Friday, May 17, 2013

Tuesday, May 14- Rain, Romans, and Royalty (Official Post)

Hello from Stow on the Wold! Last night was spent in our very creaky hostel built in the 17th century. We enjoyed an early traditional English breakfast at the hostel of scrambled eggs, bacon, baked beans, hashbrowns, mushrooms, sausage (not a favorite of the group), and a grilled tomato. We hopped onto a coach bus and our driver, Paul, took us to Gloucester, in Western England. On the 40 minute ride, we had the opportunity to see some gorgeous, green rolling hills, the occasional grazing horse and flocks of sheep. I was certainly reminded of Iowa during our trip.
         When we arrived at Gloucester Cathedral, Morgan gave us a great tour and excellent history of the cathedral. The cathedral was built in 687 and has been a place of worship for 1300 years!! King Henry the third was crowned at Gloucester in 1216 at the age of nine. Also, King Edward the second was buried at Gloucester. We got to see his grave, which was quite ornate and we could even see where precious stones would have been placed in the crown on his effigy. The cathedral had some of the best perpendicular architecture, especially on the ceiling, in a of Britain. Lastly, the fan vaults in the cloisters were not only extremely ornate and complex, they were used for many scenes in the Harry Potter films. While Jenny, Eric, and I waited for the rest of the group to head back to the bus, we had a lovely conversation with the honorary chaplain of the cathedral who has worked there for 20 years! As we walked back to the bus, some of us stopped at a bakery for a mid-morning snack. I purchased  'cheese straw,' a long and thin pastry with cheese bakes into it. Next stop- a Roman villa.
      By the time we left Gloucester, it had begun to rain, requiring many of us to use our handy umbrellas. Little did we know, we wouldn't put them away until we got back to the hostel later that night.
      The Roman villa was much more conserves than other Roman sites we have visited. Chedworth Roman villa is considered to be one of the grandest country houses in Britain from the 4th century. It was so neat to actually see and walk around this home that so obviously belonged to a very wealthy person. We could see the surprisingly intact hot and cold baths, gorgeous tiles that made a magnificent floor mosaic, and the pegs that once held up a floor that could be heated from underneath. We also saw HUGE snails that are native to the area and were introduced by the Romans as a food source. We had a quick lunch at the villa cafe out of the rain and then hopped back on the bus to Stow so we could drop off Cassie, Tate, and Adam so they could get going to watch Arsenal play Wigan in London.
      On our way back to Stow we took a very narrow road where our coach bus took up the majority of the road. We often came within centimeters of cars coming the opposite direction. It certainly added some needed excitement to our rainy day.
      When the footballers were dropped off, the bus took the rest of us to Blenheim Palace, home of the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough and the birth place of Sir Winston Churchill. The palace was by far the most grand and luxurious place I have ever seen. It was absolutely mind blowing!! We toured the lower floor of the palace which had more paintings, portraits, and gold I have ever seen. The outer gardens were equally awe-inspiring, complete with statues, fountains, and decorative hedges. The entire property covers 800 acres. While Jenny, Eric and I took a short and wet walk in the rain, I am 99% sure that we saw the current Duke of Marlborough's dog being walked by a gardener. After our walk, we made some purchases in the shop and enjoyed some delicious ice cream. Then, we got back on the bus to return to Stow for the night.
      Most of us had a delicious dinner at the Talbot- a pub with wifi only a couple of minutes from the hostel. I ordered a very delicious spinach and cheese soufflĂ© that was out of this world!! For dessert, Eric and I shared a pear and almond tart with vanilla ice cream that certainly satisfies our tastebuds. After we finishes dinner and using the wifi, we went back to the hostel and packed our bags to move on to Tenby tomorrow. I think we are all becoming packing experts, especially with the amount if souvenirs we have all squires over the weeks. We are all excited to be in a non-hostel location tomorrow and finally get to see the beach at Tenby!!! Till next time! Cheers!

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