Sunday morning we yet again set out early to to catch a train, this time from Cardiff to Bath. However, the journey wasn’t quite as smooth as the other times. We just missed the first train to Bath and had to wait 20 minutes for the next one, which invovled a transfer in Bristol. Then in Bristol, we had to run to catch the connecting train, which we just missed. In the confusion, I managed to leave behind my toque, neck warmer, and gloves. Then the train we finally caught to Bath was a from Cardiff that we could have caught originally had we been willing to wait for 40 minutes in Cardiff. Oh well. We did make it in the end without any huge losses (although I miss my toque and that was the third pair of gloves I’ve lost in 2 months).
Bath is a beautiful city: a World Heritage Site and the second most visited city in England if I’m not mistaken. Although it is probably more pleasant during the summer, when it’s warmer, the trees are in bloom, and it doesn’t get dark at 4:00. It still was a pleasant site to see. The buildings are all old and impressive looking (but after a while old buildings get boring).
The real highlight was the Roman Baths, which give the city its name. Bath is built on the only natural hotspring in England. 2000 years ago, the Romans built a temple and bathing complex on the site which was originally a Celtic place of worship. The tour of the Roman Baths was really expensive, but one of the most comprehensive and interesting tours I have ever been on. I wanted to take a lot of pictures, but my battery was almost dead from the hundreds of pictures I had taken the two days before.
The tour of the Roman Baths took almost 2 hours to get through. When you enter the museum, you are given a device like a cordless phone that you punch numbers into when you get to parts of the museum – which meant I could learn all the interesting bits without reading tons of text. The museum went through the history of the site, showed some of the artifacts they’ve discovered, and explained how they’ve pieced together what the site looked like when the Romans occupied it. The baths are all still there, although they’re not used by bathers anymore. Now they’re used by tourists to warm their finger tips.
After the tour, we visited the tea house above the Jane Austen museum for tea and scones (they had a sign that said “Have tea with Mr. Darcy”). We didn’t intend on going to the museum, but were looking for a place to have tea when stumbled upon it. We didn’t actually visit the museum part, but the tea and scones were delightful. Sadly, Mr. Darcy was nowhere to be found.
Rested and ready for more adventure, we left the tea house and hit the Christmas market to do some shopping. By this point my patience with Ariel was growing thin, so we agreed to split up for a while and meet back after shopping. I was on the lookout for Christmas presents, but struck out and only bought a pair of replacement gloves. When we finally met up it was dark already and we had about an hour before our train home. After 3 days of hiking around with my big pack, a real thermal spa would have been perfect. Unfortunately the tourist spa in Bath is still under construction and isn’t set to open until Spring 2006. I did find a recreation centre with a hot tub and sauna, but we didn’t have enough time to relax.