I was born in England – on Valetta Road in West London to be exact. I grew up in a tiny tenement house with hollyhocks in the small garden that were taller than me.
There were buildings all around us that had been destroyed during the war. Dreams and circumstances led me far away from my London roots, but, I’ve always had love in my heart for England.
There are many memories that add vibrant color and deep emotion to the place I was born and raised. Even though I have not lived in England for many years, I understand it. I know the people.
It is a place that resonates with who I am. Its unique qualities and history make it such a special place. It has a lot to offer people who are considering a visit this year.
This is the Year to Visit England with Road Scholar
Unique and quirky, historical and majestic, England is a relatively small country. You really can drive from north to south in a long day. It has seen history and transformation, culture and loss. It offers a depth of life experience that makes it a must-see destination.
So, it does not surprise me that Road Scholar, the not-for-profit leader in educational travel since 1975, chose England as its Destination of the Year for 2017!
Just in case you aren’t familiar with Road Scholar, they offer 5,500 educational adventures in all 50 U.S. states and 150 countries. This year, 68 of their journeys are focused on the United Kingdom.
In truth, the United Kingdom refers to four countries – England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. However, because of the overlap of cities and towns included in the different themed Road Scholar programs, they describe their “country” this year as “Destination England.”
England is a Country of Contrasts and Complexity
England truly does have it all. There is London, an immense capital city filled with wild diversity and magnificent elegance. Cities like Liverpool on the Mersey River celebrate the place the Beatles started their journey.
There are countryside towns that produce the greenest grass in the world. Villages are filled with exuberant gardens and a lively pub culture. The history so rich it permeates every cobblestone road and church, cathedral and café.
There are beach towns like St Ives that shimmer in shadows created by ever moving ocean clouds. Small medieval towns like Lacock and Castle Combe are literally suspended in time and take you back 800 years in the blink of an eye.
There are castles in Scotland that seem to float away in mist. You will see so many rainbows in Ireland that seem truly magical and Welsh streams that meander through stunning snowy mountains.
Stereotypes and Clichés that Stand the Test of Time
And, of course, there are the stereotypes that never fail to evoke the British soul. Double deck buses, red telephone booths, afternoon cream tea, full English breakfast, British accents, the royal family, British strawberries and quirky eccentricity are everywhere! Oh yes, don’t forget Harry Potter, Simon Cowell, Buckingham Palace and Big Ben.
Road Scholar has made England accessible to the curious traveller. They have put together 68 unique programs designed to facilitate an experience of England in all its beautiful complexity.
The foundation of their approach, as always, is to focus on learning as a way of going deep inside the place with the help of their knowledgeable local guides and experts. Depending on your interest, here are just a few choices to consider.
Exploring Ancient History
The West Country of England is where you will find Stonehenge and the roman town of Bath. The stunning cathedral at Salisbury, mysterious Glastonbury Tor and the unique rock formations at Avebury are all explored in the “Walking Exploration of England’s Ancient Footpaths.”
Discovering the English Countryside
The Cotswold’s refers to an area covering nearly 800 square miles across 5 counties that include Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire.
The “wolds,” or rolling hills, make this the perfect area for walking. So, Road Scholar offers a program called “Walking the English Countryside.”
And, if you are really feeling fit and fearless, you can join the “Cycling the Cotswolds” program that lets you ride alongside the sheep and cows and easily stop at those rustic pubs for a cider or beer.
Live Like a Londoner
London is a city that everyone should experience once in their lives. For many, the best way to experience the wonder of London is to live like a local.
So, to satisfy the traveller who likes to take their time in a city, Road Scholar offers a very unique program called Living and Learning in London: Independent Stay and Study.
During the program, you live in an apartment for 30 days and experience London in depth. There is a lot of opportunity for independent exploring. The local experts guide you to the places you are passionate about.
The program allows you to focus on theatre, art or music. This way it is possible to truly make London your home while being immersed in a meaningful learning experience.
If you love the Beatles (and who doesn’t?) you can join a program that includes several cities including Liverpool. This modern city has spectacular museums and a rich history, along with a wonderful Beatles museum.
The Road Scholar program called The Beatles: From Penny Lane to Strawberry Fields includes trips to London, Oxford and Liverpool. It offers a truly immersive experience.
The Full England Experience
If you are planning your first trip to England, deciding what program to choose is going to be the biggest challenge. Fortunately, as I mentioned, the four countries are not that big. You can cover a lot of ground in a short period.
So, if you want to really see it all, Road Scholar has a couple of options.
The 19-day program called Quintessential Britain covers the entire English Welsh and Scottish landscape. During the program, you travel from London to Bath and explore Shakespeare’s Stratford Upon Avon. Included are the villages of the Cotswolds and the literary highlights of Oxford.
In Scotland, you explore Loch Lomond and the Scottish capital, Edinburgh. In Wales the majestic castles in Snowdonia are explored.
Another option is the 14-day experience called The Best of England and Wales: Shakespeare to Snowdonia, Castles to Colleges, which covers similar highpoints in England and Wales.
Have you always wanted to go to England? Do you have English family members in your ancestry? Or, are you simply curious about the United Kingdom’s history, architecture, culture, food and people? There has never been a better time to visit!
In exploring a place like England, you learn about yourself and discover the true meaning of resilience, creativity and endurance. So, what are you waiting for? Go discover yourself in England – Road Scholar is on the journey with you!
Have you ever wanted to visit England, Ireland Scotland or Wales? What is one thing that you’d like to be sure to do if you ever visited the United Kingdom? Have you already visited the United Kingdom? What was your favorite memory? Please join the conversation!