The Journal of a Journey,
UK and Ireland 1999
Day 11Sunday, October 10 continued
It was a little saddening to leave Nantyglo behind us, but both Jeff and Lynn had been so lavish in their praise of Bath, England, that we were eager to see it. It turned out to be one of our most picturesque and tourist-friendly destinations. When we came into the train station I asked Tom if he would just wait with the luggage for at most a half hour while I went out on the streets looking for a B&B, a totally different way to find one than we'd used thus far. I crossed the street, passing the town bus terminal where Guide Friday busses also depart, walked half a block further and found a B&B, Aimee's Bed and Breakfast, with a vacancy sign out. The lady who came to the door said all they had left was one room, a twin with en suite bath. Perfect! Well, there was one negative...instead of the normal English breakfast, she said, this B&B served only continental breakfast. I took a look, then booked it and walked back to the station to get Tom. We wheeled our luggage up and headed for the nearest Guide Friday bus to see as much of the town as we could before dark; we had a couple of hours left.
The first nine pictures in sets 1 and 2 were taken on the tour. The second slide above depicts a hotel made with three distinct architectures on the roof, each depicting a segment of Queen Victoria's rule: commoners with the cottage roofs at left, the gentry with the manor house roof in the center, and royalty with the castle roof at right. The other scenes in this set are colorful sights caught from the bus tour.
The first four slides at left capture stops on the tour. From the hills south of central Bath there are dramatic views over the city, with a manor house in the foreground. The second slide is of a circus, or curved building built around a circular neighborhood center, a popular style in Bath. Third is a colorful flower bed. Fourth, a view of a boat in the river from a bridge. After finishing our circle of the city, we returned to our B&B and from there walked back toward the train depot for dinner. We'd seen an aggressive advertisement for a restaurant across from the station, a dining room behind a pub, and decided to try it. It was a good choice. We were able to get beef Wellington for two (the first time I recall ever having it) with side dishes for about £22, one of the best dinners of our entire trip. After dinner, Tom wrote in his journal in the room while I went roaming to get night photographs of the beautiful town. The final shot at left is the first of these, Bath's showcase abbey from across the river at night.
Day 12Monday, October 11
The first two slides below right depict additional scenes found on my evening walk. The hotel with the three architectures on the roof as reflected in the river, and a beautiful view of the abbey from its courtyard.
Monday morning, October 11, the last day of our touring vacation, dawned the brightest and warmest of any day yet on the trip. We were pleasantly surprised to find that, instead of the dry toast and coffee that comprised our previous continental breakfast, the B&B offered a variety of cereals, toast with marmalade, yoghurt, and even, if we so desired, boiled eggs in the shell. One of Bath's historic landmarks is a pastry shop started by a French Hueguenot who fled here from religious persecution in her country and I had been rather looking forward to trying its wares as a supplement to the B&B offering, but to my pleasant surprise, I had no room for such a treat. And it turned out to be a good thing as the bakery didn't open until later in the day.
I couldn't resist a shot of the abbey framed in a street archway (third shot above). The fourth photo depicts the abbey from the courtyard by day. After breakfast, we toured the Roman baths, one of England's best preserved archeological digs. Before Christianity came to England, the Romans had a temple to their gods at the bath site, and it's believed that the ground under the present abbey was the site of earlier pagan and perhaps druid seats of worship. The ground-up look at the abbey is the final slide above.
The final slide set, below left, captures four views of the Roman baths. Discovered and excavated in the 1880's, they are one of the prime remnants of the Roman province of Brittania. The tours, which have a charge of £7 or £8, are self-guided (except for large groups) and make use of the easiest-to-use audio assistants I've seen at such a site. Each point of interest has a number corresponding to a channel on the hand-held audio device; you simply punch in the number and hear the relevant information. The tour is quite extensive, with many displays of artifacts and ruins dug up at the site, besides the spring, pool, and overflow (note the redness of the sulfur in the spring overflow) shown here. The final photo in this set is of commercial buildings just outside the baths. The pump room, a dining room attached to the baths, offers potable samples of the water, and a menu of breakfasts, lunches, and tea, which we declined having had a hearty breakfast.
The biggest surprise about Bath is that there is no spa facility there today. Over a million gallons of 117-degree water per day pours out of the center of the earth here, and visitors can see it in many manifestations and even taste it in the pump room, but can't bathe in it. So far as I could tell, it has no other use today except as tourist attraction.
Having already checked out of our B&B, we returned to collect our luggage and make our way to the station for our next-to-last sightseeing stop.
Next station: Salisbury
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