|Home of Sherlock Holmes|
Where to fly in:
When to go:
We spent three days in London and I think we got to most of the touristy stuff we intended to, including Crystal maze! Here is how our days went.
- Day Zero:
|Dishoom, King's Cross|
- Day One:
- Day Two:
|The Famous '83 World Cup balcony|
It was already late afternoon by the time we got out, so our parents headed home and I headed to meet my friend Roohi. I took a brief stop at Bond street for some window shopping and then headed out her place. Sumit joined me later after dropping off the parents. It was so much fun and just like old times hanging out with her.
- Day Three:
|St. Paul's Cathedral|
Day trip to Cotswold and Oxford
|Tea at Cotswold|
Our goal for the day initially was to visit a village or two in Cotswold, then head out to Stratford Upon Avon followed by a walking tour in oxford. But, we realised that may be stretching ourselves with parents, so we dropped Stratford Upon avon from our plan for the day.
Another thing about Oxford is parking. If you have driven here instead of taking a train(a better idea), finding parking will be the hardest thing you do. We went straight to a mall on Oxford campus and parked at the mall. (One of the best tips given by a family friend). After our two hour long walk, we stopped at a cafe, had lunch, had coffee, and rejuvenated ourselves to head out for another hour long drive to meet old family friends over dinner.
Day trip to Stonehenge and BathSince we already had a rented car, we had planned for another day trip outside of London. Mind you, since we were a family of 6 adults, it made sense for us to drive than to take the trains. But for a couple or 3 people, trains is definitely the way to go. Or plan was to go to Stonehenge, visit the city of Bath and then Windsor Castle if time permits. Clearly, we had to drop Windsor Castle from the plan as with parents along, things move a little slowly.
|Bath in the city of Bath|
Luckily, we found a very nice Boston tea shop, where we all settled in and got ourselves some refreshing teas and coffees. There was an Indian cafe nearby too, but the guy was hesitant to make chai/tea as he had run out of existing tea and didn't want to make any fresh tea. Oh well!
It was scorching hot today, given UK was under a heat wave! But nevertheless, we walked back to our cars through the streets lined with many local and branded stores and head back to Croydon, our dinner stop to meet our extended family that day.
Lake DistrictWe wanted to spend a couple of days in a scenic place while our parents went to Scotland on a pre booked tour. After thinking and researching hard, we picked Lake District and kept Snowdonia for some other time. We had stayed over in Birmingham after our match the previous day, so booked a train to Manchester and a car rental from Manchester to drive to Lake District.
|Outside Beatrix Potter's house|
Over the next couple of days, our goal was to visit a few location in Lake district and spend half a day biking in the area. Sumit had pre booked his bike rental and chose a few bike routes. He finally rode the Hawkhead hill and the Wrynose Pass, which turned out to be quite challenging. Cell phone network is patchy here, so downloading maps will be a great idea. He chose the following bike route and enjoyed the views so much, that we drove here in the evening.
Now if you are not planning to ride a bike, all the places are mostly accessible by car. Lake Windermere is a pretty huge lake and offers plenty of options to do and see. We drove all the way to Beatrix Potter's house and spent time in the tiny village most of which features in her story books. And then drove down the hill to take a car ferry across the lake. One could also take the cruise along the lake and get down at various spots and do a small hike, or visit various locations and come back on the ferry to get back to you starting location. There are plenty of options.
|Somewhere in Lake District|
se to stay here or Windermere. On our way back,we went to Aira Force waterfall, near the lake Ullswater, which was short hike from the parking lot. And then drove around Ullswater lake back to Windermere. The views were simply amazing. I especially loved our drive next to Ullswater.
Link to our route on the map.
|Tea Rooms @ York|
Next day we were our to Leeds to watch the cricket match and our parents enjoyed a rest day. But the day after we decided to explore the city. The old town is easily walkable and the cobbled streets lined with local and branded shops are very inviting too. We started from the York Minster, a huge gothic style church at the one end of the old town. Then we made our way to the other end of the town, Clifford's tower. In between we stopped at some shops, and also spent time getting tea and scones at a tea boutique. That's where my fascinator came out and we took pics I had been waiting for the entire trip. Before I forget, we had dinner at 29 States Indian restaurant and the food was very good. I recommend this place if you are looking for Indian food.
York is a perfect weekend getaway town with a very medieval feel to it. I am sure its popular with UK residents as a popular vacation place. We enjoyed our time here and I loved the city vibe. In the afternoon, we were headed out to Manchester by road. The train ride is also only an hour and I highly recommend not taking your car to York and using public transport.
Both the matches we attended were very well organised. From the moment we got off our train from London Marylebone station to Birmingham, there were directions and volunteers to help you get to the stadium. We had to first dump our bags at the hotel before we went to the stadium. And then we got an Uber to get to the stadium, but it was so crowded, that we decided to get off the car and walk to the stadium and it was definitely a good call. The security check in was super smooth and quick and finding our seats was easy enough.
- Edgabaston, Birmingham:
And oh what seats! We got so lucky with our seats. The cricket fields are not as big, and hence the view is so good and so close to all the action, it is just a fantastic experience watching matches in UK. The crowd was fully charged up and watching the match in such an electrifying atmosphere is definitely worth the trip. There were food stalls outside and plenty of options to pick from. The queues got long during the innings break, so I highly recommend skipping a few overs and getting your food in early. Or carrying your snacks with you. Must carry your hydration with you. It got hot closer to noon and we were glad to be carrying our water bottles. All in all, Indian won against Sri Lanka, and got to see live action on the field, with Dhoni, Kohli and Sharma right in front of us.
Could not have asked for more.
- Headingly, Leeds:
Driving -Its left side driving, opposite of the US, but same as India. So you have to comfortable with that. Besides that, the roads aren't as wide a sin the US, I felt things were a bit cramped, parking is difficult and speeds are a little lesser.
Shout out to Dishoom -One super nice discovery in UK was Dishoom Indian restaurant. Its a UK based chain, but each and every venue is unique. We tried the one in Edinburgh, London's Kings Cross and Manchester. Some of them have a long wait, but its totally worth it. We tried quite a few options on the menu and they were all great. Also, their chai has unlimited refills and I could drink it all day. When our server in Manchester learnt that we were visiting all locations, he was so happy that our dinner was complimentary and we got invited back for free breakfast. They don't just focus on good food, but a good experience for the diners.
|Big Bus London|
London Explorer Pass -For sight seeing in London, we opted for London Explorer Pass, it gives you a cheaper price for combined ticket to a specific number of attractions. Turned out to be pretty economical for us. The app is available on phone. You can download your passes and scan the barcode at the ticket booths to get your tickets.
Rail travel -Super duper convenient. Highly recommended to book in advance and get seats. You can book later without seats, but then you don't want to be travelling in a crowded train without a seat. Also, look at the discount passes. They offer huge savings. We bought two together cards, which saved us a bunch of money. You need to have the passes on your phone and upload your picture, etc. Its a set up hassle, but savings are great especially you plan on using the rail transport. We use the trainline website for bookings.
Phones -We bought local numbers from a local grocery store and activated them. They worked just perfect for our phones and the unlimited calls and data was super convenient for navigation to stay in touch with our parents.
Other places to visit:
- Stratford Upon Avon - A tiny Shakespeare village. We had initially planned to combine it with Oxford day trip, but we chose to go to Cotswold instead as it was closer that Stratford Upon Avon.
- Windsor Castle - Outskirts of London. You need to buy a ticket to see the castle. It is one of the more popular and in-use castles by the royal family. But we dropped it from our day as we got pretty late driving back from Stonehenge and Bath.
- Cambridge - It was a choice between Oxford and Cambridge for us. Both make for a good day trip from London. You could use public transport, but we were driving and as we just had to pick, we decide we will stick with Oxford as it was on our route to our family friend's house.
- Snowdonia - It is located in Wales and we had planned to pick between Lake District and Snowdonia. After much research, we felt we should stick with lake District for this trip and then visit Snowdonia next time. It was just a matter of choice.
- Wales - Another country a part of UK, Cardiff is a popular tourist town to visit and then Snowdonia is a national park that usually people visit. As we were skipping Snowdonia, we thought we would leave all of Wales sights for our next trip.