I am pleased to introduce you my guest post this time, Christa. Read about her road trip in England – a perfect plan for those still thinking of what to do during this Christmas holiday. For me personally, this post reminded me of my childhood in England. Enjoy Christa’s bubbly personality reflected in this writing!
It was Christmas holiday back in 2009. Me and my friends didn’t have much to do, since we’re all international students in England and couldn’t come home during the holiday season, we decided to go on a road trip across the country. I told my friends, and she told hers, he told his, until there were 10 of us on that trip. We came from different nationalities as well, 5 Indonesians, 3 Taiwanese, and 2 Thai. We spent 10 good days together, travelling throughout 10 UK cities.
So, we started from Bournemouth, then to Bath, Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester, York, Newcastle, Birmingham, Oxford, London, Southampton, then back to Bournemouth! Even though we were students, as an Indonesian it was quite easy to drive in the UK, we could use our Indonesian driving license. Just be careful on parking regulations to avoid getting fined. It was easy to rent the cars as well, we used EUROPCAR and they accepted Indonesian driving license. Yay! As for the accommodation, we were lucky enough to spend some nights at a fellow Indonesian’s house, but as for other days, we stayed at TRAVELODGE hotel chain, and had no complaints about it! They had a good deal of price, plus they have hotels in strategic places so it was easy to get around.
Okay now some of you might wonder, how could we spend 10 days in 10 cities? Well it’s not that impossible, because UK isn’t really big, and it’s very easy to travel between cities. Being a foreigner, we only needed to rely on GPS Maps, and that’s it, clear direction all the way! Anyway, there are some cities which aren’t far from each other, so we could visit them in a day, like Liverpool and Manchester, or Oxford and London.
December 24, Day 1: Bournemouth – Bath – Bristol
Here we go! First day of our road trip! I was a bit nervous because I had to drive as well, you see only Indonesians got the right to drive, my Thai and Taiwanese friends couldn’t do it because their driving license wasn’t accepted. Luckily the country has nice roads, I found it no hassle at all driving around.
It took us around 1,5 hours from Bournemouth to Bath, but unfortunately almost everything was closed, because it was Christmas Eve! Something that we weren’t aware of.. huhu. We wanted to visit Sally Lunn’s Bun, they said it’s a must visit in Bath, but since it was closed, we could only take pictures in front of it. Maybe the next time you’re in town, please visit it and tell me how it tastes like!
Afterwards, we continued our journey straight to Bristol, we wanted to spend the night there but since (again) everything was closed and there were nothing to see, we only drove around town for a bit then left for Liverpool.
December 25, Day 2: Bristol – Liverpool
It took us around 3 hours to get to Liverpool from Bristol. We had some rest in the motorway, then arrived in Liverpool in the morning. Tired, we went straight to our hotel and had some rest. Excited to see the city of The Beatles, I only had a quick nap then did a stroll in the city centre. I loved the city centre, almost every tourist attractions are in walking distance. Of course, again, since it was Christmas day, everything was closed. The city was like a dead town! No worries, we had fun as well only by taking pictures, a loooooot of them!
December 26, Day 3: Liverpool – Manchester
After silent Christmas, comes the day that we’ve all been waiting for. BOXING DAY! It’s the day where the Christmas sale starts, and let me tell you, it was madness! I saw people queuing in front of shops since 6AM, and left with a handful of shopping bags at around 9AM! Madness! But the sale was really worth it anyway, you could find clothes at UK’s high street brands for as low as £3 at that time.. who can resist? 😛 We didn’t stay long in Liverpool though, we continued our journey to Manchester, an hour away.
In Manchester, we visited the Old Trafford Stadium, a must visit when you’re in town despite being a Manchester United fan or not, just for the experience. Since it was already afternoon after our stadium trip, we went straight to our hotel and spend the night around Manchester Arndale, and visited the China Town as well. I personally think Manchester’s China Town is among the most interesting China Towns I’ve visited, very lively and lots of yummy foods!
December 27, Day 4: Manchester – York – Newcastle
Newcastle was our destination for that day, but we managed to stop by York during our way. York was only 1,5 hours away from Manchester, it’s a small city, but very beautiful, especially in the winter time because it’s situated rather north, and that’s where we saw snow for the first time! Wooohooo! Living in the southern part of the UK at that time, snow didn’t fall until early January, but it was snowing already in the northern part. In York, we stopped by at Earl Grey Tea Rooms to have an Afternoon Tea, British style! The place was very authentic, very British, a must visit when you’re in town.
Not long after, we continued our journey to Newcastle, which was a 2 hours drive. We had dinner in its city centre, and had a stroll along the river banks, where we saw Gateshead Millenium Bridge, the city’s icon. The bridge was very pretty, it’s a distinctive icon to the city because of its modern design, yet the rest of the city has classic – British style architecture. I would suggest you to visit at night because that’s the time where it lights up, makes it even prettier.
December 28, Day 5: Newcastle – Birmingham
We had to leave Newcastle early in the morning because we were going down south again, to Birmingham. It took us around 4 hours from Newcastle to Birmingham.
I personally think there was not much to see in Birmingham except for its city centre. It has very modern city centre, with big mall called the Bullring. Not far from The Bullring, we went to Birmingham Eye, and had a stroll near the river banks.
December 29, Day 6: Birmingham – Oxford – London
The next morning, we continued our journey to Oxford. It was around 1,5 hours drive. I loved Oxford! The city was very beautiful, very typical British. We went to see Christ Church, one of Harry Potter Movie’s shooting location. That’s where they filmed the famous Hogwarts Dining Hall scene, can you recall?
We also visited Market Street, it’s a covered market, another British classic. They sell everything there! From fresh meat to chocolate, it was very interesting. My personal favorite was this Milkshake place called Moo Moo, they have tons of Milkshake flavors, ranging from the usual Chocolate/Vanilla until Cereal flavor!
In overall we spent a good day in Oxford, before we left, we also made a stop by Oxford University just to look around. Afterwards, we drove to London, around 2 hours drive.
December 30 – January 2, Day 7–10: London
Finally, we were in London! We spent good 4 days there, and also our New Year’s Eve, in the iconic London Eye. We also visited the popular tourist spots, Buckingham Palace, Camden Town, Oxford Street (that street, you know, where all the shops are…), China Town, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, typical London tourist spots! But anyway, I’m going to share the Food guide to you, stuff that may not be in the ordinary travel guide 😉
Here’s the list, my personal favorites:
- La Creperie de Hampstead – 77 Hampstead High Street (Turn left from Hampstead Tube Station exit). They have the best Crepes in town. My personal favorite : Their savory ones.
- Apostrophe – for the best coffee and Paul for the best hot chocolate!
- Belgian Waffle Company – 369 Oxford Street. Best Belgian Waffles, no doubt about it!
- Ben’s Cookies – 355 Oxford Street. Originally from Oxford’s Covered Market, I came across this shop when I was in London. Obviously, they have the best cookies. 😀
- Hummingbird Bakery – For the best Red Velvet Cupcake.
- Laduree – For delicious Macarons
- Wasabi – This Japanese fast food joint was my savior during my trip, they serve a big portion of bento with affordable price 😀
- Four Seasons – 84 Queensway and 12 Gerrard Street. They have the best roast duck. Very popular among Indonesians in London
- Assa – 53 St.Giles High Street. Best Korean food.
- Jamie’s Italian – A little splurge, this one. But worth the visit because it’s Jamie Oliver’s!
Christa is a sweet tooth who loves sunshine, appreciates good music, and enjoys long walks by the beach. She found her love of travelling since she studied in England. Now back residing in Indonesia, she travels every now and then, across the country or abroad, to fulfill her need to explore and see the world!