London, Stratford-upon-Avon and Oxford, England

Day 1

Board our flight for an overnight flight to London Heathrow with meal service en route.

Day 2

Our flight arrives London Heathrow and we’ll be met outside Customs by our Blue Badge English guide and your USIT tour conductor.  After loading the luggage on the coach, we drive into London to enjoy a guided tour of the city by coach, hopping off to see many sights up close with explanation from our guides. We’ll go straight to Buckingham Palace to see the Changing of the Guard, one of the most observed events in Europe.  Our tour will continue through the city with many stops, including the Albert Memorial, Piccadilly Circus, Oxford St., Parliament and Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, Hyde Park, and other sights, as time permits—as much as we can see in a day–until it’s time for check-in at the hotel.  Dinner is provided at the hotel shortly after check-in.  After a very long trip from Dallas, it’s early to bed! Hotel and dinner:

Day 3

Today, we’ll start the day by riding the London Eye, said to be the largest and highest Ferris wheel in the world.  From the top, you can see all of London and the Thames River.  We’ll have lunch on our own in the area.  Our next stop is the Tate Museum.  Tate holds the national collection of British art from 1500 to the present day, with international, modern and contemporary art.  We’ll see masterpieces by Gainsborough, Hogarth, Millais, Whistler, as well as outstanding modern and contemporary artists such as Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and Damien Hirst, as well as the largest collection of works by JMW Turner in the world.  Tonight dinner will be at a carvery restaurant and buffet in the theatre district. After dinner, we’ll walk to the theatre to see our first West End show. TBD.  Hotel and dinner:

Day 4

After an early breakfast at the hotel, we depart by coach for a guided tour of Windsor Castle, the summer home of the Queen, near which King John Signed the Magna Carta, for a visit at 9:00 AM.  After the tour, we’ll depart we depart for nearby Oxford, home of one of the world’s greatest universities and a seat of learning since the 12th century.  We’ll also visit Christ Church of Harry Potter fame.  (Lunch on our own in Oxford.)  While we are there, we’ll visit one of the 35 colleges that make up the University (adm. incl.).  Then we’ll move on to Stratford-upon-Avon, where we visit the Birthplace of William Shakespeare (adm. incl.) possibly the world’s most famous playwright.   Then we’ll depart on a short ride for the town of Warwick, home of Warwick Castle (adm. incl.), one of the mightiest and most impressive castles in Britain.  The castle dates back to the 9th century and successive owners have figured in major events in British history.  Within the castle walls are both private and state apartments, all sumptuously furnished.  In one of the apartments, a House Party has been recreated, with the characters supplied by Madam Tussaud’s Waxworks.  The castle has a chilling dungeon, instruments of torture, and even a tower haunted by a ghost.  We’ll not get back into London until 8 PM, and on the way to the hotel, we’ll enjoy a traditional carvery dinner at the famous Albert Pub on Victoria Street tonight at 8:00 PM.

Day 5

After breakfast at the hotel, we depart at 10:00 AM to cross town for a visit to the National Gallery, displaying over 2,300 masterpieces from late medieval masters to the French Impressionists. We’ll plan our time well with the guide so we can see and understand as much as possible.  From there, we transfer to Covent Garden for lunch on our own in the area.  There are always street performers and musicians in the square there.  We will also sing an informal concert at St. Paul’s Church, also at Covent Garden, the scene of the flower girl song from My Fair Lady.  After the concert, we’ll have time in the Covent Garden area on our own.  We return to the hotel at 4:00 PM to change for dinner and the theater. Dinner is provided at a restaurant near the hotel.  At 7:15, we arrive for our 7:30 West End Show, TBD.  Return to the hotel by underground after the show.

Day 6

After breakfast at the hotel, we depart at 8:30 by coach for our visit to St. Paul’s Cathedral in the heart of London, the masterpiece of England’s great architect Sir Christopher Wren and burial place of famous Britons such as Horatio Nelson and the Duke of Wellington. We’ll hear about its great history with our London guides.  Then we take the coaches back to Westminster, where we’ll have free time to visit Westminster Abbey and the Parliament area (on our own).  Our next stop is the Embankment, where we board a tour boat at 12:20 for our guided cruise down the Thames River to see London from the water.  The boat will take is to the Tower of London (adm. incl.), where we will have lunch on our own before entering the Tower grounds for our guided tour.  Built by William the Conqueror in 1070, the Tower was a royal residence until the time of King Henry the 8th, after which it was renowned as a feared and sinister prison.  The closely guarded Crown Jewels are on display at the Tower, and you will have the opportunity to see the Royal Apartments of King Edward 1st.  Dinner is provided at the hotel tonight, after which, we’ll take a walk through nearby Kensington Park to see Kensington Palace, where Princess Dianna lived.  Hotel: London Kensington Forum Hotel

Day 7

After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll visit the British Museum, the oldest, and one of the largest museums in the world. Here we can see firsthand The Elgin Marbles, The Portland Vase, The Lewis Chessmen, The Sutton Hoo Treasure, to name only a few of the many museum collections. We’ll enjoy lunch on our own in the area before we cross town to visit to Shakespeare’s Old Globe Theater, a restoration of the original theater, very much as seen in “Shakespeare in Love”, a recently popular movie. We’ll go for dinner at a nearby restaurant, and then we’ll come back to the Globe Theatre to attend a Shakespeare production in the Globe Theatre, as it was originally done in Shakespeare’s time. We’ll get back to the hotel at around 10:00 PM, to pack and prepare for our departure.  Hotel and dinner: London Kensington Forum Hotel

Day 8

After an early breakfast at the hotel, we depart for London Heathrow Airport for our flight home

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