August 28, 2011

Heavens Bazaar of Bath: Vintage Shopping in Bath, UK

While in Bath last weekend, we had ample opportunity to walk the streets and shop!  On our way to the Royal Crescent, we strolled down an alleyway and happened upon the cutest little shop, Heavens Bazaar of Bath.  I was first lured into the store by the wonderful storefront -- and a little nudge by Eric didn't hurt.  Once inside, I fell into awe with the case of vintage jewelry.  Rings, bracelets, necklaces, it was almost too much!  I spied a little leopard ring and knew I just had to have it.  Well, after taking my eyes from the case of jewelry, I quickly hopped to a rack of clothes, then to another rack, then another rack!  It all happened so quickly!!

Such a cute shop inside!

I was drawn to this case of really great vintage jewelry finds!

Scarves, gloves, brushes, glasses!!  So many choices!!!
After glancing up to a shelf above a rack of clothes, I spied a handmade leather belt that I just had to have.  The belt has the most brilliant mixture of browns, tan and black leather.  I think this belt is going to be so cute with a denim shirt for the fall.  The lady helping me even gave me tan and black straps to change out the color of the ties.  The other item I grabbed was a vintage 1960s snakeskin clutch.  I love all the combinations of snakeskin in a patchwork pattern on the purse.  I think is going to look great with some outfits I got in London our first weekend here. (I'm looking forward to adding outfits to my collection to wear with this purse!!)

My goodies!!

I love the front desk and how it's crowded with great last minute grabs!!

Downstairs, I could hear the ladies helping a customer sort through their assortment of vintage designer items.  In the back room, more designer vintage!  It was such a great place and the shop ladies are so friendly and more than willing to help you piece together outfits.  Jo, one of the proprietors, even came by the the front desk to say goodbye to the leopard ring I was purchasing.  I was sure to let her know I would take really good care of her favorite little ring!

What are your favorite shopping finds when on vacation?  Vintage or not, I would love to hear about your finds.

August 26, 2011

Bath, Stonehenge and Salisbury

Last weekend, we headed out for a nice drive out to Bath for one night and then swung by Stonehenge, then Salisbury.  I really loved Bath!  The city is a great weekend city with lots of antique furniture and vintage clothes shopping.  I found the cutest shop and snagged a couple of vintage items myself.  *Yay!*

Our route

Cathedral in Bath

Roman Bath entrance - The museum tour was really interesting.  I liked seeing all of the artifacts, especially the curses that were written and tossed in the Baths!

Protesters blocking a nice photo opp of the front of the cathedral!

Side view of the cathedral

The Roman bath with the cathedral in the background

Fountain of water from the actual hot spring that fills the baths.  British women would came to drink the water to aid in producing male heirs while a King consumed the water to cure his gout.

Royal Cresent

View of Bath on the hillside

View of Bath

After a day in Bath, we headed out to Stonehenge to snap a pic from outside the fence.  We didn't really want to pay the fee and stand in the incredibly long line.  We've both seen plenty of Discovery Channel specials on the stones, so it worked out well.
Last stop on our journey, before heading back, was Salisbury.  This is a really cute town.  The cathedral was incredible.  It is set on a nice lawn where many people were enjoying the sunshine.

Such a cute little town

We ate at this pub for lunch

The cathedral spire
This weekend, we are heading back into London.  I'm excited to do some more shopping and seeing some of the sights we missed our first weekend!

August 19, 2011

This weekend in Bath

We are packing up this weekend to continue our UK journey into Bath.  I'm excited to see the Roman baths and, of course, the Royal Crescent.  We also have a dinner reservation at The Bath Priory on Saturday night.  The executive chef, Michael Caines, has received two Michelin Stars and the head chef, Sam Moody, is an Acorn Award recipient.  I'm really excited to see what these guys have to offer.  This is going to be a great weekend!

Roman Baths
Via Wikipedia

Royal Cresent
Via Wikipedia

August 16, 2011

Hanging in the UK

We have had the best time since we arrived in the United Kindgom on Sunday morning.  We took the train into London from Heathrow and immediately hit the town.  One of our "jet lag" fighting techniques is to see the sun set before we allow ourselves to sleep the first night.  There is something about your mind seeing the sunset that allows you to function like a semi normal person the next day -- or at least that's what we think!

We checked into the Hilton Park Lane Sunday and immediately headed out to see some sights.  I can't believe how warm it was last weekend.  I was certainly too warm walking around in jeans and a tank.  I know that everyone says to stay away from the Oxford Circus for shopping, but we wanted to check it out.  The area is incredibly congested.  I tried to peruse a Top Shop and it was basically a nightmare!

Anyway, we kept going until we ran into the British Museum.  We did a little bit of walking through the museum, which is free to the public.  It's so interesting to me that all of the precious artifacts are just on display with nothing but a sign to discourage people from running their grubby paws across an ancient marble statue or an Egyptian casket.  The Rosetta Stone was incredible!  The bathrooms, not so much.  We took the "underground" back to our hotel to change clothes and have tea.
British Museum

The British Museum is known for its Egyptian collection.
Tea at our hotel.
After tea, we headed over to Kensington/Knightsbridge area to check out Harrods.  Love Love LOVE Harrods!  It was so incredible inside.  I mean, I live in a large city that has tons of shopping, but this department store was all that had expected!  I loved walking in the door to the purse department.  Then, we headed straight for the food hall.  We walked around, then decided to grab some chocolate ganache macaroons.  We then took the "Egyptian Escalators" all the way to the top, stopping in random departments along the way.  Love Harrods!!
Eric playing model riding the escalators down for a photo op!
We hit a Top Shop across the street from Harrods and then found our way to Amaya for dinner.  Amaya is one of just a few restaurants featuring Indian Cuisine to receive a prestigious Michelin Star.  More on that in the next post!  On the walk back, we hit my first genuine British Pubs for some "bitters".  It was a great first day!!
The Nags Head

The Grenadier pub
Before we headed out to Reading on Monday, we made sure to see some sights -- duh!  We took the underground to St. Paul's Cathedral and did the audio tour there.  Then, on the way back to the hotel, we stopped by Parliment and Big Ben.  It was really cool and I snapped some good pics.  Lastly, we swung past Westminster Abbey and by Buckingham Palace (our reservation isn't until the 26th, so we didn't go inside) for a quick look. We finished our trek by cutting through St. James Park and Green Park.  Whew!  We don't believe in easy vacations, even if they are work vacations!!
St. Paul's Cathedral

"Look kids, there's Big Ben, there's Parliment...."
- European Vacation

The parks are so beautiful!

View of the edge of St. James Park.  This park will be used for rowing events in the 2012 Olympic Games.

What should we see when we head back into London in two weeks??

August 12, 2011

Heading Out of Town..... London!

Image via Travel Vacation Package Info
We have booked a last minute, two week trip to the UK!!  When I first began this post, I was incredibly excited to see London in person.  I have never been to the United Kingdom which has the reputation of being a safe place to travel.  Unfortunately, the rioting, violence and unrest across the country has lead to concern about our safety.  As of now, we have been keeping up with the news and feel like the city will be a great first stop on our UK journey -- thanks Rick Steves for your reassurance!

Our current plan is to arrive and stay the first night in London, work out of Bracknell during the week, visit Bath for the first weekend, spend the next week in Bracknell, the second weekend in London and then head home.

I hope we will see plenty of historical sights, eat incredible food and shop Shop SHOP!!

What are your favorite parts/sights/places of London?  Anywhere you've been dying to visit?

August 10, 2011

Tuscany on Valentine's Day

During our Tuscan road trip, we were in the hill town of Montepulciano, Italy, on Valentine's Day.  We didn't make any restaurant plans ahead of time (good going E!), so we relied on for recommendations.  After a quick search, we found Borgobuio.  The dinner was a blast!  The owners are a married couple, Piers and Elda.  Elda is the chef and Piers runs the front of the house.  While waiting for the wine to breathe, Piers brought over a leather bound book which showed Borgobuio ranked in the top 100 restaurants in Tuscany and had me read the entry aloud for all the guests -- he was VERY proud!  Piers gave us the best wine service either of us have ever received.

The atmosphere is intimate and comfortable.  The food was arguably the best meal I have ever had.  I loved dining in a former cellar.  The architecture was so interesting.  Also interesting was the flat screen TVs playing concert DVDs during the meal.  That element prompted some bad reviews on TripAdvisor.  I feel like seeing "Cool and the Gang" in concert was just the quirky touch that really revealed Piers sense of humor.  As soon as we walked in the front door, we knew this was going to be a special night!

We had a very special Valentine's Day together.  What is your favorite romantic evening?  I'd love to hear about your special night stories!

August 8, 2011

Destination: Montepulciano, Italy

One of my favorite stops during our Tuscan road trip was Montepulciano, Italy.  This medieval hilltop town completely stole my heart!  The streets are so narrow that I was nervous riding in our Fiat Panda through the small corridors.  We had the most incredible views of the countryside from our hotel room.  We arrived right at sunset and had the opportunity to see the most magical sunset!  After sundown, we wandered through wine cellars and cheese cellars.  We bought cheese and cured meats for road snacks for the next day.  Montepulciano has the most beautiful ceramics and copper wares.  Of course, how could you not mention the wine?!  Montepulciano is home to Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, d'Abrezzo Montepulciano, and the young, yet incredibly tasty, Rosso. (I have even recently added a Rose from the region into my summer wine rotation!)

One of the more exciting finds in this town was when we realized that New Moon was set in Voltaire, Italy, but filmed in Montepulciano.  Then, we discovered that RPatz and KStew not only stayed in our hotel, but in our exact room!  The small hotel was within feet of the center of the town and a perfect location for them to post up before and after shooting.

View from our hotel room.

View of the valley from the edge of the town.

Agritourismos in the distance!

I love the warm colors of the sky set against the cool colors of the hills below

Duomo - The pope wouldn't allow a lot of the hill towns to finish the construction of their duomos since the structures represented allegiance to the town and not to the church as a whole

Palazzo Tarugi

Palazzo Comunale - This should definitely remind you of New Moon!

Cantina Contucci - We did a quick tasting here and bought some bottles of wine.

Wine barrels in the cellars

The winding roads at night

We found the cutest mechanic sweeping out his shop.  Eric thought his dad would love to see these pics.  We had a very strained conversation in Italian.  He wanted to know so much about Eric's family's Harley Davidsons.  I should have spent more time with my Rosetta Stone!!

He was so sweet and welcoming.  I was surprised to see an Oklahoma plate.  He loved finding out that I was from there!!

Steep and narrow streets in Montepulciano

Pictures of the New Moon mania in and around our hotel

RPatz leaving the front door of our hotel!

Inside the Duomo

Just down the hill is The Sanctuary of San Biagio

View of Montepulciano from the bottom of the hill

Inside The Sanctuary of San Biagio

We had the best time in Montepulciano!  I don't think I'll ever see another town quite like it.  In my next post, I'll share our very special Valentine's Day dinner with you and talk about the importance of Slow Food to Italians.