Wednesday, April 17, 2019

England | Two Days in Bath

So many of you have reached out saying you've been inspired to recreate our trip to England which makes me so happy!  I hope these posts will help you navigate what you would like to do.  See here for a rough outline of our 2 week itinerary.  This post will be followed by three others, each detailing a little more of our stops. We arrived in London at 6:30 in the morning.  None of us slept on the 6 hour flight from NYC.   We actually arrived 50 minutes early - when does that ever happen?! We had decided to start our journey in Bath rather than London for a few reasons.  One is that if we started and ended in London we would be breaking up that city, finding two separate accommodations, also London is crazy busy and not the ideal landing spot for weary, jet lagged travelers.  We took a two hour bus from Heathrow to Bath. It was not necessary to buy tickets in advance. The other option would be to take the train.  You would need to take a train from Heathrow to Paddington Station and then transfer onto a train to Bath.  You will also spend more than double to take the train.  The bus ride was pretty easy, so long as you aren't prone to car or motion sickness, which our youngest traveler was and it made for a long bus ride.

Bath is a beautiful city about 90 miles outside of London in Somerset.  England is divided into counties, Somerset being a county.  It was confusing when I first started researching England because sometimes people would only refer to the county and not the city, or I would think it was a city, only to discover it was a county.  I did a lot of map googling to get my bearings and understand the lay of the land.  The city has ties back to 60 AD and Roman history when the Romans built a temple and spa around the warm springs that come up from the ground. The baths were used for about 300 years and were thought to have magical healing powers.    Bath's heyday was really during the 1700s and early 1800s when it was built up with the beautiful Georgian style limestone ("Bath Stone") buildings that predominate the architecture of the city.  It was the place to be seen for high society and the well to do. I read somewhere that the reason the sidewalks are so wide was to accommodate the elaborate Victorian dresses. There are cobblestone streets, plenty of tea rooms, cozy pubs, charming shops, as well as chain retailers we see in the US.  There are live musicians and trolly's selling warm nuts.  It is very much a walkable city bordered by the River Avon with the stunning Bath Abbey (originally built in the 7th century) at the center.  Truly a town that invites you to wander and explore on foot and feels classically English in the very best ways.  The perfect spot to start an England vacation.  Many people that go to England visit London and combine it with a couple days in the Cotswolds, I would strongly urge tagging on a day trip to Bath too.  It was different than any other place we visited.  You don't need a car to explore Bath, which is a big bonus. 

We rented a classic Georgian style townhouse through Airbnb.  Link to our place here.  It was an ideal location, plenty spacious, with wonderful hosts. The rooms were clean and bathrooms up-to-date with a large kitchen, even though I didn't prepare anything other than tea.  You are also very close to a grocery store which we stopped in to pick drinks and snacks.  The home is owned by a young couple that uses it for holidays.

We had perfect exploring weather, not too chilly and no rain.  We had a wonderful full English breakfast the first morning at Blue Quails Deli, that I highly recommend. (tons of good breakfast and brunch spots in Bath though!) We spent a couple days wandering and discovering every little corner of the city.  We especially loved the old bookstore and the little tucked away alleys and tea rooms.  We had afternoon tea at the Ivy which came highly recommended from many people.  It is a chain however, and very "posh" inside.  The food is excellent but I prefer the atmosphere of a smaller tea room with pretty floral china and a smattering of mismatched antique tables and chairs.   A visit to the Roman Baths is a must and we discovered getting there 30 minutes before they stop selling tickets was ideal.  They stopped selling tickets at 5:00 but remain open till 6:00.  We had the place almost entirely to ourselves (mind you, this is off season! I can't speak for summer).  We navigated everything through google walking maps on our phone.

We all loved Bath and would happily return. Two days is plenty time to see everything and get a good feel for the city.  On our third morning, we stopped at the Bridge Coffee Shop for cappuccinos and Cornish Pasties before picking up our rental car and heading to Stonehenge...   

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