I know it's not summer yet but for those of you who like to plan ahead and are already wondering what your next holiday break will be, today I'm recommending the beautiful English town of Bath and its charming Christmas Market.
For the last 3 years I have visited different European Christmas Markets with my family: Berlin, Munich and Bath. It's an experience you can't miss: hot mulled wine, regional food specialties, Christmas tree decorations, carol singing, candles, stalls selling handmade gifts... it's a unique atmosphere that makes you feel as if you were part of a Disney tale :)
The only "problem" is that Christmas Markets have become way too popular: reservations are made months ahead (I started looking for a hotel in Bath in early August and it was almost all booked for the beginning of December!!) and tons of people come to visit, so it's quite packed. Don't forget that markets run for 2 weeks only! You can check the dates for 2014 Bath Christmas market here.
Why Bath? Its Christmas Market has only been running since year 2000 (the one in Munich was first held in 1310!) but it's considered to be the best in England. And I always wanted to visit this Somerset city famous for Jane Austen, the Roman baths, the Georgian architecture... and of course, being a fan of Agatha Christie's books, I always wondered what the English countryside would look like! Those cute villages with the traditional pubs, tea rooms, stone-roofed houses... and Bath is set on the southern edge of the Costwolds, a series of gently rolling hills and honey-coloured villages that are quintessentially English! You can read some information about this beautiful region here.
Our trip was a huge success!!! Let me give you some tips to help you plan a wonderful 3 day weekend in Bath covering the city, the Christmas Market and an unforgettable tour of the Costwolds:
1. Accommodation: since most of the city center hotels were already booked, and we were looking for the Bed&Breakfast English experience, we stayed in a suuuuper cute boutique B&B only a 20 minute walk from the center. It's the One Three Nine B&B and it was wonderful.
2. Flight: we flew Barcelona - Bristol with Easyjet and then we booked a taxi through the hotel to pick us up at the airport (30 minute drive). There's also a bus service.
3. Traditional English Tea: you definitely can't leave England without this experience. It's a real must. There are many places to chose from, we went to the Pump Room Restaurant, just beside the Abbey and the Roman Baths. There was live piano music inside and it was veeeeery elegant :)
4. Sally Lunn's: again, you can't leave the city without visiting this place, home of the original Bath bun! It's a eating house in a historic building serving breakfast, tea, lunch and dinner. Great place.
5. Nice restaurant to have dinner: Bill's. Great atmosphere!
6. What to do on Sunday morning: visit No.1 Royal Crescent, a Georgian town house that creates a wonderfully vital picture of life in Georgian Bath. It was the first house to be built in the Crescent and originally provided luxury accommodation for the aristocratic visitors who came to take the waters. Highly recommended visit!
7. A bit of shopping: Milsom Place, a fantastic mix of famous names and breakthrough brands, hot spots to eat in and cool places to enjoy a cocktail. Carluccio's, Jamie Oliver, Cath Kidston... jus to name a few!
8. Cultural sights: the Royal Crescent, the Roman Baths, the Abbey, the Circus and the Jane Austen Center.
9. The Christmas Market, of course!! Find all the information here.
10. And I'm leaving until the end what probably was the highlight of the trip... the amazing Stonehenge, Avebury Stone Circles, Castle Combe & Lacok village tour!!! Organized by the sweet team behind Mad Max Tours, it's considered to be the best tour service departing Bath. We chose the full day tour (8:15 - 17:30h) traveling in a 16 seater mini coach driven by a really nice guide who told us everything about the history and beauty of the countryside around Bath. We visited Stonehenge, a Costwold village that was voted the prettiest village in England and a traditional Wiltshire village used in the filming of Pride and Prejudice and the Harry Potter movies :)
Some pictures below, hope you enjoy it!
|tasting the real bun at Sall Lunn's|
|The Pump Rooms restaurant|
|Afternoon English Tea|
|The hotel - One Three Nine B&B|
|breakfast at the hotel|