Bean Abroad Travel Blog
Hi there, my name is Conor and I’m a diabetic travelling Jersey Bean (little old Jersey off the coast of France, not massive New Jersey in the US) who wants to travel as much of the world as possible on a very limited budget. I mainly write about history, culture and diabetes on the road. I hope you guys enjoy.
Today I am reviewing Showaround, a company that links locals with travellers for a more personalised tour. Offering more than just the bog-standard historical sights these locals point out their favourite coffee shops or shopping spots, recommending restaurants and bars and giving you insider knowledge that might otherwise be missed from a more formal city tour.
The first proper stop is not actually a coffee shop or cafe at all but rather a church. Situated in the Manvers Street Baptist Church building is a homeless shelter run by Julian House and the Genesis Trust. Homelessness in Bath is an issue that many people are unaware of or would not associate with a city with UNESCO world heritage status but the numbers of people in need are significant. Five areas in Bath are within the most deprived 20% of the country according to a council report from 2012 and the Manvers Street centre helps hundreds of people a month. Take a look around their websites for more info on getting involved.
Walking up the road is Yak Yeti Yak, a Nepalese restaurant that according to my guide does an excellent and cheap early bird menu and particularly noteworthy vegetable dumplings. Be careful though because it fills up very quickly so booking in advance is thoroughly recommended.
Just around the corner from this is the Blue Quails Deli run by a South African who really knows his food. It is a bit small so seating space is at a premium but the food looks delicious. Hint: they’ve won lots of awards for their food so they must be good.
The next coffee shop is definitely worth a mention. Cascara does specialty coffees and juices and has a take on interior decoration that makes me sad to leave. BUT the main reason you should pop in for a coffee is because they have a resident puppy! A real, stroke-able puppy that you can play with as you wait for your drink. If that doesn’t convince you then I don’t know what will.
The final coffee shop on our whistle-stop tour of Bath is Colonna & Small’s. This coffee shop has won award after award for its expert baristas and is a favourite haunt of students treating themselves to proper coffee. The knowledge and skill of the baristas is second-to-none and the service is apparently fantastic as they really love what they do.
We finish with a coffee at The Foodie Bugle and sit outside in the not-quite-warm-enough spring sunshine. The delicatessen has food that makes your mouth water and the way the shop is presented is a masterclass in the art of shop-keeping. Head to the website for more information and exceptionally well presented photos that make me excited about houseware in ways that 18 year old me would have laughed at.
Beanie has been an extremely informative guide, providing anecdotes and and offering up places that I’d never seen before as well as explaining things such as the travel trinity of fast, cheap and good (and how you can only ever really have two out of three) and the two-night rule (never visit anywhere for less than two nights).
The Showaround experience has been very enjoyable overall. The website is slick, well-presented and easy to use providing a profiles of each local on a city-by-city basis allowing you to choose who you wish to hire on a personal basis. Each local has a photo, some information on what they will show you and a 5 star rating system from previous tours.
There is also an in-built messaging system that makes it really easy to organise meeting your local without the faff of sifting through a bunch of emails.
All payments are done electronically so you do not have to worry about carrying cash around with you (unless you want to grab a coffee with your guide afterwards like I did) and each local has an hourly rate to make it easy (I paid £10/€13/$14 for an hour). Look around, some locals offer their time for free.
Something worth mentioning is the monthly subscription fee (£15/€19/$21 per month) but as Showaround do not make a profit on the local fees this is necessary to keep the service going. Keep this in mind when booking.