Many years ago, my husband and I made a pact to attend the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Being that he is a former rugby player, and we met while he was playing for the Pittsburgh team, it only seemed appropriate that we cross the pond to watch the best teams in the game. Plus, who am I kidding, I didn't need much coaxing to plan another trip to Europe.
The first leg of our journey began in Bath, England. The match we had tickets for was being played in Cardiff, but after some debating, we decided to stay in Bath. It is only an hour train ride between the two, and my husband had played for the Bath Rugby Club, as well as attending University there. I had heard great things about its English charm and Georgian architecture, so Bath it was.
Where We Went
We started with the Roman Baths - an obvious must if you're in Bath. We grabbed our audio guides and did the approximate 1.5 hour tour. The guide was well done, and the Baths were definitely something I would recommend seeing. Parts of the building are currently being expanded, but nothing that was disruptive. The kicker at the end is taking a swig of the Sulfur laden water - mmmmm delicious. If you have time, you can have high tea in the connecting Pump Room, complete with a second tasting of the distinctive water.
Next up was the Bath Abbey, if you enjoy religious architecture, or beautiful stain glass, make the time to stop and appreciate this beautiful church.
To escape the crowds we then headed out of downtown Bath. First, you cross the Pulteney Bridge, besides the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, it's one of the only bridges in the world with shops built into it, once you cross the bridge turn right and head down a tight staircase. Here you will pass one of the most picturesque spots in Bath to grab a drink or lunch, the Riverside Café. After having a snack we continued along the river path, to see some of the best views Bath has to offer.
The next day we took some time to wander through the town of Bath. Being a lover of all things Austen, I wanted to stop by the Jane Austen Centre. After taking a look around and speaking with staff, I learned that the center contained mostly wax figures, period costumes, a gift shop, and a tea room. I found it to be a bit of a tourist trap, so I decided to forgo the experience, but did snap a quick pic of Jane herself.
We continued through he city of Bath, heading toward the Royal Crescent. Along the way enjoying the Georgian buildings and alleys.
After walking around the Royal Crescent, we continued to Royal Victoria Park. This hands down is one of my favorite parts of Bath, as you can tell by the photo overload. You will know you are at the entrance to the park, when you see the English cottage with the blue trim. The park was filled with locals and their children enjoying a gorgeous fall day. Take the time and walk all the way to the back of the park, here you will be rewarded with the stunning botanical gardens.
We ended our visit by heading to Cardiff for the World Cup. This is something I will never forget - being surrounded by so many fans, with a buzz of overwhelming excitement. We had the chance to see the New Zealand All Blacks (who ended up winning the World Cup), play France (my husband's favorite team). And although it was a blow out match, it was still worth every Pound.
What We ate
While researching our trip, I kept reading about the illusive Bath Bun - What was it? What did it taste like? So I added it to my must eat list. Unfortunately it was a huge let down. For those wondering it's pretty much a sandwich bun, that tastes similar to brioche, and is topped with rock sugar and currants. To try "the bun," we decided to stop at The Bath Bun Tea Shoppe. Sadly, this was an even bigger disappointment. For our tea service, they left the crusts on our tea sandwiches (defeats the purpose of a tea sandwich) and they tasted dry and stale. So, despite the cute exterior, I would not recommend this restaurant. And as for Bath Buns - stick to scones instead.
On the other hand I highly recommend going to the Green Park Station Market, buying some cheese/bread/marmalade, packing a picnic and taking it to the aforementioned Royal Victoria Park.
If you're looking for a coffee break and some free wifi, head to Milsom Place in the center of Bath. It's made up of small passages to wander through, and filled with delicious restaurants and shops, including chef Jamie Oliver's. We stopped for a coffee at Colonna & Hunter, and found the coffee and atmosphere to be perfect.
My favorite dinner was at The Raven of Bath. Known for its savory pies, I had the mushroom and asparagus with mash, and my husband had the raven ale pie with chips. Both were delicious, and served in a proper pub atmosphere. We also had typical Indian curry one night at The Eastern Eye, and Sunday Lunch at The Chequers, I would recommend both. For after dinner drinks, we had a great time at The Huntsman.
Where We Stayed
Outside of our hotel comfort zone, we decided to stay at Three Abbey Green, a small family owned bed and breakfast, because I wanted more of a quintessential English experience. We stayed in the Old Plane Tree room, and for the price, found it to be comfortable. Being a bed and breakfast, there were not as many amenities as a typical hotel, but our only complaint was that despite being on the top floor, we were often awoken by the noise outside. There were near by pubs, which had late night stragglers, and being located next to The Abbey made for hearing lots of church bells. We did enjoy the included breakfast, and had a beautiful view of the Old Plane Tree out of our window.
Next we were off to Belgium!
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