Who said you need to travel far to travel at all? How many people know their own country? How often I hear from my work colleagues, when we share what we did during the weekends, that they have never visited the places Marcin and I have, although they live in this country much much longer than us. Sometimes traveling is not about jumping on the plane and flying to another continent, it is about going and discovering world around us, the places you are putting aside while dreaming about exotic Mexico or Argentina.
I was looking forward to four days of total freedom during Easter. And I had a good excuse to organize some nice trips too, as Marcin was off and my mum was here. I decided that visiting Bristol, Bath, Winchester and few Cotswold villages is a good range of getting to know the country we live in now better.
The villages of Cotswold are famous for their honey coloured architecture, magically capturing the charm of idyllic surroundings. Going there is like stepping in time and immersing in the most pleasant stroll between cute little cafes and shops, crossing small bridges under the falling petals of blossoming cherry trees, and drinking hot chocolate with a hot crossed bum.
The villages sits on gently rolling hills, surrounded by fields full of sheep, with rivers feeding green woodlands. Cotswolds belongs to one of 45 officially designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and it stretches over few counties, however the most popular villages can be found in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire.
Cotswold has a fascinating history – before the Romans got there and started building their villas the Iron Age forts were constructed along the hills. The Medieval times brought wealth to many people trading in wool and many “wool churches” were erected – like the one in Chipping Campden. Industrial Age resulted in a production of cloth, umbrellas, walking sticks and pins.
Cotswold is a rather friendly place, offering people great day out, with countless walks around pictures villages, with breaks for a tea in small and charming tea rooms, with home-made cakes and cream tea.
Chipping Campden, with its lovely church and beautiful lime-stone buildings put a spell on us. As we had the whole day for Cotswold, we just could not stop there. Famously called “Venice of Cotswolds” Bourton-on-the-Water and branded as an “English beauty spot” Bibury were next.
Bourton-on-the-Water has the most amazing and beautiful High Street ever! Peacefully flowing River Windrush is dividing the town and two parts are connected through small arched stone bridges. It was very crowded, so the site is rather popular, especially during the peak times, when it is believed there is more visitors around than residents.
Bilbury is a much smaller but not less charming village, just a short drive from the capital of the Cotswolds – Cirencester. William Morris (834-96) described it as “the most beautiful village in England”. In fact, Fox News says that Bibury is one of the world’s most picturesque villages, and an article on the Huffington Post website (1st May 2014), titled “The Most Charming Towns In Europe You’ll Want To Visit ASAP”, mentioned Bibury. The cottages lying along Arlington Row are apparently the most photographed in the country!
When we got there, I was wondering how it is to live in such a place – although I was not very much impressed with the famous cottages, I thought that the place was lovely and beautiful. There was a story in newspapers about “ugly little yellow car” which “photobombed” most of the pictures taken by visitors. The owner of the car simply explained that he has nowhere to park, but visitors were not very forgiving. When we got there, the car disappeared and our pictures were spoiled just by people trying to do exactly what we were doing – capturing famous view on the camera!
Cotswold is definitely worth visiting, offering unique and charming experience, an escape from busy life and relaxing time. Even thought is very crowded during weekends and tourist times, the place is so relaxing that it does not matter much.