Thursday, September 4, 2014

Bath: A Daytrip

Yesterday, when thinking about my orientation on Friday and school starting on Monday, I realized that today, Thursday, would be my last free day to do whatever I wanted free from academic burden. So, last night, I decided that first thing in the morning I would hop on a train to Bath for a short day trip, and that is precisely what I did.

Unfortunately, the tickets cost a little bit more than I was expecting, 55 pounds round trip, that's about $90 for all you Americans out there. It was definitely my splurge spending since I have been here (I have actually been doing quite well monetarily, not buying much food and all the museums are free, mainly it’s the bloody tube that costs a fortune). I only had to wait 15 minutes for my train to arrive and I was off to Bath.

I absolutely love trains. They are my favorite form of travel. I don’t have to drive, I can get stuff done while I am traveling, and I get to see the beautiful country side fly by. Today I was reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire during my journey. I felt as if I myself were barreling towards Hogwarts, and half expected to see it out the window at any moment. Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures from the train ride as the glare from the windows were too atrocious, but I promise they were breath taking. The rolling green pastures lined with trees made me want to settle down with a nice English farm boy and live in the countryside for the rest of my life tending sheep, but alas, I am stuck moving from big city to big city.

The train was just shy of two hours, I’d say the perfect length for a train ride, long enough to engage a good book and sneak in some adequate daydreaming while gazing out the window. When I arrived I followed the majority of the people out of the station until I happened upon a map, which was conveniently located for tourists like me.

Bath was my first solo trip. Sure, I have traveled on airplane, train, bus, car, and subway alone, but never have I gone to a new city and thoroughly explored its streets and sights single handedly. Honestly, I thought I would find it heartbreaking. After traveling the world with a boy who claimed his love for me, I figured it would be terribly lonely and depressing to roam the streets of a quaint English town on my own. But, to my pleasant surprise, it was both relaxing and empowering. I was able to go wherever I wanted, was on my own time schedule, and didn’t have to put up with any of the frustrations and miscommunications that can so easily happen while traveling. I didn’t have to worry about letting someone down if I got lost, nor did I have to worry about stopping to eat or go to the bathroom due to other’s needs. It was splendidly freeing and I was left to my own thoughts and desires all day.

It was the perfect weather to explore a new place, 70, overcast, and the sun even came out for an hour or two. I was warm (sometimes on the verge of sweating) when walking, and chilled when standing and sightseeing, which makes for a great segue, the sights that I saw.

Unfortunately, I did not discover all of tourist Bath, but happened upon quite a great deal of glamorous sights. I went straight for the Circus and Royal Crescent, which were both magnificent and extremely difficult to photograph.

The Circus
The Royal Crescent
I learned about these architectural buildings last semester in one of my undergrad classes, so to see them in person was awesome. They were very large in scale and the detail was beautiful. While viewing the Royal Crescent, I saw on the hill behind it some steeples, so I decided to climb through the neighborhoods and seek out the churches to which those spires belonged. Let it be known up front that I found myself lost on more than one occasion today, mainly because I was too busy taking in all the sights and not paying enough attention to my map, but like I said earlier, who cares if I got lost? I was only responsible for myself today!

I climbed, and I climbed, and I climbed, and I climbed, and I climbed. Seriously, those streets had insane inclines, which helped me stay warm all day, so for that I am grateful (I was also grateful I decided to not get up early and workout this morning, my legs could not have handled both running and traipsing up hills all day).

Serious incline
I found myself way out in the suburbs, far, far away from the ordinary Bath tourist experience.

I was the only one on the streets and people kept peering out at me suspiciously from behind their windows. Finally, I gave up climbing and started the downhill journey back to the tourist part of Bath. It was during this walk that I stumbled onto the church I had seen… but it wasn’t a church. It was the “Royal High School”… okay England, I see you.

Entrance to the super pretentious Royal High School
Seriously, I walked around the side of it to try and get a better look and peering through the trees made it look like I had somehow been the first muggle to discover Hogwarts. As I kept on down the street I actually did come across a real church, which was proud owner to one of the spires I had eyed from the Royal Crescent.
When I arrived back in Bath I walked by the main cathedral of the city, which the Italians would so lovingly call the Duomo. 

I also walked along the river

and across in attempt to find Prior Park Landscape Garden. It was an uphill battle again, but steeper and longer this time around. I ended up wandering through more neighborhoods and somehow ended up back where I started. I had made a completely huge circle without realizing it, and all without a single sign of a park. I did, however, luckily happen across a cafĂ© and had a spot a tea before heading back to the train station. But, as I was drinking my tea and looking at my maps I realized I hadn’t walked far enough up the painfully-steep-and-never-ceasing inclined street. So, after my afternoon tea, I set off once again determined to find the park. It wasn't the worst walk in the world, I was listening to cows moo and birds chirp in the nearby pastures, which was extremely calming while I panted my way up the mountain. And, finally, I found the park. After about a 30-minute uphill walk I came across the gated entrance, and it was closed. Seriously?! 

They didn't even say why they chose specifically today to close it.. makes me furious
So, back to the station I went, very disappointed, but I was able to narrowly catch the train at the station and get back to London sooner than I anticipated!

I fell in love with Bath today.

Stumbled upon this semi-hidden trail through the woods, however I did not follow it as it seemed to be on private property

So cute!! All the doors and entrances to houses were labeled!
Walking around trying to find the park and church steeples allowed me to get glimpses of extraordinary homes and villas from between the trees. Plus, it’s just one of those cities that is super romantic. Everyone, literally everyone, is strolling happily hand in hand (another city like this is Lucerne, Switzerland, one of my favorite cities that is just positively romantic. Set on a lake, everyone walking hand in hand at a leisurely pace, it really does do a soul good to get out of the big bustling city). Bath had some incredible architecture going for it too (it reminded me somewhat of Jerusalem and how all of the buildings in the entire city are made out of Jerusalem stone, a sandy gold colored stone local to that area of Israel). Bath was very unified in its style of architecture, which I loved. However, I may end up going back there one day, though next time it will be in the "off season" so I don’t have to pay a fortune for the tickets. There is still a lot I did not get to see and I really had my heart set on visiting Prior Park.

My next grand adventure starts tomorrow promptly at 9am, Post Graduate School Orientation. Wish me luck!

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