What we did on our winter break…

One of the reasons we started Go Cotswolds was because we love travelling and meeting other travellers. Ironically though, since we started Go Cotswolds in 2014, we have had very little time to do any travelling ourselves! In fact, after our wedding in September 2014, we only took two days off for a ‘mini-moon’ (in the Cotswolds!) before we had to get back to business.

So during January and February this year, which is usually a quieter period for tourism in the Cotswolds, Tom and I decided to take some time out for a long overdue honeymoon to road trip (some of!) the USA!

We’ve been back nearly two weeks now, and lots of people have asked us, “What was your best bit?” That’s such a difficult question to answer because there were so many best bits, but here’s a quick (ish) run down of some of the highlights…

20160119_102005 Running in New York City. There are so many cool things to do in New York City that it would be impossible to list them all, but the one thing that sticks in my mind was running around Central Park! New York’s famous Central Park is a must-visit, even if you walk or take a horse-drawn carriage, but if you really want to do as the locals do, you’ve got to go for a run there! The weather in NYC was absolutely FREEZING while we were there, so actually upping the pace from a walk to a jog was a good thing as it kept our blood flowing!

DC snowGetting snowed in in Washington DC. Unknown to us, the nation’s capital was to bear the brunt of a huge snowstorm on the very day we were due to arrive there from New York. Blissfully unaware of what became known as “Snowzilla 2016”, we arrived in DC just as the first few flurries of snow were starting to fall. Fast-forward just a few hours later and we were knee deep in over 2ft of snow! The city was in almost complete shutdown, but we didn’t let this stop us having fun! We saw the White House at its whitest, watched crazy people sledding down the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and even took part in a huge social-media instigated snowball fight!

IMG_0297Creole cuisine in New Orleans. Apart from being very grateful to experience some warm sunny weather after the sub-zero temperatures in NYC and DC, we loved the party atmosphere and awesome food in N’awlins. I had a certain Carpenters’ song stuck permanently in my head as we sampled jambalaya and file gumbo, while listening to some brilliant live music in the French Quarter.

2016-01-28 07.22.35Our first college basketball game in Houston. Though we’d already caught a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden in New York, Houston is where we fell in love with basketball! It’s not a very popular sport here in the UK, but we just loved the whole experience: tasty hot dogs and beers, energetic cheerleaders, the enigmatic brass band, mascot, t-shirt tosses…oh and the small matter of a game too – Go Cougars!

IMG_0510Skiing in Santa Fe. Heading back into the snow (on purpose this time!) we decided to make the most of it and hire some ski gear for the day. 100+ inches of snow, with a top layer of 8 inches of fresh powder; wide, almost empty pistes, with jaw-dropping views over the Colorado Plateau. Amazing.

IMG_0585Discovering Canyon de Chelly. Pronounced “Canyon de Shay”, we hadn’t even heard of this Navajo Reservation area before meeting Merlin and Linda in Santa Fe, who just happen to be the parents of Ben, who came on a Go Cotswolds tour in December last year! Like a mini Grand Canyon without the hoardes of tourists, this beautiful, peaceful spot was a wonderful hidden gem.

Monument Valley at sunriseSunrise in Monument Valley. You’ll have seen Monument Valley as the backdrop of any number of Western movies, and in one famous scene from Forrest Gump, but in real life it is just breath taking. My favourite bit was waking up early to see the sunrise over the weird and wonderful desert rock formations.

IMG_1042

Hiking at Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite National Park. Yosemite was one of the true highlights of our trip, not least because of the amazing AirBnb cabin we stayed in! After a fabulous day hiking in the main part of the park, where we enjoyed fantastic views of the infamous El Capitan and some beautiful waterfalls, we didn’t think it could get any better. Inspired by something we read in a guidebook at our cabin, the next day we went over to Hetch Hetchy, a reservoir that supplies all of the drinking water for San Francisco. Although it’s man-made, it was absolutely stunning.

Jill with her friends Ben & Sam on a tour of the Cotswolds with us in December.

Jill with her friends Ben & Sam on a tour of the Cotswolds with us in December.

Meeting old and new friends in San Francisco. Beautiful San Francisco stands out in my mind not only for the amazing Golden Gate Bridge and a memorable trip to Alcatraz, but also because we were able to catch up with new and old friends! A friend of ours from Stratford-upon-Avon, whom we hadn’t seen for some time, happened to be there on business, and we also had a lovely dinner with Jill, a Go Cotswolds customer! Jill works on the 44th floor of the Transamerica building, the tallest building in San Francisco, so she kindly took us up to see the incredible view – thanks Jill!

Jill with Tom and I in San Francisco!

Jill with Tom and I in San Francisco!

Many thanks must also go to a number of other Go Cotswolds customers who gave us plenty of tips and suggestions of what to do and see on our trip. We created a dossier of information which we used far more than our Lonely Planet guide! America is big and beautiful, and we can’t wait to go back again to see some of the things we missed on this trip.

But for now, after our break, it’s back to the Cotswolds and we’re looking forward to meeting many more travellers on our tours in the coming months!

The schedule and tickets for all of our Cotswolds guided day tours from Stratford-upon-Avon and our Purity Brewery and Cotswolds pub tour are now available to buy online up until the end of August – click here to see our schedule and to book!

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