My English memories: Bath & Stonehenge
What a trip! Visiting Bath & Stonehenge was one of the best weekend trips in England I’ve ever had. The weather was fair, our hotel was small & charming and I fell of my feet from all the sightseeing we did in Bath. It was in July in 2009 and I’d gladly return to Bath one day to see it all again.
After arriving to Bath in the afternoon and settling in our hotel my friend and I decided to go out for a meal. The city center was just a short stroll away from our hotel but we had lovely views of the lush green hills to enjoy on our walk down to the center. Our evening walk gave us a glimpse of the beauty that Bath had to show us.
The next day was sunny & warm and we visited the Roman Baths. Probably one of the most famous Roman sites in Britain the Roman Baths are truly impressive. There are four parts: the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House and the Museum. I listened carefully to my free audio guide as I walked around the Baths and marvelled at Roman sculptures and other artifacts. I even tossed a coin in the wishing pool. At the end of the visit we were given a glass of mineral water at the Grand Pump Rooms where you can have an afternoon tea too. Unfortunately, the Bath Abbey was closed when we walked by it twice so we only got to see it from the outside. I guess my visit to Bath coincided with the school holidays because there were a lot of school children around and a lot of tourists as well. Some of them were watching numerous performances by street artists at the square near the Abbey.
Then we walked to the Pulteney Bridge which crosses the River Avon. It’s so stunning! And it reminded me of the Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence because it also has shops on it. However, this one is much younger since it was only built in 1774. I loved the Bath’s architecture. Most of the historical center is built in local honey-coloured limestone in Georgian style. I liked the big park before the bridge;it looked so peaceful but you have to rent the deck chair if you want to enjoy it. We crossed the bridge and had fun in the small maze on the other side of the river.
It was time for a meal so we decided to first have an early afternoon tea at the Jane Austen Center and then to explore the museum. Can you believe that my afternoon tea at the Regency Tea Room at Jane Austen Center cost only 9 pounds? Well, it was in 2009! 🙂 I had Austen’s tea which consisted of tea, cake ( I had Victorian sponge cake) and finger sandwiches (I had cheese& cucumber sandwiches). All the staff were dressed in period costumes and there was a painting of Mr Darcy on the wall. But the painting of the actor Colin Firth as Mr Darcy from his movie Pride & Prejudice!
Jane Austen lived twice in Bath but not actually in this house. It was interesting to see some period costumes and some writing material and to learn more about Jane Austen. I read almost all of her books a long time ago. It’s an interesting little museum that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Next item on our agenda was the Royal Crescent. But we first came across the Circus, designed by John Wood, the Younger and originally called the King’s Circus. It’s a circular space surrounded by large Georgian townhouses divided into three equal segments. I bet it’s expensive to live in one of these flats (Grade I listed building). The same architect built the Royal Crescent, a row of 30 terraced houses in the shape of a crescent. Opposite the crescent is a beautiful green meadow. Oh, to live here! Sadly, I didn’t visit the No. 1 Royal Crescent, a historic house museum which would show me how it really looked like to live in one of these town houses.
Our exploration of Bath didn’t end here. We continued to walk uphill above the Royal Crescent and found two smaller and less imposing crescents. There was also St Stephen’s church, a lot of covetable pretty houses and a tabby cat. I was determined to get to the Tower which I saw on Bath’s map not realizing that it’s actually outside the city ( we marched by the table Welcome to Bath!). I was so tired and literally falling off my feet but I can get very stubborn so I didn’t give up my search until we finally reached the infamous Beckford’s Tower which is an architectural folly built in neo-classical style. However, it closed just minutes prior to our arrival. What a bad luck! But we were awarded with beautiful sweeping views of Bath from the area around the Tower.
Mission accomplished, we walked back down to the city center to eat. I felt a bit better after some food so we walked again to the river and watched the sunset from the bench. We ended the day with a glass of porto at the hotel’s bar. It was my first ever glass of porto!
The next morning we checked-out of the hotel and went for a short stroll before we got into our car and drove to Stonehenge. To be honest I was slightly disappointed. Why? Well, I thought that the ticket was a bit expensive since you couldn’t really get close to it (it’s roped off) so basically I could have taken the same photos from the road without having to pay for the ticket. Also, it rained heavily and stopped at the very second we got back to the car. Don’t get me wrong, Stonehenge is wonderful and I’m glad that I saw it but it was just a wrong moment to do it. Sometimes that happens. Nevertheless, it was a great weekend trip.
It was time to go back to lovely Suffolk. Bath made a really strong impression on me. A year and a half later I went through Bath by train on my way to Bristol airport to get to Madrid. I’d like to visit Bath again properly and to see some other things that I missed on my first visit.