David and Ginna Zoellner love to travel. We live in Nice, France, half the year; the other half we live near Chicago, Illinois. We do 'home-exchanges' to explore other areas as well as taking normal trips. We'd like to share some of our experiences with you.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

London 1974

We traveled to London to help dear friends celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. We arrived on Sunday; that evening we shared a wonderful dinner at Villa dei Caesari. Monday we toured Westminster Abbey, The Old Curiosity Shop, Parliament, and so on. That afternoon we had High Tea at the Ritz - cucumber sandwiches, tea, and pastries. The waiter dumped cream cake on me! During the sandwich/tea service, Barbara asked if we would have desserts and the waiter looked down his nose at her and said, "When the time is right, Madame". That evening we had dinner at Rule's, an 18th century restaurant and a real landmark.

Tuesday we went on another bus tour to see London Tower and the fabulous crown jewels. Then it was on to St. Paul's Cathedral with its 'Whispering Gallery". For lunch we went to the Cheshire Cheese, a very old and famous pub. On the way out, an English fellow said, "Have you eaten?" and we answered, "Yes, have you?". He replied, "No, we have to wait 'til they serve the bloody tourists!" In the afternoon we visited the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum, obviously just hitting the highlights.

The next day was the actual anniversary. We took another bus tour, this time to Oxford, which is charming. Then to Warwick Castle which is still inhabited; we visited the State Rooms and the dungeons. We enjoyed a lunch at a lovely pub in Warwick and visited antique shops. Next the bus headed to Stratford-Upon-Avon where we visited Anne Hathaway's home and Shakespeare's birthplace. Our last stop was Banbury for tea - "Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross".

Our friends stayed at the Dorchester at $80/night. We stayed at a small hotel, the Wilbraham, three Victorian row houses joined. The rooms were small and not too well decorated which was a shame because it had definite possibilities. But it was adequate and affordable.

That night we saw "A Chorus Line" which we all loved. Afterwards we went to the best restaurant in town, the Mirabelle, where we treated our friends to dinner. It was absolutely great! It was our last night all together, so the celebration went on and on.

The next day, we rented a car and drove to Hampton Court - fields of daffodils everywhere with me singing "I Wander Lonely As A Cloud" along the way. We went through the maze with a bunch of school kids and enjoyed the tour of the State Apartments. Then a drive through Windsor Park with a stop at a lovely pub for lunch. On to Windsor Castle, a huge, cold stone place. We visited the Doll's House, an unbelieveable royal toy. Then down to Egham to find our hotel for the night. We didn't know exactly what to expect, but found our most unique experience of the trip. Great Fosters, built around 1550, was used by Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn and as a hunting lodge by Elizabeth I. It's a huge Tudor mansion with furnishings to suit. Our room had a 7' wide bed, a 4-poster, draped in damask; a very old table with a silver mirror; beautiful armoires; and a huge, tiled private bath.

At dinner we started talking with two English women (one a chief buyer in perfumes for Harrods) who had just chanced on the place for dinner. They stayed on and we all got loaded together! The one gal told us she was the 7th daughter of the 7th daughter and a witch!

In the morning we walked in the lovely gardens and after breakfast drove down to Salisbury where we visited the Cathedral with the oldest working clock in the world. The Cathedral dates from the 1200's! After lunch at a pub in town, we visited Stonehenge - "That pile of rocks", a woman at the pub termed it. Very impressive and awe-inspiring!

From there we headed to the Cotswolds, with its endless charming villages, endless miles of stone walls, enduring stone houses, many with thatched roofs. Most picturesque of all is Castle Coombe, a lovely village nestled deep in the valley. We visited antique shops and strolled the lovely streets. The beautiful inn we hoped to stay in was full, so we drove on and on and finally stopped at Bourton-on-Water where we stayed the The Old Manse, owned by a beautiful Irish Setter and her owners. After a delicious dinner we walked around the lovely village and visited the Model Village, a scale model (1/9) of the town which also contains a 1/9 scale model of the model and on and on. Kids would have loved it!

Then more driving through the countryside to Weston-on-the-Green, through Stow-on-the-Wold, to the Manor House, which is haunted, for lunch. Then back to London where we found a lovely room at the old Goring Hotel, the first hotel in the world to have central heating and private baths. We made a quick trip to Harrods to buy some Waterford (8 goblets in my Kildare pattern), then back to the hotel for dinner and on to the theater for "No Sex, Please, We're British" which was very funny.

Sunday we wandered around, visited an antique fair, an art show, tea at the Ritz again, and then the train to the airport. A wonderful trip!


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