The City of Bath - A Day Tour in England (part 2)

Continued from A day tour in England – Windsor Castle:

“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

From fairy-tale land to Georgian elegance, our next destination was Bath, a city located on the River Avon. The drive was long, and there was no in-bus entertainment but the calm undulating English countryside had me spellbound and I was fantasizing of buying a small English cottage and making raspberry jam for a living. After 3 hours of letting my imagination run riot I realised we had gotten off the highway towards Bath.

The city was first established as a spa and was known as Aquae Sulis (Latin for "the waters of Sulis”) and in the early part of the 18th century, Bath became England’s premier spa town. The Roman Baths that give the city its name are the star tourist attraction and are now housed inside a museum. They are built around thermal springs which have been supplying water for over 2,000 years. The mineral-stained spring bubble up and gushes in places inside rendering a metallic-sulphur smell to the place, not exactly unpleasant but it does provoke some memories of dingy Chemistry Labs.  The museum also houses the Roman Spas, the Roman Temple of the goddess Sulis Minerva and the Great Bath.  The ornamental pediment of the Temple has been rebuilt inside the Roman Baths Museum.

The Pump Room (which is now the museum restaurant and social hub) is the place where they draw the hot spring water for drinking from the fountain in the salon like restaurant.  If you have a ticket from the museum, you are entitled a glass of the healing water. Drinking that water is almost like a dare – its warm, it comes out of a fountain and smells like a chemistry experiment. But just like a dare – you want to do atempt it, at least once - even if it is to get over your fear (obviously there was no fear here - just a manner of speaking)

Bath is the quintessential Austen-ian city (no surprise, Jane Austen lived here and based 2 of her 6 novels in Bath). Bath has everything that an ideal English city will have – listed, historically relevant honey tinted buildings, posh, upscale townhouses,  an Abbey (the Bath Abbey), ritzy high-fashion streets (Milsom Street, Bath was named the Best Fashion Street by the Google Street View - Best Streets Awards ), expensive Roman spas and swanky (or snooty; you decide) pubs. The city was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987.

It’s easy to see why I (or anyone else) fell in love with Bath; The hills beckon you to get lost in their wilderness, gardens dare you to stay away and not smell the flowers, even the sulphur smelling water springs challenge you to drink a glass of the water in anticipation of eternal youth and long fabled stories of the healing properties of the water.

By now I had to eat. The water (which I did drink) had not fulfilled my hunger (and Youth? We’ll just have to see). Considering my considerable distaste for cold pre-packed food, I gave-in to the friendly neighbourhood Starbucks – yes, there’s one (or more) even in Bath – and decided on some version of Roti wrap. The guy at the counter offered to heat it up, and I cheerfully said yes. From the coffee shop I could see that our guide was already (and patiently) waiting for her charges to return with the bus standing nearby. I had decided to sneak my wrap into the bus - it would get cold by the time I reached the bus anyway. I paid the bill, dropped a coin into the tip jar – grateful for Starbucks, grateful for the coffee guy’s willingness to re-heat food. I was thankful too for the efficiency of our tour guide; The weather was now showing signs of rain and our next stop was in the middle of the countryside, no cover whatsoever. I had no desire to stand in cold winds getting hammered by icy sheets of rain. 


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