England: London & Bath

London

  • April 2016  England

Overview

  • 2 People
  • Transportation: Tube, Bus, WalkingEngland

Day 1: London
Day 2: London
Day 3: Bath

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Day 1

We landed at Heathrow around 10:15 am and quickly made our way to our hostel, Astor Victoria, via the tube. It’s a lovely location and safe neighborhood right outside the main hustle and bustle of central London. The Pimlico tube stop only a 5 minute walk from the front door, which made getting around and returning at night incredibly easy. Most conveniently, because we had arrived hours ahead of check-in time, we were able to store our bags in a locked room while we took the morning and afternoon to explore.  England

We made our way to Borough Market, a buzzing space filled with lavish cheeses, meats, fruit spreads, homemade foods, fresh produce and treats. We walked around every passage we could find and gorged ourselves on duck confit sandwiches, cheese samples, fresh pressed juices, and doughnuts. OH THE DOUGHNUTS…if you eat anything at these markets, make it the donuts. Our chosen flavors were dulce de leche and nutella. Foreshadowing: we had a donut obsession for the rest of the trip.  England

Borough Market on a Saturday

 

We made our way over to the iconic Tower Bridge. As expected in London, it began to rain lightly, but it did not stop us from getting some great shots of the blue accents on the bridge.

rain, rain go away…or stay, if you want. Imma be here either way!

 

We walked around the Tower of London and caught a double decker red bus to take us to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Of course, we sprinted for the front seats on the top level, as should you! It provides a view of the city unobstructed by taxis, cyclists, or pedestrians.  England

We made it to St. Paul’s as they were preparing for one of the daily services. I’ve only been in a few cathedrals in my life, most of which are rather new in comparison to the historic cathedrals of Europe. Walking into St. Paul was breathtaking because I had never seen a cathedral of this size and caliber. The architecture of the building and the statues inside made it one of my favorite sights in London. Being a musician, this experience was made even more personal by being able to listen as the choir rehearsed for the upcoming service.  England

Finally seeing St.Paul’s after teaching my music students about it

 

The statues of St. Paul’s

 

After a short rest, and official check in at the hostel, we took the night to enjoy dinner with some friends. We went to Whyte and Brown in King’s Court and had scotch egg appetizers and savory sandwiches. Of course, no first night in a new country is complete without a treat. We found our way to Scoop, greedily trying to keep the ice cream from dripping out of the oversized cones.  England

The courtyard view during dinner

 

Day 2

I noticed a small poster on one of the hostel walls that displayed a bus route weaving in and out of the most popular sites in Central London. Considering we still had a large list of things we wanted to see, it was cheaper than the tube, and the bus stop was literally right outside the door, we decided to take the early bus around 9am. We got off right in the center of Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and Parliament. All within walking distance, we awed at each site as they carved their way into the blue sky. It was an incredibly sunny and comfortable day. We did get heckled once on the bridge outside Big Ben, but nothing some street smarts wouldn’t help you avoid!  England

Big Ben from the bridge

 

 

Next, we made our way to Camden Market and walked through the bustling Sunday morning crowds. This was more of a flea market than the Borough Market, but it had the most eclectic things to look at. The stalls surrounded us with novelty items, clothing, sunglasses, shoes, leather, etc. It was like a smaller version of NYC, but still somehow more charming. We entered one side of the market and found ourselves in a maze of stalls. They were all connected edge to edge, wall to wall, and the aisles running paralell and perpendicular were narrow. There were glimering watches, wooden jewelry, and Dr. Who apparel that I almost gave in to…  England

great photo ops in the maze of stalls at Camden Market

 

We found our way out of the maze, sampled some “Boom Boom Chicken” and walked over to the jewelry/arts and crafts section. Almost all of the stalls were local makers that offered customized leather bands and belts, wooden sunglasses, hand made stone and metal jewelry, prints, and small purses. It wasn’t as disorienting as the maze we were just in, but it was busy enough that we got separated for a solid 20 minutes (scary when you have no data in a foreign country!)

Camden Lock outside the arts and crafts/food square

 

Walking around the back of the market, we found a staircase that led into a quart yard of food. Everything from fish and chips to doughnuts, chilli, and Thai. We each had a small meal before swarming the donut cart. Just like the day before, we purchased doughnuts. Except at this point our addiction was full blown and we bought 6 different kinds of doughnuts. We found a small outdoor seating area and spread out the doughnuts on the table to drool over. I’m also pretty sure we infected others with our obsession because those passing by would comment, laugh, and ask us where we got them. And then we each ate 2 of the 6 leaving the final pair for a midnight snack.  England

mmmmm, donuts <3
pb&J, salted caramel, sprinkles, smores, apple cinnamon, nutella

 

We moved on from Camden Market and took the bus back to Central London. Getting off at Trafalgar Square, it was buzzing with people as the sun came out. We took some time to sit by the fountains, and take in the sight of children crawling all over the giant lions like ants on a drop of honey.

I fought the urge to climb in the fountain..

 

That night, we looked up a new place to eat  and made our way to a restaurant called Scoff & Banter. Well…it was SUPER fancy. So fancy, that the wait staff was dressed better than us. But we were the only customers, so we sat, amused at our obvious misjudgement and ordered whatever we wanted….including dessert!

Our night ended early as we needed to re-pack and plan for our early train to Bath the next morning.  England

Bath

Day 3

We checked out of our hostel, eating the stale, left over donuts for breakfast. We walked for about 10 minutes to what I thought was the right bus stop…turns out it was not. In my defense, it was the correct bus number, but was going in the wrong direction. We got to the end of the line before the driver informed us we needed to get off, cross the street, and go all the way back (1 hour) to get the correct bus to the train station.   England

Luckily our train tickets were not time sensitive, and we made it just in time for catch the second train to Bath that morning.

We reached bath by early afternoon, directly as it started to rain. Using a downloaded map, we weaved through the town and eventually found our hostel, St. Christopher’s Inn-Bath. This was another great hostel, located directly above Belushi’s bar and across the street from St. Michael’s Church.  England

St. Michael’s from the street outside our hostel

The weather turned cooler, but still comfortable as we wandered around the town. The walk to Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths took only 5 minutes. Finding our way to the front of the Roman Baths, with the hopes of going in, we saw that the entry fee was 15 euros and a little too steep for us. We decided to enjoy the architecture around the abbey instead before walking down to the Gardens Bath.  England

Bath Abbey and the surrounding architecture

 

We paid the 2 euro entrance fee to the gardens and found ourselves almost completely alone on the grounds. The grass was incredibly green from the morning rain and the statues seemed to glisten as the final rain drops dripped from them.  England

Bath Gardens

We explored the small grounds, and to our surprise, we found a small plot of a pet cemetery! The names of each pet adorned the miniature tombstones and overlooked the River Avon.

We made our way out of the garden to the connected Pulteney Bridge for some pictures before exploring more of the shops Bath had to offer.

Normal cemeteries freak me out. Pet cemeteries on the other hand..

 

Pulteney Bridge. Can you spot the swan in the water?

 

As we were rounding a corner, something in the window of a store caught my eye. When I looked closer, I say an antique compass sitting on the crowded shelves of an antique shop. Walking into the shop, we could see the store was packed with items. Books, cutlery, tea cups, toys, clothes, etc. Every shelf was filled and then eve stored some items on the stairs.  England

either they ran out of room, or they really want you to break and buy

 

For lunch we ate around the corner at Cafe Retro, and enjoyed some traditional English comfort food and hot chocolates. We made our way out of the center of town and out toward the Royal Crescent to enjoy the last hours of day light.  England

The park across from the Royal Crescent

 

At the end of the day, we made our way back to the hostel to enjoy a night of trivia set up in the bar by the hostel workers. The next day we caught a bus to the Bristol Airport, on our way to Ireland!  England


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