Last weekend was a holiday weekend for the Brits, (Monday was a Bank holiday, and no, I’m still not sure what that means) so we planned a trip out to Bath and Downton Abbey. Bath is a gorgeous city about an hour or so west of London, and Downton Abbey…well if you haven’t seen the show, you should immediately go watch it. To give you the lowdown in the meantime, it’s a British drama set in the early-ish 1900’s in a huge estate/castle. The actual castle that they film it at is called Highclere Castle, and it’s open to visitors. Very cool, and very high on the list of necessary places to visit.
So we set up a trip. We would go to Bath on Friday night, spend Saturday there, leave Saturday night for Newbury – the town closest to Highclere Castle – spend the night there, and then tour Highclere Castle on Sunday. Wooohoo! UK exploration. Well, as always, things did not go quite according to plan.
The good? Bath was great. We stayed here:
No, we did not win the lottery and just not tell anyone. Believe it or not, this is actually a Best Western! It was a bit out of the way, which is probably why it was affordable, but it was really nice inside, and had a lot of character and history tied to it, since it was formerly a privately owned estate.
There’s a few touristy things to see in Bath, so we hit all of those – in particular the Roman Baths. I don’t have pictures to share yet, because they are all on my camera and the connection cord for that is somewhere in the midst of our HHE. The pictures are to come though (hopefully soon!).
The city is really beautiful, and it was so nice to be in the countryside and get out of the hustle and bustle of London. More than one taxi driver mentioned how much they liked the friendliness and easygoing lifestyle of Bath in comparison to the impersonal nature of London. London is fantastic, but it is like all other large cities, and sometimes you just can’t beat the suburbs.
So after a relaxing day in Bath, the fun started. We realized before we left London that you could buy Downton Abbey tickets online, and lo and behold, it was completely sold out. We had already bought the train tickets to Newbury though, and booked a hotel, so we figured we would continue on our way there and just see whatever sights there were to see in the town.
Well, we got into Newbury, and quickly realized that there were no sights. We jumped in a taxi expecting it to be about a 10 minute ride. Roughly 20 minutes, 20 pounds, and many scary residential and industrial sights later, we arrived at the hotel. Even though we were in the middle of nowhere, we confidently repeated to each other, “It can’t be that bad – it’s only one night, and it’s a Best Western like the last place!” We would make the best of it.
Then we got to the hallway.
Welcome to the real life version of The Shining, folks. Speaking of the next morning, by that point, we were obviously ready to hightail it back to civilization. Impersonal London? Yes, please!
Our train was not until 8pm, so we opted to just wing it and see if we could change our tickets, and if not, act like clueless Americans and claim ignorance if we got caught.
We asked the front desk for a taxi to the train station. Since we had traveled so far from the Newbury station, it actually turned out to not be the closest one. Instead, it was Thatcham. Thatcham, looks like this:
It was around this time that I turned to M and said (something similar to), “We need to get out of this town.” It was also around that time that we bought an app version of the lovely game of Life for his iPad. That kept us busy during the 40 minute wait for the next train.