I knew at my very first glimpse of the city out the window that we had arrived in Bath (unless it was curiously another city full of Georgian architecture in a similarly pale stone as Bath stone. . . but . . . um . . .that wasn’t likely). I felt that tingle of excitement, and had to restrain myself from flapping clapping my hands.
It was only upon arrival to Bath that I noticed how sketchy the directions to St Christopher’s Hostel were. “. . . When you see the Podium, cross at the lights. . .” (which way do I cross? what side of the street were they assuming I was on? And most of all… what in the world am I expecting of ” the Podium” [it was a mall!]) Finding the hostel was even more of a chore because I was expecting something like the picture… but alas, the pub on the ground floor was entirely ripped out (conveniently right for my visit), and it looked quite a bit different!
I had some time of disappointment when I got to my room and saw the one roommate that was in there at the time – a LOUDLY snoring (bedraggled) middle aged man, or SMAM. SMAM was the reason I went to buy some earplugs before my second night, and the reason for some bonding among the other guests – because he was the worst anyone had ever heard. I thought a few times he might go unconscious. (I kind of hoped so).
Despite my original disappointment, I perked up when I heard amazing music from a street band sextet from Barcelona, and was able to admire the amazing city properly. All Georgian (the time of the 4 King George’s; 18th-19th Century), and all made of that special pale Bath stone. Simply gorgeous.
The free night walking tour by one of Bath’s special guides was a great intro to the city I had walked around in all day. We saw the architecture of the Circus (a circle of Georgian “townhouses” for the rich, around a central square) and the Royal Crescent (a half moon of Georgian “townhouses” for the very rich), and many other sights. We were also told the stories about all the decorated pigs around town (like Toronto did with moose). They were pigs because it was apparently pigs that found the baths way back in Celtic times, when rooting around for acorns, and it cured their skin disease, along with the skin disease of King Bladudd.
Breakfast at the hostel was… small. Tea or coffee and toast. But I’ve never been a big breakfast person, and it filled me up. Plus, the tea (which I made myself), was for reasons I still can’t understand, the BEST tea I had ever had. The milk? The water? Who knows…
I thrilled myself through the visit by reading Persuasion by Jane Austen, which is set in Bath… 200 years ago. And, oddly enough, most of the things she refers to are recognizable. The city looks nearly the same as it did then, which is fabulous.
Stonehenge – this is the “beyond” part! I headed out on a tour bus (included in my hostel, nice enough) to see the henge. Basically, it was as amazing as I had hoped. And I had good timing here – there was a small archaeological dig at one side of the henge, excavating a post of the original wood henge (that was there before the stone henge). On the way we saw the White Horse of Wiltshire (chalk hill carving), several burial mounds, and several thatched roof cottages (I’m picturing that in a Trogdor the Burninator voice. If you don’t understand… alas for you).
Fashion Museum & Assembly Rooms – The rooms that the gentry assembled in (turn of the 19th century) were on the main floor, and the ballroom was so beautiful, with its giant chandeliers that I dreamed of renting it for a wedding. The Fashion Museum downstairs definitely didn’t disappoint (though really, anything from the 1980’s shouldn’t have been included! Ha). I loved the Georgian/Regency/Victorian dresses exhibit, and the photos of punk in 1977 was very neat.
The Jane Austen Centre – couldn’t be missed by me! A good snapshot of life in her era, how she lived, and how her character would have lived (and special focus on her life and characters in Bath).
The Roman Baths – so many layers of history here, from the Celtic peoples who originally found the spa (not too much from them though!), to the Romans who built their temple to Sulis Minerva around the spring, and eventually built the bath that still stands today, to those turn of the 19th century folk again (who found the Roman Baths again, and added their own embellishments), to the present day. And the waters were interesting!
Sally Lunn’s – in the oldest house in Bath, with Sally Lunn’s original kitchen as a museum in the basement (1770’s), I had a cream tea with an authentic (and apparently famous) Sally Lunn bun instead of a scone. Tasty!
Coeur de Lion – had a Blackthorn cider here one night, loved its cozy atmosphere, so went back for “Sunday roast” (I picked beef. Awesome Yorkshire pudding… okay mashed potatoes). Apparently its also the smallest pub in Bath (only about 5 tables).
Yen Sushi – a sushi bar with sushi that comes by on a conveyor belt (just like in the movies). Colour coded plates… that ended up a bit pricey for lunch. Tasty though. And my favourite deep fried tofu is called “tofu steak” there. Haha.
McDonald’s – Okay, I know. But secretly I want to see how different they are in different countries. They had: a Chinese menu! Ew! (I would not want a sweet and sour chicken burger, or spring rolls from McD’s. Nasty.) My Big Mac was a bit different… either the cheese or the special sauce. Too bad. Sigh.
Raspberries – It’s still raspberry season here! I saw them at the side of the trains… so I picked up a box at a market. And they were terrible. Seriously, every one was like the bad/bitter one we might get in one of our boxes. Those poor English people.
Flan O’Brien’s – Okay, so there wasn’t actually any EATING going on here, but there was some drinking! Took a very long time to find “the one Irish bar with a late license” that was open past 11pm on a Sunday. When we finally managed to find it, I discovered a new sweeter cider, Bulmer’s. Yum yum. I headed there with Brazilian guy Guilherme from my hostel, and we met up with some cool people that had just finished volunteering in South Africa, and “helped them” play their pounds at Pub Quiz. (I also met up with some wild Irish guys, who insisted on giving aggressive high fives for quite some time when they discovered I was also of Irish background, and of the Catholic type.)