Bath, England

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.

Bath recap:

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.

The Circus & The Royal Crescent - very cool examples of the Georgian architecture Bath is famous for.

Roman Baths

Pulteney Bridge

Jane Austen Centre

River Avon & Parade Park Gardens

Museum of Bath Architecture

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 Huntsman

The Bertinet Bakery

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!

Pump Room Restaurant

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.

Trev  always  finds the records

Trev always finds the records

I have so much more to share about our trip! Next England post will be about our time in Castle Combe, Lacock, and our stay at Bowood House & Gardens. Then last but not least I’ll share about London! I’m craving another English adventure just talking about it. Stay tuned!

Italy Part 2

Catch up on my first Italy post here! After exploring (and eating) as much as possible in Rome for 3 days - it was time to take the train south to the Amalfi coast! We arrived in Salerno and then drove to Maiori where we were staying for the next 5 days. The coastal towns in that area are so beautiful! The first night we walked from Maiori to Minori and ate an INCREDIBLE meal at Ristorante Pizzeria Giardiniello. I remember walking through the streets at dusk as the lights started to glow, turning the corner and seeing this amazing old church. I love that feeling of not knowing what you might find as you discover the details that make a town unique. 

The next day a small group of us chartered a boat to take us along the coast and up to Positano. If you’ve seen Under the Tuscan Sun as many times as I have you’ll know that Positano is the quintessential coastal  town where Marcello lived and reminded Frances that she’s still got it. If you ever find yourself there - make sure you can arrange to spend a few hours at least! It was so lovely and I wish we had been able to spend the whole day there. 

The wedding was probably the most beautiful wedding I’ll ever go to! I mean, it was on the coast of Italy so I really can’t think of a more idyllic location. We all took a bus up into the hills where the town of Ravello sits. The view from the ceremony site was so beautiful! Afterwards we all walked back through the town to the center square and explored a bit. 

The reception was held at the Norman Tower, the biggest and oldest one on the Amalfi Coast, built between 1250 and 1300. We enjoyed yummy hors d'oeuvres and cocktails on the rooftop before dinner and dancing inside. It was such a memorable and special day! 

After traveling back to Rome we had one last day to check out the flower markets, drink wine, and eat more pasta! We still talk about our trip and how much we love Italy. I’m sure some day we’ll go back. Until then - a least I have the memories and these photographs to take me back!

Italy Part 1

Italy. How do I even begin describing it? It was a photographers dream. The colors, the textures, the unique and historic architecture literally everywhere you turn. To be a wedding photographer there - oh my goodness, I can only imagine... We landed in Rome and spent 3 nights there. We found a small but cute Airbnb near the Colosseum. It was perfect Roman living - a narrow, cobblestone street filled with shops and just around the corner from a ornate fountain. We soon realized this fountain becomes the perfect evening mingling spot for the locals to sit, sip their wine, and talk with their friends. SO cute. We were in a great location, walking distance to the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Colosseum, Palatine Hill,  and the Roman Forum (all of which we visited) - not to mention many incredible restaurants! It was heaven. Tiresome heaven. All of the walking and sightseeing was hard work! But it was so worth it everyday. We made the most of it and visited all the sights I previously mentioned including the Vatican Museums - all in 3 days! I've tried to keep the photos mostly chronological. I hope you enjoy Rome from my point of view! Italy part 2 will include photographs from the second part of the trip when we got to the Amalfi Coast (insert heart-eye emoji here).

A few words of advice if you're soon going to Rome for the first time!

Definitely stay somewhere within walking distance to the spots I mentioned and bring shoes that you know will be comfortable. The cobblestone streets are charming to look at but very hard on your feet!

Read reviews on Trip Advisor to find the best places to eat and enjoy gelato. Surprisingly, not all gelato is created equal - even in Italy. Speaking of, always take the opportunity to sample the gelato to make sure its amazing!

I highly recommend going to the Vatican museums. I'm not a religious person. It was about the history and the art for me! The intricacy of the entire place is astounding. BUT do yourself a huge favor and buy your tickets ahead of time online! I read this tip before going and I'm so glad I did. It was exactly as they said - we walked around the outer wall for a while, passing a very long line of people who were waiting to buy tickets. We we able to pass them all and go straight in to go through security - which only took a few minutes! And we were in! So many hours saved I'm sure. Buy your tickets ahead of time on the official website here.