Bath Stories and Tips

Bath for the Last Limping Leg of the Trip

Assembly Rooms, Bath Photo, Bath, England

Jane isn’t working this morning so accompanied me to the train. I felt sick this morning but a bit better on the train after some water and Tylenol.

In Bath, I booked the Edgar Hotel, which is located on the wide Georgian Great Pulteney Street that leads straight to the famous Pulteney Bridge. I discovered, also, that Paddington train station in London will be shut down all weekend so I’m going to get a bus ticket for Friday morning instead of taking the train.

I head to the city centre to find a tourist information center and some lunch. Pulteney Bridge is one of only three left in the world that still has shops lining it. It crosses the Avon River, one of several with this name in the UK and along side the river below the bridge is the Parade Gardens, a private park that charges the public a nominal fee to use it.

I came into the Guildhall market, and there was a little caff. One cheese and tuna toastie later and I’m ready to tour Bath. All the different bus companies stop along the Grand Parade beside the towering Abbey. I chose the Heritage city tours because they had live guides. Cheap at 7 pounds and the ticket was good for 48 hours.

The first bus I got on I didn’t really care for the guide. I did one turn of the city center with him and then switched to the other bus and joined Dan’s tour for the full two route tour and that was better.

Most of the tour focused on the Georgian rejuvenation of the city. Architects John Wood Elder and Younger rebuilt the city with financing supplied by Richard "Beau" Nash and Ralph Allen. In order to get more value for money, they erected the fronts of the houses along the terraces and squares and that was all. The purchasers had to finish the interior and the rest of the building so that although the fronts all look identical, the backs are often very different from each other! Bath, which was a Roman center with temples and the roman baths over the hot mineral springs, became a society place to be in the 18th and into the mid 19th centuries.

Bath is full of lovely architecture and remember to look up! There are always interesting details around roofs and windows. After the tour, I decided to go into the Pump Rooms, a restaurant in the Roman Bath complex for tea but there was a fairly long queue. There was a spot you could look over one of the baths, the Sacred Spring but, at loose ends, I decided to pay the entrance fee and go see the Baths and museum.

I left there and had a cream tea in a pretty little tea room behind the Baths that I saw from the walls. I went into M&S to get a sandwich and some fruit to have for supper in the hotel room and I went to Boots to get more drugs. I came out the other end right at the bus station so I bought my ticket for Friday.

Along Manvers street at a trudge, I never realized it until Friday morning but the book museum I had wanted to see is right across the street from the bus station. I never did get there though I would have on Thursday had I not been feeling so poorly in the afternoon.

It’s a beautiful city but is definitely detracted by so much traffic. The streets are mostly narrow, cars park on both sides and there are loads of street signs and lights. And people. On a summery mid week April day, there were plenty of people, tourists and school kids. I don’t mind touristy places, I’m a tourist and proud of it, but if you don’t like crowds, I would avoid Bath in the summertime.

For all it’s lovely streets, there are only a few that really spark the imagination where you can really picture old society strolling the elevated sidewalks and pretty squares, or browsing in the shops along Milsom street and Abbey square. The shops are all modern and trendy now but thank heavens at least they weren’t decked out with neon signs. I really do have to come back again when I feel better. I had my sandwich in the hotel room, watched Corrie and went to bed early.

The next day, after a rough night, with fever and a lot of coughing. Feel wrung out this morning. I was out fairly early, before 9 o’clock and only a few tourists were stirring. I sat in the sun by the Abbey which was sheltered from a brisk morning breeze. The Abbey opened at 9 and I went in. Donations please. It’s lovely inside with soaring ceilings that are vaulted and decorated.

There has been a religious establishment on this site for about 1300 years. The present Abbey dates from 1499 replacing the old Norman cathedral which replaced an Abbey where Edgar I was crowned the first King of all England in 973.

After I had a browse around the Abbey I went to a café for a half hour until the bus tours started up at 10, i'm using the ticket from yesterday as transportation around today. I got off at the Assembly Rooms which were built by John Wood the Younger and opened in 1771. (review)

I left the museum around noon. I’m not hungry yet so I decided to walk the short distance to see the circular "square" where the Kings Circus was. These are 30 houses, in three sections, in a circle, three storeys fronted with a different type of classical column for each level, and ringed around the top of the roofs with acorns, a symbol of early Bath.

The crescent was meant to resemble the Colosseum inside out and sort of does. One famous resident of these houses was the court painter Gainsborough.

A block away is the Royal Crescent, a wide curved terrace of houses overlooking the Victoria Gardens and a grassy private lawn. There’s a Botannical Garden in the Victoria park as well. Houses in this crescent now sell for over a million pounds.

I walked down Gay Street where the Jane Austen center is and found Queen’s Square named for Queen Charlotte I think. I wandered my way this way and that and realize I’m now hungry. I thought about a pub but there seems to be a scarcity of them in this area. I found a café that didn’t look too crowded.

I sat in the sun in the courtyard behind the Abbey for awhile after lunch, listening to a young man singing and watching a couple of shirtless tattooed workers dismantle some scaffolding.

My energy is really flagging now so I went back to the hotel and to bed for awhile. The rest of the day was pretty much a write off. I picked up a few snacks from a newsagent at one point.

April 18, Another lousy night. We’ll see how I feel when I get to London.

The bus journey was fine. We got into Victoria station early. I found a bank machine and a taxi and got to the hotel and to my room. I set out to meet my sister and her friend for dinner and it was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other. I didn’t eat a whole lot but heard all about their trip to Paris and their visit to Canterbury. Sounds like she had a wonderful time!

I realized I was going to have to have a doctor the next day. I called the desk and they arranged the call. It did take all day for him to get to the hotel which was more or less expected. My sister went home this morning but her friend told me to call if I needed anything so I did. He offered to have me come to his house and recover once the doctor had been and I gratefully accepted. Being sick in a hotel room is probably the worst thing in the world. The doctor diagnosed a bronchial infection and prescribed some antibiotics and a puffer. The rest of the week was spent recovering. I knew I couldn’t fly on the Tuesday after Easter and Air Canada’s staff on their Medical desk were great. They rearranged the flight and ended up getting me on a direct to Halifax flight on Saturday the 26th.

So the Magical History Tour ended up a bit of Magical Misery tour but the first half was wonderful. The worst I felt was in Bath and London. Next time I’ll get to a doctor before I get to that point again!

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