Last spring, Trevor & I were lucky enough to take a trip to England. After we had gone to Italy the year before for a friends wedding, we realized how much we value traveling together - and we realized that with a little planning & saving we could afford to do it! Exploring new places, meeting people, & making those memories together - it means a lot to us both. I know that we’ll take many more trips together, big & small.
I recently read that spending money on experiences instead of material possessions is big with millennials. If I’m honest, I’m not sure I want to buy into all that ‘broad assumptions about a group of people’ stuff -- BUT I definitely believe that new experiences and making memories is extremely beneficial to us as individuals as well as communities. I’m all about that. In the spirit of encouraging travel I’m going to tell you all about the places in England we loved and some tips for planning a trip there! There’s a lot to share so I’m starting with the first part of our trip in Bath…
We arrived at London Heathrow airport in the morning and grabbed some breakfast. We both fondly remember the first English friend we made! He was an older gentleman who was sitting near us in the cafe. He was so friendly! He asked us where we were from & where we would be traveling in England. When we told him we were headed to Bath first he got sooo excited. “Ohhhh how lovely!! You’ll absolutely love bath - I adore Bath, marvelous architecture”, he said with a definite twinkle in his eyes.
That adorable old, Englishman was right! We did love Bath. Famous for its Roman Baths, Georgian architecture, and buildings made of golden Bath stone - this city is not to be missed! Of course everything was charming and I was in photography heaven. After checking into our B&B we realized we were starving & eager to try some English cask ale! In the past few years we’ve become big craft beer people. Traditional English cask ales are unfiltered, unpasteurized beer that is conditioned & served from a cask without carbon dioxide pressure. If I remember correctly I was a slightly bigger fan than Trevor - but neither of us would turn down a glass if you know what I’m sayin. We found a pub called the Huntsman and popped in for some beer & traditional English pub food. I thoroughly enjoyed their fish and chips - served with mushy peas and vinegar of course! The coolest part was the periodic table of beer styles. They had created this wall art in chalk that listed (if not all) many of the beer styles and had organized them in a grid like the periodic table of elements. Color me impressed.
After we were satiated we did a little more exploring around Bath. We found a VERY old & beautiful tree in the middle of a square - took many photos - and ended the night with cocktails at a whiskey bar called The Hideout. I must admit it was a very cool little bar, tucked away down some stairs and very close quarters, it felt very speakeasy-like. Trevor was a big fan of the ambiance and his drink.
We spent the next day walking allllllll over Bath! Naturally, as we walked I continued to photograph the architecture. It was a beautiful, sunny morning and it was super enjoyable to just walk and get to know the city.
Beginning of May was a beautiful time to be in England. Everything was blooming & we got lucky with only one day of rain. Per the recommendations of a very kind bartender we made sure to walk by The Circus. Designed by architect John Wood (the elder), this historic circle of townhouses was completed in 1768. I felt there was something actually very modern about them - it was hard to imagine people coming and going from these townhouses in the late 18th century.
We continued our self-guided walking tour and arrived at the Royal Crescent, designed by John Wood (the younger) and completed in 1774. Similar to the Circus without forming a circle, the Royal Crescent is essentially a row of townhouses built in a curved, crescent shape. It’s wild to imagine all the lives that were lived there - for instance, I learned that one particular tenant lived there until he died. In. A. Duel. Seriously. Life was a little different in 1796.
That was our morning. In the afternoon we made it to the Roman Baths. If you’re at all interested in history visiting the Roman Baths is a must. Trevor and I talked about how crazy it is that the previous year we were exploring Rome - and now we were in England, looking down at natural spring water that Romans bathed in during the Roman occupation of Britain. Crazy! And very cool.
After leaving the baths it was time for afternoon tea! Scones, clotted cream, jam, and tasty, tasty tea. Bread and butter is basically my favorite thing to eat. I should probably move to England. Anyway…. we of course had to have afternoon tea at The Pump Room. Back in the day this was the place to be. Jane Austen totally partied there. And the tea was perfect.
After tea we wandered over to the very near-by Bath Abbey. Sadly we did not plan well enough to visit during the Choral Evensong but it was still very beautiful to see. We finished the day by walking across the Pulteney Bridge (which I didn’t really photograph, silly me) and finding dinner at a very cute Italian restaurant.
Transportation: After a lot of research I decided the best option for us to get from Heathrow to Paddington Station would be the Heathrow Connect. Apparently it is now called TFL Rail - it was the most affordable option for us, not the fastest but fast enough. You can read all about it here. If you’d like to hear about all the ways to travel from Heathrow to Paddington you can read this discussion thread on TripAdvisor.
From Paddington we took a train to Bath. It was pretty easy to figure out which track our train was on. You can buy train tickets here. The trip takes about an hour & a half.
Where we stayed: Parade Park B&B
It was very affordable and centrally located. Bath is a very walkable city and we were able to explore most of it without needing a taxi. Our room was definitely small but cute and cozy, completely great for our needs. They offered complimentary buffet breakfast every morning and have a bar downstairs where you can chat up the bartender to learn all about Bath and must-see spots.
Things to see & do in Bath:
Bath Abbey - Gorgeous old abbey founded in the 7th century, rebuilt in the 12th & 16th centuries, major restoration done in the 1860’s. It is free but donation is suggested. Pro-tip: Be sure to check opening times and try to plan your visit during a Choral Evensong to enjoy their choir.
River Avon & Parade Park Gardens
Royal Victoria Park
*There are a lot of shopping opportunities in Bath, along Saint Lawrence St. and that area. We didn’t spend much time walking around the shops but there were clothing boutiques that looked pretty nice if that’s your thing!
Eat & Drink:
The Green Rocket Cafe - We grabbed coffee and croissants here one morning before we started exploring for the day. It is very cute and offers great vegetarian and vegan options.
Alehouse - We had a nightcap here after dinner our last night in Bath. It feels very “classic old English pub”.
The Hideout - Definitely check this place out if you are at all into whiskey!
Antica - The romantic little Italian place we had dinner our last night. The man who waited on us was sooo nice, he was from Italy and we talked with him about our trip there.