Our journey began early in the morning in Paris. We took the eurostar from Gare du Nord to London St. Pancras station and ran to the underground for the quick train ride to Paddington station. We then took the train to Bristol, where we spent one day in Bristol and the next in Bath, UK. It was pouring and very chilly, but still a great visit.
In the taxi on the way to the Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel, Pocky spotted an amazing sight a block from where we were staying, David “Don’t Hassel The” Hoff starring at the theatre in Peter Pan. His poster slogan: “Hoff The Hook.” We spent the day roaming around in the rain looking at the architecture of the city and also wandered over to where the St. Nicholas, farmers and Slow Food markets are. I wish the weather had been better so that we could have spent more time in the funky outdoor area. We were forced to find an indoor restaurant and decided on San Carlo, a seafood and pasta place that made excellent food. We wandered over to the Christmas market, but they were already tearing it down. Next, we found a local coffee hangout and relaxed before heading to our charming hotel. That night we had fantastic Thai food at Thai Edge, and only a ten-minute walk from the hotel. The evening ended in the hotel lounge, a Victorian era drawing room with big comfy chairs and antique décor, my kind of aesthetic.
The next morning we took a fifteen-minute train ride to Bath, a place that I have wanted to visit since childhood. It is a quaint, beautiful town full of history. I had planned a fairly tight schedule since we had to catch the train back to Bristol, in order to pick up our luggage and take a reserved train to London for our final days in the UK.
One thing to know about me, English author Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors. She lived in Bath for a time, and also used Bath as a setting for some of her novels. So, I was really looking forward to visiting Bath.
Our schedule included a tour of the Roman Baths, a Jane Austen tour, time at the Jane Austen Center, and a few specific shops. And — Pocky had found a vegetarian restaurant for us to try for lunch. Let’s just say I was thwarted from the start. Shortly after we arrived, I realized that the Jane Austen tour would not occur because they closed for December 24, though the website said otherwise. We decided to begin with the ancient Roman baths instead. I believe the main bath is the only natural hot spring in the UK. The architecture and statues are fabulous. Some of the smaller baths are viewed through windows and the ruins are enclosed in a building. The main bath is open-air, but much of the ruins are viewed on a walking tour from bridges. It’s crazy how much actually survived.
Next, we made our way to the Jane Austen Center and found that, it too was closed. We decided to grab some coffee in order to escape the cold for a while. We walked around and checked out more of Bath, and then made our way to the restaurant — it too was closed (Precursor to Christmas in London). Thwarted Again! We found a Chinese restaurant (Hoi Faan) with great food, though I did send my first vegetarian tofu dish back because it had meat in it…But the second attempt was worth the wait.
After lunch, we walked to the glass store that I had found online, Bath Aqua Glass. Their hand blown glass is gorgeous. I bought a Roman replica blue dish, and the woman working at the store suggested that we go to the factory and watch them blow the glass. It was a fifteen-minute walk, but she promised it was fun to watch and very warm, and that was all I needed to hear. I enjoyed watching the process of making glass; it is a cool art form. We picked up our bags and took an early evening train to London and were checked in to the Marriott County Hotel in London by about seven. Ah, yes – the lovely view of the Thames River.