Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Getting Lost in Bath OR The Best Day Ever

I am not a fan of day trips. I mean, I am... but I'm not.  The IDEA of spending a whole day exploring is exciting. The ACTUALITY of getting out of bed early and undertaking non-car travel is NOT my idea of fun at all. So, I was doing my best to stay optimistic about us spending an entire day traveling to Bath but I was constantly prepping myself for just being tired and wanting to come home. 

However, Matt and I LOVE Bath. I could live there. I never -not once that day- wished we were anywhere else.
The time goes on forever.
The trip part wasn't even as bad as I was expecting. In fact, I was incredibly excited because we got to leave from Paddington Station. Paddington Bear has special meaning to my family and I was excited to be where the whole story started :D. Unfortunately, all of the stuff costs too much so I didn't get to buy anything, which always tends to make me a bit upset. I was able to get a picture though! Pictures are free! (Except not because my printer is bad at pictures and prints cost like 99 cents or something.)

Here you can see that Matt is just as bad as everyone else in the world when it comes to interrupting pictures.
His head photobombs  EVERYTHING I try to do. I could do a whole post about it.
I'm sorry for my lack of specifics ( I promise I'll edit them in later!) but getting to Bath took a few steps. We took the tube - with several line changes to avoid traffic- to Paddington station. Then we took a train from Paddington to Bath Spa. City center and the baths are only a 5 minute walk from the station. 

Bath is a World Heritage Site because it's considered a site of human creative genius. Basically all that they've uncovered from roman times - like the baths- shows how amazing the engineering of those so called primitive people was. That and the city that has sprung up around it in the following years is equally as impressive. 

When we first arrived in Bath part of me kept saying "take pictures, take pictures everywhere" because it is so gorgeous but, another part of me was so anxious to see everything that I couldn't be bothered to take the time and get the camera out. 

Of course there was a point where I couldn't put it off anymore...

Bath Abbey 
We arrived in Bath relatively early - I'd say between 9 and 10 a.m. - so the streets were rather deserted. It's filled with old signs and markers leading to the baths but while everything is very old, it's also extremely unassuming. That is, until you suddenly find yourself coming under an archway. The Roman Baths, Bath Abbey and the little square between them (which is filled with tourists at the height of the day) were right there in front of us.

While it was very exciting to finally be in the heart of Bath, there was a little problem keeping us from enjoying it: we were hungry. I'm sure everyone knows by now that Matt and I get rather... curmudgeonly... when we haven't gotten proper food. And let me tell you, early starts are not conducive to breakfast eating when you and your significant other are not really morning people. So, we whizzed by the baths and down a little side street to Sally Lunn's.

Sally Lunn's was established in 1680 and is the home of the original and amazing Sally Lunn Bun. They still use the original recipe and the original building because it's in England and England is awesome. Many have tried to copy it around the world and everyone will fail. It's just that good. Anyway, Sally Lunn's is a reasonably priced (read: not cheap but pretty doable) lunch and dinner location. They also offer tea with everything. Matt wilts like the delicate flower he isn't whenever there's no tea in his body. I honestly believe it runs in his veins. 

If you don't believe me, here is Exhibit A...
Is this not the saddest picture you've ever seen?
With your lunch you can get your own personal pots of tea. Matt was in absolute agony waiting for it to cool. I have to say, I was a more than a bit excited about my tea as well. But that could never match my excitement for my sandwich.

I may be drooling slightly...
Sally Lunn's buns are the best. I don't even really remember what the sandwich was, just that I was horribly depressed when it was gone. For an idea of what you can have though you can view their menu here.

Down in the basement they have a museum. It's the kitchen where the bun was born. It's painfully small but you can buy bun's and tea and other lovely goods down there. If we hadn't had a whole day ahead of us I would have jumped at the chance.

My favorite part of the museum were these little cut outs:

Each one shows a different time period and how the land actually keeps rising. At the bottom, you'll see the level of the land when the Romans first came the island of Great Britain and built the baths. At the top you can see where the land was in Tudor times, when Sally Lunn was first opened. 

Basically the point of all of this is, if you go to Bath you MUST have lunch or dinner at Sally Lunn. It's well, well, well worth your while. I mean just look at that smile...

Back to his normal, wonderful self :)
After lunch we made our way back around the corner and through the square that was already filled with tourists and buskers playing some lovely music for us all.

There were even christian healers from Bath Abbey. I don't want to get too into it but Matt and I differ on our religious beliefs. However, when one very nice gentleman asked if they could pray over his leg (he was still in the brace) Matt was very nice and we sat for a while. I won't say whether it did or didn't do anything but I will say this: We both got up feeling very calm and I was rather grateful for the chance to just sit and relax instead of filling our day with rushing around. I know it's hard not to look on people like that as nuisances for a most but, they are very kind and really did nothing but add a lovely moment into our day. 

We didn't make it into the Abbey, mostly because of the hours it was open and the £5 entry fee for tourists combined but I did get some lovely pictures of it. If you look closely you'll see that they've carved a stairway to heaven on both sides.

After waiting in a very short line, it was time to see the Roman Baths. 

With all the stones that say Roman Baths it's hard to tell where the entrance is. This is the right one. 
Now, Matt and I had been talking all day about how the whole city of Bath is a World Heritage Site but we couldn't find any of our markers anywhere. Then, on a sign next to the front door, we thought we had found it. One very tiny, lonely marker.

Then we walked through the front door to the ticket line.

Please note the size relationship with the chandelier.
Getting into the Baths is rather expensive on a budget such as ours. It's about £12.50 for an adult and £10.75 for a student. You can also visit the Fashion Museum in Bath on joint ticket for slightly more. Just ask at the desk. The Baths also have different hours for different times of the year. You'll want to check the times before planning your trip or buying train tickets etc. 

The first part of your journey is to see the Baths through windows while you read/listen about the excavation. Yes. There is an audio tour. Matt and I did take the tour but we only listened really when we felt like it and we just read the boards provided instead. I do not think we missed much, if anything at all. 

Remember the Sally Lunn kitchen, with the cutouts that showed where the land was over time? Well, I never really put two and two together until I learned that everything built around the baths is new. They had to dig the baths out because they had been buried. I mean really.

So the ability to look down at tourists like they are little ants has only been available to you since the 1800's. 

They have surrounded the main bath with statues of Roman Emperors who would have ruled while Great Britain was part of their empire. 

If you forget that everything was added later and really try to appreciate what those who added it were trying to accomplish, the baths really seem like a step back in time. It's actually quite similar to the feeling you get at Stonehenge. Everything almost makes you think it was imagineared. Even the water. I know it's that colour because of minerals and all that kind of junk but, to me, that made it all the more inviting and enticing to slide into. Especially since you know it's nice and warm.

Also, you just have to admire the architecture and attention to detail that was used in this half museum/ half time machine.  

After you leave the Terrace you pass by the Sacred Spring. This is the heart of everything. The source of all the warm and healing water of the baths. This is also why it sucks. You can't really enjoy learning about the roman baths when you know that they stole it, like everything else, from the original inhabitants of the islands. After the romans got here they used it as a sacred spring for their goddess Sulis Minerva.

Inside they have actually preserved the entrance to the temple they built around the Sacred Spring. In the center you can see a carving of Gorgon's head, a symbol for the goddess.

Of course we had to be tourists for a bit, and grab our pictures. It's really hard to find a place to take them actually because EVERYONE wants their pictures with the water. It's just so fascinating and the perfect backdrop. 

I try not to look silly, but it never fails...
Matt, on the other hand, always looks great. The butt.
I , unfortunately, make this one for the awkward family photos album
There are way too many rooms in the baths for me to capture them all. There's the old hot rooms, the cold pool... the gift shop :P If you'd like more of a tour and/or more information you can find all of that at their website. But, we must continue on because it's not just the baths that are a world heritage site. It's the whole city. They're extremely proud of it...

"In case you didn't know, we're kind of a big deal"
We once thought that the symbols at the baths were all we would see. We were so wrong. they are everywhere. Including this big honking one in what I'm going to assume is city center.

Sometimes, the muse just speaks to me and magic like this happens :P
It's amazingly refreshing to see that the city embraces and totally loves being a World Heritage Site. When it comes down to it, this city totally deserves to be a Site. Take, for instance, this lovely street sign. It's in a pedestrian only area and it's designed to be cute and to blend in. It also has a number of museums and historical locations listed. 

We decided to go and check out the Jane Austen museum because...well, I love Jane Austen and I asked Matt very, very nicely. As we walked through the shops in the older part of town we passed by the Jamie's (Jamie Olivers restaurant) where we had reservations for dinner. So I snapped a picture.

No, I'm not creepy at all...
To make a long story short, we never went into the Jane Austen Museum. Here's another tip for Bath: Bring more money - CASH - than you think you will need. The Jane Austen Museum was about £7 for each of us and it simply didn't fit into our budget for the day. It does look quite lovely though. 

This would be the only point in the day where we may have felt a little bored. We'd been walking a lot and quite frankly, I was hungry... again. It happens. Also, with limited funds, it was difficult to find anything to do. But we kept walking and got so lucky because we found this...

This beauty is the river Avon. As in if I went down it (or up it I don't really know) I would find Stratford-upon-Avon where Shakespeare was born and I would die. Anyway, connected to this wonderful river are the Parade Gardens. 

It's one several gardens that are located in the greater Bath area. And it's amazing. It costs about £1 per person to enter. I don't really even mind that because it's just pocket change really and it helps pay for the upkeep. 

The british are a festive sort.
The gardens were all decorated for the summer festivities. Here are some succulents put together as little people competing in olympic events.

Matt considers himself an Olympic hopeful... at least once his leg starts being a leg again...
They also still had some decoration up from the Diamond Jubilee.

Even if they aren't too keen on the royals, no one messes with a british persons flowers
All of this is just mixed in with the general decoration of the gardens. Here is a statue of Mozart. Even though I have no clue why it's there. 

In the garden you can pay to rent lawn chairs. You can also go to their cafe. Matt and I believe that while this may be a nice option for the other people in the park, it's much to overpriced for our pleasure. Much. But that doesn't mean we didn't enjoy our time there. We found some empty grass and half cuddled, half napped our afternoon away, enjoying some of that rare English summer sun. It was gorgeous to say the least. There's something very relaxing about the sounds of dogs and children playing and knowing that you can just enjoy your little patch of grass however long you want. It certainly made us feel more relaxed. And, apparently, more romantic. 

I don't think I'll ever care if our PDA offends people.
It's really fun to do this ^ ... It's really fun all the time.
Before we left for dinner we decided to take a look at the river from inside the gardens. This is the view we found:

The identity of the photographer is still under dispute here. 
After that we had a nice dinner at Jamie's and went home. Exhausted, well fed both in the normal sense and in a sort of... spiritual sense (Matt with disagree with me on terminology here- sorry baby). That's the only have I have to describe it. With all the stresses of the summer and all of the stresses of traveling, Bath was needed. Hell, now I feel that on the rest of my visits to Matt's house, it's a requirement. Everything about it seems removed from the world in the best way possible. Definitely in the Top 5 forever.


1 comment:

  1. What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee,
    The image can be seen at who can supply you with a canvas print of it.