“Every traveler has a home of his own, and he learns to appreciate it the more from his wandering” , so said Charles Dickens. Was that the reason he began to dislike Bath later on after writing some of his best novels there ? The other famous resident and visitor Jane Austen had similar views on Bath where atleast a couple of her best sellers were written, seems she found the place depressing and so unable to write.
These were some of my thoughts on the bus ride from Victoria coach station, London to Bath. A day earlier I had pre-booked a seat on the National Express website and the bus started on time. It was a no-stop bus and took a little over 3 hrs to reach Bath.
Brushing aside the personal views of the two great literary geniuses, I decided to form my own opinion after my visit.
A few minutes before our bus reached the depot, there was a lot of traffic, cars and tourists were all lined by the sidewalks. This being centre of the town had a lot of cafes and loads of tourists relaxing adjacent on the lawns watching the Wimbeldon on the big screen.
I quickly figured out the Hop on Hop off stop and boarded the first bus coming my way. The fare was £24 and was good for two tours, one was the City tour and the other called Skyline which was a ride all the way up the mountain.
I was on the City tour bus, perched on a bucket seat in the open deck and ready to take in as much of the city as possible. Almost all the roads were one-way , narrow and congested. Our bus was stopping more than moving and I got more time to appreciate the stunning architecture all around. Roman archaeological sites and 16th century Churches and Bridges just waiting to be seen, all in the next 45 minutes of this ride.
After the City bus tour, I decided to see the No.1 reason every visitor is here, The Roman Baths. This is the site to re-live the 2000 yr history, the world of the Romans and Saxons, Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth, from the BC times to AD.
Inside the centre stands the Roman Baths, Britain’s only hot spring replete with a magnificent temple and bathing complex flowing with natural hot water even now. Bathing here is not permitted and many signs saying this can be seen. So much for hoping to bathe like a Roman!
Entrance is £13 and came with audio plugins for commentary. I followed a defined route through the complex.
Starting point was the terrace and could see the Baths down.
A lot of the Roman Baths extend under the modern ground level, beneath adjacent streets and squares, so was surprised to discover just how big the site really is. Descending through the complex from the terrace and finishing in the Pump Rooms to take a glass of spring water, found it warm and with some taste, unlike normal water.
Bath befits the status of a Unesco World Heritage site, many reasons and chiefly being the Roman Baths, stupendous architecture and landscape.
It was hard to leave this magnificent, historical and cultural city..I had booked my return on the late night bus back to London. Another day, another time.