England

Go Beyond the Grave in York, England

Posted November 17, 2010 by Kate Hamman

York York exudes English charm, especially along its winding medieval street called the Shambles. However, don't be fooled by its picturesque setting, as the city has plenty of secrets lurking in the shadows, including its reputation as one of the most haunted cities in Europe. Get to know the town by walking through its spooky history, dining with its ghosts, and drinking its tea inspired by an infamous ocean liner.

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The Ghost Trail of York: The Ghost Trail of York takes you along darkened streets at night, while you listen to tales of murder, plague, heartbreak, and revenge beyond the grave. A costumed guide waits in front of the York Minster every night at 7:30 p.m., regardless of weather, to reveal the gruesome and tragic events of York's past. Tickets cost £4.00 (about $6.00 U.S.; check XE.com for current conversion rates) and the tour lasts about one hour and 15 minutes.

Eat
Golden Fleece: When you go to a pub for spirits, it's unlikely you're thinking of the dearly departed variety. The Golden Fleece, however, typically serves both. Built in 1503, you'll find York's most haunted drinking establishment across from the historical Shambles. Skip the drinks and go right to the main attraction of comfort foods, such as homemade Yorkshire pudding. Try not to be too alarmed if you catch sight of Lady Peckett, one of the five resident spirits. For a haunting good time, you can also rent one of the four rooms and spend the night with your newfound friends. Entrees start at £6.25.

Drink
Bettys Café Tea Rooms: Bettys Café Tea Rooms on St. Helen's Square captures the elegance of afternoon tea with absolute precision. Inspired by the founder's maiden voyage aboard the Queen Mary in 1936, the ornate and extravagant interior is reminiscent of the grand ocean liner which, incidentally, is haunted. A cup of the Tea Room Blend costs £2.95, but order Yorkshire Cream Tea, served in a piping hot pot with two scones, preserves, and clotted cream for £7.95, for a truly authentic experience.

To search for flights and compare prices to Leeds, which is home to York’s nearest major airport, please use our price-comparison tool.

(Photo: VisitYork.org)

Return to Nature Organically in Cumbria, England

Posted February 18, 2010 by Kate Hamman

Cumbria With a national park and England's four tallest mountains, Cumbria is a natural paradise waiting to be discovered. Since so much of the land is protected and properly looked after, it only makes sense that local establishments would follow suit with organic offerings. Come visit a dairy farm to taste freshly-made cheese, stop in a bakery for homemade breads, and then spend the night in an eco-conscious boutique hotel for less than you'd think.

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Low Sizergh Barn
: Located in Kendal as part of the Soil Association's Organic Farms Network, Low Sizergh Barn is a must-stop for any eco-friendly farm lover. Come explore the 250 acres of land, where 150 cows produce fresh organic milk that is used to make cheese. Then stop by the store housed in an 18th-century Westmorland barn, where you can buy a variety of products from nearby farms. In the afternoon, have a cup of tea or a slice of pie in the tearoom, and watch the daily milking from above.

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The Village Bakery
: Not only is everything at the Village Bakery in Melmerby made from organic ingredients, but the shop bakes with renewable energy. Choose from a range of items you can feel good about eating, including biscuits, cakes, snack bars, and the bakery's real show-stopper, its breads. Even Paul McCartney is an avid fan of the bakery's goods. Loaves of bread start at £1.05 (about $1.65 U.S.; check XE.com for current exchange rates), and a full menu is available.

Stay
Moss Grove Organic Hotel
: In Grasmere, you'll find a hotel with low-impact practices that will wow you almost as much as the surrounding fells. In its refurbishment, Moss Grove used many natural products, including organic clay paints, reclaimed stained glass, and thermafleece (sheep's fleece). Choose from its 11 unique rooms, each equipped with natural wood blinds, hand-screened wallpaper, and free Internet access. Prices start at £125 per night (about $197 U.S.), and include a Mediterranean buffet breakfast made with organic and local products.

To search for flights and compare prices to Manchester, the nearest major airport, please use our price-comparison tool.

(Photo: iStockphoto.com/ Anthony Brown)

Town and Gown in Oxford, England

Posted May 18, 2009 by Kate Hamman

England-Oxford-RdclfCmra-DEF When it's time once again to put on your thinking cap, look to a city like Oxford for literary stimulation. This medieval university town has been home to many great writers who studied long hours, stopped for pints to relax, and bought pub fare for sustenance here. Come see where these masters of the English language spent much of their academic lives and walk amongst the town and gown of this historical city.

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Bodleian Library: It's not surprising Oxford would have the second largest library in the U.K. Nor is it the least bit shocking it's housed in architecturally impressive buildings more than 500 years old. The Bodleian Library, whose stacks hold in excess of seven million volumes, is an outstanding resource for the written word. Guided tours give insight into both the massive collections and those literary folk who studied here, including Oscar Wilde, J.R.R. Tolkien, and C.S. Lewis. The standard one-hour tour costs £2.50 per person (about $3.85 U.S. dollars; see XE.com for current conversion rates) and covers sights such as the Duke Humfrey's medieval library and the 17th-century Convocation House and Court.

Drink
Eagle and Child: Years before their books were adapted into blockbuster films, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien would meet in this pub as part of a literary group known as "The Inklings." Rumor has it they even read from their works, The Chronicles of Narnia and The Hobbit. The "Bird and Baby," as it is affectionately called by locals, still caters to Oxford students discussing literature, but also welcomes anyone who wishes to pay their respects to the writers who once drank here. Grab a pint and take a peek at the memorabilia, which includes a plaque honoring the Inklings.

Shop
Oxford Covered Market: Serving as a place to buy goods for more than 1,000 years, the Covered Market in the heart of Oxford will take you back to Olde England. After you've admired the stalls of colorful fruits and vegetables at the greengrocer's, stop at the Oxford Cheese Company for a wedge of farmhouse cheddar or have your shoes resoled at the Oxford Cobbler. It doesn't cost a thing to browse, and you could spend days sifting through the plethora of specialty items. When your feet need a rest, grab a quick baguette with artisan crisps (British for potato chips) at mortons@work for under £4 or head home with a bag of tea from Cardews of Oxford.

To search for flights and compare prices to London, which is home to Oxford’s nearest major airport, please use our price-comparison tool.

(Photo: Steve Geer)

Go Beyond the Grave in York, England

Posted May 12, 2009 by Kate Hamman

England-York-Betty'sCafe-DEF York exudes English charm, especially along its winding medieval street called the Shambles. However, don't be fooled by its picturesque setting, as the city has plenty of secrets lurking in the shadows, including its reputation as one of the most haunted cities in Europe. Get to know the town by walking through its spooky history, dining with its ghosts, and drinking its tea inspired by an infamous ocean liner.

Play
The Ghost Trail of York: The Ghost Trail of York takes you along darkened streets at night, while you listen to tales of murder, plague, heartbreak, and revenge beyond the grave. A costumed guide waits in front of the York Minster every night at 7:30 p.m., regardless of weather, to reveal the gruesome and tragic events of York's past. Tickets cost £4.00 (about $6.00 U.S.; check XE.com for current conversion rates) and the tour lasts about one hour and 15 minutes.

Eat
Golden Fleece: When you go to a pub for spirits, it's unlikely you're thinking of the dearly departed variety. The Golden Fleece, however, typically serves both. Built in 1503, you'll find York's most haunted drinking establishment across from the historical Shambles. Skip the drinks and go right to the main attraction of comfort foods, such as homemade Yorkshire pudding. Try not to be too alarmed if you catch sight of Lady Peckett, one of the five resident spirits. For a haunting good time, you can also rent one of the four rooms and spend the night with your newfound friends. Entrees start at £6.25.

Drink
Bettys Café Tea Rooms: Bettys Café Tea Rooms on St. Helen's Square captures the elegance of afternoon tea with absolute precision. Inspired by the founder's maiden voyage aboard the Queen Mary in 1936, the ornate and extravagant interior is reminiscent of the grand ocean liner which, incidentally, is haunted. A cup of the Tea Room Blend costs £2.95, but order Yorkshire Cream Tea, served in a piping hot pot with two scones, preserves, and clotted cream for £7.95, for a truly authentic experience.

To search for flights and compare prices to Leeds, which is home to York’s nearest major airport, please use our price-comparison tool.

(Photo: VisitYork.org)

Paint the Town Red in Covent Garden

Posted February 20, 2009 by Kate Hamman

England-London-CoventGrdn-D When the clouds are gray, as is common in London, it's time to grab a bite to eat and take in a show. Well-known for its ample theater selections, Covent Garden can't be beat as a jumping-off point for a day or night on the town. This funky and fun district overflows with unique shops, coffee and tea houses, and theatrical performances, but you don't have to spend a pretty penny—even though the British pound is still worth somewhat more than U.S. dollar —to enjoy the sights.

Shop
Covent Garden Market: This bustling two-story market located on the Piazza nearly topples over with homemade goods, fine fashions, tasty treats, U.K. souvenirs, and enough eye candy to make your head spin. Street performers entertain onlookers with juggling, magic, and music, while shopkeepers bid patrons welcome.

Eat
Mon Plaisir: As the oldest French restaurant in London, this endearing brasserie, with its white exterior and red-and-blue lettering, has earned bragging rights as one of the best. Upon entering the dining area, you will encounter a pewter-topped bar, which was transported from a Lyonnais brothel to now give hungry souls a place to rest. The traditional country-French fare lives up to its reputation, with menu items such as beef casserole with a rich red wine sauce or medley of fish with chive butter sauce. And if you're in a hurry to catch a show, it's the greatest deal in town. For the pre-theater crowd, two- and three-course menus start at £13.50 (about $19.50 U.S. dollars; see XE.com for current exchange rates) and include a glass of wine with seatings between 5:45 and 7:00 p.m. on weekdays.

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The Royal Opera House: Although this theater has gone through several transformations, the ground it stands on has been the scene of live performances for almost 300 years. Today, the lavishly decorated building, with an impressive glass dome and Greek columns, wows audiences with its opera, ballet, and dance productions. For half-price tickets, visit the box office several hours before a show. It may be risky, but spontaneity can pay off.

To search for flights and compare prices to London, please use our price-comparison tool.

(Photo: Visit London Images/Britain on View)


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