Once upon a--Second Time--in England

Once upon a--Second Time--in England

Written By: Susie Colombo

Bath England was once my home for a semester abroad - my last semester at San Jose State. Through the 4 months I spend in Great Britain and the surrounding area, I learned a lot about English history, culture, and customs.  I also had the chance to grow new friendships that would last two decades.   Not only did I learn about the life around me, I learned a lot about myself and who I was.  The experience abroad changed my view of the world and launched the beginning of an insightful journey.

Twenty-three years later, I got the opportunity to travel to the U.K. with my son Dante.  We spent a few days in London, then a day in Bath and the last three in Manchester.

London itself was a spectacular city with a variety of sites to see.  We walked several miles from Paddington station to Piccadilly Circus stopping at various corners to take in the sites.  We took a quick look at Buckingham Palace where the annual changing of the guard was preparing to take place.  Tons of people lined the walkways of the surrounding park to witness the queen riding out on her carriage.  Later during day one in London, Dante and I enjoyed shopping in Piccadilly Circus then meeting a friend who stopped in London between her travels.  The three of us went to a local pup along a canal in Westminster off Warwick Avenue.  The pub was bustling with locals and travelers alike socializing and enjoying the warm day before the cold front settled in.

Day two was a visit to the Tower of London, a historic castle located in the center of London.  We walked the grounds of the 11th century castle learning that it was once a royal residence turned prison in 1100.

Day Three was a quick trip to Windsor Castle.  Midway into our visit, it began to rain, as it does several days a year in England.  However, the rain and overcast did not take away from the majestic beauty of the grounds. Originally build in the 11th century, Windsor went through many renovations throughout the years.  The interior rooms were a spectacular vision of grand decor of gold accents and silk tapestries.  Intricate wood carved ceilings and priceless paintings filled the rooms making the estate nothing short of luxurious.

Day four was a full day in Bath.  It was a bit nostalgic as I walked down some of the same streets I did twenty-three years ago.  We immediately went to the Roman Baths - bath houses built by the Roman Empire back in the 1st century A.D. After, we walked into the Bath Abbey next door which was undergoing some minor renovations.  I had forgotten how breathtaking the Gothic interior was.  The delicate red painted cast iron chandeliers hung from the vaulted ceiling giving the abbey a royal ambiance.  At one of the alters near the front, I lit a candle for the memories of my lost loved ones.  

The Roman Baths and Abbey hadn’t changed much.  What had changed were some of the pubs that used to line the streets.  They were replaced by major brand shops creating a more contemporary style.  However, the street I used to walk up and down every day to go to class was the same.  I even recognized the post office where I would mail my letters and postcards to my family back home in San Jose.

After the abbey we headed to the fashion museum, a world class collection of fashionable pieces from Shakespeare’s time to the present.  It was entertaining to see how much fashion has changed over the years, but also interesting to see how much we reinvent some of the same designs from years ago.

Day five we headed to Manchester where we stayed with family who graciously hosted us for three days.  First we explored the area of Castleton in Derbyshire.  While in Castleton, our host took us on a tour through the Blue John Cavern where the semi-precious stone called Blue John is mined.  Most of the Blue John mined is used to make beautiful jewellery some of which was displayed in their gift shop.

On our way back from Castleton, we stopped at a local pub for a beer.  In the past, I would prefer to order wine but decided I wanted to give the local beer a try.  I ordered the Eyam Best, a bitter from Eyam Brewery, and completely enjoyed it.  My host reassured me that Manchester beer was the best in the world. I can certainly say that the beer I had that day gave my tastebuds a new craving.

The next day we head to the city center to explore the area, shop then have lunch at a fabulous pub called The Old Wellington Inn - the oldest building of its kind in Manchester dating back to 1552.

On our last day in Manchester, we headed to a lovely area called Little Bolington, a village in Cheshire.  We had dinner at The Swan with Two Necks where we were served traditional English food of lamb meat pies and mashed potatoes - it had so much flavor that I probably couldn't go back to the "chicken pot pies" I enjoyed as a kid. And the gravy! I might have to look up the recipe.  It was a fantastic ending to a fantastic trip.  

Related Links
Countries: England
Cities: Bath, London
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