Today I had my Isle of Wight Day Trip/ Tour. I had booked this as a Groupon on Groupon.uk, and wasn’t really sure exactly what to expect, other than a bus ride, a ferry ride, some time at the beach, and some time at the Osborne House. For this tour I had to be at South Kensington at 7:30. Normally this tube ride and walk to the station takes about 30 minutes, so I was going to be in good shape from my hostel to get there in time, but there was a problem – they were working on the rail line that I needed to take, and it was shut down between the Docklands (where I am) and Central London – and the alternative routes were all telling me it would take over an hour, and because it was Sunday the tube had limited service, so I wasn’t going to be able to go that route. The destination was 10K from me, so I was looking for other options. I ended up getting an Uber Cab, because I could schedule them, and the London Black Cabs are almost impossible to get at that time of the morning on a Sunday.
Fortunately, all of that being said, I did make it to the coach in time, and was VERY thankful I had made it a habit of looking up tube directions each night on the tfl website for the following day’s journey.
When I arrived at the coach, there was a line of people, a driver, and no tour guide. At 7:30, when we were supposed to be rolling out, we still had no tour guide, which was quite worrisome, because we had a long drive, and a ferry to catch in Southhampton. The driver let us go ahead and load up, and you could tell he was concerned we were not rolling out. The tour guide finally showed up at 7:50. apparently he didn’t check the TFL site, and had NO IDEA any of the tube lines were shut down, so he was late.
I am not sure what kind of magic the bus driver did, but we made it to Southampton just in time to roll the bus on the Ferry. I slept most of this ride, which was very needed. Busy days, Late to bed and early to rise was making this girl start to be a bit of a zombie!
Southampton probably sounds familiar to many of you. It was a very important port in American History – it is the port that the Mayflower left from, and is also the port that the Titanic left from, it is currently the buisest cruise line port in the UK (Queen Mary 2, anyone?)
The drive through Southampton was lovely, and it is a place I would like to explore some other time, because of it’s long history and significance, but that was not on the agenda for today, or even this trip.
Once loaded on the Ferry we got off and went up stairs, to where they had a deck, but also a bar (at 10:00 in the morning) and restaurant. I decided I needed coffee and a scone, so I enjoyed those as the ferry readied to take off, then went to the windy, cool deck to enjoy the view.
The ferry ride took about an hour, so I wandered around the (quite small) ferry when I got too cold on the deck. The views were lovely, and I especially enjoyed the sailboats, as apparently the Isle of Wight is a huge sailboating community.
Some pictures from the Ferry Ride:
The Isle of Wight is fascinating for many reasons. It is the smallest county in England, at high tide, but at low tide it is somewhere else. It has smaller versions of chalky, white cliffs (Think Dover), and it is a fossil haven. Tons of fossils have been found in the cliffs, and much of the knowledge of prehistoric life in that area come from discoveries that were made on the Isle of Wight. In 2013, a 9 year old girl discovered a new dinosaur, that is now named after her. You can learn more here.
One we were on the island we headed to Shanklin beach. Due to some road construction, we didn’t have as much time here as we were supposed to have, so I decided to skip the Chine and just explore the beach. I had a nice stroll, go my feet in the sand, and even dipped my feet into the VERY COLD English Channel. The sand was rocky, and there was some very colorful seaweed – I took lots of pictures, and got some (small) rocks for my science olympiad kids to look at, because they were cool.
I did get some pictures of the White Cliff I could see from the beach as well. Shanklin was lovely, and I wished I had more time to explore the old village with its thatched roofs and other features, but there were only so many hours for the tour.
Our final stop before rebounding the Ferry and heading back to London was the Osborne House. The Osborne house was the Vacation Home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The home was MASSIVE, and the decorations were unbelievable, but again, no photos were allowed indoors. The most striking room to me was the Durbar Room (designed by Rudyard Kipling’s Father). Victoria had a thing for Indian design and items after she became the Empress of India, and as a result much of the tour focused on her connections to India. The story was great, but the room was breathtaking. I couldn’t take pictures inside, but you can learn and see more here on the English Heritage Site.
I could take pictures of the outside and the Gardens, and they were SO LOVELY.
Another of the many facts I learned happened while exploring the Swiss Cottage (a cottage that Victoria and Albert had moved from Switzerland to be a “playhouse” for their children. The cottage was lovely (and larger than most people’s homes, mind you) but what was neat was the gardens. Apparently Albert was concerned his children (being royalty, after all) would not learn to be grounded or to value hard work, so he required each of them to maintain a garden and grow food, and in turn he would pay them for their food they harvested (which I thought was pretty impressive).
Here are some of my pictures from the Osborne grounds:
Unfortunately, I ran out of time here as well and didn’t finish exploring the Gardens, royal collection, or Queen Victoria’s private beach.
We loaded up the coach, got on the Ferry and started the trek back to London. I couldn’t believe th horrible traffic on a Sunday afternoon on the Motorway. We finally mad it back to London at 9:00 PM (about 30 mins later than planned), and then I had to trek back to the Hostel, with the still closed tube lines. An hour and 1/2 later, I was happily back at the hostel.
Tomorrow is my last day in London, and I have some fun things planned, so stay tuned! 🙂