What better thing to do on a lazy Autumn Sunday than exploring Bath?
Bath has a rich history which begins with the Romans. In the 1st century AD, the Romans used the natural hot springs as a thermal spa and founded the city with the name Aquae Sulis. How the city got its name? Well, because it was charged with responsibility for the hot springs in a Royal Charter of 1591 granted by Queen Elizabeth I.
How to get there?
You can get there very easily by taking a train from London Paddington and the price of a ticket is about £25.
What is there to see?
I had only a few hours to enjoy and get to know the city, so I checked the “touristy” places off my list first.
1. Royal Crescent and the Circus
The Royal Crescent is a row of 30 terraced houses laid out in a sweeping crescent, built between 1767 and 1774. Because it’s a great example of Georgian architecture, there have been many films captured here, including the famous “Pride and prejudice”. Stunning architecture? Yes! Elegant and very cold? Yes! We are in England…
The Circus is a historic street of large townhouses, forming a circle with three entrances. It was begun in 1754, completed in 1768, and it is regarded as a preeminent example of Georgian architecture. It is indeed a ring of houses and in the middle, there is a small park with trees. The city of Bath was believed to had been the principal centre of Druid activity, so they built a monument to honour this heritage.
2. Roman Baths
The Roman Baths were constructed in 70AD and they are probably the reason why the Brits had sewage and draining system so early in history.
The original Baths were below the modern street level. The complex is divided into four main features: the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House and the museum, holding remains from the original Roman Bath. The buildings above street level date from the 19th century, so most of what you see has been reconstructed. (much like the Colosseum in Rome)
The baths were an attraction point for all the travellers because they were able to give their prayers and worship the goddess, Sulis Minerva. It was believed that the spirit of the Goddess dwelt in the waters of the pool. You can observe parts of the temple in the museum.
Walking around the museum, I noticed a very interesting detail: the Roman Curse tablets! I took a closer look and the curses written on those tablets are both hilarious and worrying. The Romans used to pay in coins for revenge. For example, a woman wanted the person who stole a plate from her to be punished. Sadly not much difference from society nowadays…
However, the central element of the Roman Baths is still in its place. The hot spring produces 1,170,000 litres of steaming spring water, reaching 46°C, filling the bathing site every day. You can taste a cup at the end of the tour, so be prepared to enjoy the taste and texture of this special water.
3. Bath Abbey
The abbey is a worthy representative of the Perpendicular Gothic Architecture. It was erected in the 7th century using Bath stone and it has been restored multiple times along the years.
What struck me the most about this abbey, was the small relief decorations on the left side of the entrance: the ladder of angels. It is said that the bishop, Oliver King, had a dream of angels ascending and descending into heaven, so he ordered a new church to be built according to the imagery of his dream.
Another interesting fact is that the church has 52 windows, occupying about 80% of the wall space. If you walk towards the nave, you’ll notice a beautiful stained glass window, which has a heart whelming story. During the WW2, the Bath Abbey was severely damaged and the north and east windows were shattered. But the locals didn’t give up and out of love for their church, they collected each piece of broken glass in big sacks. When the restoration started, several artists worked to piece back together all the fragments of glass which had previously been collected.
You can find more visiting information about prices and opening times here.
After all this sightseeing, it’s only normal to be starving. If you’re on the hunt for something special, try the oldest house in Bath. The restaurant is also a museum, which shows the kitchen used by the Huguenot baker Sally Lunn to create the first Bath bunn. You can book in advance or you can queue for a table. I didn’t wait for long and luckily I had the luck to share a table with another fellow solo traveller.
Since I was hungry as a wolf, I ordered the Trenchers Lunch: homemade soup and steak & mushroom Trencher.
Sally Lunn Bun is part bun, part bread, part cake, as the restaurant describes it and it has been cooked here for more than 300 years. So delicious that you’ll lick your fingers at the end. The bread-bun is soft and tasty, and most importantly: it will melt in your mouth.
If there is room for dessert, please try the lavender cake! It’s sugary, but it has true lavender flavour and bits in the sourdough. Unfortunately, I ate it before I thought to take a photo of it. Oh well, next time!
As a bonus, at the end of the meal, I could wander around in the kitchen of Sally Lunn.
5. Fudge factory
Who said there is a separate stomach for sweets, that person was right! I stumbled into a homemade fudge shop, and I just had to have some fudge. After tasting the free samples that were just divine, I decided to buy a whole pack of 6 pieces! So, ladies and gentlemen: ALL THE FUDGE!
6. Pulteney Bridge
Pulteney Bridge is a must see in any weather condition. Voices say that it is at its best at sunset, but I haven’t tried that since I left Bath before. This is the place where you could take a boat cruise on the River Avon.
The bridge was built in 1774 and it was obviously inspired by the architecture of Ponte Vecchio in Florence: it is among the four bridges in the world to have shops across its full span on both sides. It is so beautiful even under a grey cloudy sky…
Now that the important items from the list are checked, it’s time to just explore the city: local businesses, buildings and hidden streets.
For some reason you can find Frida Kahlo souvenirs in Bath:
If you overnight in Bath, don’t miss the Bizarre Comedy tour:
I loved browsing in this local shop with vivid colours and good-material jumpers: Mistral. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the s-size for the jumper I wanted.
There’s also a Jane Austen museum:
Unfortunately, it’s time to head back to the train station now…. goodbye beautiful Bath, see you next time!