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Travel, UK

A Day Trip to Bath

August 14, 2017

A Day Trip to Bath

Even though Bath is quite a ways away from London for a day trip, I decided I was going to make it one. My main motivation for going to Bath was to see the Roman Baths. The quickest way to Bath from London was by train. To avoid the commuter crowds at the train station, I took a late morning train that arrived in Bath just before noon. Bath is very much a walking town so no need for a taxi or bus upon arrival.

Roman Baths

The Roman Baths are a short walk from the train station. Normally, I would have booked my tickets for an attraction like this in advance, but I had decided to take a chance and not do this for the Roman Baths. My gamble paid off as it was raining and I only had to wait in line for about ten minutes. Granted a few of those minutes were in the rain, so make sure you have your umbrella.

Being a self-proclaimed museum critic, I was pleasantly surprised with the layout of the museum. You being by looking out onto the main bath from above. Along the way, there are codes to punch into the audio guide that is included in your ticket. I recommend getting the audio guide as it was more informative than the labels around the exhibition.

A Day Trip to Bath

You make your way around the exhibition learning about the history and discovery of the Roman Baths eventually ending up outside next to the main bath area. You can still see the steam rising from the natural hot spring that the baths were built around.

A Day Trip to Bath

Once on this level, you can explore more of the actual baths including the smaller bath areas and changing rooms. Given that the spring is still active you could, in theory, still use this as a spa today. Although they discourage you jumping in for a bath!

A Day Trip to Bath

The Roman Baths can get quite crowded as it is not a large space inside, but it is definitely worth seeing. Somehow they have survived all these years and remain in great condition.

A Day Trip to Bath

Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House

Rarely can I say I have combined my love of history with my meal, but this was the case at Sally Lunn’s restaurant. It is located inside one of oldest houses in Bath. The lowest floor dates to 1150, but they have found evidence of Roman occupation in the cellar.

A Day Trip to Bath

I knew I had picked a good place when there was a line for a table! I wasn’t even really sure what kind of food they served, but I was willing to take a chance. Soon I learned I was in for the treat that is the Sally Lunn Bun!

The bun is not like a hamburger bun. It is lighter and bigger and slightly sweet. You can get it with a sweet or savory topping. Since I was there for lunch, I opted for savory. I also decided to get the three-course meal since this might be my only visit to Bath!

A Day Trip to Bath

The three-course meal included a soup, a bun and apple cake. The soup offerings were pea and mint or vegetable. Not being English, I opted for the vegetable. It is quite possibly the best vegetable soup I have ever had! I ordered the Smoked Salmon with cream cheese and lemon. The combination was perfect. The bun is light and airy with a hint of sweet that enhanced the flavor the outstanding Scottish salmon. After that, I was expecting an amazing apple cake but was disappointed as it was dry and not very flavourful. However, I still recommend going, just get dessert somewhere else!

Victoria Art Gallery

The Victoria Art Gallery might be small but it has some amazing pieces inside. There is a wonderful portrait of King Henry VIII. Entrance is free into the art gallery as well. It won’t take you more than thirty minutes to walk through it unless you read every label.

A Day Trip to Bath

Shopping

While I am not much of a shopper especially while on vacation, it was hard to not want to walk up and down the main shopping street. It was mostly cars free. There were all the usual shops with a few unique ones as well. What was really nice was all the flowers and umbrellas decorating the streets!

A Day Trip to Bath

A Day Trip to Bath

Bath was a great day trip and if the weather is nice, there are lots more outdoor things to explore there. What is your favorite thing to do in Bath?

Travel, UK

Walking Among the Stones, A Visit to Stonehenge

August 7, 2017

Stonehenge

For many of us, Stonehenge is a place we have heard about since we were in elementary school and due to the mystery its origins we are drawn to it. This is the case for me as well. Once I knew I was going to the UK for a month, I knew had to make time to visit.

Stonehenge

The downfall of the popularity of visiting Stonehenge is that it gets very crowded and you can no longer walk among the stones on a regular ticket. I really wanted to be able to walk among the stones and have no people in my pictures, so I opted for a tour. In order to have no one in the shots, we were picked up in Central London at 5:00 AM! Crazy early but as will see below, absolutely worth the early start.

Stonehenge

The History

I won’t go into too much of the background of Stonehenge because there is so much online and I am not an archaeologist. Stonehenge was a first just earthwork, wood posts and small stones. Then the large stones were added several hundred years later. Obviously building the structure probably took many years. The stones likely come from two areas, one about 20 miles away and the others came from Wales. Which is just astounding considering they had to move them without the assistances of machinery. The archaeologists have many theories on how they were transported.

Stonehenge

The stones at Stonehenge are partially buried in order to allow for them to be standing. The stones were shaped to fit together and you can see evidence of these holes on some of the ones that have fallen down. I also wonder if some of the holes were used in the transport and raising of the stones.

Stonehenge

There are many theories on what the stones were used for from a burial ground, a temple and a calendar. Each theory has merit and we, of course, can never be completely sure what they were ultimately used for.

Stonehenge

Visiting

If you want to walk among the stones, I highly recommend a tour. It is the only way that I can tell. Each tour company seems to be allotted a day of the week to take their guests into the stones. Some companies will leave from London and some from Salisbury. My tour continued to Oxford and Windsor Castle. While I enjoyed seeing those places as well it was a long and hurried day. I wish I had just done Stonehenge and one other thing because I was exhausted at the end of the day. I couldn’t find a tour that did just Stonehenge.

Stonehenge

When you arrive, if you are on a tour, you won’t have to go to the tickets booth. Your tour guide will take you to the shuttle bus that takes you to Stonehenge. If you are on your own, you will have to show your tickets or buy them at the visitor’s center. Then you can get on the shuttle bus or walk. The walk is long though.

If not on a tour, you can walk the outside circle of Stonehenge. If you are not on a tour, I recommend getting an audio tour as there is little informational signage. The site also offers some amazing views of the English countryside.

Stonehenge

Getting close to Stonehenge is one of those things I will never forget and ranks up there with my visit to the Pyramids and Petra! Have you been to Stonehenge?

Museums, Travel, UK

A Tour of the Tate Modern in London

July 31, 2017

Tate Modern

People keep asking me what I am going to do London for a month, I respond, “See all the museums!” In order to do that you have to get started right away. I probably won’t review each one I visit individually, but the Tate Modern needed its own post as it is quite large.

Now I am not a huge fan of modern art. However, two years ago when I attended the Venice Biennale I had a change of heart and decided I would be more open to seeing modern art. This motivated me to see the Tate Modern plus I had heard so much about the building.

Getting to the Tate Modern

The Tate Modern is accessible by several tube stations including Blackfriars and Southwark. However, I recommend arriving at St. Paul’s station and walking across the Millenium Bridge. This offers you an amazing view of the museum and of the Thames River.

Tate Modern

Inside the Tate Modern

The building used to be a power station, so it is quite large. However, don’t let the size scare you away from visiting. The museum is well laid out and has elevators and escalators to every floor, so you never have to climb the stairs unless you want to.

Tate Modern

Unless you are at the museum to see a specific exhibition, I would start on the first floor and work you way up. Then you can cross to the other side of the museum and work your way down.

Tate Modern

Don’t forget to look at the structure of the building as it is essentially part of the art. This is best done from the bridges between the two gallery spaces. You can do so at each level and get a different perspective. Also, go down to the ground floor and look up. It is then you get a sense of how large the space really is.

Tate Modern

What I really enjoyed about the Tate Modern is the size. I never felt I couldn’t see the art and even though there was a line to get in, it was never crowded inside.

Tate Modern

Not all the art was modern either! There was a room with Mark Rothko piece and he was inspired by Monet’s large art. So, there was one of Monet’s Water Lillies right next to the room!

Tate Modern

The other thing I really loved about the Tate Modern is that the space allows for large art to be on exhibition. For some reason, large pieces of art appeal to me. It’s probably why I like Monet so much!

Tate Modern

Tate Modern

See St. Pauls

This is one of the great unknowns of the Tate Modern, but it offers stunning views of St. Pauls! If you head to the 3rd floor gift shop outside the visiting exhibition space. There is a smoking balcony there and you can see St. Pauls. You can also see the Millenium Bridge. The sun was shining the day I went and the man next to me said to someone, “St. Pauls is glistening. That rarely happens.” It is definitely a sight to see.

Tate Modern

Have you been to the Tate? What is your favorite piece there?

Travel, United States

West Texas Photo Essay

July 24, 2017

West Texas

Last weekend, I took a quick road trip with my Dad to Lubbock, Texas to visit a friend. On the way back, my Dad was patient enough to stop on the highway and make U-turns for me to take photos of the West Texas landscape. Dodging tumbleweeds and washing the red dirt off your car is usually the norm for a trip west, but an unusual amount of rain as brought desert plants into bloom and the red soil is hardly visible. I hope you enjoy this photo essay of the West Texas landscape.

West Texas

West Texas

West Texas

West Texas

West Texas

West Texas

West Texas

West Texas

West Texas

West Texas

West Texas

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