Here it is, ladies and gentlemen: the first real blog post on the Askonas family goings on.
A dear friend of mine, K, from College is working in London for the month of June, which conveniently happens to be the month we both turn 27, just a week apart. Up first was K’s special day, and we decided to take an easy (and cheapish!) trip out to Bath for a true girls’ weekend. We packed a lot into 48 hours this past weekend, so this amazing trip gets not one, but two posts!
Friday night, we met up on the train to Bath—I feel like I have officially been through a European resident right of passage in engineering an on-train meet up with a gal pal (Oxford is not just “on the way” from London to Bath!). We first checked into our hostel: my first ever hostel dorm experience and, frankly, it was a surprisingly amazing one. Special shout out to all the ladies in the dorm who actually left the lights off and kept quieter than I could ever have imagined. (If you’re traveling to Bath anytime soon, check it out: YMCA Bath Hostel) Pooped from our rough/long weeks, we wandered to a nearby pub for a couple pints before hitting the hay.
First thing to know: Bath is an unbelievably beautiful city. I’ll get into more of the history in tomorrow’s post, but its important to know that the majority of it grew up in a very short period of time during the Georgian/Regency era. K regularly exclaimed, “This town is so picturesque” as we turned new corners—and it is, it is stupid picturesque. We spent all day Saturday focused on just relaxing and I could not have asked for better surroundings for such an endeavor. We even got lucky with a rather overcast/misty day, meaning we didn’t have to deal with the regular Saturday hordes.
We rose early on Saturday to ensure we wouldn’t be cramped when we “took the waters” at Thermae Bath Spa, THE hot water spa in town. A wise choice given the line was short right at opening at 9 AM, but out the door and around the corner by the time we left at 12 PM. The Spa has 2 different hot baths (including a rooftop bath!) and aromatherapy steam rooms, and, boy, did we get our relaxation on. Always the obnoxious American, I spent most of our bathing time engaged in what I have dubbed “water yoga” because it’s not relaxing if you’re not trying to relax, right? A big thanks to K for being the best partner-in-crimes-of-flexibility and not caring at all what the surrounding, judgmental Brits thought of us.
Upon leaving the spa we felt like happy, smiley zombies (exactly what we wanted) and we proceeded to spend the rest of the day in our silly trance. After a quick coffee (to ensure zombies didn’t become sleeping beauties), our journey to Zen continued at the nail salon where the uncomfortably steamy Enrique Iglesias videos on loop just enhanced the experience. After all, they say laughter is the best medicine. Then, it was time for my favorite meal of the day, afternoon tea! (Yes, we skipped lunch just to ensure sufficient room in our stomachs for this time-honored tradition.) To get the full Bath experience, we took tea at the Pump Room, where Regency-era Brits (think Jane Austen) came to take the waters straight from the natural hot spring for which Bath is famous (the Roman Baths adjoins). Complete with piano, cello, and violin trio, it was the perfect choice! So civilized. So relaxing. Then, with time to kill, little will to do face the crowds at any tourist attractions, and another birthday celebration around the corner at the Royal Ascot races next weekend, we hit the shops. K found herself both a hat and a dress for the races, but I regret to report that I did not share her luck.
Finally, we spent the night properly celebrating K’s birthday (which fell on the next day). On a tip from a friend, we started the evening with cocktails at the Royal Crescent Hotel’s Montagu Bar. Our drinks were out of this world! If only we could try all of them without compromising my composure… There were all kinds of combinations I have never seen before and they were oh so tasty! After drinks, we headed to dinner at a French restaurant, which, as luck would have it, had opened only the night before! That meant free glasses of champagne all around. We split an incredible baked Camembert, Beef Bourguignon for 2, and crème brûlèe before almost dying from the growing size of our stomachs. And in true French fashion, good wine flowed freely. We learned that bars in Bath close at midnight, which left little time for further festivities after our very late dinner. So we cut the night short when the bars closed, since turning 27 means we both feel way too old to even dare touch the club scene with a 10-foot pole.
Then, it was off to bed until the next day of adventures was to begin… Spoiler alert: there will be period costumes.