Let’s Go Exploring! Bristol and Bath. Twice the character, half the price.

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Kristy Shen (aka "FIRECracker") is Canada's youngest retiree. She used to live in one of the most expensive cities in Canada, but instead of drowning in debt, she rejected home ownership. What resulted was a 7-figure portfolio, which has allowed her and her husband to retire at 31 and travel the world. Their story has been featured on CBC, the Huffington Post, BNN, Business Insider, and Yahoo Finance. To date, it is the most shared story in CBC history and their viral video on CBC's On the Money has garnered 4.5 Million views.
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This is part of a Travel Series called “Let’s go Exploring!” Click here for Part 1:London. So Jolly, So Dark 


After a “jolly” jaunt in London, we boarded a bus to Bristol, birthplace of world-famous street artist Banksy.

A quaint university town with a fun, hip vibe, Bristol was everything that London wasn’t. Instead of crowds shoving their way into tourist attractions, posh hotels, and Michelin-starred restaurants, Bristol was full of funky street art, quirky student hangouts, and a super chill attitude that was a relief after getting elbowed and molested by hordes of random strangers on the Tube.

This was our first time staying in an AirBnB overseas, so we had no idea what to expect. And as it turns out, we had nothing to worry about when our host greeted us with tea and biscuits, and showed us around his flat.  Clean and modern, at $80/night, this was WAY more affordable than the downtown hotels in London. Since it was close to the center of town and within walking distance to everything, we wouldn’t have to pay for transportation, saving us mad money. And the best part was the heated bathroom floor. This would turn out to be my favorite amenity, though when I sneakily tried to drag my pillows and sheets into the bathroom to sleep, our host was not amused.

Back when we were still working, we used to stay in pricey hotels on vacation, and let me tell you, AirBnBs are SO much better.

Not only do you have a kitchen and laundry facilities, you have your own free local guide—your host! He not only recommended the best restaurants, and taught us funny British words like” courgette” (zucchini), “aubergine” (egg plant), and “No Fly Tipping” (no dumping), he told us about the best Bristol attraction of all:

The Balloon fiesta.

Heehee. Those penguins look they’re gossiping about the minion who just face-planted in front of them.
Heehee. Those penguins look they’re gossiping about the minion who just face-planted in front of them.

Once the sun went down, the open field lit up with balloons glowing rhythmically to the tune of pop music. And the booze. My God so much booze.

On the way back, we passed a bunch of British teens, giggling like idiots and playing a drinking game. Except you know here, a drinking game is supposed to be when you spot something relatively rare so you don’t get shitfaced in 5 seconds? There, their drinking games go like this:

“Every time you see a car, drink!”

“Every time you see a tree, drink!”

“Every time you see a cloud, drink!”

I’m not sure how they got home or whether their goal was just to drink so much they blacked out and then an ambulance would take them home for them. It’s like a free taxi!

The next day, we took a short 1-hour train ride to Bath, town of idyllic English gardens, the great Jane Austen, and…you guessed it…baths.

Bath is basically one giant Roman spa, historically built for royalty, aristocrats, and rich assholes, to relax after a long, hard day of doing absolutely nothing.

Now it’s a fun little tourist attraction where even us filthy commoners can go.

At a hefty price tag of 36 GBP/person ($72 CAD), I was a little skeptical as to whether the Thermea Spa was worth it. Try as I might, I wasn’t able to find a 2 for 1 deal, but Wanderer did manage to get us a deal to stay for 4 hours for the price of 2.

And so we began our EPIC spa session, starting with the rainforest shower and ending with the aromatherapy sauna.  I had heard about steam rooms with aromatherapy scents, but this was something else. Walking through steamy puffs of Sandalwood, Lotus Flower, and Eucalyptus Mint, I thought, “man, this is THE life.”

After all that pampering, we went up to the roof top and jumped into the pool, which was less like a pool, and more like a giant thermal lake in the middle of the city, surrounded by century-old buildings and rolling English hills.


Photo credit: https://www.thermaebathspa.com/
Photo credit: https://www.thermaebathspa.com/

And as the sun lazily set over the horizon, I floated happily, realizing that we had it made. This was our life now and man is it ever fucking awesome!

Even though the spa cost us a bundle, I had to admit, it was worth it.

Luckily the rest of the town of was very affordable, with free walking tours, museums, and the famous “Sally Lunn bun”.

I’d read about “Sally Lunn bun” from a bunch of travel sites, and they all say “get thyself to Sally Lunn’s STAT!” So of course, we had to go.

Sally Lunn’s is the oldest house in Bath, serving their signature dish “the Sally Lunn bun” since 1482. So technically, this bakery is older than Canada AND the United States put together! I thought that was pretty cool.

I later found out I was supposed to eat it with a knife and fork like a proper English Lady. Instead, I just stuffed the entire thing into my pie hole.
I later found out I was supposed to eat it with a knife and fork like a proper English Lady. Instead, I just stuffed the entire thing into my pie hole.

And one final story that shows how Bristol is our kind of town, on our way back to the AirBNB, we walked through this quirky underpass area called “The Bear Pit”, filled with farmers selling organic vegetables, students selling their art, and hippies happily strumming their guitars.


And the out of the blue, one of these hippies handed us a paper bowl, filled with what look like vegetable stew.

“Oh thanks,” I said. “How much is it?”

“It’s free!” The flower-girl smiled. “Just because. Happy Tuesday!”

And no, before you ask, it wasn’t laced with LSD. It was just good stew.

But JUST to make sure we knew we were still in England, as we ate the delicious stew, enjoying the funky atmosphere, and the coolness of the people around us, we overheard this:

“Oy!” Someone says to a scrawny guy sitting on the ground begging for change. “They’re giving away free food over there!”

“Have they got any coffee?” The beggar asked.

“No, just food.”

“Oh bullocks”, he said, returning to his begging.

Huh. So apparently, in England, beggars CAN be choosers.

Cost Breakdown


  • $80/night


  • $50/day
  • We mostly cooked (best part of staying in an AirBnB), with the occasional high tea or local restaurant/pub thrown in.
  • High tea in Bristol is fantastic and only 12 pounds/person (or $22 CAD/person). If you’re ever in Bristol, I recommend “The Tea Birds” . Super cute, tasty treats, and a price that can’t be beat!
  • If you’re in England, Tesco’s is your new best friend.


  • $20/day
  • Other than the Thermea Spa, which cost us $144, everything else (museums, balloon festival, suspension bridge, Bath walking tour) was free or almost free!


  • $10/day
  • We took 1 bus to get to Bristol and 1 train to get to Bath. The rest of the time, we just walked around the city for free.

Total cost: $160/day

Rating: 4/5 balloons.

Click here for the next post in the series: The Scots, My Kind of People.

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One thought on “Let’s Go Exploring! Bristol and Bath. Twice the character, half the price.”

  1. I miss England. Been to Bristol and Bath back in 2001/2 but didn’t really see much as I was just a student visiting friends back then — I had no idea they were so much fun! Maybe a re-visit is in order and I’ll keep your recommendations and tips in mind.

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