Off to Bath

BATH, ENGLAND

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA few weeks ago my friend put together a surprise getaway for us. We got in the car and headed to Bath for the weekend. I’d been before years before, but it was good to go back and take a walk around again.

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Weather was a bit chilly but that didn’t stop the crowds. This is a popular city. There’s good shopping and some good sites to see like the small cathedral (free).

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We didn’t go and see the actual Roman Baths which I suppose is the main reason why people used to come to the city years ago . We just didn’t want to fork out the cash (about £13). But as we love Jane Austen we took the tour which I highly recommend. It’s not actually located in a home she lived in, but on the same street where she used to live. It sort of felt special to walk around Bath and think of the spaces that were her inspiration. I think the one thing that I took away from the tour was that perhaps her motivation for writing was not just out of sheer love of writing or the need to tell her stories. She seemed to have a financial motivation. Her family was not well off and during her last months at Bath the family was so hard up that they were living in the same area as the city’s prostitutes, where before they were near genteel society. It’s hard to imagine Jane near prostitutes…

Bath Collage

After the tour we did pop by Sally Lunn’s a restaurant that sells buns which according to the website is ‘part bun, part bread, and part cake’ and has been a part of Bath for so long that even Jane used to enjoy them too. We got there early enough to miss the queue. I ordered mine with cinnamon sugar and it was tasty and sweet.

The rest of the time was spent walking around Bath, shopping and eating. You only really need one day to see Bath. It’s fairly close to London and easily accessible by car or train.

All this talk of Bath reminds me of some of my Jane Austen films/shows…Pride & Prejudice (the one with Colin), Sense and Sensibility (with Emma Thomson) and another film that I highly recommend is The Jane Austen Book Club. Really sweet and funny. Perfect for a night in.

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Inside Notre Dame Cathedral

PARIS, FRANCE – The most visited sight in Paris is Disneyland. Notre Dame Cathedral is in the Top 5.

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It’s a free venue to visit and if you’ve read Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, you’ll want to pass by.

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As it’s so popular be prepared to line up outside. But once inside there’s a lot of space to roam at your leisure and find a quiet place to meditate and just look up at the stained glass windows.

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Paris, France

PARIS, FRANCE – Sights of Paris

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I knew that of all the cities I had to visit, Paris was one of them. So when I got some time off, I booked my ticket and started planning.

Getting there: I decided to go to Paris rather late. I had originally planned to go to the Mediterranean with another friend but differences of opinion led us to call the trip off. On a whim, I started scouting out for a well priced flight to Paris. Air France was the best at £139 as it was leaving from Heathrow and allowed me to check in baggage. Next time I go to Paris, I’d like to try the Eurostar. I think the prices are comparable and since it takes you right into Paris, you don’t have to figure out the metro from the airport (9 euros).

Accommodation: I searched for a good deal on lastminute.com, expedia.com, laterooms.com and found that there weren’t any good deals to be found. A lot of the time the rooms were exactly the same price as the hotel’s website. I stumbled upon a website called housetrip.com, very similar to airbnb and ended up booking through this website. We paid £120 each for 3 nights accommodation in the 11th Arrondissement (sp?). We rented a large studio apartment that was neat, clean and easily accessible. We had privacy and the opportunity to cook our own meals – keeps the price a bit lower. The only downside was that the studio was not in a well maintained building, but once we got past that, we were fine.

Money: I never change money when I travel abroad. I just use my debit card. I think the exchange rate is competitive.

Getting around: We used the day pass (6 euros or thereabouts). It allows you to get anywhere on the metro, buses and trams (like the one near Sacre Coeur – the third most visited landmark in Paris. Disneyland is the first).

Sights of Paris: My friend and I both decided from the start that we had no desire to go up the Eiffel Tower but rather wanted to find a nice spot to take a photo of it. As it’s so large this is pretty easy to do. Visiting the Arc de Triomf at sunset on the recommendation of a friend was a good choice. From here we got great views of Paris, including of the Tower.

A cruise on the Seine is a must do, as is visiting Notre Dame (free), Sacre Coeur (free), walking through the Tulieres (free) and sitting at a cafe while you people watch. We also did a walking tour of Montemartre with a company called Discover Walks. They do free tours around Paris with the option to tip at the end. Our guide for the day was Bertron. He told us lots of charming anecdotes about the area as we walked down cobbled streets that most people would probably never discover.

Four days in Paris wasn’t enough. I can’t wait to return. I’d like to explore the markets, restaurants and quaint shops more and perhaps venture outside the capital too. What’s your favourite thing to do in Paris?

Henley boat trips

HENLEY, ENGLAND – If you head to Henly, I highly recommend a boat ride along the Thames River.

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It leaves from the centre of town and takes you down the river for what is a very pleasant ride, weather permitting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn a clear day, the views are stunning.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd you can also spot a few interesting homes along the banks. Wonder who lives there?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATickets are reasonable. And the boat leaves every hour or so.

Bottom line: A fun and relaxed way to pass the afternoon with a friend or loved one.