15 February 2008

Visiting the Cotswolds

A visit to England

On short notice we decided to make a quick trip to Great Britain, a country we have never visited. Friends of ours, Pauline and Steve, from Santa Fe, NM are renting a cottage in the Cotswolds area of Southwestern England and we took advantage of their offer to visit.

This started with Valerie searching airfares and both EasyJet and RyanAir advertise cheap flights to Great Britain but they like to nickel and dime their customers. We found flights on EasyJet from Ciampino airport in Rome to Bristol which was the closest airport to Pauline and Steve. The “no-frills” service of these carriers make Southwest Airlines in the US look like first class: bus or walking to and from the gate to the plane, charges for checking luggage, a charge to book on-line with a credit card, and no water or snack on the 2.5 hour flight (2.50€ for a cup of hot tea).

We have met several people in our area from Great Britain and they all said the Cotswolds is a very charming area and based on our visit I agree. We had four days of clear skies and despite frost at night unseasonably warm temperatures during the day. This was not the wet, cold and dreary England we have always heard about. We spent the few days there being shown around the area by Pauline with Steve mastering the left-side driving chores. (Trivia: do more people drive on left or right side of road? Clue: Chinese drive on the left). This is an area of charming stone villages of similar stone, shape and size. There are several canals in the area with adjoining walking paths and there are paths that connect villages where walking across a farmer’s field is accepted and encouraged.

We visited a town with a name similar to the town Stow, Ohio where I grew up; Stow-on-the-Wold that claims the earliest organic food store in Great Britain. We had fish-and-chips, tea with biscuits and cream, a pint or two of ale, had curry (ate at an Indian restaurant), took the waters and retraced some of the places written about and known to Jane Austen.

The generally uniform structures, clean road sides, lack of graffiti and organized parking in this area of England were all a stark contrast to our life here in Italy. Again not better or worse, just different. We had a great time enjoying the English countryside and spending time with friends.

In case you wondered…we did try coffee at a couple places, even some which advertised Illy coffee. I did not have to explain what I wanted when I ordered a single espresso but the taste just didn’t seem the same as here in Italy.


Anonymous said...

About time you visited another European country. Wayne

erin said...

So glad you had a great time in England. I've never been to this area, but it looks lovely. When I was in England before, the weather was wonderful too - a great surprise. Also, we ate curry quite a bit. It's funny that Indian food is the "fast-food" of sorts there.

Bryan said...

It took me a couple time to hear "take a curry" to realize the locals meant to eat Indian food. The only fast food we had was take-away fish & chips.

Anonymous said...

You should have told me you were going...I could have assisted with the language difference!!! Hope all is well with both of you, you seem to be having a wonderful time.


Bryan said...

Ash, I could understand you very clearly when we lived in NM...I think you have adapted to the American accent more than you may realize.