During our planned time in London, I really wanted to go on a day trip. Originally, I wanted to introduce my best friend Jennifer to Brighton. I've only been once but seriously loved it. However, when I realized that going in November would be considerably different from going in July, I pivoted and decided that our last full day in the UK would be dedicated to a day trip to Bath.
Our Airbnb was only 10 minutes from Paddington Station, which was perfect for our early morning start. We snacked on pastries from Jolene in Islington that we had picked up the day before, and grabbed coffee at the station. Unlike our usual Central London commutes, this trip required a separate ticket via the overground.
Tip: Make sure you have the right kind of tickets for your transportation!
Bath is not an unknown place, so as long as you are on the right train it's hard to miss. I felt myself relax the moment we sat on the train, ready for a new adventure. As metropolitan London faded away, the English countryside rushed by us in a blur and cattle and horses dotting the rolling green hills. Day trips from London can offer a respite from the fast pace of the city, often a breath of fresh air both figuratively and literally.
Our first order of business was visiting the Roman Baths. I struggled with this one, as I tend to stray away from a lot of touristy attractions, but I felt that this was a necessary visit in Bath.
We left the train station and walked over to the Roman Baths. The buildings and atmosphere of the city was already charming me, and I was getting even more excited to get to know it.
Bath is very walkable, and we were at the Roman Baths in no time. I didn't know what to expect, and part of me was dreading a lackluster experience viewing some ancient baths that I knew nothing about. Thankfully, my experience at the Roman Baths was everything except lackluster.
The audio guides were free and were incredibly enriching. They were easy to use and provided a self-guided tour of the baths. I had no idea that they were so old, and learning about their history was both interesting and pretty shocking at times. I'll spare you the details, but as a non-history buff, even I enjoyed learning about how the baths came to be, what they were used for and what they represented for people at the time. In addition to roaming around the baths themselves, there is a museum portion of the tour that houses countless artifacts, ruins and relics of the bath's ancient times.
I say this a lot to my friends, especially those who have not traveled overseas - Europe is very old, and it is a treat for an American like me. Being from such a new country, when I get to experience sites that were "constructed in 70AD," it's like my mind can't even fathom it. Walking on the actual ruins and hearing so much detail about each part of the baths was truly fascinating, and I do recommend a visit here.
At the end of the exhibits, you actually get to taste the mineral water. I made the mistake of filling my cup far too much... let's just say the taste of this water isn't exactly something I'd like to experience again.
It was so very easy to spend lots of time at the Roman Baths, but hunger pangs began to manifest, and it was time for Jennifer's first Sunday Roast!
We met up with our friend Lam at Marlborough Tavern for lunch. Although it was a little further away (and up hill), Jennifer and I decided to walk from the Roman Baths, and it was entirely worth the walk.
Marlborough Tavern is a cozy pub that was the perfect oasis from the rain that had just begun. It was definitely more on the modern side, but still maintained the quaint feeling of a neighborhood pub.
Rain was still falling gently outside, and Bath was shrouded in grey skies. We warmed up with the prime rib Sunday Roast, along with the most perfect Yorkshire pudding I've ever had.
We ended our meal by indulging in the most wonderful sticky toffee pudding. Best way to stay warm, right?
Afterwards, we basically spent the rest of the day wandering around Bath until our dinner reservation. We walked along the water, admired the Royal Crescent and I found myself falling prey to the charms of this quaint city. From its winding cobblestone alleyways to its quintessentially British architecture, how could I not?
Although I am most definitely not a Jane Austen reader, I can understand the seduction of the Bath portrayed in her novels, inspired by the real life historical majesty this city holds to this day. Being in Bath, especially while in front of the Royal Crescent, was an immediate cinematic transport into Pride and Prejudice. It was like Elizabeth Bennet could appear at any moment, stealing at glance at Mr. Darcy.
That being said, I was almost convinced to try reading Austen again. Almost.
We made our way back to the main part of town, and wandered for a few hours until our dinner reservation. I do regret not doing better research and making more concrete plans, but at the same time, I had never been to Bath and didn't quite know what to expect.
The Autumn sun began to set early, and the city began to light up as the temperatures dropped. Instead of staying in the cold, we decided to get to the restaurant early and see if we could be seated. If anything, it was warmer inside.
If you read about Bath, surely you will stumble across Sally Lunn's. I have to admit, I was wary about visiting as Sally Lunn's seems like a tourist trap.
Spoiler alert: it's not, and it was an actual highlight.
We had arrived to this historical house earlier than our reservation but were greeted with wonderfully kind and accommodating service. We had to wait a little bit, but a cozy table opened up on the first floor.
Sally Lunn's is known for its buns. Although we didn't have much of an appetite from our huge lunch, we desperately wanted to try these oh so famous buns. Instead of each getting our own entree, the three of use decided to share two. It didn't quite sound like a lot of food... but the portions (and buns) were much bigger than we anticipated.
We ordered the slow cooked pork trencher (bottom) and the braised beef and mushroom trencher (top). Both were wonderfully savory, flavorful and warming. The bread was perfectly toasted, soft and fluffy but did not disintegrate or get soggy under the topping. My personal favorite of the two was the slow cooked pork, whose recipe originated in 1776.
We didn't have room for dessert, but we made room for some delicious spiked hot chocolate.
The staff did not rush us, and they took amazing care of us. The atmosphere was nothing like any tourist trap I have been to - it was cozy, welcoming and comfortable. The food and drinks were better than expected, and we felt like we were in a living room simply enjoying each others' company.
As the night went on, I realized that not only was our time in Bath ending, but also our time in the UK. It seemed perfect to end my time this way - hot drink in hand in a cozy, historical place with great company. I would happily visit Bath again and see more, maybe even including the Jane Austen Centre. Maybe.
If you are looking for a fun, history-filled day trip I recommend Bath. It is easy to get to, very walkable and gorgeous.
Until next time,