Part Two: Bath
We are roused as we exit the M4 and drive down secondary roads toward Bath. Nick explains that he is a Bath native and offers to give us a tour of the city before he drops us off at our hotel. We are surprised at how hilly Bath is. Nick explains that the city has grown up the steep sides of a valley cut by the River Avon.
He navigates up the narrow roads as only a local could do, pointing out good pubs and restaurants as he glides past. He shows us some of the later Georgian era crescents that few tourists bother to see. Then he drives down to the better known Royal Crescent, loops through the Circus, takes a turn through the business district, and then heads to our hotel.
The MacDonald Bath Spa Hotel is located in a former private mansion built upon the brow of a low hill with beautiful gardens running down to the main road. After dropping off our bags, we wander through the gardens and then stroll down toward the city center. We walk along a broad avenue lined with Georgian townhouses where, we are told, a period film was shot some time before. The film makers replaced all the street lights so they were consistent with the period, and the local residents liked them so much they asked that they be left in place. We stop at a small café in a row of shops that form one side of a bridge over the Avon and have scones and “cream tea” overlooking the sunbathed river. We are not sure exactly what clotted cream is, but we love it slathered on our scones, topped with jam. Refreshed, we stroll along the river bank and then back into town where we visit the Roman Baths. The audio tour and exhibits are truly outstanding and educational. We marvel at the ingenuity of the Roman engineers and wonder how all that they had built was buried and nearly forgotten. Ginny wants to go into the pump room and “take the waters.” Having heard that the water has an unpleasant taste, I pass. Ginny comes back minutes later and insists it isn’t bad at all. We find our way to Sally Lund’s, buy a loaf of her famous bread, and munch on it as we walk back to our hotel.
In the evening, we dine in a restaurant just off the Circus. Afterwards, we stroll through the quiet streets back to our hotel. Looking up, we see rows of chimney pots silhouetted against the moonlight. It looks like something out of Mary Poppins.
Coming up next: Agatha Christie's Greenway