Search Results for Category: Europe

SUNDAY COFFEE WITH JEB


Seniors Discover Devon, England

map_of_devonDevon, a county also referred to as Devonshire, in south west England, encompasses sandy beaches, fossil cliffs, medieval towns and moorland national parks. Senior travelers find themselves on the English Riviera, a series of picturesque, south-coast harbor towns including Torquay, Paignton and Brixham.

In case you were wondering, like me, the name Devon derives from the name of the Britons who inhabited the southwestern peninsula of Britain at the time of the Roman conquest. I also discovered that Devon may mean “defender” in reference to the Celtic inhabitants who fought off Anglo Saxon invaders during the dark ages.

Senior visitors will discover  the entire Devon area to be highly scenic with colorful fields, azure coasts, tall cliffs and historic buildings. Plymouth is the largest city in Devon with a population of 255,000.

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 This Senior Enjoys Clotted Cream

Devon’s area is 2,590 square miles and its population is just over one million. Despite its small Jewish population, Devon is known to contain two of Britain’s oldest synagogues.

The county has given its name to a number of culinary specialities. The Devonshire cream tea, involving scones, jam and clotted cream, is thought to have originated in Devon. My wife fell in love with clotted cream in Bath last year.

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I write a lot of these travel blogs using TripAdvisor as a reference. This time I think they set a record, 1,171 things to see and do in Devon County. That’ll keep you busy for a long, long time.

The Jurassic Coast is famous for its many ammonite fossils. Senior fossil-lovers, clotted cream enthusiasts, scenic view proponents…set your sails for Devon.

Seniors Seek Out Rural Experience

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“Devon is best known for cream teas and surf beaches, but a raft of openings are elevating the county’s image with rarefied takes on the rural experience. The elegant Lympstone Manor has been reimagined by eminent chef Michael Caines, who will reopen it in 2017 as a 21-room hotel and restaurant.

Design lovers can soon overnight at the Secular Retreat, a strikingly minimal property inspired by ecclesiastical architecture and designed by Peter Zumthor. And on the coast, the Art Deco Burgh Island Hotel has another groundbreaking design in the works: a suite that bridges the vertiginous gap between two rocky outcrops.” —Emily Mathieson

Senior travelers, enjoy all  that the county of Devon has to offer. Hope to see you there. -jeb

 

SENIORS TRAVEL TO BULGARIA


Seniors Like Sofia’s Surprises

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 Sofia, the capital and largest city of Bulgaria, seniors discover, has a population of 1.26 million, while 1.68 million people live in its metropolitan area. The territory of Bulgaria has been inhabited since antiquity, as the country’s many ancient settlements and burial mounds attest.

Present-day Bulgaria was a cradle of some of the earliest civilizations in Europe – the oldest gold ornament ever discovered, unearthed in the Chalcholite necropolis near Varna, is evidence of that.

With a history that stretches over seven millennia, ruin-rich Sofia is one of Europe’s oldest cities. The National Historical Museum is one of Eastern Europe’s most extensive. Wide, cobblestone boulevards, charming boutiques and truly electrifying nightlife star in Sofia. Trolleys, trams and buses traverse the dynamic city.

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Seniors Visit Europe’s Most Affordable Capital

Surrounded by sprawling parkland, Sofia lies at the foot of popular ski mountain, Vitosha, one of TripAdvisor‘s top choices. Don’t miss the statue of Seta Sofia, a main attraction.

USA Today wants seniors to know that Sofia is Europe’s most affordable capital: a night in a four-star hotel goes for less than $100. The dinner tab for two with a bottle of house wine runs about $40. And cab fare costs less than $1 a mile.

The city is full of delightful surprises, from the yellow brick roads in its historic center to the partially exposed, 1,800-year-old Roman city that lies beneath. Many visitors say that Bulgaria is the most beautiful country in Europe.

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 Seniors Enjoy Dynamic City

Wikitravel notes that today, Sofia is a dynamic Eastern European capital, distinguished by its unique combination of European and Communist-style architecture as well as many beautiful orthodox churches.

Sofia was founded 2,500 years ago. Over the centuries, it has been given several names – Serdica , Sredetz and the remains of the old cities can still be viewed today. Near Sofia is the Boyana church, one of the most valuable memorials of Bulgarian and European culture that senior visitors will see.

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Located in the western part of the country, on the Sofia Plain and on the lower slopes of Mount Vitosha, the city’s average altitude is 550 meters above sea level and the climate is moderate and continental, characterized by cold winters and relatively cool summers.

Seniors, Sofia will prove to be a memorable experience. Enjoy your visit. -jeb

Filed under : Europe, Family Travel

SUNDAY COFFEE WITH JEB


Seniors Are Attracted To France’s Dordogne Valley

86a26012f8b25c93fb9c739b04e0b1bbThe Dordogne Valley, a department in southwestern France, that senior travelers will find between the Loire Valley and the Pyrenees, is named after the great Dordogne river that runs through it. My travel hero Rick Steves takes on an exciting visit to the Dordogne River Valley.

There is so much for senior visitors to take in, like the Cabanas de Breuil, La Roque-Gageac, a member of the Les Plus Beaux Villages de France, canoeing on the Dordogne River, the famous prehistoric caves of Lascaux, the Château de Beynac and the capital city Périgueux.

The beautiful countryside lies in all directions and attracts visitors from all over the world. Foie gras is a luxury food product of this area, made of the liver of a duck or goose that has been specially fattened. I’d make a point to spend some quality time in Sarlat that is undoubtedly one of the most attractive and visited medieval cities in France.

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Seniors Enjoy Medieval Jewel, “Sarlat”

The capital of the Black Périgord truffle, on the edge of the Quercy causses (limestone plateaus), Sarlat is a major tourist site, renowned for its large historical center containing countless buildings dating mainly from the medieval and early Renaissance period, 13th to 16th century. Over a million visitors discover or rediscover this medieval jewel every year.

I have lost count of the number of times I have visited France, somewhere  over three dozen, and this region has always fascinated me. There are more than 1,500 castles in Dordogne, making it “The Other Château Country”, meaning all those along the Loire Valley.

Forty eight parks and gardens allure gardeners like me to the area and some “grands étangs” (ponds) are teeming with birds and other wildlife. The Grotte at Lascaux II is an exquisite 39m-long replica museum of the renowned prehistoric cave paintings of animals, discovered in 1940. Lascaux is the most famous cave in the world.

Take Note Senior Bikers and Hikers

Perigueux_Cathedrale_Saint_FrontThe Valley of the Dordogne developed because of the importance of the river as a transport route, and trade originally developed around the wood and leather industries.

The landscape consists of steep wooded hills climbing up both sides of the river valley, with small picturesque villages both in the valley itself, like Brivezac and Saulières and also nestling deep in the ‘side valleys’ for example, Neuville and Albussac.

The countryside is largely unspoiled with traditional houses and smallholdings to admire as you explore. It is a great place for senior bikers and hikers. The Dordogne is without doubt the most diverse region in France, and perhaps even all of Europe.

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Beautiful medieval towns and villages, castles and forts are perched high above both the Dordogne and Vézère River. The Prehistoric Vézère Valley offering caves and cave art, help to make this area a popular destination. 

Seniors, head your rental car to southwest France and the Dordogne Valley. Enjoy, do some research and planning and it will pay off big dividends.  -jeb

SUNDAY COFFEE WITH JEB


 

Senior Hikers Challenged In Pennine Way, England

1280px-Pennine_Way_Sign_AndhI recently read information on the seven epic walking trails in the world. Senior hikers, where you are headed with your best pair of hiking boots, is called Pennine Way.  So grab your coffee, your boots and let’s be on our way.

Often called the most physically challenging trek in the United Kingdom, the 268-mile Pennine Way walking trail follows the mountainous backbone of England through the moors of Bronte Country, over limestone cliffs and glacial valleys, past Hadrian’s Wall and across the wildest stretch of land in the nation before concluding at the Scottish border.

The traditional starting point of the trail is The Old Nags Head, Edale in the beautiful Peak District. This charming 16th-century property features its own, well-known pub.

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I’d want to check in here prior to hiking the trail as the cozy pub is listed as one of England’s top 100. With a log fire, it also offers a selection of local beers, ciders, lagers and its own ale, The Nag’s 1577. Let’s meet there and take the trail together, okay?

Seniors Check Out High Cup Nick

It takes about 18 days to complete, but many walkers prefer to break it up into smaller sections. Some forgo the southern and northern extremities altogether and focus on the more accessible middle section of the trail, the highlight of which is a breathtaking glacial valley called High Cup Nick.

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Bronte Country is an area which straddles the West Yorkshire and East Lancashire Pennines in the North of England. A windswept land of heather and wild moors, it is hardly surprising that this region became the inspiration for the classic works of the Bronte sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne.

Seniors Find Hadrian’s Wall

Seniors, wouldn’t it be neat to hike across the famed Hadrian’s Wall. Know anything about that Wall? Well, Hadrian’s Wall, also called the Roman Wall, Picts’ Wall, or Vallum Hadriani in Latin, was a defensive fortification in the Roman province of Britannia, begun in 122 AD in the reign of the emperor Hadrian.

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If you would prefer a shorter trail, walk 84 miles from coast to coast following the World Heritage Site of Hadrian’s Wall, past Roman settlements and forts. There’s history every step of the way, and cosy pubs, bustling market towns and great views too.

Small wonder then, that this landscape fueled the imagination of the Bronte sisters in writing their classic novels – including “Wuthering Heights”, which was reputedly inspired by the isolated moorland farmstead of Top Withens and “Jane Eyre”.

Seniors, enjoy your visit to the area and walk part if not all the Pennine Way. You will certainly enjoy the legendary landscape. -jeb

SUNDAY COFFEE WITH JEB


Seniors Enjoy Scenic Umbria

umbria_mapUmbria, an Italian region bordering Tuscany, Lazio and Le Marche, is often called the country’s green heart, and senior travelers will know it for its medieval hill towns, dense forests and local cuisine, particularly foraged truffles and wines.

Friends, get your coffee and let’s enjoy a trip to Italy today…Umbria, to be precise!

Hilltop Perugia, the regional capital, is the site of medieval Palazzo dei Priori, housing the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria. Perugia’s wide, pedestrianized Corso Vannucci is the focus of city life. The city is located about 164 kilometers north of Rome, and 148 km southeast of Florence.

Umbria is the only Italian region which is both landlocked and has no common border with other countries. It is crossed by the River Tiber.

 Seniors Adore The Green Heart Of Italy

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The phrase, il cuor verde d’Italia, the green heart of Italy, is taken from a poem by Giosuè Carducci and, except for August and September, is famously green.

When senior visitors think of Umbria they think of the Italian word ombra. Shadow. One of Italy’s smallest regions, Umbria lies in the shadow of its more illustrious neighbor, Tuscany.

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In Italy, Umbria is second only to Tuscany in terms of historical hills towns and beautiful countryside. Along with Tuscany and Sicily, Umbria has many  cypress forests in addition to pine and chestnut.

The many Umbrian hills and mountains cast long dark shadows over river valleys which are already darkened by lush chestnut groves and elm forests. Senior travelers  will not run out of scenic views in Umbria for they are in every direction as far at the eye can see.

 Seniors Find Historic Hill Towns and Amazing Countryside

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To Henry James, Umbria was “the most beautiful garden in all the world.” St. Benedict and St. Francis were born and raised in Umbria, then went on to become two of the most powerful influences on Western spirituality.

Perugino and Raphael started their famous schools in Umbria, and still today the serene landscapes and picturesque hill towns look almost as they do in canvases painted four hundred years ago.

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Umbria is easy to reach from the big tourism hubs of central Italy and yet relatively uncrowded even at the height of the tourism season. I think visiting seniors will like that fact.

So, have a visit with your travel agent and plan to spend some quality time in Umbria. It is said that the hospitality is as legendary as the landscape, and indeed it is. Enjoy your vacation in Umbria. -jeb

SUNDAY COFFEE WITH JEB


Seniors Visit The Ancient wonders Of Sicily

sicilyThis senior has a friend at the gym who hails from Sicily. My senior friend tells me that Sicily is beautiful and that I should go there for a visit. So I invite you to come along…let’s get our coffee and be on our way.

Sicily, the largest Mediterranean island (pop. 5 million), lies off the “toe” of Italy’s “boot.” Its rich history is reflected in multiple sites like the Valley of the Temples, the well-preserved ruins of 7 monumental Doric-style Greek temples, and in the Byzantine mosaics at the Cappella Palatina, a former royal chapel in its capital city Palermo.

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On Sicily’s eastern edge is Mount Etna, one of Europe’s highest and most active volcanoes that is continually smoking and occasionally belching fire and lava bombs. My travel hero Rick Steves’ video“The Best of Sicily” is a another of his marvels and provides an excellent overview of the area.

Seniors Enjoy The Wonders Of Sicily

Nature seems to have endowed all its wonders to Sicily: mountains, hills and above all the sea, with its incredible variation of colors, its crystal-clear water and the beauty of its seabed.

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Lonely Planet notes that the “Eternal crossroads of the Mediterranean, the gorgeous island of Sicily, continues to seduce visitors with its dazzling diversity of landscapes and cultural treasures.”

TripAdvisor has put together a series of must see sites for senior visitors. I am a huge fan of World Heritage Sites and Piazza Armerina is a Roman villa with a wealth of mosaics and has been under excavation since the 19th century.

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The earliest archaeological evidence of human activity on the island dates from as early as 12,000 BC.

By around 750 BC, Sicily had three Phoenician and a dozen Greek colonies and, for the next 600 years, it was the site of the Sicilian Wars and the Punic Wars, which ended with the Roman Republic’s destruction of Carthage at the battle of Carthage (c. 149 BC).

 Tiny Islands, Lemon Trees and Volcanoes

Senior visitors will discover an ever present scent of lemon trees, the volcanoes, the beautiful black-sand beaches, and tasty desserts to satisfy a demanding palate.

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Ancient Akragas rivaled Athens in its splendor in the ancient world. The Valley of the Temples is where the ancient world comes most vividly alive on Sicily.

Historically Sicily was the home of Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, French and Spanish. The ruins of the ancient Phoenician city of Motya is a site not to be missed.

The Temple of Hera at Selinunte is a well preserved look alike of the Acropolis in Athens. The Greco-Roman theatre at Taormina reminds me of a similar huge structure I saw with my family in the city of Orange in France.

Seniors, spend some quality time on this scenic and historic island.   -jeb

 

SUNDAY COFFEE WITH JEB


Seniors Enjoy Tetbury, England

images-1Get your coffee and come with these seniors to England, this time to settle into Tetbury, a town within the Cotswold district of Gloucestershire.

It lies on the site of an ancient hill fort, on which an Anglo-Saxon monastery was founded, probably by Ine of Wessex, in 681.

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The town crest features a pair of gold dolphins and no one really seems to know why. Historically in other countries like Slovakia, they were a symbol of trade.

Tetbury abounds with notable historic buildings that include the Market House, built in 1655 and the late-eighteenth century Gothic revival parish church of St Mary the Virgin and St Mary Magdalene and much of the rest of the town center, dating from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

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The Market House is a fine example of a Cotswold pillared market house and is still in use as a meeting place and market. Senior visitors will also enjoy the Police Bygones Museum, Chavenage House, Highgrove House and Westonbirt Arboretum.

 

 Seniors Visit Award Winning Town

Just around the corner from the Market House is the famous Gumstool Hill where the Woolsack Races take place. The runners, having gone well over 200 yards, have to drop their woolsack so the other runner can pick it up and run back up the hill to the finishing line. The weight of the woolsack for men is 65 pounds and for women, a more recent addition, 35.

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For a village of around only 5,600 inhabitants, Tetbury has won numerous awards:  from Best Small Town to Community Achievement to Britain in Bloom  Campaign. Seniors, enough reasons right there to visit Tetbury!

TripAdvisor has 17 things not to be missed by senior visitors that include the famed Chavenage House and Highgrove Gardens. The Tetbury Music Festival attracts internationally acclaimed performers as well as new musicians.

Tetbury is internationally famous for its range of antique shops and its close proximity to Prince Charles’s residence, Highgrove. The Cotswolds are almost synonymous with antiques and offer the widest choices available outside London.

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 Seniors “Fall For Tetbury”

Several of Tetbury’s retailers have received national awards for excellence and senior visitors will notice that many of the town’s businesses bear the Prince of Wales feathers as a sign that they hold the Royal Warrant.

Tetbury has a wide choice of tea shops, bistros, cafes, pubs and restaurants that offer a wide choice of local foods and drink.

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The Guardian notes that Tetbury is terribly seductive. A writer notes that…“I could fall for Tetbury. We could all fall for Tetbury. A town like they used to make them. A town untroubled much by the travails of modern life. A town seemingly composed entirely of the kind of picturesque, biscuit/fudge-colored Cotswold buildings you see on biscuit tins and fudge packets. Tetbury has been rich since the 15th-century wool trade.” That is what Tetbury is all about folks.

 Senior Visitors…Tetbury is awaiting your arrival. -jeb

 

SUNDAY COFFEE WITH JEB


Seniors Settle Into Colorful Glasgow

glasgow-bannerSenior friends, get you coffee and let’s head for Scotland, more specifically Glasgow The largest city in Scotland, derives its name from Brythonic Glas Cau, “Green Hollow or Green Glen”. There are over 20 towns named Glasgow in the US. Glasgow is twinned with several cities, including Jerusalem, Marseilles and Havana.

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Glasgow was properly established in the 6th century by Saint Mungo, a Christian missionary who built a church on the site where the present Glasgow Cathedral stands today.

Situated on the River Clyde in the country’s West Central Lowlands, inhabitants of the city are often referred to as Glaswegians or Weegies. The present site of Glasgow has been settled since prehistoric times. There is much history associated with Scotland.

Seniors Like Glasgow’s Vitality

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Glasgow grew from a small rural settlement on the River Clyde to become the largest seaport in Britain. From the 18th century the city also grew as one of Great Britain’s main hubs of transatlantic trade with North America and the West Indies.

 TripAdvisor paid a visit to Glasgow and lists over 250 things for seniors to see and do. Lonely Planet chimes in with their take on Glasgow noting that the city blends sophistication with earthiness.

Glasgow has evolved over the last 20 years to become one of Britain’s most intriguing metropolises. The soberly handsome Victorian buildings, legacies of wealth generated from manufacturing and trade, suggest a staid sort of place. Very wrong.

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“They are packed with stylish bars, top-notch restaurants and one of Britain’s best live-music scenes. The place’s sheer vitality is gloriously infectious: the combination of edgy urbanity and the residents’ legendary friendliness is captivating as you will soon discover.”

 Senior Find Glasgow’s Historic Buildings

Those well acquainted with Glasgow suggest that senior visitors begin your visit with the city’s iconic historic buildings and visit some of  the city’s wide array of museums and galleries.  

Senior visitors will find everything from Dinosaurs to Dali, the historic City Chambers to the magnificent Glasgow Cathedral. Charles Rennie Mackintosh lovers will find The Willow Tea Rooms, The Lighthouse, House for an Art Lover, and the Glasgow School of Art to be must-visits and the works of this eminent architect are sprinkled all over the city.

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The main part of Glasgow is divided into the City Centre, known as “town” or “the toon” to the locals, and contains the majority of tourist sights and a good portion of the city’s shopping and entertainment.

The West End is the bohemian area full of cafés, restaurants and bars surrounding the University of Glasgow and famous Kelvingrove Museum.

Taks a look at the“Official City Website” and you will learn how and why Glasgow is voted one of the friendliest cities in the world.  Yes, Scotland’s biggest city is a stylish mix of arts, culture and unique Celtic charm. Enjoy your stay.-jeb

 

SUNDAY COFFEE WITH JEB


Seniors Visit York, England

images Rick Steves. my travel hero, notes that York and Bath are his two favorite cities outside of London in the UK.  Having paid a visit to Bath with my family, senior travelers, get your coffee and let’s go explore York together.

York, rich in ancient history, romantic ambience and fun activities makes the perfect holiday destination for senior travelers. Renowned for its exquisite architecture and tangle of quaint cobbled streets, York is a flourishing city, just two hours by train from London.

York lies in the Vale of York, a flat area of fertile arable land bordered by the Pennines, the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Wolds. The city was built at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss on a terminal moraine left by the last Ice Age.

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Seniors Seek Out The Shambles

The first mention of York by this name is dated to circa 95–104 AD as an address on a wooden stylus tablet from the Roman fortress of Vindolanda in Northumberland. The medieval city walls are a highlight for visitors, along with York Minster, the cathedral of York.

Seniors will enjoy the National Railroad Museum, the York Castle Museum, and The Shambles, York’s most famous street that is lined with timber-framed buildings housing a range of touristy shops, some dating back as far as the fourteenth century.

It was once known as The Great Flesh Shambles, probably from the Anglo-Saxon Fleshammels (literally ‘flesh-shelves’), the word for the shelves that butchers used to display their meat. As recently as 1872 twenty-five butchers’ shops were located along the street, but now none remain.

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 Seniors Find Historic Walled City

York is a historic walled city at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England. The municipality is the traditional county town of Yorkshire to which it gives its name. The city has a rich heritage and has provided the backdrop to major political events in England throughout much of its two millennia of existence.

The city offers a wealth of historic attractions, of which York Minster is the most prominent, and a variety of cultural and sporting activities making it a popular tourist destination.

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The city was founded by the Romans as Eboracum in 71 AD. It became the capital of the Roman province of Britannia Inferior, and later of the kingdoms of Northumbria and Jórvík. In the Middle Ages, York grew as a major wool trading centre and became the capital of the northern ecclesiastical province of the Church of England, a role it has retained.

TripAdvisor notes nearly 200 things for seniors to see and do in York. You will not be disappointed in the least as it is one of the top tourist cities in the UK along with London and Bath. -jeb

 

 

SENIORS ENJOY ANOTHER DAY IN BATH


Seniors Visit The Roman Baths

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I’m one of those who would love to travel back in time for a day…or two. These seniors visited the Roman Baths in Bath, England.

Listening to the guided information plus using our imagination was perhaps a bit like walking back in time, back 2,000 years when the Romans built and used one of the finest spas of the ancient world. To reach the level of the Roman Baths, required descending 4 meters below the current street level.

With the use of audioguides, we followed the path through the extensive Roman ruins, listening to the story and marveling at the site. It was amazing to learn that the hot thermal waters continue to flow just as they did 2000 years ago.

 Seniors Walk To The Royal Crescent

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Another walk back in time for these seniors would be to meet Beau Nash, the man called Bath’s ‘Master of Ceremonies’ in the 1700′s.

As we were told on our walk to The Royal Crescent this man single handedly determined who could stop and stay in Bath and who had to move on, thereby creating an aristocratic destination for the wealthy of England.

The next walk back in time would be to Number 1 Royal Crescent, during the 19 years that Henry Sanford occupied it. The Royal Crescent was built, we were told, by Bath businessmen to rent to the wealthy English who came for a season to gamble, to play and to display their wealth.  “Bath became the Las Vegas of England in the mid 1700′s” we were told.

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Number 1 Royal Crescent was recently restored to it’s former beauty and grandeur and we found ourselves glued to the story told by the guides in each room of the house.

Jane Austin, 17th Century Condos And Bath Stone

The Circus is a circle of Georgian buildings, beautifully designed.  We were awed by the continuity of the stone in Bath…it’s all the same soft yellowish color.

In the center of the Circus are 5 or 6 very old, very big trees.  And on top of the circle of buildings is chimney after chimney after chimney. Then down Gay Street sits The Royal Crescent…a row of 18th century condos, all uniquely connected, forming a crescent shape.

One very interesting fact: the front of these amazing buildings is uniform and beautifully designed by the architect.  However, the back of the buildings was finished by someone else…anyone else…and any which way!

Royal Crescent Hotel Garden and jeb

Royal Crescent Hotel Garden and jeb

The Royal Crescent Hotel allowed us to walk through to the gardens behind.  This grand hotel occupies a part of the Royal Crescent and is truly elegant.

I was expecting to see where Jane Austin lived when we stopped at that museum. Her family home was actually across town.  A stop in a local pub for tea for me and a beer for jeb concluded our day.

to be continued…

jeannine

 

 

Filed under : Europe, Family Travel

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