CIE Tours Travel Blog
From The Air To You
By: Samantha Henderson
Date: July 2, 2017
Well... We made it. My journey with CIE has come to an end. I am currently writing to you from my Delta plane, feeling incredibly full after all the food they've given me. This month has been one I'll never forget, but let me tell you about the past two days.
Stonehenge and Me!
On Friday, we explored Cornwall. The first stop we made was Land's End. Here, you can stand at what appears to be the end of the world (geographically speaking, of course.) Mainly, it's just fun to say you were there. I even kicked it up a notch by wearing a complete outfit by the clothing brand Lands' End... but that part is optional. Probably one of the most fun things to do at Land's End is to take a photo with a sign that tells you how far away other places in the world are from that exact point. You can actually have it customized with your own town's name and distance! There are fun exhibits, like one about Sean the Sheep, and a bakery that serves pastries, cakes, and lunch items.
Once we'd had enough of being at the "End of the Land", we made our way back to a more civilized part of Cornwall, where we found Saint Michael's Mount. Here, we had time to eat a terrific seafood lunch, or whatever else we fancied, before exploring a bit.
My Lands' End raincoat, Land's End
Saint Michael's Mount is essentially a castle on a hill in the middle of the sea. The amazing thing is that there's a walkway to the castle from the shore, but it's only accessible when the tide goes out! So, we were a little disappointed when we settled in for lunch and our view overlooking the water and Saint Michael's mount revealed that the walkway was submerged. However, gradually the walkway was uncovered by the time we'd finished eating! So, we walked along the cobblestones, took photos and marveled at the beauty of the castle and the water surrounding us.
After a scenic day, we made our way back to The Cornwall Hotel. This hotel was really special. Each room had its own private balcony with a table and chairs. Also, some rooms had an interesting setup that placed the bath tub and sink directly behind the bed! We enjoyed looking out from our balconies onto the expansive grounds of the hotel, covered in lush green grass.
Guest Camille pretending to dive, St. Michael's Mount
The morning was kicked off with an excellent breakfast at The Cornwall Hotel that involved, like most breakfasts on tour, a buffet with plenty to choose from followed by the opportunity to order a cooked meal. Once we were all fueled up for the day, we headed on our way to Windsor, England.
However, before arriving in Windsor, we made a really fun stop... at Stonehenge! For many guests, this was the highlight of the tour. We got off the coach and made our way to the stones, following a sea of vibrant red poppies. Then, the impressive circular stone setup was before us. It was simply a surreal moment to stand in front of the stones, knowing people, many years ago, put the stones the way that they did for some reason. Not to mention, the stones are just massive.
We had about half an hour to view the stones, which was just enough time, before heading to the visitor center. The visitor center has plenty of information about the stones as well as artifacts that have been excavated at the sight over the years. A favorite part of the exhibit for many is a circular cinematic screen that plays a video showing the stones throughout the seasons. It's almost as if you are actually there, through all twelve months of the year, standing next to the stones... for less than five minutes. The circular shape of the screen mimics the formation of the stones.
Next, we were off to Windsor. It was up to us to explore Windsor Castle at leisure, but David was kind enough to lead us into the castle right to the main attraction, the state apartments. I did not have very high hopes for Windsor Castle, but it quickly became one of my favorite memories of the entire trip. The inside of the state apartments is enough to make you want to remodel your entire home in the style of Windsor Castle. This is no museum. Windsor Castle is an actual home. The Queen currently resides in the castle (She was there when we were!) and frequently holds important events. The high ceilings were clad in gold molding and extravagant chandeliers. Every nook and cranny of each and every room was just immaculate. If you're lucky, you can peer out onto the courtyard and see the queen hopping into a Land Rover!
Round tower with flag flying indicating the queen's presence, Windsor Castle
Later in the evening, I had my last three-course meal of the month, and, in retrospect, I realized how spoiled I have been on this trip. The food has always been superb. However, last night's meal at the place we stayed, Mgallery Castle Hotel, was exceptionally well done. We had a few choices for each course, but I'll tell you what I chose! I started off with creamy goat cheese atop balsamic and olive oil over grilled peppers, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, and eggplant. Then, I had the cheesiest and most delicious ravioli of my life. I couldn't even finish the enormous portion they gave me! I ended the meal with exotic fruit salad that was divine- nothing like fresh fruit!
Although I almost couldn't move from all that food, we took our last walking tour of the trip, around Windsor. We were lucky enough to have the best CIE walking guide, Amanda! She was excellent and we all agreed that we learned so much from her. She showed us the Long Walk in front of the castle, the pony Emma that the Queen rides, the magnificent castle, and more. Along the way, she told us about Windsor's history, as well as the monarch's history and different fun facts that made our jaws drop and our bellies laugh. We even met a gentleman and his wife who live inside the castle and were able to ask them questions about what it's like to live there.
And with that, the best month of my life came to an end. I said goodbye to my friends and got to bed in preparation for my early transfer to the airport in the morning.
Thanks for meeting me here!