Over the summer, a Groupon deal for a day coach tour of Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwick Castle, the Cotswolds and Oxford was posted to one of the expat Facebook groups. The tour was half-off and a great way to see some places we hadn’t seen yet without a car and with guided narration.
One Saturday morning, we woke up early and headed over to Victoria coach station to catch our Premium Tour bus. We covered a lot of ground in just twelve hours and enjoyed the chance to explore more of the UK. It was a long day, but we learned a lot.
Our first stop was the charming town of Stratford-Upon-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare. The town has really embraced its famous former resident and the place is all about the man, the myth, the legend, Mr William Shakespeare.
Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall
The first sight we visited was Shakespeare’s former school, Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall, where he studied as a boy. Expecting it to be somewhat lame, it was actually really interesting to learn about what school was like back in the day and the political and religious implications of schooling at the time.
The school is incredibly well-preserved and it was neat to see the school as it may have looked when the young bard studied there. The staff at the school and guildhall were very informative and made the experience fun. We even had the chance to attempt to recall our Latin lessons from long ago to impress our teacher.
Tudor architecture is prevalent in Stratford-Upon-Avon. It gives the city a lot of character!
The town itself is cute and there are many shops and cafes on bustling Henley Street, which led us to our next destination on the tour.
This part of the tour was very exciting because Andrew got to take over for the tour guide. The real tour guide was at our next spot negotiating our entry time.
The Birthplace of Shakespeare
The house that belonged to John Shakespeare, Shakespeare’s father, still stands along that bustling street in Stratford-Upon-Avon. That was the next stop on the tour and it is deceptively small on the outside.
Inside are many rooms decorated in the fashion of the age when Shakespeare was born. There is also a room that details his father’s craft, glove making. Squirrel hides were used for gloves then!
The tour of the house works up to its most special room – the room where Shakespeare may have been born! Behold:
After touring the house, we got back on the bus for next stop.
After a half hour ride, we arrived at our next stop, Warwick Castle. This castle is incredibly well-preserved.
It is unlike any of the other castles we have visited, as it is basically a theme park. This castle is great for kids and had a lot of activities for families. It was hilarious and adorable to see little kids dressed up as princesses and knights running around the courtyard.
The castle does have many nice collections of art and relics from it’s earlier heydays. We enjoyed touring the beautifully decorated rooms.
The rain started up and we were hungry, so we grabbed a nice lunch at the pub there.
The rain stopped as we were leaving, so we rushed up the tallest tower to admire the view and snap a couple pictures. We then had to rush back to the bus, where we were greeted with the strong smell of turkey leg, thanks to some of our fellow passengers who brought them on board the bus as a snack.
From the castle, we drove to Oxford through part of the Cotswolds. Wow! This part of England is truly beautiful. We were on the bus the whole time, so I wasn’t able to grab any good pictures, but imagine rolling hills, sheep and quaint stone villages. We have a visit booked for December and I can not wait after getting a sneak peek of the area!
Oxford and Oxford University
The last destination on our was Oxford and the famous university there.
We did a walking tour with our guide of the campus, which is beautiful, but mobbed with tourists in the summer months. I would recommend visiting in the off-season, when classes are in session.
We had to stop by the iconic Radcliffe Camera! It is beautiful.
Another highlight of the tour was the Bodleian Library.
We did not get the chance to visit Christ Church, but we definitely made the most of our limited time in the city. It is very charming!
In all, our tour was a great deal and we saw a lot for one day. The tour itself was great, though I wish our fellow passengers had been more considerate. It was a memorable day and we can’t wait to return to the Cotswolds!