Sunday, November 4th, 2007 at 12:27 am in Family Travel.
We’ve been asking Bay Area families to share their travel tips – great hotels, memorable cafes and kid-pleasing adventures, and so far, we’ve gotten the lowdown on the Big Apple, Cancun and California beach towns. Now, we’re off to the UK with the Brandenburgs.
THE TREK IN A SEC: This Alamo family’s three weeks in the British Isles wasn’t just an adventure, it was an opportunity to connect with their family ancestry… and play a little golf in that mecca of 9-irons, St. Andrews.
They ventured through Scotland and Wales, then on to Somerset (Stonehenge, Bath and Salcombe Regis where Bart Brandenburg’s ancestors lived in a thatched roof house built in 1564), London and the Cotswolds.
THE TRAVELERS: The Brandenburg family – Bart, a water pollution prevention consultant, Jennifer, a technology project manager and their daughter Katie (pictured above), a sophomore at Monte Vista High School.
FAVORITE HOTEL: “Our favorite hotel for luxury was the Langham in London, centrally located near Oxford Circus,” say Bart and Jennifer. “We splurged on this hotel because it was much more affordable through online bidding at LuxuryLink.com. We generally like to stay in a B & B to get to better know the locals, fellow travelers and the area. Our favorite B & B was the Bryn Guest House in Conwy, Wales. It’s located right outside the town and castle walls with great views of the green hills and they serve a fabulous full organic breakfast, including homemade breads and fresh fruit.”
BEST RESTAURANT OR PUB:
*** The Orangery near Kensington Palace, London, says Jennifer, “Have lunch or tea on the patio or inside with its floor to ceiling windows to enjoy views of the gardens.”
*** In Bath, The Parisian for lunch – wonderful sandwiches and salads.
*** In Chipping Campden, the Red Lion – wonderful old English pub and restaurant.
*** And in St. Andrews, Scotland, the family enjoyed the Doll’s House.
COOLEST SIGHTSEEING: “Walking among the extraordinarily large stones at Stonehenge early in the morning,” say Bart and Jennifer, “and visiting the excavated ruins and Roman baths in Bath.”
A couple of tips from the Brandenburgs: The only way to actually get into the circle and touch stones at Stonehenge is to purchase tickets in advance for a time slot very early before the attraction opens or after it closes – “Make sure you have done some research about Stonehenge before you arrive since nothing is open and the only staff are security guards. For the Roman Baths, arrive early before the day trippers arrive. It’s not a big place. Take the very informative archaeologist led tour, no extra charge.”
*** Warwick Castle in the Cotswolds. “It’s a little touristy,” the Brandenburgs say, “but the kids will like it because of the Madame Tussaud wax figures and decorating touches (which) give you a feel for what it’s like living in a castle rather than seeing a ruin.”
*** Walking on top of the walls around Conwy, a World Heritage site. Katie walked the entire length.
*** Seeing a Shakespeare play at the Globe Theater, London. Get “groundling” tickets for 5 pounds. “You have to stand throughout the play,” the Brandenburgs say, “but you are right by the stage.”
OTHER FAMILY TRAVEL TIPS:
1) Include the kids in the trip planning. The Brandenburgs selected a few options for places to stay and then got Katie’s input on which one she liked best. Be flexible and pace yourself.
2) In addition to sightseeing, try horseback riding in the Cotswolds.
3) And when in London – particularly when in London with a teenage girl – shop. Teens will particularly like Topshop.
Have you been somewhere wonderful with your family? Send your faves – hotel, restaurants and cool, family-friendly sightseeing – and a jpeg of your family to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or share your hotel and sightseeing tips for Great Britain by clicking “comments.”