Recently, I was talking to a friend of mine on the phone. She announced that her job at Habitat for Humanity was relocating her to England for a short time.
"Do you have any recommendations for fun places to go in England?" she said. "Besides London."
Now, I studied abroad in London. I lived in South Kensington and soaked up the glory of the city every day, walking by famous museums on my way back from class. But I also took advantage of my proximity to other destinations, and traveled to Winchester, Oxford, and Bath. Not to mention Belgium, Spain, and France. And oh yeah, I've been to Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland, and my most recent adventure was to Sweden.
However, it wasn't until someone asked that it dawned on me that I may be qualified to give out some travel tips.
So begins Allie's Adventures Travel Guide series, where I share my favorite spots around the world and a few off-beat recommendations for fun things to do there. I believe that we should spend our money on experiences, not things, and traveling is an experience you never forget, especially if you're as shutter-happy as I am whenever I travel.
So without further ado, here is my travel guide to Bath, England!
Where to See Sights
I celebrated Easter in Bath with my aunt, who I've traveled with multiple times. I'm guaranteed to have a good time and do a lot of sight-seeing when I'm traveling with her. We both did some research before going, and were determined to see these landmarks:
Pulteney Bridge & Pulteney Weir. The bridge is one of only four bridges in the world with shops across the full span on both sides of the street. It crosses the River Avon, and overlooks the weir, which alters the flow of the river and is basically a small dam. It's a beautiful spot, and you actually can't miss it when you're in Bath; it's at the center of the town. When we were there, thousands of people were piled into the stadium for a soccer game; you can see them (and imagine, if you will, all the noise they made), in the upper right of the picture above.
Sally Lunn's Refreshment House & Museum. Sally Lunn's is the oldest house in Bath; the house was built in the 15th century, and the kitchen in the 18th. It is half restaurant and half museum. I don't think we had time to eat at the restaurant, but we were able to venture downstairs to the museum to see how cooks baked the traditional Sally Lunn Bun, a big piece of bread with no sugar or raisins, but plenty of sweet or savoury fillings. Great transition, I think, to the next section!
Where to Stuff Your Face
Easter lunch in Bath? Yes, please!
Actually, we had Easter tea in Bath, pictured above. If you want to experience high tea in Bath, the best place for you is The Pump Room. It overlooks the Royal Baths and is actually a part of the museum. It's certainly a fancy place, but if you want to spring for one expensive meal, The Pump Room is definitely worth it. We were both super full after high tea... I can still remember the clotted cream!
We also often stopped at Riverside Cafe and Restaurant for delicious Bath Buns while shopping. It was a nice, serene cafe overlooking the weir, which offered a variety of sandwiches and pastries. During the few days we were there, we didn't sit down for lunch often; it was cafes like this one that kept us going! So little time, so much to see!
Where to Get Your Nerd On
Did you know Bath was the home of a famous author? That's right; Jane Austen lived there for a short period time! Her house is now memorialized as a museum, The Jane Austen Centre. We toured her family rooms, poked around the gift shop, and learned about Jane Austen's family, education, and books. Bath is very proud of their relation to the famous writer (even though she wasn't very productive in the 9 years she stayed there), and it shows! WE enjoyed peering at her old writing utensils, seemingly fossilized, and imagining her penning a novel at the desk in front of us. I bought my fellow English major friend a few trinkets in the gift shop, and couldn't miss the photo op above.
Where to Sing Chorally
We simply had to find a church on Easter Sunday. Luckily, in famous cities, there are plenty of famous churches with free services for those interested. For Easter Sunday, we went to Bath Abbey. It was so nice to sing with a full congregation, and to hear an Anglican service, which I'd never been to before. I'm sure somebody else could describe it better, but Anglicism is a form of Christianity, with a few more traditions than Baptism but a few less than Catholicism. We listened to a beautiful boys' choir, wearing white to depict joyfulness, and experienced The Great Vigil of Easter, where church members recount the death and resurrection of Christ through song and recitation. It was magical!
Where to Take a Panoramic Picture
The Royal Crescent is a row of 30 houses laid across a sweeping crescent. Built in the late 1700s, it's a great example of Georgian architecture. It now includes a hotel and Georgian museum, as well as flats and offices for the considerably wealthy. It's a great tourist attraction in its own right; just standing in front of it is awe-inspiring. We visited the hotel and looked around the lobby, then followed a cute black cat out to the gardens. The Royal Crescent is also on the way to Royal Victoria Park, so you really can't miss it, and on a nice day, you can see quite a few couples and their dogs enjoying the sunshine.
Where to Do What You're Supposed to Do
I'm sure you're surprised I haven't mentioned it: The Roman Baths! If you only have one day in Bath, you must put the Roman Baths at the top of your list. It's quite touristy, but it's a great museum which depicts life in Bath in the Roman times. You can check out the excavation of the old Roman steps where they're preserved, and you can take a virtual tour of the Bath houses when they were in their prime. The goddess of water greets you at the entrance of the museum, and you can follow the history of the Baths throughout. Quite the experience!
Where to Do What You're Not Supposed to Do
Now, we definitely enjoyed all the architecture and history, but we also wanted to have some fun, so we went to see a play, specifically a comedic farce, at the New Theater Royale. If you didn't know, a farce is a play with a highly exaggerated plot, and a static setting (in this case, a living room), where characters enter and exit, hiding from each other or trying to expose each other. You've probably seen one before; they're absolutely hilarious!
Your Travel Guide to Bath, England
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Have you been to Bath, England? What are your recommendations? Send me over your travel guide to Bath, England; I'd love to see it!