Friday, 17 June 2016

Top 5 Things to Do In Bath

I set myself up a challenge this year, which is to try and visit more places in the UK. So far, I've only managed to visit Bath (although I've had a couple of trips to the big capital, there was little sightseeing). England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland are very beautiful, but the weather is unpredictable so I am hesitant to book a break in another city in the UK in case it rains cats and dogs. Also my plan was scarpered due to a trip to Marakesh and Milan, so just eventually getting to visit somewhere in the UK. Why Bath? Well Bath, located in the South West of England in the county of Somerset is known throughout the world due to it being a World Heritage Site, primarily due to the numerous roman ruins that are located throughout the city. Bath's also known for many other things such as stunning Georgian houses, Sally Lunns and Jane Austen. Taking a train ride for a little 2 hours, I spent one cloudy but not rainy Saturday in this picturesque city. It was very busy from tourists from around the world, but with a little planning you can make the most to of the day.

Roman Baths
World renowned and one of the most beautiful historical sites in Europe and rightly so. Open 09:30 - 17:00 (21:00 July/August) and costing £15.00 this is a site you can not miss. This place is heaving with tourists, but navigate your way though the crowd and marvel at the spectacular grounds. Make sure you also get a headset to fully immerse yourself in the history around the Roman Baths. Locating below street level there are four main features, the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House and finds from Roman Bath. I was fascinated with the history of how the Baths were made and the running of the baths. My suggestion is to visit her first, I was here for almost two hours as I wanted to be fully informed of the history, oh and take lots of photos.

The church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Bath, otherwise known as Bath Abbey is another architectural stunner. It's a beautiful gothic style grade 1 listed building. I'd recommend making a quick visit, to admire the beautiful windows, the high ceilings and magnificent pews. Entry is free although donations ware welcome. If you have enough time, sit in on one of their worship services. 

Identified as one of the finest example of Georgian architecture in the UK, the royal crescent is simply beautiful. Made up of 30 or so houses, make sure you take a visit and take several photos by some of the most beautiful views in Bath. Number 1 Royal Crescent is home to a historical museum which showcases what a typical Georgian house was like for the wealthy. I really wanted to do this tour, but unfortunately I was 10 minutes late, which I was gutted. I did however see a glimpse of people in period costumes outside the house so was incredibly fascinated about what was indoors. 

Take a boat trip around Bath
I love a boat trip and this with the hop on and hop off buses is one my favourite excursions to complete whilst away. I took a boat trip with Pulteney Princess which cost £9 for an hour boat trip. Unfortunately the skies were a little grey but I can imagine on a clear day, the views would be breathtaking. Also, I really enjoyed taking in the Bath countryside, watching many people using canoes on the River Avon. There are also some notable sites to see, including a medieval cattle market, the oldest building in Bath, Cleveland Bridge and Bathampton Down. 

No city break for me would be complete without sampling a local delicacy. In Bath, it's a Sally Lunn. Located in a historical building (it's a theme in Bath). A baker fleeing in France developed the iconic generous brioche bun, now known as "Sally Lunn". There's a range of sweet and savoury bun dishes at the restaurant all with scrumptious toppings. As it was lunch time, my cousin and I ordered the Double Bacon and the Salt Beef. Why not try the traditional Sally Lunn Blend Tea, made up with Indian, Ceylon and African Teas. 

Thank you Bath Tourism to providing me with a press pass.


Saturday, 28 May 2016

Top 5 Things to Do In Milan

If you've been following my Instragram, I'm at charlene_flash by the way, I recently visited Milan. Now, I originally planned to visit Barcelona, but due to my proposed dates that I wanted to travel, and this clashing with Barcelona Grand Prix, the next option was Milan. I visited Rome a few years ago and didn't want to visit again, scared of the astronomical prices and having visited many of the tourist sites, I wanted to visited another Italian, Milan, the fashion capital of the world is not only great for Versace, Miu Miu or Prada but there are some great "must see sights" that is worth a visit. Before, I share in detail where I would recommend to visit, Milan is accessible to English speakers. The majority of the shop owners, restaurateurs and general passer byers speak English and all the transport signs and instructions are in English and Italian so you'll be able to get around. Also, I found the Italians to be very friendly and helpful so there should be no evil glances heading your away. Compared to England, the cost of eating out is cheaper, although glasses of wine tends to be cheaper from soft drinks. Great if you love wine. Here are my top 5 things to do in Milan.
1) Visit Leonardo Da Vinchi's "The Last Supper" mural painting is one of the world's famous painting depicting the symbolic scene in the New Testament where Jesus has his last supper with his disciples. The painting is famous for characterising each of the disciples reaction after Jesus stated that he will be betrayed. What's so great about this painting is the intricacy and sheer size of the painting, it covers one wall in Santa Maria dell Grazie church. Whilst you are admiring Leonardo da Vinchi's work, take a look at Giovanni Donato da Montofano crucifixion painting also held in the same room. You only get 15 minutes to view and tickets are notoriously difficult, if not impossible to purchase last minute. Many guides and websites state that tickets must be purchased 3 months in advance as only 15 people are allowed to view the painting at any one time to preserve the painting. I booked a half day walking tour with Viator to guarantee an informative day and also to guarantee entry to the The Last Supper. As our guide informed us, it's easier to get a date in Milan than to purchase tickets for The Last Supper.  It really is a breathtaking painting, one which should not be skipped.

2) Milan Cathedral, also known as Duomo di Milano is an imposing gothic cathedral, the second largest in Italy, the third largest in the world. As soon as your eyes lay eyes on this imposing cathedral which took 6 centuries to make, you will marvel at the building works, it is simply breathtaking. My friend and I visited on two occasions, the first to enter into the cathedral which was included in our walking tour. Entry to services I believe are free, but if you want entry and you are not attending service this will cost 2 Euros. Admire the beautiful intricate cathedral, see the story of the New Testament in picture form and just adimtre its sheer grandeur. The 2 Euro ticket entrance also included entrance to the museum, unfortunately, I did not have time to enter. Tickets to enter the terraces of the Duomo, which is worth the long queues (about 1hr 15 minutes) and going past armed army soldiers, cost 11 euros to enter the terraces using the lift. Here admire the view of Milan city skyline from one of the tallest building, alongside the sharp and dramatic buildings. Make sure you take some beautiful pictures on the roof top, utterly breathtaking.

3) Hop On/Hop Off bus. Whenever I visit a new city, I have to book a hop on and hop off tour. What is a better way to see a new city then on the top decker on a bus with a slight breeze, sunny weather and camera at the ready. So far, I've booked this excursion at Rome, Miami, Berlin and Varaderro. The hop and off bus tickets cost 25 Euros for 48 hours. There are three bus routes, I chose the red route as it had all, what I consider the key sites, but if I had more time I would have checked out the other routes. It's probably worth taking a quick visit to the Milan Tourist Centre for advice on which route to take. 

4) Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle - Unless you've got some serious deep pockets, this is likely to be a window browsing visit only. One of the worlds oldest shopping malls in the world. All the designer giants have shops here: Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Miu Miu all have shops there. It's also a great location, right next to the Duomo and near the Opera House.

5) Venture out of Milan for the day and take a train up north and venture up to Lake Como. Around one hour train journey away and costing around 13 Euros return, view the spectacular views of the Italian lakes. Take a ferry ride to one of the many towns, people watch whilst you enjoying a glass of wine overlooking the lakes and mountains. Or if your purses can cope, visit one of the many designer shops.

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