Have Laptop, Will Travel: Bath Day
The ancient city of Bath in western England is an ideal destination for sightseeing, learning history and indulging in all the typical activities associated with tourism including shopping, eating, drinking, visiting museums and galleries, strolling in parks, admiring old buildings, taking photos and so on.
Bath is situated in a region of thermal springs which the Romans colonised in the first century AD. Prior to that, an Iron Age tribe occupied the area, so not surprisingly, Bath attracts archaeologists, artists of all kinds and history buffs. In modern times it has a reputable university renowned for sport sciences; hence the streets of Bath cater to students, tourists and all the services of a regional city surrounded by productive farmland.
Even though I prefer walking, I found it best to get oriented by touring around all the main sites on the top deck of a tour bus. Usually I frown on such touristy services, but in this case I’m glad I made an exception. The audio narrative, available through earphones, is incredibly informative and surprisingly interesting. It mentions the rise and fall and rise again of mineral springs and health spas: Elizabeth I visited in the 16th century, Jane Austen wrote here, Georgian architecture is abundant and countless movies were filmed here.
Amongst the wide variety of details provided by the tour is a description of how the local building material, Bath stone, is carefully cleaned, and how new buildings must use this stone to maintain the city’s uniform character. The central attractions include the Roman Spa, which still operates, and the nearby Abbey, situated in a pedestrian-only precinct of the old city.
Another tour bus circuit explores the skyline around Bath (which is surrounded by hills). Every hour the tour bus has a guide instead of the audio recording, making the narrative more personalised with the opportunity for questions. An Aussie connection with the area exists in the nearby town of Bathampton, where Sir Arthur Phillip lies buried within the church.
Openness to learning is my greatest ally when I travel. I love discovering new things; even when they are old, they are new to me. Thankfully my Aussie accent is well received everywhere, and now I can tell the locals about the kangaroos I saw in stained glass windows of a church; something they didn’t know about in their own backyard, so-to-speak.