Hey all, Luke Bagnall here, recording mine and my girlfriend Matilda’s travels through Europe during our exchange trip to the University of East Anglia in Norwich, United Kingdom. Here’s my account of our trip to Bath.
Somehow the eleven-hour car/bus/train trip to Bath from Grandpa’s in Newcastle wasn’t too bad. I dunno. The coach probably had a window ledge. Or it could’ve had something to do with the rest at Grandpa’s and the FEAST they gave us to take on the road.
You know that moment on a plane or a bus when it stops and you’re waiting to get off. And you’re standing there, and standing, and standing, and you’re like, ‘What could POSSIBLY be taking the people in front of me this long!?’ or ‘How hard is it for them to just open the doors and let us off now!?’ I hate that moment. But when we were getting off the coach in London to get the train to Bath it was ridiculous. I joked about going out the fire exit, which was right next to us, and it turned out that we had to ’cause the bus driver couldn’t get the door open.
Bath was the worst backpackers yet, I’d say. It smelled really bad, I got bitten by bedbugs, and it was full of weirdos – the dude on the bunk below me was like, obsessive about his space and he would throw my blanket back up onto my bed if it dangled off the edge a little. But on the upside, it incentivised us to stay out all day seeing the sights of Bath. The first day we went to Bath Abbey (below), which was free except for a ‘suggested donation’ of two pounds that they guilt you into paying (good old fashioned Catholic guilt; they also give you a pamphlet masquerading as information about the abbey, but it’s really just religious propaganda).
The Roman Baths cost a whopping eleven pounds, so we wrung it out for all it was worth. I swear we must’ve listened to ninety per cent of the audio tour items, including the special guest items recorded by famous travel writer Bill Bryson.
I thought this (below) was cool, how they have the extant parts of the famous Bath relief on display and project onto it what it would’ve looked like if it was still intact, and then what it would look like with colour:
Our diligence in listening to everything ended up paying off because you come to the main Roman Bath last, and we came to it at exactly the right time of day. It looked spectacular in the twilight:
Stalagmites forming like fried eggs
The next day we’d planned to go on a tour to nearby Stonehenge, but we’d used up all our travel diligence the day before and left it too late to book. So what did we do instead? That’s right, sat in Starbucks for about five hours catching up on the internet. Rousing.
We did end up going to this really nice, expensive restaurant that night though, called the Hole in the Wall because it’s kind of … subterranean? And has a tiny little door in a wall.
Neither our wallets nor our palates being robust enough for the desserts in the Hole in the Wall, and wanting to delay our return to the stinky Bath Backpackers by any means, we went out in search of a (cheap) ‘clean, well-lighted place’ where we could stay long into the night in the shadow of the leaves, annoying young waiters and omitting adjectives from our speech (I’m referencing a really good Hemingway story here, for those of you who don’t do Creative Writing). Til was hesitant about wandering the streets at this time of night due to the murder of that girl in nearby Bristol (it turned out later that they arrested a guy in connection with the case and he worked in Bath), but we eventually found the Cafe Rouge and were safe. There we had a delicious brownie sundae or something and fiddled with the DSLR:
I can’t wait till Summer when we’re backpacking through Spain, France, Italy etc and we can find real clean, well-lighted places to go and have coffee in at three in the morning.
We had a brief stop at the Jane Austen museum, which was interesting, and I nearly bought an ‘I heart Darcy’ sticker to send to my friend Clancy back home, who we joke has a bit bromance with another friend named Darcy. Should’ve at least taken a photo, but oh well. On our last day we also had breakfast in the oldest house in Bath, Sally Lunn’s (below), makers of the famous Sally Lunn Bun, the recipe of which has a very romantic story of being brought from France and hidden in a secret cupboard and discovered after her death. Just tasted like a regular bun to me, but the British have crappy bread standards.
We had a great time in Bath, although it was strange because it’d been built up so much in our minds that it still managed to be the tiniest bit disappointing. The whole trip up till Bath when we were travelling we would tell people where we were planning to go and they’d always be like, ‘Oh, you’ll love Bath. Bath’s gorgeous. You’ll have an amazing time in Bath.’ Which we did, but, you know, it wasn’t SPECTACULAR. Our Europe on a Shoestring book said if you’re only doing one city outside of London in England it should be Bath. Don’t know if I’d agree with that. The old bits are amazing but the new bits in the heart of town are all exactly the same and really … labyrinthine. But then there were some charming little alleys as well (below), as well as some great shops (especially for chocolates and doorknobs).