This past January I traveled to the British islands on my own, celebrating my birthday all month long. It was insane! I still can't believe I did it and came back in one piece with the same umbrella I left with. It was such a rush, being somewhere I've never been with only myself to truly lean on and trust to make the right choices along the way. So, "What did I do with my time abroad", you ask?
From Atlanta, I flew to JFK. Well... I was supposed to. I got drunk at the bar with other solo travelers I just happened to sit next to and missed my flight to New York. So I had to buy a plane ticket from a different airline that had a plane going to JFK in the next thirty minutes. Great. That was about $200 down the tube before I'd even left. But it all worked out because I landed in the knick of time; time enough to take the airport train to a different terminal and collect my bag from the Jet Blue airline I was supposed to fly with. Then, I ran to the taxi lanes and caught an uber to Laguardia where my next plane was scheduled to leave for London.
It was wild! I got there in just enough time to check my bag (2 minutes before the cutoff) and get swiftly through security as they made last calls for the flight to London. I was so dizzy. Still drunk from the bar in Atlanta, and just so relieved, sticky with sweat to have made the London flight. I didn't even sleep the entire 5-hour journey. I was too amped up from that rush.
Day One: London
I landed in London around 10:30 am local time and got through customs with a huge stupid smile on my face, so excited, only to find that the airline had delayed my bags in New York. I filled out the paperwork to have the bag delivered to me once it arrived the next day. Such a bummer. At that moment, I realized that while I had the option to take the train into town and bus to my Airbnb, I didn't want to. It was my first time in London, so I got extremely nervous and decided against it. It's just me, anyway. So, I decided to spend the extra money on an uber ride to the front door.
I calmed down once the Uber driver and I started talking along the ride. London's very gloomy and gray, so I didn't get the excited, jittery feeling you get when you first land on an exotic island. I was just glad to be there in one piece. The self-check-in was super easy at the Airbnb apartment. All I wanted to do was take a shower and look out the window, soaking it all in. Since I didn't have my luggage, I spent the day washing my current clothes in the tiny washing machine of the apartment. There was no dryer, so I needed to line -dry the clothes early so they'd be dry for my day-tour I had scheduled for the morning.
Day Two: London
I ordered fish and chips and a small meat pie from a nearby English place through Uber Eats. It was pretty good, a nice "Welcome to London" meal. Then I watched a show I like on Netflix and relaxed into a deep slumber. The next morning at 8 am, I had to meet my tour guide at the Hard Rock London for a group taxi tour of the city. It was raining all morning so I'm glad we were in a cab most of the time. I planned it that way. We visited all the major sights of the city and stopped to talk about the history of some places.
With Black Taxi Tours London, I got to see all the most important things in one day. After the tour, I stopped and had lunch at a local juice bar. Then I called an Uber to get back to my Airbnb and wait on my luggage to arrive. You might be wondering why I like to stay in most of the time. It's because if I don't have to be out, I won't. It's how you stay safe as a solo female traveler. My luggage arrived a few hours after I got back and it felt so good to have it! I took a shower with my own toiletries and ordered more delivery food.
Day 3: Cheltenham
I wanted to relax the rest of the day, catch up on emails, respond to text messages and buy the train tickets I needed to buy for the next part of the journey. I planned it all out that evening to catch an Uber Pool to London Paddington train station, then take the train to Cheltenham Spa and wait at a local cafe for my Airbnb to be cleaned and ready for check-in. At the cafe, I had soup, bread, and butter with ginger tea. When the Airbnb was ready, I walked my luggage into town, in the rain, and caught a cab to the location.
Day 4: Cheltenham
Once I was checked in, I was exhausted. So I took a shower and relaxed watching British tv and eating take out from Deliverroo. The next day, I woke up early and headed out to explore the town. The night before, I'd done some research on what to do in town. So I had a couple of places mapped out that were nearby. I caught a bus into the main part of town and walked around checking my Google map every 30 seconds. I ended up at the Cheltenham City Museum and hung out at the cafe having pastries and more tea.
Day 5: The Cotswolds
I walked back to the Airbnb and researched how to explore the rest of the Cotswolds from where I was. I found a charter bus system that takes you along a major route on a day-explorer pass. So, the next morning, I got a pass and spent the day getting off and on at different cities like Bourton on the Water and Stow-on-the-Wold. I visited museums and ate more meat pies in the local pastry shops. At my last stop, I had a gin cocktail and a cheese plate at a local pub. I sat on facetime with my mom from the pub and relaxed there before getting on the return bus home.
Once I was back in Cheltehman I was pooped! So I ate the spaghetti I cooked in the kitchen the night before because delivery's not really available in the countryside of England, and planned my trip to Bath. All along the first few days of being in England, everyone I talked to kept asking if I had plans to visit Bath during my travels. So I thought, "Sure, I do now." I found a nice hotel, (craving a change from Airbnb life) and booked it. I also needed to book the right train tickets and prebook a taxi to take me to the station. So the next day I headed out to Bath Spa.
Day 6: Bath
Being in Bath was a dream! I absolutely loved it from the moment I arrived. I found a taxi right outside the station and got to the No. 15 Pulteney Hotel. It was a fabulous art -deco space that blew me away even more than the photos online. It was also a rare, sunny day! So as soon as I was checked in to my room, I went walking around to explore the beautiful streets. It seemed to be a walking town, so I felt safe even when the sun went down. I visited the Bath Catherdral and sat in on a service listening to the choir sing.
Day 7: Stonehenge
I ordered food from the hotel's cafe and relaxed in my pajamas, basking under the huge chandelier in front of the room's fireplace. From there, I could book my tickets for the next day. I decided to spend it exploring Stonehenge (another reason I wanted to come to Bath.) From Bath, I could take a train to Salisbury station and catch a cab to the Stonehenge visitor's center. I explored the museum before hopping on the bus to the actual site. I was so disappointed to find out that you can no longer walk up to the stones and touch them. It was a huge letdown, but I can now say I've been to another one of the world's seven wonders.
I caught a tour bus back to the station and rode back to Bath that evening. From the first day I arrived in Bath, I could sense it was a trendy town, so I opened up my Bumble account and searched for someone to have a drink with and be flirty. That evening after I arrived at the station from Stoneghnege, I met a guy from Bumble named Tom. He was tall, and wore glasses, had brownish-blonde hair, was a writer, author, and English native. We had drinks at a gin bar and talked all night. I'd had a great time with Tom, but I didn't feel connected enough to him to invite him into the hotel. So, we kissed at the entrance and he went home that night.
Day 8: Bath
The next morning, I had an appointment from an Airbnb Experience to do a past life regression with a light work healer. She met me outside her place and made me tea. We talked for a while before we began to meditate. We meditated to the sounds of ambient music for about 20 minutes before she began to lead me toward the formation of pictures in my mind's eye. Different people revealed themselves to me during that moment, people who I have existed as in the past. It was an intense and unforgettable experience that I cannot fully describe and I will never forget.
I left her house feeling a sense of lightness and rejuvenation. After I left, I walked back to my hotel and took a 30-minute nap. When I woke up, I walked to the city's Roman-style spa called the Thermae Bath Spa. It was so nice to unwind at a spa after doing that much traveling and sleeping in different beds. I had a massage there and felt like I could continue on the journey refreshed.
My new Bumble date met me there once I was done. His name was Alex. I liked Alex. He was a musician in a band from Bristol, the bigger city near Bath. We walked to a vintage-style restaurant called the Cosy Club. We talked, had drinks and ate great food. Then we walked back to my hotel and kissed at the waterfall overlooking the main bridge. It was so romantic! I invited him to have another drink at the bar inside my hotel.
We ended up taking the drinks back to my room and kissing some more. Then, I invited him to try out the huge, swanky bathtub I had, and we took a bath together. I won't go into any more details about the rest of the night. Just know that it was one to remember; A magical rendezvous in the romantic spa town of Bath, England.
I even allowed him to stay the night and we slept until the sun peaked the next morning. He kissed me goodbye and I proceeded to hurry and pack my things to make my train to London to fly up to my next stop, Scotland. I had breakfast at the hotel (places that include breakfast are absolute gems, I've found) and checked out in enough time to walk with my luggage out to the station and trek back over to the London airport.
I suppose Bath was my favorite part of England, but there's so much of it I haven't seen. I think I covered a lot of ground though. I don't think you can even touch the surface of an entire small country in one week, but I tried. England is a place I've always wanted to visit and I did.
I did it my way, and it was perfect.