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A Day at Blenheim Palace

Welcome back to another post detailing my England adventures in March 2019. It's hard to believe this was almost a year ago....I seriously get emotional thinking about it and looking at these pictures, reliving the memories, because this day was one of my favorites!
What a day this was in England/Oxford/Woodstock! I don't think I realized what a DREAM Blenheim Palace was before I went....it was all my period drama fantasies rolled into one! Not even going to lie, I think the soundtrack to Pride & Prejudice was ringing in my ears all day :)
After my sister & I arrived in Oxford we started planning out the concrete details for our next couple of days. We had a list of things we wanted to do, but not all of them worked out logistically. We really wanted to go to Stone Henge, but the distance and transportation were a LOT to work out in our time table. We (I) really wanted to visit Highclear Castle (where Downton Abbey was filmed) but sadly they were closed for the season when we were there (sobs). With all of that, we decided to visit Blenheim Palace at the suggestion of our hosts. 

Blenheim Palace was the home of Winston Churchill & is full of so much rich History! Blenheim Palace is now the home of the 12th Duke of Marlborough, continuing on with it's historical British heritage. Fun fact about Blenheim Palace, is that it is the only estate called a "Palace" that never housed a Royal Family! It is also one of England's Largest houses and was built 
Blenheim Palace has also been featured in many films (movies & TV) often being used as the Royal Palace. It has been used in the TV Show "The Royals", Cinderella, & even the new Do Little movie (plus many more). 

I went online the night before to book our tickets & we bought our bus fair to Woodstock. We woke up early the next morning, took our mile long track into town (that sounds so "Austen" when you I say it) and made it to the Bus stop, boarded and started our journey to Blenheim Palace. 
Blenheim Palace is located in Woodstock, which is about a 30 minute bus ride from Oxford. Next to visiting estates and wondering streets in England, some of my favorite sights are the countryside from a bus window...it is truly breathtaking! 

We arrived outside Blenheim Palace around 8:30 am (I think) and made our way down the VERY LONG driveway! Since we took the bus, it dropped us off right at the Entrance to the estate, which meant we had to walk down the long drive (which is about a mile long) to get to the Entrance (quite a way to start one's morning). 
Upon arrival we popped into the cafe for a quick latte and sausage roll (another one of our favorite English treats). 

After we finished our quick breakfast, we started to explore the estate! We both got headsets so that we could hear about all the different rooms, which was educational. Funny thing, is that my sister HATES museums and visiting estates (that is really my forte), but she actually loved Blenheim Palace...so that says something. 

Blenheim was designed in the English Baroque style and is truly breathtaking in its grandeur, size, and beauty. The interior of the palace is truly beautiful with marble floors, gold accents, and beautiful paintings and tapestries. Each room is more spectacular than the one before and they are all unique in their own way, purpose, and color. The library at Blenheim was truly incredible, not to mention there is a huge organ at the end of the room. Blenheim also has its own chapel which is classically beautiful, but the grounds were truly one of my favorite parts of the whole estate. The Garden right off the estate reminded me of something from an Austen novel and it overlooked the river that ran through the estate. 

After we had finished exploring inside the Palace, we ventured outside to explore the grounds. Blenheim is truly a massive estate and one could easily spend all day there. We spent close to an hour walking along the grounds, exploring the garden, hiking down to the water fall & pump house, and meandering along the river paths (all in all it was about 1.5 miles)....it was perfection! 

After we finished exploring the grounds directly around the estate we headed inside for an afternoon tea of "Earl Grey" and Maple Cake. There is nothing quite so wonderful as having tea at a Palace. 

While we would have loved to have spent more time at Blenheim exploring the other garden on the estate and then walking into the town of Woodstock, we sadly had to catch a bus back into Oxford. 

On our trip to England we visited so many amazing and historical places, but Blenheim Palace remains one of our favorites and the one we continue to talk about to this day. 

If you ever find yourself in England you absolutely HAVE to visit Blenheim Palace. If I ever get to go back to England I know I would easily go back to Blenheim without a second thought! 

- Madison

Oxford Adventures


First post of 2020! Let's see if I can get back on the blogging train after only having 5 posts in 2019 (how sad). 
This post is a LONG time in coming! It's nearly been a year since I first traveled to England and visited Oxford and I am just now getting around to sharing my Oxford Adventures. 
Oxford was truly a dream and I am so glad that it was my first experience in England! I had DREAMED of visiting England for years and as an avid British period drama enthusiast I couldn't wait to visit the places in some of my favorite shows and experience the British culture for myself. 
As I was planning my England trip in 2019 my sister and I were invited to visit some extended family that we had living in Oxford for the year. Oxford was not originally on our travel plans, as we originally were planning to just visit London. However, we decided to make our first stop in Oxford and stay for a few days & I couldn't imagine our trip without it. 
I don't think I would have fallen in love with England quite as much as I did if it hadn't been for Oxford. Don't get me wrong, I loved London (and will share my London Travels soon), but Oxford had a quaint magic to it that makes me miss it every time I see pictures and remember the memories. 
Oxford has a quintessential "small town" feel to it, while still being considered a city, though it is more accurately a county town in Oxfordshire England, and I think that is why I LOVE it so much! 
When we arrived in Oxford the first day I was running on less than 4 hours of sleep since having been up for nearly 48 hours. After landing in England my sister & I took a morning bus to Oxford and hit the ground running....and I immediately began to fall in love with Oxford. Oxford is such a historic place in England from its history, it colleges, architecture, and also its notoriety of having many British movies and TV shows filmed in its midst. 
Many may not know, but a lot of Harry Potter was filmed in Oxford as the Bodlean Library (Duke Humphry's Library) was used for Hogwards Library and the Divinity School at the Bodlean was used for Hogwarts Infirmary. Not to mention one of my Favorite British TV shows, Endeavour, is filmed in Oxford. 
I truly could write soooo much about Oxford because it really did capture my heart. The people were so nice and after walking around this city for a just a few hours I immediately felt like I belonged (and would totally move there). However, I thought I would share some of my favorite places in the city, as part travel guide / part trip overview!

  • Caffe Nero (food/coffee) - Basically England's Starbucks! Caffe Nero isn't an "oxford thing" because they have them all over England, but there are a handful of them in Oxford and we frequented them quite a bit from the one in the local bookshop to the Caffe Nero along High Street. My standard order at Caffe Nero is a Latte with a traditional English Scone, clotted cream, and jam. Contrary to popular belief, Brits actually drink a lot of coffee (it's not just tea).
  • High Street - If you visit Oxford you will inadvertently always find yourself on or near High street, but it was one of my favorite sites because it greets you as you walk into the heart of the city! We were staying about a mile outside of the city centre, so every day we walked a mile into town and they were the best walks with historic views. High street is linned with colleges, shops, cafes, and the most beautiful and historic architecture I have ever seeen. 
  • Radcliffe Camera - The Radcliffe Camera is probably one of the most well known sights of Oxford and it's no surprise considering it is basically the heart of the city. It is also such a unique building as it is part of Oxford university/Bodelan Library and houses the Science Library. 
  • St. Mary's Church Tower - One of the best views in the city, this was one of the first things we did upon arrival to Oxford. St. Mary's Church sits directly across from the Radcliffe Camera and is not only one of the oldest buildings and churches in the city, but is best known for the view from it's tower! Admission to the church is free, but a treck up to the tower costs 4 pounds (which is totally affordable and worth it). There are 127 tiny stone steps on a winding staircase to get to the top, but once there the view is breathtaking! 
  • Bridge of Sights - The Bridge of sights is a very well known City Landmark in Oxford. It is a skyway joining two parts of Hartford College over New College Lane. It is featured in most British TV shows filmed in the city, but is also a must see spot when visiting Oxford. 
  • The White Horse (food) - If you are hungry for a traditional English meal this is the place to stop! We were famished after exploring Oxford on Day #1 and our Hosts took us to The White Horse for a late lunch. We ordered the Chicken and Leek Pie and it was absolutely Delishious! I am totally a fan of English food! 
  • Bodleian Library - Probably one of the most noteworthy places in Oxford, the Bodleian Library serves as the main research Library for Oxford University. While is is called the Bodleian Library it is really a collection of many Libraries. It is also one of the oldest Libraries in Europe and houses over 13 million printed items. The library is so huge that there are actually tunnels under the city which house many of it's books. The Bodleian actually has / receives a copy of every book and periodical printed in the UK...that is a lot of books :) Apart from it's history in the academic world it is also prominently known for it's appearance in Movies & TV Shows such as Harry Potter, Testament of Youth, Endeavour, Inspector Morse, and the New Aeronauts movie. 
  • Oxford Castle & Prison - Don't let the name fool you, it is really just a prison...LOL. It's called the Oxford Castle because the castle used to be there before it was destroyed during a war hundreds of years ago. What still remains of the Medieval Normandy castle is the prison, which is quite a fascinating tour full of unique stories. The Prison also has a tower that offers another (windy) view of the city. 
  • Westgate Shopping Center - If you want a break from historic buildings and need a bit of good shopping Westgate is the mall in Oxford and it is fantastic. We may or may not have visitied it 2 time in the span of 3 days....the main reason being they had a Primark which is England's Forever 21 (only better) and one of my favorite places to shop when I am in the UK!
  • Oxford Covered Market - If you are up for some window shopping, browsing, or want to soak up the British culture the Oxford Covered Market is the place to escape. It is full of vendors from meat markets, cafes, sweet shops, suit shops, hat makers, and more. Just walking around the covered market makes you realize how different England is from America, but I loved it! The best cookie shop is also in the Covered Market! 
  • Ben's Cookies (food)- If you stop at the Covered Market you have to try a cookie from Ben's Cookies! We stopped by on our second day and tried them and they are so good! They are quiet different from American cookies because they are almost like a giant goey biscuit. Plus they also have chocolate chunks and are Huge, so it's the perfect snack. 
  • The Mitre (food) - Our hosts took us for Sunday lunch at The Mitre, which is a very old pub on High Street, and it was fantastic. We ordered the traditional roast chicken and it was nothing like any roast chicken we have ever had back home. It was absolutely delicious and came with carrots & cabbage (that they cook to perfection) and Yorkshire pudding (which is a unique side made of an eggs, flour, and milk). 

Oxford truly stole our hearts & I would go back in a heartbeat! What I love most about Oxford is that it surrounds you with history, culture, and education at every turn. It is always bustling with people because it is essentially a college town, and what I found fascinating is that Oxford University is actually made up of over 39 colleges, all with their own dinning hall, common rooms, and libraries....you basically walk by colleges on every corner. 
If you ever get the chance to visit Oxford I can't say enough things about how much I love it! 
On second day in Oxford we visited Blenheim Palace, home of Winston Churchill, just outside of Oxford in Woodstock, which I will share more about soon!

Have you ever been to Oxford?

- Madison