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Greenwich

Folks, we've reached the end of the line. I've said (nearly) all I could say about my England 2012 trip with my home school students. It's been a fun way to revisit this gargantuan marathon of a trip, and I promise that I'll do better about posting about my future travels in a more timely manner. :)

We did three things in Greenwich. If you're planning a day there, let me advise you: do NOT do all three of these things in one day. You will hate yourself because you will be super rushed. Spread them out over two days. 

With that being said, onward into the Greenwich day recap!

Guildhall


With only two posts left on my England 2012 trip recap, I feel like I'm deep into territory that most tourists don't even consider. Like Andy from The Office said, "No hits. Deep tracks only!" 



I didn't mean to do it, but I kind of ended with a couple of deep tracks. They're still awesome, so you can rollerskate to your heart's content...or not. 

Getting back to Guildhall. 

Lloyd's of London: More Than I Ever Wanted to Know about Insurance

On my England 2012 trip, I ended up in Lloyd's of London with four kids. 

As anyone with any experience with children can probably guess, there was a fair bit of whining and multiple rounds of "When are we leaving?" (In their defense, we were getting ready to leave for our private tour of Stonehenge, which turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip.)

They were also more interested in riding the elevators than learning about insurance or trade risks. I can't blame them, as those elevators were pretty darn cool. 

Lloyd's of London

There's So Much More to Dover Than Cliffs

Hidden tunnels.

Steep cliffs. 

A rambling castle. 

Such a place sounds like the beginning of a fantasy novel, doesn't it?

And you thought that Dover, England was just a bunch of cliffs. 

If you're willing to battle the winds and the cold (as we did on an unfortunate June day on our England 2012 trip), you'll be rewarded with a new perspective on the English efforts in World War II...and on those famous cliffs of Dover. 

France is out there...somewhere.



London Library

Does anyone else love the smell of old books?

When we were little, my sister and I used to go to the library. It was a super small one since our town only had a couple of thousand people. Those poor books didn't get out much. 

My sister used to rummage through the children's section and smell her way to the good books (at least, according to her). She didn't care when it was made or who wrote it as long as it had the right smell. 

So much for judging a book by its cover. Clearly, whoever came up with that adage never smelled an old book.

Alohomora: Unlocking the Secrets of the Harry Potter Studios

Did you see what I did with the title there? Dorky Clever, right?

At one point during our June 2012 trip, the mom of the children that I taught asked them, "What was your favorite thing that we've seen so far? And you can't say Harry Potter."

She was hoping against hope that what the kids took away from our intense trip had an element of history, of high culture, of literature. But she was fighting a losing battle because the Harry Potter Studios tour was so cool.

Stratford-upon-Avon

Or, how all of my Literature dreams came true

When I traveled to London and the surrounding area in June 2012, I knew there were many things in store for a literature-loving kid like me. 

After all, I was the English/Language Arts teacher for the kids who were on the trip with me. 

When the mom and dad of the homeschool program asked me for my input on the trip, I immediately suggested a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon (and a trip to the Harry Potter Studios, but that's a post for tomorrow. Literally. I'm posting about it tomorrow!). 

Throughout the school year preceding the trip, I'd focused heavily on Shakespeare's influence on later works. We even had "Little Shakes," my stuffed William Shakespeare doll that I got from the Unemployed Philosophers' Guild. (It comes highly recommended as a teaching tool for those of you who are teachers or who homeschool.)

Now, Little Shakes was returning to his homeland. And I was making it happen!

Cambridge

Cambridge University | CosmosMariners.com

Are y'all as excited as I am about my upcoming trip? If you missed the announcement, check it out here! I'll have most posts on the planning as I get a little closer, so definitely come back...

Where were we in our London travels before I interrupted to bring you news of my upcoming travels?

Ah, yes. 

We'd just visited Stonehenge at sunset and then rested against Buckingham Palace as we watched the Changing of the Guard

What's next on our jam-packed itinerary?

We're headed out of London to a town called Cambridge that's home to a little institute of higher learning called Cambridge University. You may have heard of it.

Buckingham Palace: Changing of the Guard

As I mentioned in Friday's post, I'm revisiting a trip that I took to London and the surrounding area back when I was teaching in a homeschool program. 

Better late than never, right?! (Plus, the majority of these sites have looked the same for hundreds of years. I really doubt they've changed that significantly since the summer of 2012.)

Let's kick off the week with a behind-the-gates review of the Changing of the Guard. 

Yup, that's right. 

Stonehenge: Getting Up Close and Personal

Stonehenge: Up Close and Personal | CosmosMariners.com

Back when I was working at a homeschool program here in Charleston, I had the opportunity to head to London for three weeks with four of my students, their parents, and my fellow teacher. One of the places that we were visiting was Stonehenge, something I wasn't super excited about since I'd been twice before and had disliked just anti-climatic visiting this world-famous site was.

However, this visit surprised me and completely changed my thoughts on Stonehenge. For how that happened--and how I managed to get really up close and personal with the inner stone circle, read on!

In the program, I taught these four kids (all siblings) English/ Language Arts; that entire school year, we'd worked towards mastering some of the most important classic British literature within my capacity as a full-time English tutor. I was so excited to share one of my favorite places in the world with these children whom I'd grown incredibly close to over the course of the school year. 

A few caveats about this trip:
  • While I helped plan some of the trip, most of the tours and logistics were finalized by the parents. Until myself, they are far from budget travelers and spared no expense on this trip. It was fun to see one of my favorite places (London) from a five star travelers' perspective!
  • Whenever possible, I haven't included pictures of the kids because they aren't my kids. Just trust me when I say that I usually had four pairs of little hands clinging me to 90% of the time. 
  • I tried to take decent pictures, but between teaching on the go and supervising four kids under the age of 11, my camera work is definitely sub par. Forgive me.
As I mentioned, I'd been to Stonehenge before this trip, having visited with my roommate while I was studying abroad in London. We did the usual tourist version of Stonehenge as we walked around the stones at a distance while wearing our audio tour earphones:

Stonehenge: Getting Up Close and Personal | CosmosMariners.com
Hey, look! It's college Natalie at Stonehenge! (Don't worry--both my personal style and sunglasses have been replaced since this photo was taken.)

This visit, though, was different. 

The family decided to book a private tour with one of the archaeologists that works the site; he and a colleague drove us around the Stonehenge site in 4-wheeled-drive vehicle, giving commentary and theories as we got to different spots. 

The Stonehenge site is actually much larger than most people realize. If you're inside the tourist area (where the stones are), look back over the road to the higher ground. Where that ground peaks and has tree cover, there are several grassy burial grounds that archaeologists believe are linked to the rest of the site.

Stonehenge: Getting Up Close and Personal | CosmosMariners.com
You can't see it, but the stones of Stonehenge are just beyond the dip in the field. 

Our tour took place at dusk, and it wasn't hard to imagine people gathering around this important site thousands of years ago. 

After visiting the burial site, we headed back into the vehicles and drove over to the more recognized part of the Stonehenge site. 

Stonehenge: Getting Up Close and Personal | CosmosMariners.com
DO YOU SEE HOW CLOSE I AM!?!?

There, the guide let us right up next to the rocks, where we were treated to fun facts and theories about the cutting and moving of the rocks.

Stonehenge: Getting Up Close and Personal | CosmosMariners.com

We even saw a carving that the guide said was basically ancient graffiti--something that you'd never be able to see from where the normal tour takes you!

Stonehenge: Getting Up Close and Personal | CosmosMariners.com
I am touching Stonehenge. STONEHENGE, people! (But only with the tip of my finger very, very lightly. I don't want to be the cause of one of them falling down.)
As the sun set, there was a mysterious, almost creepy feeling that hung in the air. We were standing in the middle of the Stonehenge circle, and we watched the sun go down between these massive, ancient pillars. For once, the kids I was traveling with were quiet, seemingly aware of what a unique moment we were experiencing. 

Taking a private tour isn't anything that I'd ever considered because I'm the queen of budget travel, but the experience was definitely one that I will always remember. If you're looking for a cool way to experience one of the world's most recognized landmarks (and you're willing to shell out some cash), I'd highly recommend the sunset tour of Stonehenge.

Stonehenge: Getting Up Close and Personal | CosmosMariners.com

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Have you visited Stonehenge yet? What did you think? What's one travel experience that you're glad you splurged on?
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