Welcome to Albion
England certainly does have it all; beautiful nature and rural countryside, a vast amount of culture and never-ending history at every turn, even the sun if you catch it on a good day! Bed and breakfasts should be your lodging of choice and always try and get a quick pint in at your local; this will tell you a lot about the area you're in. Within the nine different regions you'll discover a unique population, atmosphere and setting to be discovered over the course of several trips.Stone Henge
It is thought that some of the stones in the circle at Stone Henge were built all the way back in 3100 BC and that the majority of the construction then took place between 2640 and 2480 BC. It is unclear as to why Stonehenge was built and who exactly helped to build it however the land has now been adopted by English Heritage and is owned by the National Trust. Thousands of tourists flock to this prehistoric attraction fascinated by its mysterious purpose. There are various theories behind the building of Stonehenge and one of them suggests that, due to its celestial observatory function, it was used to predict an eclipse or a solstice, equinox or any other celestial events that could be important to a contemporary religion.The Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is a little known spot off the south coast. Accessible by ferry from Portsmouth and Southampton, the Isle is home to several historical monuments, including Osborne House (a former seaside residence of Queen Victoria) and Carisbrooke Castle (an 11th century fortress). However, the varied coasts are definitely the reason why you need to visit the Isle of Wight: beaches alternate with impressive cliffs all the way along Alum Bay. You will find the most beautiful views on the west coast close to the Needles rocks.Afternoon Tea at the Ritz
If there's one thing British activity that can be thoroughly recommended upon visiting England and more specifically London that's a visit to the Ritz Hotel for Afternoon Tea. This iconic venue screams decadence and elegance; customers sipping tea in the Palm Court and listening to the beautiful baby grand or harp in the background. The price is high but worth every penny as you're able to while away the hours with a continuous flow of tea and cakes.Cotswolds
If you're after a real escape to the country style trip, head straight to the Cotswold's and get lost on long walks in the rolling hills of the lush countryside. This south central region has in previous years been awarded the title of an ?area of outstanding natural beauty' and is most well known for its rural landscapes, historical towns, stone-built villages and stately homes. The Cotswold's is relatively easily accessible for example; the three neighboring towns Stroud, Stonehouse, Gloucester and Cheltenham all have train stations. The region is famous for its historic gardens, pubs, inns and farm and outdoor activities. In addition, there is also a budding arts and crafts scene and a strong selection of farmers markets and organic producers are dotted around the towns.
Surface area : 50346.0 km2
Population : 51448000 inhabitants
You can take home gourmet specialties: tea, shortbread biscuits, orange or lemon marmelades, liquorice-flavoured sweets, sauces and varied seasonings. In London, go to Portobello flea market and to the Greenwich market to get original objects: hand-crafted jewelry, carpets and ceramics. Shops open from 9:00am to 17:30pm during the week.
The classic that always comes to mind when anyone ever thinks about English food is Fish and chips. Speaking from experience the best place to enjoy fish and chips, whether that be skate, plaice, scampi, pukka pie or battered sausage is the seaside. Chip shop chips from the seaside are simply unbeatable. You can serve this dish with a sprinkling of salt and or vinegar and lemon if you so wish. Most of the types of fish available are battered and fried, of course served with chips and mushy peas are also optional.
The next classic British dish is a hearty traditional British Sunday roast consisting of roast beef, roast chicken, lamb or pork served with potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, potatoes, vegetables, stuffing and a good amount of gravy. Yorkshire pudding is without doubt the best part, its made from batter consisting of eggs, flour and milk and is normally filled to the brim with gravy.
Another favourite is steak and kidney pie, this consists of large chunks of beef and kidney in a rich, thick gravy baked in a pastry crust. The alternative to the pie is a steak and kidney pudding which is baked in suet pastry instead of short crust pastry.
In England, cheese is also a huge winner. It is normally much later in the evening after the main meal and dessert. The prices for local cheese are relatively low but if they appear to be still a little out of your budget the prices in the local supermarkets also aren't extortionate. The British favourites include: Blue and White Stilton, Cheddar, Red Leicester, Wensleydale, Sag, Derby, Cornish Yarg, Double Gloucester.
In terms of desserts, sticky toffee pudding goes down an absolute treat! This consists of a very moist sponge cake, mixed with dates, covered in a hot toffee caramelly sauce and lathered in vanilla custard or vanilla ice cream. How could British Beer go forgotten; England is renowned worldwide for having a selection of fantastic real ales. In fact not just real ales but also bitters, mild, brown ale and old ale. Some of the most popular choices include : Late Knights Worm Catcher, Barrel and Sellers Best Bitter and Fullers London Porter.
Shopping lovers should not miss the sales period in London. Winter sales start after Christmas (on 27 December) and last until the end of January. Summer sales are in July.
Brits' passion for gardens is no secret: but traditional English gardens aren't the only stylistic representation of green spaces. Historically, they make up the gardens that were introduced most recently, at the end of the nineteenth century. They are characterised by rich flower beds that are trying to recreate nature. Victorian gardens, which were most popular at the beginning of the nineteenth century, are much more orderly: They separate their flower beds with well defined paths and bordered hedges. As for Renaissance gardens, favoured in the time of the Tudors, these feature as the first English gardens: These gardens are based on complex designs of plant and flowerbeds made of box trees and lavender. To get a good glimpse of the variety of English gardens, go to the Tamise Valley: several residences found in the area are all bordered by very well groomed parks.
There's no better way to discover England than by car. Either drive around in your own car or hire one to ensure complete flexibility and independency. Allow at least a week to see the essential sites and book your accommodation in advance, especially if you plan on visiting during the high season.
If you can only come for a short trip, put London at the top of your list. With its accessibility and cosmopolitan nature, the capital of England is the perfect weekend destination. In two days it's possible to visit the main attractions and fully immerse yourself in London's thriving culture. Packages proposed by tour operators generally include transportation (plane, train, bus) and accommodation with breakfast included. There is a wide range of hotels to choose from, from a modest 2-star to a luxurious 5-star. The Bed & Breakfast formula is also very popular: more welcoming than a traditional hotel, it is an ideal choice for those who want to experience a typically British weekend.
If you are flying to London, keep in mind that Heathrow airport is the closest one to the capital (just 15 mi to the west), although it will still take you around 40 minutes to reach it. The easiest way of getting there is to take the tube. Gatwick airport is the furthest away (29 mi to the south) but it is very well connected to other express trains. It takes about 30 min to reach. As for Stansted airport, it is a base for many low-cost airlines but is also located 37 mi north of London. The express trains take about 45 min. Finally there is London City Airport, 6 mi from the capital. Allow 30 min for transfers via a shuttle.
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