The St. Albans Mapguide by Michael Middleditch
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I am in love with these guidebooks and no one's going to stop me marrying them!
Michael Middleditch produced only a few of these very informative Mapguides and they were mostly of major destinations: London, NY, Paris, and Amsterdam; all except for this one. St. Albans.
Where the F is St. Albans?! You'll find it just north of London, about a 30 minute train ride, and thus it makes for a very manageable and delightful day trip out of London.
Why delightful? Well, for tourists it packs in, pound for pound per square mile, the most sights of interest you're likely to see outside of London. It's great for walking about in circular routes that will take you by the famed cathedral and historical pubs like...
Ye Olde Fighting Cocks (tee-hee!), one among a handful which are vying for the "oldest pub in England" title.
(I love that one of the top googled pics of this historic pub includes my brother [seated, center] and my mom [rightside, in blue top, facing away])
...as well as the not-to-be-missed Roman ruins (like a very mini Colosseum and better than anything I saw in London!) and their accompanying museum (informative for adults and kid friendly too).
If you go, try to include a walk along Fishpool Street with its dangerous-if-you're-drunk sidewalk, something to be wary of for visitors of excellent pubs like the Red Lion.
St. Albans is a marvelous little place that is more than just a postcardy photo-op. It's a living, working town that combines a bit of fun for vacationers who also want to see - maybe not the work-a-day world of Bedford, Bethnal Green or Slough - but something closer to a slice of England's reality beyond the holiday set. Middleditch's booklet does a bang up job of encapsulating the town's sense of community, what it has to offer and just overall illuminating this little patch of England.
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