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Highlights
  • Walk in the footsteps of literary legends such as J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Colin Dexter, Lewis Carroll and more.
  • Admire the architecture of St. Barnabas Church, the Divinity School, and Sheldonian Theater, some of Oxford’s most notable landmarks.
  • Go on behind-the-scenes explorations of Christ Church, Keble College and the Ashmolean Museum.

Home to the oldest English-speaking university in the world, the city of Oxford is nothing if not a hub of scholarship and tradition. World-class writers — the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien and Lewis Carroll — studied and were inspired here, while seven of England’s prime ministers were members of the local student union. With scholars and local experts, go behind the scenes of Oxford’s iconic colleges and museums and visit the homes of some of its renowned residents — then, enjoy opportunities for independent exploration and study, a key to experiencing the true spirit of Oxford.

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30
Road Scholar Travel Reviews & Ratings
87% Recommend

4.5 out of 5
Excellent 23 Great 3 Average 1 Disappointing 1 Terrible 2
Value
4.5 Guide
4.6 Activities
4.5 Lodging
4.3 Transportation
4.4 Meals
4.3
The Spirit of Oxford

No reviews yet for this trip. Browse other reviews below for Road Scholar .

K

Does Not Recommend

Road Scholar Owes My Mom A Huge Apology and Refund. Highly advise AGAINST using them. May 2018

1.0
  • Value 1.0
  • Guide 1.0
  • Activities 1.0
  • Lodging 1.0
  • Transportation 1.0
  • Meals 1.0
Let me preface this story with some background about myself: I backpacked through most of Europe by myself when I was studying abroad in Ireland. I suffered through horrendous bus rides, getting kicked out of seats on trains, sleeping in questionable hostels, and going weeks without being able to really do laundry. I know how crappy it can be to actually get from one place to another, and how worth it is to suffer through all of that just to lay eyes on something magnificent.

And yet, Road Scholar has, without a doubt, managed to give me the single worst travel experience I've ever had in my entire life, and we didn't even make it off the ground. I would never, ever, EVER recommend them to anyone looking to go anywhere, and as far as I'm concerned, Road Scholar needs to seriously reconsider their travel-making procedures and give my mother a huge apology and refund. (Also, I'm only in my twenties, so I have a lot of years ahead of me to make referrals.)

It all started with Road Scholar not getting us flights. We claimed our spot on a trip to the Lake region in Northern Italy, but no one ever called us back about any travel arrangements. It appeared we were on the trip IN Italy, but no one had bothered to make any arrangements to get us there. My mother called and left messages, emailed people, and the only response we got was that our flight should be booked at some point in early May (when our trip was set to start on May 22). Road Scholar urges people to book their flights through their preferred travel agency, which is who didn't call us back. Road Scholar, to market themselves as educational tourism rather than shallow "I just want to see things" tourism, partners up with different educational institutions, and ours was through Trinity College. The director of the Italian programs called us asking for our travel information, since she didn't have it yet. Interesting news to us. We were then told that we could make travel arrangements of our own (even though we were paying Road Scholar to do it for us) and then inform the program of our travel plans and how we were getting to our hotel. So we started to investigate making our own plans, when someone finally called us back saying that they were taking care of our travel arrangements, and they "didn't know why we hadn't had them made for us already." The director of the program was happy to hear this, because the Lake region of Italy is not as easily accessible as other areas.

We asked for upgraded seats because my mom has had both of her knees replaced, and while that doesn't inhibit her in the slightest from being active, it limits where she can sit on planes. In a cramped regular economy seat with no leg room on an international flight that was going to last 8-10 hours, she wouldn't have been able to walk off the plane because of how her knees would cramp up. But they said they could make the arrangements (which is also advertised on their website) so that was that. We got our itinerary, accommodations, and were all set. We were booked through United and Lufthansa (neither of which either of us will EVER book through again), so I downloaded the United app onto my iPhone so I could check us in and make sure we had mobile copies of our boarding passes in addition to the paper ones my mom printed out. We were all set to fly from Cincinnati to Washington D.C., from D.C. to Frankfurt, and from Frankfurt down to Verona where we would be meeting up with the group -- which, by the way, we never received any information regarding where the group was meeting, the transportation to the lake resort, etc. Nothing. Just "after you get there" stuff.

Then this morning, I woke up to a notification from United Airlines (and a text message alert that I had set up) saying that our flight to D.C. had been cancelled due to weather. Obviously I'm not blaming Road Scholar for that. What I am holding Road Scholar accountable for is what happened next: my mom called the Emergency Hotline (which is a recording -- and I HIGHLY recommend that they change this, because when I studied abroad, we had two emergency hotlines, both of which were always answered by real human beings, one for anything happening in the United States, and the other for the program, which was a different number for each location and a direct line to one of the program directors on the ground in the country you were actually in). We left a voicemail, someone named Mike called us back, and he was an absolute asshole. When you book your flight through a travel agency/group travel organization, if anything happens to your flight, it is the THEIR responsibility to take care of it. We were told by Road Scholar, and it's available on their website: "When you book your airfare through Road Scholar, we're there to help you in case of any emergencies." When Mike called us back and we told him that our flight to D.C. had been cancelled, he told us that he couldn't look up any other flights (on both United and any other airlines) for us to potentially get on to get to D.C for our transatlantic flight. Instead, he told us to call United ourselves and to go to the airport and talk to the desk agent. I then ended up on the phone (and on hold) the entire drive to the airport, which resulted in nothing because tons of flights had been cancelled due to airline politics and weather. We finally got to the desk agent at the airport, had a hell of a time getting rebooked on another flight, and weren't able to get the upgraded seats that we paid extra money for. When we called Road Scholar and Mike back to ask if during the course of our day when we would be traveling (and unable to make phone calls) he would call Lufthansa to at least make the airline aware of our need for better seating due to my mother's knee replacements, he was unhelpful and rude, at first attempting to refuse calling on our behalf and finally agreeing to, but only after repeatedly telling us "there's no guarantee of those seats" (something we definitely understood because we're not stupid).

Our rebooked flight wasn't set to leave until 7:45 PM tonight, putting us in Verona at 4:05 PM the next day (4 hours after the group transfer to the hotel), so we returned home instead of waiting around the airport for 12 hours. We got on both United and Lufthansa's websites and discovered that not only had our original itineraries not been removed, we had been double booked, one for a flight out of North Carolina to Munich through Delta, and another out of D.C. (the 7:45 PM flight) which had a 23 hour layover in Munich. A call to Road Scholar resulted in us being told that we had to contact the airlines. My mother was on the phone, talking to either United representatives or Lufthansa representatives, from about 9:30 AM to 2:00 PM. We were told we had reservations but no tickets, told we had tickets but couldn't see the numbers, told there were seats available for us to get upgraded to but we would have to try to get the desk agent in D.C. to arrange that for us, told that there was no guarantee we could get those seats, and more. It was incredible the amount of bureaucratic bullshit we had to put up with, especially since each airline wouldn't take any responsibility for us getting the seats we paid for and on a new flight, telling us "we'd have to talk to the other company about that." We finally called Road Scholar to see if there was anything more they could do, who encountered the same mess we already had, and all they did was eventually advise us to go back to the airport (a 45 minute drive) and talk to the desk agent to see IF they could put us in the upgraded seats -- ones we had already paid for and my mom couldn't make the trip without!

Then when asked how they would be getting us to our destination in the Lake region (which is not an easy place to get to, as I looked up the train and bus schedules myself, because - remember - I have tons of experience at this point traveling on the ground across Europe), they wouldn't outright say what our plans would be, which could've been anything from picking us up in the airport in a car, giving us a damn rental to drive ourselves, or simply paying for tickets and expecting us to haul all our luggage from the airport to the shuttle to the train station in Verona, take the 2+ hour train to a town an hour away from our destination, have to catch a bus to the actual town we were supposed to be in, and then walk the rest of the way there. Seeing what all happened, I would bet it would've been the latter, which isn't a problem for someone like me, but is an issue for someone like my mom.

The moral of the story here is that my mom and I shouldn't have had to be on the phone with anyone other than Road Scholar, PERIOD. Seeing as we paid well over $10,000 for this trip, the minute the flight was cancelled, Road Scholar should've called us to let us know that they would be making other arrangements for us to get to our trip in the Lake region of Italy. THEY should've been the ones on the phone, dealing with the airline bureaucrats, working their hardest to get us any combination of flights to get us to Italy in the seats that we paid for. Or, if it really came down to it, they should've made arrangements for us to be on this trip at another point in time, offered us another excursion in its place, or simply given us a refund. Instead, they didn't want to do the jobs that we paid them to do, and we were the ones that had to take time out of our day, which was already scheduled to be a hectic and stressful time because traveling is simply just that, to do Road Scholar's job. They didn't look out for us one single bit and completely and utterly RUINED what was supposed to have been a wonderful trip for me and my mom.

My mother has an adventurous and curious soul and hasn't gotten to go to Europe the way she always wanted to. Since I graduated college, my mother suggested taking a mother-daughter trip. This was supposed to be incredibly special for the both of us, getting to go somewhere new together (I hadn't explored Northern Italy much and that's where we decided to go), learning about the food and the culture, and bonding over all the amazing things we were going to be able to do. I think my mom was even more excited about this trip than I was, voraciously reading all the required/recommended reading, practicing Italian in her room so she could order correctly at restaurants, not giving up when we hit little bumps in the road along the way. Instead, we have been nothing but doubtful at best in the entire planning of this trip, and deeply disappointed and angered at worst. I will never again recommend Road Scholars to anyone looking to go on group trips. Instead, I will steer people away and recommend that they either find a better travel agency, book the trip themselves, or go through Rick Steve's program.

Road Scholar should issue my mother a refund and an apology or risk being sued.
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Operator Road Scholar

S

Does Not Recommend

They take advantage of the elderly May 2018

1.0
  • Value 1.0
  • Guide 4.0
  • Activities 1.0
  • Lodging 1.0
  • Transportation 1.0
  • Meals 1.0
I had high hopes for Road scholar. However, when I was diagnosed with cancer I got no sympathy from Road Scholar. The agents and management kept saying you should have purchased insurance. But the insurance was extremely expensive and would not have covered the cancellation fee either. I ended up attending anyways because I didn't want to lose my money. I felt sick the entire time and could barely complete the activities. The group leader was wonderful. But the program was very strict and I felt that they over charged for everything. They demonstrated shocking behavior for a non profit that is supposed to be all about education and supporting the elderly. Yet they constantly are sending catalogs and pushing expensive programs. I highly recommend taking your money elsewhere. They do not respect their customers and only care about money. They took advantage of a cancer patient and according to the others on my trip this is common.
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Operator Road Scholar

S

Does Not Recommend

A BIG DISAPPOINTMENT August 2017

3.0
  • Value 3.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 3.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 2.0
  • Meals 3.0
I would have enjoyed this trip much more if I felt I was being treated as an adult, the educated, enthusiastic traveler that I am.
Unfortunately, I took a fall and broke my arm near the end of the trip. I was shocked at the very insolent, uncaring attitude of Road Scholar. I received two calls from the insurance program my husband was encouraged to pay for for the trip (we usually use Travel Guard who is great). Both calls were very negative. Neither expressed concern about my condition and both apparently had called to state that ROAD SCHOLAR
WOULD NOT PAY FOR ANYTHING! WOW! A WAKEUP CALL FROM HELL. I WILL BE SHOUTING THIS FROM THE ROOFTOPS SO NO ONE ELSE
HAS THIS EXPERIENCE. DO NOT PURCHASE ROAD SCHOLAR INSURANCE -- IT IS A BOONDOGGLE!
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Operator Road Scholar

LG

Does Not Recommend

Don't go! March 2017

2.0
  • Guide 1.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 1.0
  • Meals 1.0
  • Value 2.0
  • Transportation 2.0
I took a four day bridge class at Jekyll Island Club Hotel. The class was mediocre. And I came home with over 50 BED BUG BITES! Please beware.

Operator Road Scholar

TCtssvawmc

Recommends

Excellent coverage of major cities and Guizhou Province January 2017

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Road Scholar (also known as Elderhostel) offers hundreds of tours worldwide, using local tour companies, sometimes universities. I have taken RS tours to Africa, China, and France and look forward to more. This was my first "tour" of China, but my 20th visit, with the rest on business. Our guide, Mei Mei, was one of the finest I've seen on tours. We started with Beijing and continued to Xian and then to Guizhou Province for a week in this fascinating area, which was new to me. We were able to meet the people in the villages, thanks to our guide, and enjoyed the chance to see and photograph such a variety of places in China. Hotels were excellent and appropriate to this type of tour (usually centrally located and very fine). Meals were family style and always good. Road Scholar makes its tours educational and doesn't push shopping as so many commercial ones do. Touring in China is very safe. You do have a lot of walking and RS tells you this in the tour, but it seems that a great deal of the walking is in those huge airports! I recommend Road Scholar and always turn to their catalogs to choose my next trip.
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Operator Road Scholar

Itinerary

Day 1: In Transit to Program

In Flight

Day 2: Arrival Day, Oxford

Meals: Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Linton Lodge Hotel.

Lunch: In the hotel dining room for those arriving by lunchtime. A light lunch with coffee, tea and water. Other beverages are available for purchase.

Afternoon: Arrivals continue, with free time for those who have already arrived. At 5pm we will have an Orientation in the hotel. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. This program is staffed with both a Group Leader, who will accompany us throughout the program and deal primarily with logistics, and a Study Leader who will lecture, conduct field trips and serve as an information resource on program-related topics. We will review the program theme, the up-to-date Daily Schedule and any changes, discuss safety guidelines, emergency procedures, roles and responsibilities and answer any questions you may have. We have set aside some free time in the schedule for your personal independent exploration. Please note that program activities, schedules and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: A seated dinner will be taken in the hotel dining room with coffee, tea and water. Other beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: After dinner take an orientation walk.

Day 3: Classical and Gothic Oxford

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Linton Lodge Hotel.

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room. A breakfast buffet with a range of hot and cold items, as well as coffee, tea, water and fruit juices.

Morning: We begin our educational adventure as your Study Leader lectures on “The Architecture of Oxford”, before visiting the Bodleian Library for an expertly-led look at one of the oldest libraries in Europe.

Lunch: Taken out at the Mitre in Oxford. The present Mitre Inn dates from around 1630, but there has been an inn on this site since around 1300. It has always belonged to Lincoln College, and its name probably derives from the College coat of arms, which depicts the mitre of the Bishop of Lincoln. It was an important coaching inn and, as early as 1671, there were coaches running between London and the Mitre on three days a week. It is a Grade II* listed building.

Afternoon: Take a walk of Classical and Gothic Oxford. Enjoy a guided walk of the centre of Oxford showing examples of Gothic and Classical styles and explaining not only the difference between them but the reasons for them. Mention will also be made of the Codrington library at All Souls which has a Gothic exterior and a Classical interior. Buildings visited will include the Radcliffe Camera, Sheldonian Theatre, the Clarendon Building, the Divinity School and St. Mary’s Church. Radcliffe Square is surrounded by one of the most amazing collections of Gothic and Classical buildings which somehow seem to harmonise. The walk includes entrance to Exeter College, the fourth oldest of the Oxford colleges, founded in 1314. A lively College, it is in the centre of Oxford and Exeter’s exquisite Chapel, tranquil Fellows’ Garden and terrace overlooking Radcliffe Square are famously beautiful. The College is full of history; J.R.R. Tolkein was an undergraduate here, as were Alan Bennett, Martin Amis and former President Kufour of Ghana. Other former students include two Supreme Court judges (one from Australia and another from Canada) as well as Nobel Laureate Sydney Brenner. Phillip Pullman, another Exonian, based his fictional Jordan College on Exeter and the fictitious Inspector Morse collapsed on the lawn in the front quad. Exeter College Chapel and the whole of Keble College provide beautiful reminders of the impact of the Oxford Movement’s Anglo-Catholicism and the mid-19th Century Gothic revival.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: This evening watch a DVD of “The Dead of Jericho”, the Inspector Morse novel featuring an American tourist group and a mysterious death.

Day 4: Tolkien and the Jericho area of Oxford

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Linton Lodge Hotel.

Breakfast: Full English breakfast in the hotel.

Morning: Lecture on the Oxford Don and author of the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkein.

Lunch: In the hotel.

Afternoon: A field trip explores the Jericho area of Oxford – an area between Walton Street and the Oxford canal which was developed for print workers. It is here that the hero of Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure lodged and where Colin Dexter’s The Dead of Jericho was located. The Oxford University Press is also located in this area. With individual shops and cafes, the area has a close community spirit and a refreshing, bohemian air. Most famous in the area is the massive Church of St. Barnabas, built by the canal in 1868. Its impressive High Anglican gilt interior is further evidence of the 19th Century nostalgia for the religion of the Middle Ages.

Dinner: Taken at the Old Bookbinders Ale House, a Jericho institution since 1869.

Evening: At leisure.

Day 5: Inspector Morse, Oxford

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Linton Lodge Hotel.

Breakfast: Full English breakfast in the hotel.

Morning: This morning guest lecturer Dr Anthony Richards will talk on the subject of Inspector Morse.

Lunch: In the hotel.

Afternoon: Free time to explore Oxford at your leisure.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: Enjoy a DVD, “Desperate Romantics” – a drama about the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

Day 6: The Pre-Raphaelites and Dinner in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Linton Lodge Hotel.

Breakfast: Full English breakfast in the hotel.

Morning: Lectures in the hotel on “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Pre-Raphaelites”.

Lunch: In the hotel.

Afternoon: A free afternoon to explore Oxford at your leisure.

Dinner: Take a special dinner in the world famous Ashmolean Museum.

Evening: At leisure after dinner.

Day 7: Blenheim Palace, Oxford

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Linton Lodge Hotel.

Breakfast: Full English breakfast in the hotel.

Morning: Field trip to Blenheim Palace. Blenheim Palace is the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill and a World Heritage Site. The Palace was originally a gift from Queen Anne and a grateful nation to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough following his famous victory at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. Visit the gilded State Rooms, which house one of the finest collections in Europe, and the fascinating visitor experience “Blenheim Palace: The Untold Story”. The Churchill Exhibition includes the room where Sir Winston Churchill was born in 1874. Situated in Woodstock, just 8 miles from Oxford, the Palace is surrounded by over 2,000 acres of “Capability” Brown landscaped parkland, the great lake and beautiful formal gardens.

Lunch: Taken in Blenheim Palace.

Afternoon: The field trip continues.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: DVD showing of “Shadowlands”, a 1993 British biographical film about the relationship between Oxford academics C.S Lewis and American poet Joy Davidman, her tragic death from cancer, and how this challenged Lewis’ Christian faith. It is directed by Richard Attenborough with a screenplay by William Nicholson.

Day 8: Christ Church, an Oxford college

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Linton Lodge Hotel.

Breakfast: Full English breakfast in the hotel.

Morning: Lecture on The Inklings, Oxford and C.S Lewis.

Lunch: In the hotel.

Afternoon: This afternoon’s field trip reveals the grandeur of Henry VIII’s Christ Church. Founded in 1546 and one of the largest Oxford colleges, Henry’s Lord Chancellor Thomas Wolsey planned the impressive Great Quadrangle, the Tudor kitchen and the Great Hall. Subsequent centuries have added to this architectural heritage and the Cathedral now houses some splendid medieval, 17th Century and Pre-Raphaelites stained glass. Christ Church is, uniquely, the Cathedral seat of Oxford and occupies a 150 acre site in the centre of the city. This includes the Meadow, a tranquil area of pasture bounded by the rivers Isis and Cherwell. Continue then onwards to Manchester College to view the Pre-Raphaelite stained glass windows in its Chapel.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

Day 9: The Cotswolds, Burford and Bibury

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Linton Lodge Hotel.

Breakfast: Full English breakfast in the hotel.

Morning: Field trip out of Oxford into the picturesque Cotswolds countryside. The trip will include the villages of Burford and Bibury, called by William Morris “the prettiest village in England”.

Lunch: Taken out at Maison Blanc in Burford.

Afternoon: The field trip continues.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: A lecture from your Study Leader on William Morris.

Day 10: Kelmscott Manor, Oxford

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Linton Lodge Hotel.

Breakfast: Full English breakfast in the hotel.

Morning: Today we have a full day to Bampton, the village location for Downton Abbey, and Kelmscott Manor – William Morris’ Thames-side home. The interior is furnished with his own textiles, wallpapers and a portrait of his wife Jane, painted by Rossetti. Morris was a student of Exeter College, Oxford and became part of the group known as the “Pembroke Set”. He went on to be associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the English Arts and Crafts Movement.

Lunch: Packed lunch.

Afternoon: The field trip continues.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: Enjoy a special guest lecture.

Day 11: Farewell Dinner in the Cherwell Boathouse, Oxford

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

Accommodation: Linton Lodge Hotel.

Breakfast: Full English breakfast in the hotel.

Morning: Lecture: "The Spirit of Oxford".

Lunch: Excluded to give you more free time on your last day in this great city.

Afternoon: Free time.

Dinner: Dinner out in the Cherwell Boathouse. The Cherwell Boathouse is an iconic Oxford punt station and restaurant on the banks of the river Cherwell.

Evening: At leisure.

Day 12: Oxford

Meals: Breakfast

Breakfast: In the hotel depending on departure times. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future.

Dates & Pricing

Price From

$ 3,599

Price Per Day:

$ 300 per person
 
  • Select Custom Arrangements to get to and from Road Scholar-provided airfare for your program
Prices may vary due to local taxes and trip seasonality. Click "Request Info" to inquire directly with the tour operator for the final trip price.
Details
Trip Includes
  • 10 nights of accommodations
  • 8 expert-led lectures
  • 9 expert-led field trips
  • 6 hands-on experiences
  • An experienced Group Leader
  • Customary gratuities throughout the program
  • The Road Scholar Travel Protection Plan, 24-hour-a-day emergency assistance coverage
  • Taxes
Meals Included:

10 Breakfasts, 9 Lunches and 10 Dinners

Flights & Transport
Only ground transport
Group Size:
Small Group - 24 max
Maximum Number of People in Group: 24
Accomodations

Linton Lodge Hotel: 10 nights  Oxford.

Set in a residential area of North Oxford with a pleasant garden and croquet lawn.

Start City
Oxford
End City
Oxford
Guides

John Hudson

As principal of the College of International Education, John Hudson has been sharing “magical” Oxford with Road Scholar participants since 2007. A resident of Oxford since 1966, John recognizes the impact of the city on writers, thinkers, artists and architects throughout the ages. He has extensive experience in education, having been deputy head of an upper comprehensive school for many years, as well as a teacher of history, philosophy and politics at one of the UK’s top boarding schools.

Trip ID#: TheSpiRoa

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