Friday, June 24, 2016

Europe Adventure: Day Five, Part Two- Highclere Castle

We had to leave Dover in such a hurry because we had a long drive to do to make an appointment. 
One of our top bucket list items for this trip was to visit Highclere Castle. 
(AKA Downton Abbey)
They only open it up for tours for a few dates each month so it is not particularly easy to get into. 
I emailed them about a year before the trip to ask when the dates for April would open up. They told me to keep checking back in November. 
So I did. I checked every day and one day the April 2016 dates were there!
They only had a few days open for tours during our trip. So I grabbed the ONLY one that would work for us. It meant driving all the way to Canterbury the day before and then driving back the same direction we had come (rather than going straight north to York) and it also meant we wouldn't have enough time to visit Nottingham and Sherwood Forest. But we had to do it. 
So as soon as we left Dover, we drove Northwest for a couple of hours. 
We were so excited. 
I brought along a special CD just for the moment when we were driving up the driveway....

I'm such a nerd but it was so amazing to be driving toward Highclere while listening to this song.
Also, just for perspective when I talk about the roads being small... the road in the video is not a one way road. 
We parked on a muddy hill along with a ton of other cars. It was very packed. 
We walked up the hill toward the castle and through these gates where we showed our tickets. 

Then we walked up the path...
and our giddiness was in full force. 

I don't think I can fully describe how excited we were to enter this house. 
I have read the books written by the Countess of Carnarvon about the history of Highclere Castle and I felt a real connection to the real people that lived the real history here as well as the fact that my mom and I are both huge Downton Abbey fans and those characters feel real to us as well. 

I grabbed this photo and then realized photos are not allowed in the house. 

I still tried to take a few... but this happened. 
All of the photos turned out really weird so I'm pretty sure that was because I was doing something I wasn't supposed to. 

I purchased post cards of all the rooms as well to make up for me taking pictures. If that counts. 
The house was so lovely. Even though it is so big.. it still felt cozy and homey. 
It was really crowded and we pretty much just walked slowly in a line through the whole place. But I didn't mind this at all as it really gave us a chance to look at everything. 
It felt so unreal to be there. We recognized so much of it from Downton Abbey and it was just so cool to see them in person. 
I recommend a visit here to anyone that loves Downton Abbey and those that don't as well as the house has an amazing history all its own. 

We decided to get tickets to the Egyptian Exhibit as well and that was really cool to see. It took us down through the basement where we got to see artifacts and  and information from the 5th Earl. (He, along with his partner Howard Carter, discovered the tomb of King Tut in 1922.)

After this we went into the kitchen and ordered lunch. 
We ordered beef and potato pasties. They came with vegetables and water. 
It was all very good and warm and that was great because it was quite cold. 
We didn't get to eat in THE dining room but we did get to eat in the home!

This was the view from the room that we chose to eat in....

After lunch we went to the gift shop and toured the gardens and grounds. 
Here is the back of the house. 

Everywhere you looked was just stunning. 

The path from the beginning of the show...

We hated to say goodbye to Highclere. 
But our time was up. We had spent hours here. 
Our shoes were muddy. We were cold and damp. 
So we looked around and said goodbye to it all and were so grateful we were able to experience it!

We walked back down to the car and drove carefully through the mud to get back out. A few cars were stuck so we made sure to be careful driving back to the driveway. We saw an adorable little bunny on the side of the road!

We drove a few hours more to get to York. 
The drive was really nice. The scenery was beautiful and we could hear birds even when on the motorway which I loved. 
We originally planned on getting into York in the afternoon so we would  have a few hours to wander around but we ended up getting there around dusk. 
We found the bed and breakfast easy enough but I wasn't sure how we were supposed to park in the front as it looked like there was no room so we drove down the road to a church and called to ask. 
He told me to pull into their front area behind the gate and that he would park the car for me since they did "Victorian parking". 
We stayed at the Bishop's Guest House
It was very charming and pretty on the outside. 

And it was so nice of him to park for me because to be honest I would not have been able to do this....
(there were cars really close to this behind where I am standing to take the picture)

Inside Bishop's was great too. It was decorated so cute and everything was completely charming. 

There was not an elevator but he helped us upstairs with our bags. 
The room was very small but adorable and very comfortable. 
We loved it. 
The view was of the garden. 

My bed....

My mom's bed..

He told us that York would be a little bit of a party atmosphere at this time of night on a Saturday so we decided we would wait to visit until the next morning. 
We walked down the street to a convenience store to grab some things for dinner. 
We already had peanut butter so we got a loaf of bread, some chips, a thing of milk, and a Starbar to try for dessert. 

It was a simple meal but worked fine. We relaxed in our room and watched Escape to the Country. 
It was a wonderful day and a very nice evening. 

When I stopped to get gas (petrol) I found that the children's magazines always had toys in with them and that they had some we don't have. I grabbed some for souvenirs for the girls. 
For Abi I got a Sparkle World (she has a subscription to this magazine but this one was a bit different and came with a cool little toy), a My Little Pony Magazine, and a Lego Friends Magazine. 

For Maddy I got two different issues of Shopkins magazine. 

I also got them each a My Little Pony Kinder egg- one broke but they still enjoyed getting the little toys. 
I got a chocolate orange bar for Doug. 

I also got some souvenirs for myself today. 
All at Highclere. 
I got a Highclere Castle notecard set, a bunch of postcards, and a keychain with the castle on it to use as a Christmas ornament. 

It was a wonderful day!!
To see my write up on Scones and Crackers go here. 

Next up: York!


The Kings said...

I posted on Scones and Crackers about Highclere Castle but just need to add here that I loved visiting there and having the theme music to Downton Abbey as we drove up. It was such a fun touch!! I also loved the Bishop's Guesthouse that we stayed in that night! And what a great breakfast provided by such a nice man there to accomodate our schedule! Loved everything we got to eat and being able to bring home jams from there!

Seth and Julie said...

I keep meaning to watch that darn show. Everyone seems to love it. I love that you geeked out to the music on your drive up, and if that is a two way road, you are now officially the bravest person I know. Did being on the "wrong" side of the road throw you off? I feel like it would cause me to drive right in the middle and run everyone else off the road.

cheryl said...

Mom- Yes. All great things! Love having these memories with you!

cheryl said...

Julie- besides the very first day when I was braking with my left foot it didn't mess with me too much. It was a bit hard to wrap my mind around where I was in relation to the other side of the car with it being opposite of me but after a few days I felt perfectly fine driving on the opposite sides... it was just the small roads and high speeds that messed with me. In fact, after leaving England I had to constantly remind myself to drive on the other side of the road again!