A Few Hours in: Bath, England

If you’ve gone through London a few times and you’re ready to explore outside of the city, I have just the place for you!  Bath, England is only an hour and a half west of London, so it makes for the perfect day trip.

Bath is literally set in the rolling English countryside. This means that part of the fun is walking up relatively steep hills to get around. I recommend walking the whole day as it’s the best way to see the city, and it’s not too large. I think the loveliest way to get into Bath is via the train.. Bath Spa station is only an hour and 24 minutes from Paddington Station in London on the Great Western  Railway. When you arrive at the train station make sure to stop first at the Visitors Centre. I have a thing for maps, and it’ll make it little easier to get around.

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Church! Markets! A Bridge! 

I love visiting old churches and in Bath there’s Bath Abbey. It’s a lovely church built in the Gothic style. It doesn’t cost anything to go in and roam through the pews.

Now you know how I feel about markets. Of course I had to hunt down a local market while I was in Bath, the Bath Guildhall Market. They have everything from textiles to cheese. If you are book addict, like me, I’d recommend avoiding Skoobs, the secondhand paperback bookshop. It could become a deep, deep, time suck. You will walk out happy, though.

The next stop that I recommend is the Pulteney Bridge. This Palladian style bridge crosses the River Avon and was completed in 1774. What I think it is really cool about it is that there are shops inside the bridge.

The Royal Crescent 

The next part of this trip will take you to the Royal Crescent. One of the things that I really love about Bath is all of the Georgian style architecture. This includes walking through the Circus which is circular row of Georgian homes with a lovely little park in the middle. The Royal Crescent itself is a row of 30 terraced houses. If you’re not the biggest fan of architecture, that’s okay. The park in front of the crescent is a great place to sit and soak in the day. Hopefully there’s a break from the English rain and you’re actually able to soak in some sunshine. God blessed us in such a way when we went to Bath.

Jane Austen! 

The real reason that I dragged my brother to Bath was to go to the Jane Austen Centre. Austen spent several years of her life in Bath and as a result Centre honors her. In my opinion on don’t think that exhibit is worth it, it’s not so much her things as much as it has things which are to the period and her history. If you have love of Austen you’re probably familiar with all of that. However, I strongly recommend the gift shop. When you go you’ll see that it’s tiny, and yet I still managed to spend over 25 minutes in it, and lugged out a pretty hefty bag. I also highly recommend  The Regency Tea Room. The tea service was lovely and was a great place to pause after spending much of the morning walking around.

And Now for the Baths

Of course being in Bath, you must go to the actual baths. Now, you can call me a bad tourist if you want, but instead of seeing the historical Roman baths that the city is named for, I headed to the New Royal Baths for a soak. You can pay to have access to the baths for a certain amount of time. I recommend heading right up to the top floor where the  open-air rooftop pool is. Like in Budapest, I loved the opposing temperatures of being in the warm water while it was cool outside. I can imagine that if you’re there during the summer it might not be as delightful. The Minerva Bath is indoors and is also quite lovely. They have a variety of other activities to do in the spa (including massages!) but since you only have few hours in the city, you might not have the time.

If you have time before heading back to the train station after convalescing in the Baths, I recommend some shopping on the way back down to the station. You can go down St. Lawrence Street.

There are many more things to do in Bath! If you have more than a few hours, check out the Bath Visitors Site. It’s a great resource to find other things to do in this lovely city. If you are truly limited to only a few hours, click below for my map that has my recommend route.

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My Route for a Day in Bath

 

A Few Days in: London

I love London! If you’ve been on my blog for more than two minutes you may have already discovered this. Below are some of my favorite things to do. This will not necessarily include the classic tourist stops that people often make on trips to the city, I figure there are blogs aplenty for that. 

Markets 

In my opinion some of the best and most affordable shopping in the city can be found in the markets. Amazingly, I’ve never made it up to Camden Market because I keep getting distracted over in the City of London. There are several markets within walking distance of the Liverpool Street Tube Station. Old Spitalfields Market, Petticoat Lane Market, and on varying days of the week the Sunday Up Market, the Vintage Market, to name a few of my favorites.

I also love crossing the river and heading to the Greenwich Market. Greenwich itself it is a small piece of magic. You can visit the Cutty Sark which is an old British clipper that was built in 1869. There’s also the Old Royal Naval College including the Painted Hall which is quite lovely and where several movies and television shows have been filmed. I’m sure that anyone who’s visited London would tell you that you must also go to the Royal Observatory. Well, I’ve never been there so I can’t tell you about it. It looks like quite lovely from the bottom of the hill, and considering that it’s literally where time begins I can definitely see how it could be something that you wouldn’t want to pass up!

Book Stores

I love reading. Maybe that’s also the reason why I love writing so much. There are no shortage bookstores in London, something that I cannot say living in Washington, D.C. My favorite chain is Waterstones. For some reason Foyles just doesn’t do it for me. If you want to be sure that you’re going to find the book that you’re absolutely looking for, stop by the Waterstones in Piccadilly, but fair warning that it may at times be overrun with tourists. Otherwise, I really love the one on Kensington High Street. It’s a nice size, and it’s generally pretty quiet. I have yet to find a Waterstones that I didn’t want to spend hours in though.

If you don’t want a big commercial chain, I recommend Daunt Books. I love the ambiance of this store, and it looks a bit like something you’d see in a Harry Potter novel. In addition to books. I love the stationary that I’ve found in this store.

Museums

I’m not too much of a museum person when it comes to traveling overseas, but there are two museums that I really enjoy. The first is the Tate Modern which is overlooking the Thames, and I also love the Wallace Collection. I love the gift shops in both museums, and I love the Wallace Restaurant for a cup of tea. Having grown up in Washington, DC, I really struggle with going to museums where you have to pay, so I’m happy to see that both of these recommendations are free!

Bridges 

I love being near the water, even a river. Every time I go to London I don’t feel like I’m actually there until I’ve walked across one of the bridges, stood in the middle, and looked out on London. My favorites are Westminster Bridge (even with all of the tourists), or the London Bridge (not to be confused with the Tower Bridge). It’s a great place for photos and to just soak in the city.

I could write forever about things to do in London, and go forever and a day if we’re talking about day trips from London, but what I recommend above are some of the things that I love doing the most in London. I hope that you will enjoy them too!