Jay's Internet Log

SRC 2015 – Day 2 – Driving Tour

by on Sep.10, 2015, under General, Scandinavia Russian Collection 2015, Vacation

This was a spectacular day. We awoke and had breakfast in the steakhouse. It was a buffet, and I had fruit, tea, and a croissant. We were to meet our driver Andy at 9AM in the car park, and we saw him arrive in a three-week-old Mercedes van. I jumped in the front seat in order to capture video, and we were off. Andy had seen a motorcycle accident on the way to our hotel, and the police were still cleaning it up as we passed by again. Traffic in London is something that I’ll never miss. The van had the nicest GPS system I’ve ever seen in a vehicle. It showed real-time traffic data and was very accurate.

Once we cleared the city, we drove a few hours to the small village of Bampton, where some of the village scenes from Downton Abbey are shot. We walked into the church and around the village for about thirty minutes or so. The weather was nice, and we saw about a dozen or so other tourists in this tiny little village, no doubt due to the popularity of the show.

Our next stop was to a shopping area in the town of Burford. We stopped for about another thirty minutes or so and walked through some stores. The sidewalks were difficult to walk on, as they were made of uneven stones, and we were on a hill.

On our way to lunch, we decided to stop at a tiny church. Andy told us that during World War II, a bomb dropped nearby and blew all the windows out of it. A resident picked up some pieces and put a few of the windows back together, but the main window had to be replaced with clear glass. We then travelled just a few hundred feet to The Swan at Swinbrook to have lunch. This is a favorite eating spot of David Cameron, the Prime Minister of Britain. It also happens to have been in a scene from Downton Abbey… are you seeing a pattern here? 🙂 Mom and Dad are big fans of the show, and through them, Heather and I have become fans. While Mom and Dad were in Peru last February, I found and booked this daylong tour for our one full day in the UK. For lunch, I had a chili-infused cheeseburger and fries. Both were very good. Andy joined us and shared some great stories.

After lunch, we drove through the countryside for about ninety minutes to our next destination: Highclere Castle. It was a beautiful drive, especially entering the castle grounds. We attempted to take some photos of ourselves in front of the castle, but the sun was not cooperating, so we looked more like silhouettes. We walked around back and to the gift store, where we happened to come across Lady Fiona Carnarvan, who was speaking with other tourists. Before the television show, they were lucky to get a few hundred tourists each week, but since it became a hit, they have to limit them to 1500 per day. We entered the castle and took a tour of many of the rooms shown in Downton Abbey. It was surreal, and we had a very nice time.

As we were leaving, we tried to get some more photos. They came out a bit better, but still not perfect. We had a 2.5-hour ride back to London. Before dropping us back to the hotel, Andy took us for a short driving tour passed Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and a few other London landmarks. This little bonus tour really meant a lot to us. Once we got back to Grosvenor House, we had special French Onion Soups made for us by the chef in the steakhouse, and promptly went to bed. I can not give enough praise to Andrew Lawton and the British Heritage Chauffeur Tours. I generally have high expectations, and I was thoroughly impressed.

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