Get Away: West Country, England
England is to rain as Chicago is to snow. Neither would be itself without its weather. Despite that minor unpleasant detail, however, England is a great place to vacation. Centuries of history combine with fashion, music, food and architecture to make London one of the world's must-see cities. But what about those places that fall beyond the reaches of the metropolis? Well, it turns out, those are worth visiting too – especially West Country. Read our review of The Casual Vacancy, the book that inspired this wish list.
Unlike it's urban countrymate, West Country, which is actually the southwest region of the country, boasts the best weather in England. The English Riviera plays host to gorgeous resorts, while rugged beaches line the Atlantic coast. Some of the most prominent cities in the region are Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall (each of which is more English-sounding than the last).
For me, an essential site to visit would be The Great Bath in – you guessed it – Bath. This is the city where Jane Austen wrote Persusasion and Northanger Abbey.
I found out about it a little too late, but this year the city hosted a foodie festival called The Great Bath Feast during the month of October. Just hearing what's featured makes me want to buy a plane ticket: celebrity chefs, street food, high profile guest appearances.
The Feast is intended to "encourage people to indulge and enjoy food and drink in a city that has been offering hospitality for hundreds of years." Sounds like a good plan to me. If it happens again in 2013, I would seriously consider going.
There are plenty of towns to choose from in West Country, each of which offers its own delights. My town of choice would be Devon, not least of all because it is home to Combe House, an idyllic and luxurious country cottage with fifteen rooms and exceptional food.
In addition to Arabian horses, 3,500 acres worth exploring, and a Great Hall with a roaring fire, Combe House's culinary offerings leave visitors raving. Travel website i-escape reports, "The restaurant has been awarded 2 AA Rosettes (the benchmark of exceptional food in England) for several years running, and service is faultless."
Another town I'd love to visit is Cornwall, in order to discover the Eden Project. This conglomeration of incredible gardens is also one of Europe's top eco attractions, which places plenty on emphasis on charity and social enterprise alongside its natural pursuits. A plethora of social and environmental programs are part of what drives the Project's success, as well as experiences for students and a commitment to operating as greenly as possible.
Upon visiting the Eden Project, there are a variety of attractions that would be incredible to see. Here are some I would love to explore: the world's largest rainforest in captivity (complete with waterfalls!), sculptures and art, modern architecture, a rainforest lookout above the treeline and a tractor-pulled land train.
Your turn: Have you visited West Country, England? Leave us some travel tips in the comments!