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02 September 2014

Serene Bath

Bath had been on my list of British cities to visit for a while. Unfortunately, its fairly western location meant that we never really found an excuse to go there, and most definitely not for a day trip. So when I realised that it was only 1.5 hours away from our friends' house who we were planning to visit anyway, I quickly convinced Louis that taking a day for ourselves to explore it was the best idea, ever. Luckily, he agreed and left the details to me.

I'm the first to admit that I am not a travel expert. Which is exactly why I utilise TripAdvisor for every thing. All I had to do was type "Bath" and bam, a list of things to do and see was before me. I browsed the list and came up with the places I really wanted to see. Our plan was to be there for one night and then spend the day roaming around before heading home in the evening, so I had to be picky with what we were going to spend time seeing. I narrowed it down to three locations (plus a cafe obviously for a coffee stop!): Royal Crescent, the Roman Baths, Pulteney Bridge and Prior Park Landscape Gardens. 

Google maps told me that the first three were walking distance to each other but the Gardens was a bit further. I made an itinerary and changed it and changed before I decided that we'll just have to play it by ear and possibly miss the Gardens. 

I also found our hotel via TripAdvisor. The Queensberry Hotel is a gorgeous place - don't be fooled by the unassuming exterior! Our booking had free parking included but as we drove up to the hotel we couldn't see a single space. After driving back up the hill a member of the staff came out and told us he would be happy to park our car. I found out as we were checking in that valet parking cost £5, which was a little cheeky but I also found out that we were upgraded so I wasn't too upset! I think that charging £5 for valet parking is fine, especially since they kept our car in their car park for the entire day after we'd checked out and even went out to get my shoes from the book, but it should've been made clear. However, I'd happily book again with them. 

Other than the a-mazing upgrade, the hotel made a point of rewarding us for booking directly with them, including giving me a linen tote. I was really happy to see that my efforts to book direct with a hotel were being appreciated. 

After a wonderful night's sleep, we headed down for a delicious breakfast in preparation for our day of exploration! The receptionist recommended we get the hop-on/hop-off tourist bus and mentioned that it even went up to Prior Landscape Gardens if we wanted to see it. Let me mention at this point, it was a typical English summer day, complete with rain and grey skies. So a visit to the Park was most likely not going to happen. Boo.

We decided to start our day on the tour bus and then figure out where we wanted to go after that. I don't normally take these hop-on/hop-off buses but I really enjoyed it. Tickets cost £14 each, but they included the other bus tour as well, which went up to the Gardens and covered a different part of the city. The tickets also granted us a discount on ticket admission for the Roman Baths, so for us it was worthwhile. Also, it was interesting learning about Bath and its history from our tour guides. Well worth it in my opinion.

After going around the bus once, we decided to hop off at the Royal Crescent and take some photos. When I was planning this trip, I had a beautiful sunny day in mind (amateur) and thought we might end up laying on the grass and soaking up the sun. Instead my shoes were soaking up street side puddles and so we quickly moved on indoors by going to the Roman Baths. The queue was not short but it moved quickly. I'll let the pictures do the talking - I've rambled on for too long already. 
The straightest street in Bath.

Royal Crescent.

Quirky jokes in the square.

Bath Abbey.

Bath Abbey - notice the angels climbing the ladder.

The dome in the entrance to the Baths.

Overlooking the Great Bath.

The Great Bath.

Structure that used to stand at the entrance of the Baths.


The Goddess Minerva.

The Sacred Spring - you could see the steam rising from the surface.

The Spring Overflow - an eternal supply of hot water. 

Plunge pools.

The heated rooms - the hypocaust.

Tasting the bath water. It was disgusting. Like warm iron. Ew Ew Ew.

After the Baths we were ready for our coffee break and so headed for Collona & Small's. It's a very cute coffee shop serving speciality coffee. I had a flat white and the board of information said the bean I chose would have blueberry flavour. Guess what? It really did. It was bizarre but really yummy at the same time. We also ordered date cake to share and I was impressed. In case you don't know, my cake standards are very high. It's from years of cake testing hehe

Coffee & cake.

The weather was still pretty bleak and the rain was on and off with more on than off. We decided we'd hope on the bus and head over to the Gardens. If it had stopped raining by then, we'd get off. Otherwise, we'd just head back into the city.

And I can't believe our luck. The rain stopped minutes before the stop to the entrance to the Gardens. There was no discussion, we hopped right off! You have to pay an entrance fee to enter the Gardens as they are owned by the National Trust. But it is really worth it, if only to see the Palladian bridge, 1 of 4 in the entire World. We had an incredible walk around the Gardens, and what made it even more special was that we were practically alone because no one wanted to go there given the the rain. Again, I'll let the photos do the talking but if you're ever in Bath, you really must visit this Park. It is just stunning. 

So peaceful.

View overlooking the city. Spectacular.

Ralph Allen's house. Ok, mansion.

So. Much. Green.

Summer house.

View of the city from another angle.

It really was this dreamlike.

After we I had my fill of taking trillions of photos of that breathtaking bridge, we decided to walk back into Bath town and get some food. We had been told by the lady at the entrance to the Park that it was about a 20 minute walk back into town and we were happy to be outside in the fresh air. We headed for The Real Italian Pizza Company, which I'd read about from Lorna over at Raindrops of Sapphire and also on TripAdvisor. Both Louis and I ordered pizzas and we were not disappointed! They were fresh, HUGE and disappeared in minutes! We also had gelato from their gelato shop next door but it wasn't anywhere near as nice as the pizzas were. 

Our day was coming to an end but we were so close to Pulteney Bridge that we mulled over there (literally a 2 minute walk) and talked about weirs and stuff. It really is an adorable little bridge.

Pulteney Bridge - the popular side.

I also decided that we must cross this bridge since it's so special and as we were crossing back to head to the hotel I realised that we could see the other side of the bridge. "Louis, we must see the other side of the bridge because all the photos always show one side!!". And after I saw the other side, I realised why. It was like the ugly twin sister.

I can't believe how much fun we had in Bath. It's such a fun city and quite different to any others I've been to in England. You can go there for culture, history and even shopping, since they have a fantastic shopping district. Hope you've enjoyed the photos!

Any British cities you would recommend?


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