Editor’s Note: We got a little behind on writing our trip diaries but we’re back at it now and we’re going to share our visit to Bath this week.
When we last left you guys, we had just arrived in Bath for a 3 day visit and had experienced the fun Bizarre Bath tour for the evening.
When we awoke the next day after a late night, we were all very well rested, finally. The Abbey Rise Bed & Breakfast was a quiet place to stay – there weren’t a lot of guests so the place was a relaxing place to wake up.
We had quite a few things on the agenda that we needed to accomplish on our second day in Bath but I was hit with something that would put a damper in our plans. I was sick.
It was either a head cold or hay fever, either way I felt terrible.
After a hearty breakfast in the dining room – Katherine Dehurst makes fantastic scrambled eggs – Mrs. Anglotopia was kind enough to venture out to the chemist (British for Pharmacist) to find some kind of cold remedy. We hadn’t brought any with us because we didn’t think we needed it.
She returned after a short time with a British cold/allergy remedy called Sinutab. I’d never heard of it but the chemist assured Mrs. Anglotopia that it would work. So, I took the medicine, and we hung out the room waiting for it to kick in while I caught up on work emails.
The medicine worked quickly and very well. In fact, it was the best cold/allergy medicine I’d ever taken. It completely suppressed all my symptoms and I felt 100% the rest of the day (though I had to keep taking it every 4 hours). It worked way better than anything I’d ever used back home. Looking at the box the main ingredient was pseudoephedrine, a substance that has been removed from most cold medicine in the USA (it can be cooked into a narcotic).
One of our goals for this trip was to record as much video footage as we could for our web series Travels in Britain. I’d brought a ton of flash cards from the video camera but after a few days shooting it became clear that I was going to run out of storage. The solution we came up with was to buy a portable hard drive to dump all our footage on instead of relying on flash card storage (which would get way more expensive than buying a hard drive).
Luckily, on the walk from our B&B into central Bath there’s a new shopping development that features all the big brands, including an Apple store and all the other major British retailers.
Southgate was built a few years ago and features shopping, eating and plenty of places to rest. If you want the experience of London shopping without the massive crowds, then consider shopping here instead.
I sourced a small hard drive cheaply at the PC World, took advantage of the Free WiFi at the Apple Store and we were on our way to enjoy the rest of Bath.
The Roman Baths
Bath is, of course, famous for its Roman Connection and our major destination for the day was the Roman Bath Ruins.
The city was first established as a spa with the Latin name, Aquae Sulis (“the waters of Sulis”) by the Romans sometime in the AD 60s about 20 years after they had arrived in Britain (AD43). They built the baths and a temple on the surrounding hills in the valley of the River Avon. Bath also has a Royal Connection when an English King named Edgar was crowned king of England at Bath Abbey in 973. Later in history, it became popular as a spa town during the Georgian era, which led to a major expansion that left a heritage of beautiful Georgian architecture crafted from golden Bath Stone.
The attraction that encompasses the Roman Baths is itself a Georgian creation when the baths were rediscovered and given a protective enclosure to attract the first tourists to Bath. The ruins are much more substantial that what we experienced at Chedworth Roman Villa the previous day.
My major issue with the Roman Baths as an attraction is that it’s difficult to tell the difference between the Roman Ruins and the later Georgian additions that were built on the top of the site to attract tourists. The green turquoise waters in the center of the Baths are famous the world over but you’re advised not to touch it as the water is not safe to touch (the proctors said pigeon droppings were a health hazard).
There’s much to see and do at the Roman Baths and we recommend spending at least a couple of hours exploring everything there is to see. The problem is that this is a very crowded attraction and you’ll be sharing it with tourists from all over the world (some who are not familiar with western codes of politeness). We would not recommend visiting with a young toddler like we did. You’re not allowed to take your strollers into the ruins but they do provide wraps so mums can carry their toddlers instead. If you let them walk around just keep their fingers out of the waters.
If you fancy a spot of lunch then go to the adjacent Pump Room Restaurant where you can get a traditional English Tea or lunch in a classical Georgian setting. If you’re particularly brave, you can try drinking the Bath waters at the tap in the room. It has a patina of sulphur if you’re curious.
As we mentioned above, Bath Abbey hosted the crowning of King Edgar of England back in 973 but that’s the end of its Royal Connections, unfortunately. The Abbey is still worth a visit though.
Located across the courtyard from the Roman Ruins, Bath Abbey is free to enter and enjoy on your own. It’s a majestic cathedral in the English tradition. Take particular note of the beautiful stained glass windows.
When we stepped into the Abbey, there was a rehearsal on for a Diamond Jubilee concert so we got to hear the cathedral filled with beautiful choral singing. If you’re in Bath on a weekend, definitely take in a Choral Evensong service.
The Bath Riverwalk and Boat Tour
Bath exists because of its location next to the Avon river and the city takes well advantage of this in the modern-day. There’s a lovely walkway on both sides of the river and ample crossings. If you want to go for a nice stroll, definitely take in the Riverwalk.
If you want to see more of Bath and the surrounding countryside, take in a cruise down the Avon River with Pulteney Cruises, which offer several hourly tours up the Avon River.
The Avon River is calm and as you sail up the river, you’ll encounter locals and lovers out for a punt on the river. It’s a lot of fun to peer into the back gardens of Bath and then enjoy the scenery of the countryside. You also get some stunning vistas of the hills surrounding Bath, topped with their beautiful Georgian Buildings. The cruise lasts about an hour and you’re returned back to where you started in time for dinner. There’s helpful commentary from the Captain who explains everything you’re going to see.
Dinner at Sally Lunn’s
Sally Lunn is famous for her delicious buns. No really, her sweet rolls have been a local delicacy since 1680. Sally Lunn was a French Huguenot who settled in Bath after she fled France. She introduced the local baker to the light sweet breads from her homeland and very quickly, her buns became famous.
Today, Sally Lunn’s is famous as a restaurant and living museum. The building is topsy-turvery. It’s a very old house that’s been converted over the years to become a restaurant. Rather than a main dining room, there’s many rooms for dining, all with crooked walls and interesting hangings on the walls.
Eating at Sally Lunn’s is an admittedly pretty touristy thing to do and you can have trouble finding a table on a busy night due to its popularity. You will encounter many of your fellow Americans here (which is comforting in its own way). It’s not the kind of place where you can get a burger and chips (or ketchup for that matter). They have a unique menu of gourmet British food and no matter what your food tastes are, you’ll be trying something new.
We enjoyed the experience of eating at Sally Lunn’s but we didn’t have a pleasant dining experience as Anglotopia Jr. wanted nothing to do with dinner and to save the wits of our fellow patrons, we ate dinner in shifts, alternating playing with him in the courtyard outside the restaurant.
After a busy day exploring central Bath, we retired back to our B&B for a quiet night in. Anglotopia Jr. co-operated with a smooth bedtime and the proprietor was kind enough to let us use her sitting room to separate ourselves from him and watch Telly (she was out for the night).
Check back tomorrow as we report on our final Day in Bath before we head on to Dorset!