I’ve planned to share this post much sooner, but you know, life sometimes gets in the way. But I will start with this: I LOVED UNITED KINGDOM.
Preparing for the trip I did not have any expectations. And honestly, I did not have time to expect anything, as this was a work trip and I was responsible for work that needed to be done while there. Much of my time was taken by work during my 7 day stay in UK, but I still managed to jam pack as much activity as possible!
The journey to UK was supposed to be easy, an 8.5 hr nonstop flight from Houston to London (same as Hawaii, btw). But, haha! Nothing is that simple in life. Our departure gate was changed three times from terminal E to terminal C, which just happen to be extremely far from each other.
(You’ve seen Home Alone, right?)
Anyways, when they changed the gate again (for the 4th time). We gave up and decided to sit between the two terminals and wait… not sure what we were waiting for, I guess until they called our names over the speakers (I traveled with 2 co-workers). Two minutes later my colleague checks his United app that says that our flight has been canceled! Wait! What? What do we do now? Go home? But we have to be there! We need to work! Another frantic run to the United Customer Service desk, waiting, and luckily there was another flight to London later that night that we were all rebooked on (there go our seat choices)! Ultimately we think that the first flight was not full enough, so to save money they decided to combine the two flights. I think this is true.
We get to London the next day (cause you know, long flight + 6 hr time change). And from London we needed to go straight to Cheltenham (2-3 hr drive) for which we had scheduled a car. But because our car service was monitoring our original flight and saw that it was canceled, they canceled our car from Cheltenham to meet us in Heathrow airport. We ended up booking a van through the airport, which was almost twice as expensive as our original booking (£270 vs £150). Thankfully our company covered this cost, so whew! I don’t know if you realize this, but British Pound is a lot more expensive than the US Dollar (£270 GBP = $416 USD).
Hungry and exhausted we finally got to Cheltenham on Monday afternoon. Compared to Houston (or London for that matter) it’s a fairly small town with the population of about 120k people and we were in the middle of it right around the High Street at The Abbey B&B. Other than airbnb I have never stayed at an actual bed and breakfast before. I loved my room, very cute and quaint!
After a few minutes of rest we ventured out to the High Street. There we found a Pound store (like a dollar store here) and I exchanged two £10 bills for what I thought were going to be 20 £1 bills… but turns out there is no paper currency for £1, so I got a load of 20 very heavy coins instead.
There were also street performers that were playing none other When The Saints Go Marching In. What a welcome!
Btw, check this link out for an old photo of Cheltenham from 1906.
(It was really the only day time walk we had in Cheltenham. All other days were at work until dark and only got to roam around the city at night.)
It was getting dark and we were still looking for a place to eat. We finally settled on the Tailors pub. The prices were decent and food was probably the best I had in UK (honestly, coming from foodie city of Houston, I was not impressed by UK plates overall).
Definitely get Fried Brie appetizer! It’s the best!
Oh yeah, and the World Rugby Cup was on (go SA! go Argentina! Idk… there were cute boys on both teams).
And pretty much every bathroom had a separate faucets for hot and cold water. So you were either burning your hands, or freezing them. This was especially uncomfortable when I was brushing my teeth in my b&b room.
Oh! And they had these things. I thought it was funny. I later bought some at the airport. They are basically little plastic brushes with minty substance on them that you chew and spit out. Not a bad idea for that “emergency” brushing.
One day our co-worker that lives in Cheltenham forgot his keys at work and the office was already closed. So we went to get the spare key from the house of his friend who is a headmaster at a school in Cheltenham and lives on campus at a historic home. This almost 200 year old fireplace inside his home is not allowed to be removed or altered with without notifying the city.
Thai Brasserie. We went there for dinner one night. Was not my favorite, and a bit pricy, but the curry was good.
After our work affairs week came to conclusion, it was time to celebrate, so a few people from the local office took us out to several pubs.
John Gordons. The atmosphere was really fun and the locals raved about their whisky selection.
Montpellier Wine Bar. Fun atmosphere and awesome bartenders!
We ended the night at Kukui Bar and Nightclub. I think at this point we had ventured too “far” into party scene. It was the night before Halloween and I felt like we were back in high school. Although we still managed to have a lot of fun.
Moving around was easy through Cheltenham Spa train station.
There is even a place to recycle your gum.
Overall, Cheltenham was a nice quaint town within a bigger city with lots to see and do. I could use a couple more days of exploration, but perhaps it is only a reason to come back again! I hear it is a very romantic place to visit in spring and summer and they are very well known for the horse races that take place every year.