Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Love Affair with the Cotswolds

It started with an idea. My daughter wants to go to London to finalize a business. She'd always love the UK, being educated there. And she asked if I could be her traveling companion, a father-daughter thing we'd never done before. I felt adventurous and I said yes because I too love the UK.

Cotswolds came to my mind. I'd read about its charm and always want to know how it feels to wander in rural England in summer. My daughter love the idea after googling it. As soon as we've purchased our air tickets I started planning our itinerary in London and how to go to Cotswolds. Our limitation is transport. We have no car, don't plan to rent one. Admittedly I dislike driving in a strange place and we're both poor in directions. So this trip is confined to using public transportation.

Researching the public transport system in London and the greater area I'm dumbfounded by its complexity and inter connectivity. In UK you don't really need a car. Trains, tubes, buses, trams, taxis, ferries, etc will take you anywhere even remotely. You just need to plan your time and your destination.

The first help I went to was TripAdvisor forums. I went to the London forum to ask how to go to Cotswolds. I found most of the day trips start from London. I don't want to be rushed so I opted to stay at the fringe of Cotswolds. I can choose Bath, Cheltenham or Stratford upon Avon. As it is summer hotel rates in Bath are expensive. Between Cheltenham and Stratford I chose the latter for the very simple reason - it was William Shakespeare's birthplace. Next I use Booking.com to search for a nice place to stay. I like Booking because it is user friendly and charge nothing upfront, even if you cancel. I found this lovely place near to the train station. I google map them and like it and booked online for 2 nights stay there. My next mission was to find someone to give us a Cotswolds tour. I knew it was a risk if no tour operators begin their tours from Stratford upon Avon, a very small town. Then we have to use public buses.

So I moved to the Stratford upon Avon forum and asked questions. Folks responded rather quickly. I'm glad there are helpful people willing to share information and experience. I found two leads, one from Sandra the guest house co-owner, the other from the forum. Tom, the guy I was put in touch with through the forum lead, is just about to start his own tour business in the Cotswolds. He is a local and expects to launch it in June which is just nice for me to consider his service. And he operates from Stratford upon Avon. Exactly what I'm looking for. We had several email exchange. He was very prompt and helpful and I like that. I learned that his is the first Cotswolds tour to start from Stratford and we are the first to make a booking. I guess both he and us are looking forward to meeting up. What Tom did will boost the tourist business tremendously as many tourists would prefer a leisurely visit to the Cotswolds from Stratford rather than from London which is 2 hours away. You can check him out at Go Cotswolds.

The rest of our London stay will be free and easy. Aside from sightseeing we plan to see a play and attend church. We are looking forward to this special trip and I'll write more later.

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