Happy Sunday! Bath is by far one of my favourite places on the planet. So much so that I’ve been twice! It a truth universally acknowledged that… there are two very different ways to see bath (see what I did there, because Jane Austen lived in Bath?) and both are fabulous!
Most likely, if you are traveling the U.K you have flown in Heathrow (closest to London) or Gatwick (South of London). From Heathrow , Bath is about an hour and a quarter drive (we’re using Brit lingo here!) while from Gatwick is about 2 and a half hours. Fancy a road trip anyone? Its also important to note that both of these trips happened in May!
TRAVEL GUIDE #1:
The first trip I took to Bath was with my friends. We were all visiting my parents in London and decided we wanted to go to Stonehenge & Bath. After going to the Tower of London we ran into some quite charismatic bus tour sales people. We debated for. oh maybe two minutes and bought tickets for a day trip bus tour to Stonehenge, Bath & Windsor Castle (like I said, the guy we talked to was a great sales person). We went with Golden Tours at the time and if I remember correctly it was around 80 pounds. Today the price hasn’t changed too much at 89.00 pounds/ adult and you get a Subway lunch included!
Now, what I can say about the tours is that they are chaotic. While it takes the pressure off of driving everywhere yourself and you have an itinerary, you still have to make sure you find your right bus! We had a hard time because there were so many tours leaving all at once and there were people everywhere in the station! Once we had finally found our bus, we realized that since we bought our tickets on the street we were supposed to go to the office and have them verified before getting on the bus. Account for this in your timing!! Thankfully there was a bus switch and we made it on time and all was fine and dandy, however anxieties were high!
After that the trip was WONDERFUL. One of the things I loved most was that the guide explained histories as we drove, stuff we wouldn’t have gotten had we gone on our own. It was also planned down to the minute which can be a plus or a minus depending on your travel length! We hit Windsor castle first- If you love castles, flowers and beautiful cathedrals then you’ll love Windsor. We had a very limited time there but I enjoyed it all just the same.
Next stop was Stonehenge which was completely sublime. Its one of those places you have to keep reminding yourself “i’m really here”. Some will say its just some rocks, but it truly is an incredibly peaceful place.
Now, ON TO BATH! Bath is well known for its placement over natural hot springs. This geographical placement allowed for an incredibly rich social history starting with the Roman baths around 70 CE. The baths are some of the most well preserved sites of Roman history in the world! The tour included entry into the baths, pump room & a spa water tasting(which we ran out of time to do). There is a big bath in the middle (which no, you wouldn’t want to take a bath in) with the ceiling open to the sky and side rooms where you can gaze at the fascinating aqua duct system. There is real sense of relativity in the baths, of the significance of time. Being amongst pillars and beams and art you can see the socialization of the people who visited hundred of years ago. You can feel the work and effort of those who designed the structure and the aqua ducts. It a sense of the permanent impermanence of life.
The tour was short as we had packed A LOT into the day. We also spent some time wandering the city a bit but had to hop back on the bus in what felt like no time. Exhausted we made our way back to London where we gushed to my parents about all the wonderful beautiful things we had just seen.
TRAVEL GUIDE #2:
The second time I went to Bath was with my Mum and boyfriend. My father had a meeting somewhere close and therefore dropped us off in the city early in the morning (8 AM). If you can, I encourage you to arrive in Bath super early. Seeing it not bustling with tourists was really beautiful. Sun rising, people setting up their flower stands, theres a general peace about it all. Especially when you come upon Bath Abbey. It is by far, one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen, and the inside is even more spectacular. Its by donation to wander around inside which makes it both lovely and affordable to the wandering traveler.
After wandering around the Abbey and having a bite to eat. Th three of us wandered around the town. My Mum had done the Bath hop on, hop off bus tour and loved the flexibility of it. Its about 30 punds per person and is easy to catch to get around the city & country. There is also a historical commentary (in many languages) while you ride. We found it wonderful when we needed a walking break. Spending a full day wandering is hard on the feet and back, especially if you brought a back pack of snacks and sweaters and umbrellas! There are two separate rides- city & country. The city tour moves through the different parts of the beautiful limestone city (all of bath was built in limestone for uniformity and beauty). The country goes into the more natural parts of bath.
Now, if you are doing this kind of day trip I highly advise you go ‘off the map’. One of my favourite memories of this day is when we took the bus out to the country to maybe bask in the sun by the water and ended up lost in what I think might be St.James Cemetery ( but could be wrong.) It was the most beautiful place with overgrowing vines and flowers and old broken tomb stones. The eeriness of the cracked open tombs subsided quickly thanks to the sunshine and comforting sense of oneness. I couldn’t help but feel that everything was connected- myself, the people beneath me, the sky above me, and the plants intertwined between us all. Every stone was hundreds of years old and commemorated a deeply loved and cared for human. It will forever be cherished as one of my favourite travel memories.
If you are taking a day trip and simply wandering, I encourage you to find your travel memory- your place of amazement. Thats whats so wonderful about travel, some things don’t have to be shiny and incredible- sometimes they just have to nestle into a little place your heart.