Thanks to British Airways, CVG now has the region’s only nonstop flights to London! And who better to share some of the best things to see, do, and eat than some of our British friends who have decided to make the Cincinnati area their home!
Say hello to our panel of experts from the UK:
Sally Barker is an instructional aide at Lakota High School. Sally grew up in a small village called Cherington in Cotswolds, England.
Claudia Glen is a stay-at-home mom who previously worked in the pharmaceutical industry before arriving in the US. Claudia grew up in a small, picturesque village named Stock, in the county of Essex, located about 40 miles north of London.
Alister Bates is a research scientist in respiratory aerodynamics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Alister grew up in Ascot, Berkshire (pronounced Barkshire), in England.
“Ascot’s claim to fame is the Ascot Racecourse horse track. Every year in June, there’s a week of horse races that the late Queen would always come to watch, and it would be worth visiting if someone wants to see British people in top hats and tailcoats.”
What brought you to the Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky area?
Sally: I came to the US after meeting my husband in England while he was flying in the U.S. Air Force. He was only there for six weeks then had to go back to the US. We carried on a very long-distance relationship then got married in my beautiful church in England in 1987. I then moved to the US, and we were based at Barksdale AFB. After leaving the Air Force, my husband went into the business world and that’s what brought us to West Chester, Ohio. We have lived here for 27 years and love it!
Claudia: My husband Stephen’s job brought us to Mason 10 years ago.
Alister: I originally came for a one-year research fellowship in Pulmonary Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s, but one year has now stretched into seven, in part because of the great opportunities I had to continue my research at the hospital.
If someone were planning a trip to visit the UK, what are some must-see things?
Sally: You have to visit London! Nothing in the world compares to this city! Buckingham Palace, Horse Guards Parade, Tower of London, The Eye–the list goes on and on!
The Cotswolds, where I grew up, is stunning! The stone cottages, gardens, scenery, small villages, and the area is also home to Highgrove House where King Charles III has his country home just outside Tetbury. There is also a shop that sells Highgrove unique gifts.
Other places are Cirencester, where my mum currently lives, Bath, Cheltenham, Gloucester, and if you can make it to the coastline in the southwest, Cornwall is a beautiful area. (But it is super busy in July and August!)
Claudia: A day hitting up all the main tourist attractions in London: Buckingham Palace, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, London Eye, Millennium Bridge, and St. Paul’s Cathedral. We did this route walking last summer and loved it. There are lots of places along the river to eat as well.
Check out a British seaside town. We typically visit Southend, as it’s closest to where my family lives and is known for having the longest pier in the world! There are plenty of wonderful beaches all over the UK with many in Devon. I’ve been to Woolacombe, Cornwall, and St. Austell. Brighton is supposed to be very nice with lots of good independent shops and restaurants. Also, Aldeburgh in Suffolk is great.
The Harry Potter Studio Tour is amazing for Harry Potter fans. It’s where they filmed the movies and has loads of sets, props, and green screen special effects, plus a huge gift store! The tickets have timed slots, and it gets booked up in advance.
A few other honorable mentions would be Oxford or Cambridge to experience the history and grandeur of these ancient University towns. Also, Canterbury in Kent (my college town) has Canterbury Cathedral (the most important church in the Church of England) and a beautiful river.
Alister: For someone interested in the outdoors, the Brecon Beacons in Wales is a beautiful mountain range to hike on. If staying in London, the Royal Albert Hall is an amazingly beautiful building and puts on a classical concert series every day in the late summer. You can get tickets ahead of time, or you can show up the day of a show to get cheap standing tickets.
For getting a great view of the city from up high, visit the Monument to the Great Fire of London, which you can go to the top of for only a few pounds.
Whenever I visit a new destination, I love trying new dishes. What would you recommend?
Sally: My favorite was always a Ploughman’s Lunch! It’s delicious local cheeses, crackers, and pickles.
Claudia: You can’t beat most Indian restaurants. I love two restaurant chains: Wagamama, a Japanese canteen chain that features mostly curry and ramen, and Nando’s, which serves Portuguese Chicken. Also, fish and chips are a great comfort food.
I love going for afternoon tea. This one is the Alice in Wonderland-themed tea at the Sanderson Hotel in London. I can also recommend the afternoon tea at the Cafe Royal and The Berkeley Hotel.
Alister: If in London, absolutely visit one of the Indian restaurants near Brick Lane. Also, everyone knows about fish and chips, but make sure you order curry sauce for the chips.
Got any travel tips you’d offer someone who is visiting the UK for the first time?
Sally: Driving can be tough due to being on the other side of the road. Also, once you get into the country, the roads are very narrow. There is a lot of public transportation to the larger cities, but a car is needed if you want to explore the beauty of the countryside.
Claudia: Check with your cell phone and credit card providers to ensure that they will work in the UK. Take an international travel plug and use public transport. It’s generally cheap and efficient.
Alister: Most of the things someone would want to see, particularly in a city, can be visited using public transport; you’re unlikely to need a rental car for nearly everything. Also, for someone visiting London who wants to experience the passion of English football (soccer), English Premier League tickets can be hard to get, so I’d recommend going to see one of the teams in lower leagues (leagues like Championship, League 1, League 2), several of which have stadiums relatively close to the center of London.
Have you flown with British Airways? What’s the experience like?
Sally: I don’t think I’ve ever flown British Airways, but I will now!
Claudia: Yes, I have flown with British Airways many times. I love it. The staff are always so welcoming and hearing their British accents makes me feel at home. The amenities and food are good. I especially like their chicken curry.
Alister: I haven’t had the opportunity yet but will definitely be using it in the future to visit family in England.
Thank you to our entire panel for the insight. I can’t wait to get back to London and am even more excited to skip the connecting flight on this trip and fly direct!
Let’s hop on a nonstop flight and have tea in London soon!