Where to go: Bath, England. From ancient Romans, to high society in the 1800’s to modern day pleasures Bath will always remain the perfect place to find relaxation, beauty and history.
How to get there: Both trains and buses bring visitors to Bath. I booked tickets in advance and took a bus from Heathrow Airport’s Central Bus Station in London through http://www.nationalexpress.co.uk Buses tend to board about 15 – 20 minutes before departure times.
Where to stay: Abbey House Apartments http://www.laurastownhouseapartments.co.uk Staying in an apartment is the only way to go! Stove, fridge, washer, dryer, and most important, space. Laura (owner) picked me up from the bus station, and even had crumpets, milk, tea and coffee for me at the apartment. Various apartments available. Mine had a lovely view of Bath Abbey out the kitchen window. (Hint: Bring a cell phone that works in the UK, or rent inexpensive pay as you go phones which are sold all over Bath, zero phones in the apartments).
How to navigate: Free walking tours of Bath leave by the Pump Room Sun-Fri at 10:30 am, last about two hours of easy walking and frequent stops. This is a great way to learn the layout of Bath, or just to see the sights if you only have one day in town.
What to eat: Check out Jamie’s Italian in Milsom Place. This is a newly opened Jamie Oliver restaurant with the theme of affordable, quality Italian food. No reservations accepted, so just walk in and ask for a table in this two-level casual dress establishment. Many of the ingredients are imported from Italy. The pasta with black truffle, parmesan, and nutmeg is beyond good and with tip, around 20 dollars. Yes, the black truffle shavings are actually visible! My favorite cream tea (a pot of tea, two scones with clotted cream and jam) was at the Jane Austen Center’s Regency tearoom. The Russian Caravan tea has a smoky accent and may be purchased on sight. Plenty of Mr. Darcy items to be found in the gift shop. (Author Jane Austen lived in Bath for five years. Parts of her novels Persuasion and Northhanger Abbey take place here). http://www.janeausten.co.uk For fish and chips look no further than Seafoods Fish and Chips Restaurant and Takeaway at 38 Kingsmead Street. Ask for zero skin, or else it is left on. Mark and Spencer is a killer supermarket in the back, and check out the clothing up front. In fact, take an empty suitcase and buy clothes in Bath!
How to spend time in the fairytale countryside: Mad Max Minibus Tours leave from Bath offering full and half days to Stonehenge, Avebury Stone Circles, and other sights including Lacock National Trust village (a bit of the Collin Firth Pride and Prejudice, Cranford and some Harry Potter scenes took place here), a full day Cotswold tour stopping at villages like Castle Combe (scenes from Stardust, and the upcoming The Wolfman were shot here), and Stow-on-the Wold (meaning holy place on the hill). The tours are perfect for both couples and independent travelers who don’t wish to brave driving on the other side of the road. http://www.madmaxtours.co.uk
What to see: Roman baths, Bath Abbey, Jane Austen Center, Pump Room, Assembly Rooms, Costume Museum (name changing to Fashion Museum), great architecture with the Royal Crescent and the Circus by architect John Wood, parks, several abbeys, theatres, shopping galore, and even a spa. If you are there on Nov. 5 Guy Fawkes Day ask at the tourist information center (located in the courtyard next to Bath Abbey) about where to see the fireworks.
Take a hike: Hike from Bath to Bathampton, around an hour’s hike by following the towpath behind Bath train station. Purchase take-away ice cream from a pub at the end of the journey. Don’t be afraid of the tunnels that you must sometimes walk through, for I often saw people with their children, hikers, and bikers along this trail. Some beautiful countryside views await you.
What I love most: Bath is where my peace lives.