"If your only going to visit one other city in England besides London, make it Bath" - Lonely Planet.
Now that's some advice I am willing to take! Continuing with my New Year's resolution to travel more around the UK, this past weekend I headed to Bath. The downtown area of Bath is a dedicated UNESCO world heritage site due to its beautiful architecture.
Simply imagine the setting for a Jane Austin novel, add some cars and tourists, and you pretty much have a perfect picture of the town:
Just 1.5 hours from London, Bath is the perfect destination for a day or weekend away from London. It's amazing how, living in London, you forget what it's like to have vistas and views. On a typical day in London, you can't see further than the next block. It's all buildings and houses, stacked up against each other.
Heading out of the city by train, it was amazing just to rest my eyes on green and hills and views stretching off into the distance (there was a distance you could actually stare off into!).
Bath has a few main sites to see - we managed to spend the best part of 6 hours simply walking around the town...
|walk or rent a bike to go down the river path|
But far and away, my favourite part of Bath was their museum. The city is truly ancient, with its origins going back to pre-Roman times, when ancient Britons travelled to the natural hot springs. Upon invasion, the Romans made a bee-line for Bath, probably drawn by the hot springs, which they saw as a direct connection with the gods.
They then built an amazing complex of baths and temples around the hot springs. These were restored in the 19th century, and have been a tourist attraction ever since.
|The pillars and balustrades you see here are Victorian - the ground level shows the original Roman ruins|
The museum was pretty pricey, charging about £12 to get into a museum that takes 2-3 hours to see at a leisurely pace. But luckily Great Western offers two-for-one discounts if you print out a voucher and show your rail tickets. So that takes the price down to a more decent level.
Regardless, I would highly recommend this museum! It is extremely modern, and full of multi-media displays. Each ticket comes with two different audio tours you can listen to - either the standard museum tour, or Bill Bryson's thoughts and reflects. I was greedy and listened to both at each stop.
My favourite part was in some sections (keeping in mind 80% of the museum is underground) they had projectors on the ruins. Every few minutes the projectors would come on, projecting over the ruins exactly how those ruins would have appeared originally, complete with paint. In some of the baths, they would project images of Romans walking through the baths every few minutes, giving a very clear idea of what the baths would originally have felt like.
|cold plunge pool with projection|
Getting There and Away
We booked in advance with First Great Western rails, costing just £25 round trip. Book the day of a trip though, and your liable to spend a minimum of £60 per round-trip ticket! First Great Western is a lovely train - just be sure to book yourself into the "quiet carriage" to avoid screaming babies piercing your ears for the duration of the journey.
Where to Stay
If your planning to stay overnight, it's quite difficult to find cheap backpacker-style accommodation. From the hotels available, it looks like Bath is the destination for romantic couples staying in splendid hotels - not backpackers looking for a cheap place to drop their bags.
However, we did manage to find a lovely, and cheap(er) place to stay at Glenade Guest House. This was just £50 for a nice double room, and we were picked up at the train station, and dropped in the town. Not to mention an amazing breakfast of cereal, tea, coffee, juice, yoghurt, cold cuts, cheese, toast, breads and pastries...! The only draw back here is that it's a guest house, not a hotel. This means we were actually staying in our hosts home - something to consider.
Have you ever been to Bath? What sites did I miss out?