we walked around the church and a few streets waiting for the King's Arms to open.

I think the problem we ran in to while staying in Mickleton was that the experience was not what we expected and it threw us off.  We were thinking it might by like Stow where you can walk around some shops, maybe eat and drink at a pub or two in the evening, and then go back to the B&B.  Instead, it turned in to a driving experience where we had to drive to do anything.  We ended up seeing the castles, but basically found ourselves waiting for our time to run out so we could move on to the next destination.  I'd suggest that if you want to stay in one of the Cotswolds villages rather than on the outskirts in a more rural setting, you should probably look around Stow or Chipping Campden since there are quite a few places to stay that are within easy walking distance of restaurants and pubs.  If you are looking for a centralized place to stay somewhere quiet, with very nice hosts and a good breakfast, and driving everywhere isn't an issue, Mickleton and the Brymbo B&B may fit you just fine.

Warwick and Kenilworth Castles
We decided to visit Warwick Castle again as well as the Kenilworth Castle ruins.  Warwick is a very picturesque castle that is pretty much intact, while Kenilworth is in ruins, but one of the best ruinous castles in England.  We watched an archery demonstration at Warwick Castle (the archer was pretty good) and a knight fight with swords that was entertaining.  This is a historic area of England which was home to the Earls of Warwick that dates back to the late 1000s.  You can now book your tickets to the castle on the Internet to avoid long lines in the summer since this is a very popular place to see one of the finest medieval castles in Europe.  Don't forget to stop by the Warwick Cathedral since it too is a historic site and well worth the visit.

Kenilworth Castle, although in ruins, has one of the most interesting historical backgrounds of all the castles in England (the Tower of London is probably the most interesting).  It was built in the early 1100s, and damaged quite a bit by the end of the 1600s when it was used on more than one occasion as a castle for uprisings, in particular the Civil War in the late 1600s.  I think they got tired of the sieges that were necessary to get rid of dissidents and ended up draining the lake that was nearby and tearing down the castle walls.  Probably the most famous person to occupy the castle was Robert Dudley who was a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I.  The castle ruins have a reddish color to them that even in rain, is still beautiful to see.  While surveying the site and the surrounding countryside, it isn't hard to imagine the former beauty of this important castle.  I highly recommend seeing the Kenilworth Castle ruins.  I have a few pictures of the castle ruins on my pictures page found in the links section at the top of this page.  I also liked one of the pictures so much that I made a photo and have it framed in my Family Room.

We drove back to London from Mickleton as part of our continuing vacation trip, next stop - Ireland.  Be sure and check out our England 2003 trip pictures to see some of the places I referenced above.



Ireland - 2003 (Family Trip)

This was our second trip to Ireland (visited the south again) and thought I would take the kids back to one of their favorite countries since they were a bit younger the last time we were there and I wasn't sure how much they remembered.  We left for Dublin on June 12th and decided to stay at our old favorite - Abrae Court in Rathgar which is just outside of Dublin.  We only spent one night before we headed through the Wicklow Mountains towards Cork staying in Waterford (one night), Kinsale (one night), Dingle (one night), Galway (two nights), and back to Dublin (two nights).  After our looping return to Dublin covering nine days, we returned to London for a couple more nights before returning to the States.

Wicklow Mountains
We drove from outside of Dublin (Rathgar) to the Wicklow Mountains as we headed towards Cork.  This was a different route than the last one in June of 2000, one that we thought would be more scenic, and it was.  The Wicklow Mountains area is quite nice, with stops along the way to appreciate the vistas.  We stopped at Glendalough (pronounced Glen-da-lock) to eat, as well as tour one of the finest Celtic Cross cemeteries in Ireland. The tower, cathedral, Celtic Crosses, and stone church date between the 8th and 12th centuries.  The stone tower is somewhat unusual in the sense it has stood the test of time for nearly 1,000 years.  There is also a monastic settlement and visitors site that contains a lot of information about the general area of Glendalough which dates back to the 6th century.  Saint Kevin was a popular figure in the 6th century where he decided to spend his life in prayer and contemplating his spiritual life.  St. Kevin was somewhat of a strange Saint in a way.  It was reported that a Blackbird laid an egg in his hand and he stood still long enough for the bird to be born.  You may have seen pictures of St. Kevin with a bird in his outstretched hand.  Lots of strange things were attributed to St Kevin and can be found here.

Blarney Castle
We left Glendalough for Cork where we headed for a return trip to the Blarney Castle.  The castle is in ruins, but has a beautiful entrance and can be climbed to the top where one can kiss the Blarney Stone also known as the Stone of Eloquence which is supposed to give you the gift of gab.  It is reported that the term "Blarney" was introduced by Elizabeth I and means "pleasant talk, intending to deceive without offending."  This had to do with Cormac McCarthy handing over the castle to Elizabeth I whereupon she would hear yet another reason why it couldn't be done.  It isn't an easy process to actually kiss the stone.  You have to lay on your back with your head toward the outer castle wall, hang on to two rails to steady yourself, and then lower your head kind of upside down and backwards in order to kiss the stone.  There are people at the stone that help you lay down and back to kiss the stone while someone else takes a professional picture that can be purchased later outside the castle.  You pay for the picture and they send it to you through the mail a few weeks later.  Chris and the kids had kissed the Blarney Stone in 2000, but this time only Derek was interested in kissing the stone since the rest of us seem to have the gift of gab and didn't need to.  I didn't want to because my back won't bend that well and the stone is soaking wet from all the people that kiss it.  There seems to be a few stories about the stone including a story that claims the stone was brought to Ireland by Jeremiah the Prophet and was "Jacob's Pillow" that is mentioned in the Bible.  Another view that seems to be more accepted is that it was a stone brought back to the castle during the Crusades
.  Some say it is half of the Stone of Scone which was given as a result of Robert the Bruce getting assistance by Irish fighters in the 1300s.  Note that you can get excellent pictures from the top of the castle walls, and be sure to tour the surrounding area where 500 year old or more Yew and Evergreen trees can be found.

We drove to Waterford after viewing the Blarney Castle, stopping along the way at The Midleton Jameson Distillery for a tour of the distillery as well as a taste testing.  We decided that Chris should do the taste testing since I was driving and all that whiskey could lead to a good buzz.  After we left the distillery we drove on to Waterford to spend the night at Brown's Townhouse.  The B&B had plenty of room for our whole family to stay together, but it was on the top floor.  I can imagine this would be hot in the summer months since heat rises.  The breakfast was plenty good, but parking was off-street and a few blocks away.  We also never met the owners since I don't think they lived there, they just run it as a business.  Nice place, but I like to talk with the owners and get tips on what to see and do in the area.  We decided to see Waterford Crystal Factory again since the tour at the factory is quite nice.  You can also buy Waterford Crystal pretty cheap compared to the U.S. and bring it back, although the crystal can be quite heavy in your luggage or carry-on.  We wanted to return to the seaside area of Tramore to see the old men's club diving area off the high rocks overlooking the ocean, but thought we wouldn't have enough time to make it to Kinsale so we decided to skip it this year.

Kinsale is a beautiful seaside town where artists would enjoy painting the many buildings and boats.  We spent the night at The Old Presbytery B&B which is located in the small town of Kinsale and I think it was quite nice as B&Bs go.  We walked around the town and saw the various buildings, deciding to take it easy for the night by eating a good meal and resting in our room.  We really didn't get to see anything else in the area since we arrived somewhat late due to missing a turn-off that took us 40 miles out of the way before we realized something was wrong.  I also didn't get any pictures of Kinsale due to how late we arrived.  I'd like to go back to this scenic town again since it's quite pretty and I'm sure there is more to see in the area that we missed.

We left early in the morning from Kinsale and drove north to Dingle.  We stayed at The Captain's House B&B which is quite nice and I would highly recommend it due to price, nice rooms, excellent breakfast, the owners, and in the heart of Dingle town.  Dingle (actually the Irish name is Daingean Uí Chúis) is a seaside area that offers hiking, diving, fishing, and thousands of archaeological
sites to visit.  This area is old to say the least.  Hunters and gatherers lived in this region dating back to 8,000 BC.  After checking in, we decided to see a couple of the Beehive huts near Slea Head that make up some of the many archaeological sites.  We drove towards Slea Head stopping at the Beehive huts for a quick tour and then up the road a few miles to take some pictures of "the sleeping giant."  You will find a few of the pictures of this area on the Ireland 2003 pictures page.  It's hard to imagine people actually living in these loose stone huts, but they did.  It's not hard to imagine there wasn't much else to think about than spiritual awareness, and it's said that the Irish monks guarded their work and kept the written word alive due to their desolate location where they wouldn't be bothered.  The Book of Kells was written in this area of the country.  Of course the Vikings started showing up at the end of the 800s and raided Ireland over and over.  Many of the Vikings liked the place so much that they decided to stay, and you will find Viking relics throughout the country.  Dingle is an area that I imagine retreating to in order to write a book.  It's peaceful and scenic with a kind of serenity I have not found anywhere else.

We left Dingle on our way to Galway using a ferry boat to shorten our driving trip as we headed across the Shannon River, first stop at the Cliffs of Mohr.  The cliffs are absolutely beautiful and it's amazing to me that more people don't fall off the cliffs given how close they get to the edge to peer down to the ocean.  While we were there, we saw the Irish Coast Guard guarding the area and not letting anyone close to the edge of the cliffs.  It seems that someone spotted a body at the bottom of one of the cliffs (400+ foot fall) and had called the police.  The Coast Guard was sent in to retrieve the body.  I spoke with one of the policemen and he said that people can get drunk and fall over the side, the area under the cliff gives way, pushed, or more often - commit suicide by jumping off the cliff.  He thought it was a jumper.  It was raining on and off so our pictures didn't turn out as bright as I would like, but still got some good pictures of the area.  We left the Cliffs of Mohr and drove on to Galway to spend the night at the Ardawn House B&B.  This too was a nice B&B and located near town for an easy walk to eat or drink at a pub.  We also found a few Internet Cafes nearby for the kids to check their email and cruise the Internet.  Interesting how so much of Ireland is "connected" to the Internet.

Galway is a nice city, well worth the visit.  They were having some band contests while we were there so the city was quite busy.  It also has a large airport which competes with Dublin as an entry place to Ireland.  We visited "the square" known as Eyre Square which dates back to the early 1700s.  In 1965 they renamed the square to "Kennedy Memorial Park" in honor of President John F. Kennedy who visited the area shortly before his assassination in 1963.  The streets are bustling with people and makes a great place to do people watching as well as window shopping.  There are many lanes in Galway that date back to medieval times and the city now has lots of cafes, restaurants and craft shops that has renewed the vigor of this old city.  We had no problem finding a good India restaurant for our evening meals.

Aran Islands
We also decided to take a trip to the Aran Islands off the coast of Galway.  We went to Inishmore which is the largest of the three islands.  Less than 900 people live spread out over the island so the population is somewhat sparse.  They offer a mini-bus tour, pony tour, and bicycle rentals for touring the island.  We chose the bicycle ride (they must have 500 bikes for rent right as you get off the ferry).  It is quite peaceful on the island with walking paths, and we rarely saw any cars as we rode our bikes along the coast line of the island.  Beautiful views as well.  The only mistake we made was that we didn't bring any sunscreen since we heard it was often rainy on the island.  It wasn't rainy at all.  It was nice and cool, but it was also quite sunny and I got a pretty bad sunburn.  They have a few good pubs on the island too where you can get a pint at the end of a rather long bicycle tour of the island.  This makes an excellent day trip if you stay in Galway.  I have several pictures of Inishmore but they all look the same so I only provided one picture on my Ireland 2003 pictures page.  I took more video footage than pictures this time, so the pictures are somewhat sparse.

Return to Dublin
We ended our trip in Galway and headed back to Dublin, stopping at the Dunguaire Castle along the way.  We didn't stay for dinner since the place was packed, but this old castle (1520) is used for medieval banquets for tourists (mostly brought by coach tours).  We continued to Dublin where we stayed for a couple more nights.  I was surprised that it didn't take long to drive across the country (about 4 hours with stops along the way).  Once in Dublin, we stayed at the Baggot Court House for two nights.  This was a nice B&B with parking at their establishment (in the back), and was an easy walk to the main downtown area of Dublin.  Seems like there are multiple pubs on every street in Dublin and they get packed shortly after work as people go to the pubs as a general meeting place.  There are lots of restaurants in the area as well, and we chose to eat at a nice Thai restaurant a few blocks from the B&B for a couple of nights since this is one of our favorite foods.  The kids were also able to go to any number of Internet Cafe's while Chris and I hung out in a nearby pub watching the locals chat as we downed some pints.  Dublin is a very busy city with lots of stuff going on.  Seems to be a lot of young people in the city.

We also made another visit to Trinity College to view the Book of Kells since it is quite interesting.  The book was created about 800AD and has beautiful hand painted illustrations on nearly every page.  They usually have two volumes on display - one showing the beautiful artwork, another showing script. They have fine exhibits and an interesting video showing book binding techniques.  The old Library at Trinity College is also worth a visit.  The library houses the largest collection of old books in Ireland, numbering about 4 million volumes located in 8 buildings.  The tour of the main library is quite impressive and allows you to read some of the many books that are open for public viewing.  You can't actually touch them of course, but you can read them under glass.

Our journey to Ireland came to an end, and it was time for us to prepare for returning to the States.  We left for London on our final third day in Dublin, and spent a couple of days visiting some of our favorite haunts such as Westminster Abbey and trips along the Thames.  Go here to see some of the many pictures we took while in Ireland (took a total of about 500 pictures although I'm only posting a few).


England - 2003 (November Mikey Trip)

This time I decided to go with my cousin Mikey to show him around England and give him a whirlwind tour of places my family finds fun to visit when we go on our yearly trips.  We couldn't go everywhere that my family and I visit, but we did hit some favorite places of mine such as York, Warwick, the Cotswolds, and Bath.  We arrived at Gatwick on Delta Air Lines on a Saturday morning (left on a Friday from Denver to Atlanta and then on to London) and took the Gatwick Express to Victoria Station.  From there we got a cab and went to the Bonnington Hotel for a couple night stay before heading off to York.  We really weren't tired at all (probably because we flew first class and got some sleep on comfortable seats) so we decided to go to the British Museum that is only about three blocks from the Bonnington Hotel.  Took a tour of the Museum and then headed for my favorite pub - The Swan where we downed a few pints and then went back to the room where we cleaned up and went to the local Indian restaurant where I like to eat.  After eating we went back to the Swan and drank a few more good pints of beer and walked towards Russell Square where we visited a couple other pubs.  This was over a period of 5 hours or so and we didn't get blasted or anything, just had some fun at the pubs shooting the breeze and drinking some good pints of English Ale.

Got on the hop-on hop-off buses and went to the Tower Of London the next day (Sunday) where it was windy, cold, and raining.  Still got to see quite a bit and also went on a Thames river cruise followed by some rides on the Underground subway system.  Eventually got back and you guessed it - we hit the pubs again.

Monday we decided to continue on the hop-on hop-off buses (turned out we waited around quite a bit) and after some dinking around we went to the Westminster Abbey.  Ended up seeing some stuff but got to talking to a priest in the old part of the abbey and when finally trying to continue our tour, found out they were closing the rest of the Abbey since it was closing time.  We scrambled to see some of the older areas but they were already closing the main doors.  I started talking to another priest and told him that we really wanted to see Edward the first and that my blabbing about the history of the Abbey kept us from getting there on time.  He looked around and said to follow him and he personally had us cross roped off areas, opened old doors, etc., and this time we actually got to go up the small stairs and right up to the area where the tomb of Edward the first is displayed.  He mentioned that people over the centuries have put old coins through a crack in the tomb lid for luck and that the tomb is full of money.  Uhhh, I did too.  The area where he let us walk around is not open to the public and this was a rare treat to get up close and walk among the tombs that are there.  It was finally time for us to get out of the area since we really weren't supposed to be there, so we headed back with him to the area where people queue up for the Evensong.  I said what the heck, and we ended up getting in the line for the Evensong and since we were so close to the front of the line, we got seated in the main pews for the Evensong service.  We were actually in the very back row against the wall where it is quite private.  What a treat.  We said the prayers and sang the songs along with everyone else and it was an adventure I will never forget.  Got to hear the boys choir (just boys do the singing) and the acoustics in this great old church are unbelievable.  Be sure and attend the Evensong if you can since this is truly a spectacular church with a very long history.

Tuesday we got the car and headed up to York where we stayed at the Feversham Lodge again with Yan.  Mike and I walked in to town and went to the Hole In The Wall Pub where we got some good food.  I went up to the bar and asked the bartender if he ever heard of the Hole In The Wall ghost picture that was taken by an American a few years back.  He said yes, that it was quite a famous story there at the pub.  I told him that I was the guy that took the picture and that the one thing I missed was our old friend Terry Moran since I hadn't seen him in years.  He didn't know the name, but thought that he knew the guy that had repeated the ghost picture story.  As we are eating our meal, the bartender came by and said that an old friend wanted to say Hi to me after we were through.  It turned out to be Terry!  As Mikey says, only Steve can travel that far away and go in to some obscure pub only to have a friend show up that wants to say Hi.  What a small world.

We went in to downtown York the next day (Wednesday) and spent quite a while at the Railway Museum as well as the York Minster where Mike climbed to the very top while I spent a lot of time just milling around the Minster.  This was the most relaxing time I have spent in the Minster and got to see every nook and cranny as well as a lot of the stained glass.  It was a very fun time of year too since Christmas was only a few weeks away and they were putting up some Christmas decorations.  Of course we had to close things out at the Hole In The Wall where we said goodbye to Terry and of course drank some more pints of beer.

We left on Thursday for the Cotswolds and Mikey got his turn at driving on the other side of the road.  He drove pretty much all day on the trip and had it down just fine. We stopped on the way to Stoh at Warwick Castle so Mike could see this beautiful old fortification.  There was hardly anyone there and pretty much had the place to ourselves.  We left Warwick and found our way to Stoh where we stayed at the Old Stocks Hotel which turned out to be cheap and good too.  Mike ended up dragging me to several pubs where we proceeded to down a "few" pints of good beer.  We also ate at the Royalist Hotel which is now more of an upscale old hotel and has a great restaurant (actually two restaurants).  Good food and good beer.

We left on Friday for Glastonbury where we saw the Glastonbury Abbey as well as the Chalice Well.  We were the only people since there were no tourists while we were at both places.  Then we drove towards Bath where we planned to stay at the Laura Place Hotel (across the bridge).  How in the world I drove to that place is beyond me since it was dark and tons of traffic, but we made it fairly closely in to the right area of town.  We called the proprietor and she gave me detailed directions on how to get to the B&B.  We went to the local Indian restaurant that I like and then found our way to the Green Frog pub.  Great beer again and we just sat in this rather small room and had a couple of pints.  I really have to stop Mike from drinking so much beer on these trips but perhaps another time.

Saturday we went in to town and met up early with the Mad Max tour that took us to Avebury, Stonehenge, Lacock, and Castle Combe.  It was unbelievably cold and windy at both Avebury and Stonehenge (I'm talking 40 mph winds with cold rain) but the weather got quite nice when we went to The George Inn in Lacock where we hung around and.... you guessed it - drank a couple pints of beer.  Beautiful medieval village dating to the 1220s.  Got back to Bath where we ate and of course had to say goodbye to the Green Frog pub.  You can probably guess by now what we did there.  Now we aren't drunks by any means.  It's just that Mikey and I used to brew beer in the States and absolutely love the Ales in England so we both took advantage of the various kinds of beer that we could never find in the U.S.  We really didn't drink too much since every morning we needed to be up early to eat the English Breakfasts at our B&Bs and we always had a full day ahead of us.  Well, there was that one night in York that was kind of rough but we were always in bed by 11PM.

Sunday we decided to go to the Roman Baths where we spent a lot of time touring the Baths before driving back to London for our final night's stay before returning to Atlanta.  Bath was quite crowded with Christmas booths set up all around the Roman Bath area.  Lots of trinkets for sale and a very nice atmosphere.  The trip back to London took about two hours and was pretty uneventful.  By now I have it down when it comes to driving in and out of London and didn't make any wrong turns along the way.  Worked out very smoothly.  We dropped the car off at the Imperial Hotel outside the Hertz rental place and paid the usage tax for London that they now impose on rental cars.

We had to get up at 4:45AM to take our cab ride to Gatwick (long drive) and made it OK but almost felt sick due to no sleep the night before and having to get up so early.  Our flight looked a little iffy but we got on the plane OK and headed for Atlanta where we split up with me going on to Denver and Mikey going home to Dallas.  Turned out to be a wonderful trip and I can't wait to do it again except next time probably to Paris.  Let Mikey see what it really feels like to be a tourist where they don't speak your language.  Well they say they don't speak it anyway.  Of course he has been to Moscow, but then again, they aren't the French now are they?

Be sure and check out our Europe November 2003 trip pictures.


Remember to check out my page on European trip advice to align expectations that you may have about traveling to Europe as well as ways to make your travel experience a little simpler. I keep the trip advice page updated every year since I use it myself in preparation for our yearly trips.





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