Tuesday, August 18

Dreams Do Come true- Highclere Castle

When I lived in England during my senior year of University, I traveled all over the United Kingdom. To say I'm in love with the English culture and history is an understatement. When I lived overseas I never had a television so I wasn't up-to-date on the latest and greatest shows and during that time a BBC hit had taken off back in the States: Downton Abbey. 

Well wouldn't you know it, that at one point in my trip I was all about 30 minutes away from Highclere Castle and never knew it existed?! When I flew back home my mom mentioned the show on a Friday night. Saturday I went out and bought the first season on DVD and by Sunday mom and I had finished watching the entire first season and were hooked. 

Long-story short, I vowed, that when I return to England again I wouldn't leave the country without seeing Highclere Castle. Today, that dream came true. 

When I found out I was going to go visit my friend in England one of the first things I did was go check on tickets to visit Highclere. I was shocked to see that tickets sold out a year in advance! However I found contact informationfor the castle direct and asked if there was any tickets left. They said they were sold out but each day that the estate was open they had a few tickets that could be purchased at the gate, but they suggested I get there early as once tickets are gone- they're gone. So who was at the gate at 9 o'clock? This girl! It didn't open until 10 but luckily they were kind enough to let me in and wander around the estate and gardens until the house opened.

The gardens were absolutely amazing- the flowers were beautiful and had some of the largest hydrangea I've ever seen in my life! Quickly the hour passed however and I was able to go inside the house.

Unfortunately you weren't allowed to take pictures inside the estate but it looked just like it does in Downton Abbey! It was grand, beautiful, ornate, old and stunning. I was surprised to find out that the house is still used for guests of the Earl and Countess. Could you imagine if you could actually stay in the castle?!

After touring the estate I went downstairs to the ground level 'kitchen' for a spot of tea and scone. I mean when else can you eat inside of Highclere Castle? I would definitely recommend it however eat inside, the views are great outside but the bees are crazy and attack in a second. 

I ended my amazing day at Highclere castle by walking around the grounds and taking in the amazing countryside. It was absolutely magical. For a moment it's almost like you're transported back in time to a time of elegant ladies, dapper men, high tea and the romantic era of Downton Abbey.

Monday, August 17

Bath in One Day

Bath England is one of my favorite places in the United Kingdom, it is absolutely charming and it transports you to a time that is romantic and lovely. It's a convenient day trip from London if you're in the city, but it's easily accessible from anywhere in the United Kingdom. I would recommend at least two days in Bath so you can really experience the wonderful city, but if you only have one day here is what I would recommend:

1 Day Trip to Bath 

1. Take the train in the night before (Bath Spa is the train station name). If you're looking for an adorable place to stay, I'd recommend the Kennard or the Windsor Guest House as they are charming and have amazing locations.

2. Get a good nights rest as tomorrow will be a busy day!

3. First things first, go visit the beautiful Bath Abbey. Bath Abbey is free (although they welcome donations) and it's definitely worth the visit- it reminds me a lot of a small Westminster Abbey. Take time to look at all the beautiful stained glass and all the stones memorializing people in the community dating back to the 1600s and before. I would highly recommend paying the few pounds to go to the top of the Abbey, the views of the city are just wonderful and it's not too bad of a climb.

4. After you're done with your tour of the Abbey, go across the courtyard to the Pump Room and make reservations for afternoon tea. They will up so I'd recommend to set it up ahead of time, but sometimes you can get in day-of for tea.

5. Right next door to the Pump Room is the entrance to the Roman Baths. It's a must-see while you're in Bath. There are several discounts such as student, senior, and even if you're staying in the area ask your hotel/inn for a "bath pass" which gets you discounts to local attractions. Plan on spending a good two hours in the Roman Baths. They have a free audio guided tour you can go on, or else there are great group tours as well. 
Don't forget to take a drink of these ancient waters for their minerals and vitamins at the very end of the tour.

6. Go get yourself some afternoon tea at the Pump Room. I'd recommend the Afternoon Tea which comes complete with scones with lemon curd and clotted cream, tea sandwiches, sweets and of course a lovely pot of tea. If you're feeling really snazzy, go for the champagne tea for a lovely flute of bubbly. The ambiance of the Pump Room transports you back in time. They have live musicians playing strings and piano that make you want to get up, put on a ball gown and dance about the room.

7. Once you're done with tea, take time to shop and look around Bath! They have cute boutique shops as well as chain stores. Skip the chains and go for the cute little shops to pick up tea, scarves and postcards. 

8. Make your way towards the Royal Crescent, an iconic grassy semi-circle that held some of the wealthiest people in England summer homes. It's beautiful and a great place to bring a blanket and lie in the grass.

9. If you're feeling really adventurous and have a bit of time left- stop by the Jane Austen Museum. They have a little gift shop in the front of the house if you don't have time for a tour, and you can pick up a "I love Darcy" pin. 

10. If you want a bite to eat before you head out of town- stop by a local pub for my favorite British meal...cheesy chips & a pint of cider!

By this time you've probably run out of energy or daylight, and it'll be time to collect your bags and head to the train to catch the last train out for the night back to London or wherever you'll be. Bath is a lovely town and I hope you get to enjoy the ambiance, charm and quintessential British nature of this wonderful historic town.

Friday, August 14

London's Calling...Again!

"When a woman is tired of London, she is tired of life"

London's Calling...AGAIN! I'm so thrilled that today I get to fly back to, quite possibly, one of the most influential places in my life: England.
England was a turning point in my life. I was completely on my own, in a foreign country, figuring out life one day at a time. I learned so much about myself, my limits, what I could do and that I could make it out there in the big scary world.

Well my friend Tieranny spent the summer doing a law internship in London proper and I decided to go back and visit her this summer! 

So here is to another wonderful trip back to the place I fell in love: ENGLAND.