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Report 2087: WW II, Castles, and London

By KeithfromVA from Virginia, Fall 2013

Trip Description: Highlights of Keith's trip to England, including visits to London, Bath and Highclere Castle, featured in Downton Abbey.

Destinations: Countries - United Kingdom; Regions/Cities - Bath, Heart of England, London

Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Sightseeing; Independent Travel; 3-4 people

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Page 1 of 4: Days 1-2 Arrival and Bletchley Park

Our trip to England was with another couple, our best friends and travel buddies. It was clearly not slow travel, but there were places we wanted to see and things we wanted to do, so we went for it. In retrospect, the packing up and moving tired us out and Iím sure we wonít be doing anything like this anytime soon, but we did have fun.

On Friday, September 6, we flew from Washington Dulles on Unitedís morning flight. I love that flight. It leaves Dulles around 9:30am and gets to Heathrow around 9:30pm. Iím tired enough to get to sleep by midnight and when I wake up the next day, Iíve switched time zones.

For convenience, we spent that first night at the Hilton Heathrow Terminal 5. It is modern, very comfortable, and reasonably priced (£71.40 prepaid). It does not have a dedicated, free shuttle, but you can get there cheaply using the Hoppa bus. However, since we were four people with too much luggage, it only cost us a few pounds more to be met by Parker Cars and driven to the hotel. He loaded our luggage, which is a lot easier than schlepping it onto a shuttle bus, especially after a long flight.

The next day we picked up a rental car. We had reserved with Auto Europe who booked us with National, which, at Heathrow, is also Alamo and Europcar. The place was packed! We took a number and then waited about 45 minutes before it was our turn.

After checking out of the hotel, we drove to Bletchley Park to see where the WWII code breakers worked. With admission came a 1.5 hour tour with a historian. I really enjoyed it and wished we had planned to spend more time there because you could go out after the tour with a free audio guide and explore the buildings and exhibits in greater detail. We werenít able to visit the mansion where the head of the station had his office because Google was having tea in there that day. Apparently, Google considers the Bletchley Park card index system to be one of the first search engines and has donated money for its restoration.

We spent that night at the Blenheim Edge Guest House in Yarnton, just outside Woodstock. It has four comfortable rooms and the innkeepers, Sean and Tanya, are very nice and welcoming. Rooms were £99 with a very nice breakfast. Unfortunately, we learned the difference between a private bath and an en suite bath here. We had the one room with a private bath Ė across the hall from our bedroom. It was a minor adjustment to get used to going across the hall. Robes were provided. We had dinner that night at the Royal Sun, a nearby pub. It was good, solid food.

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