A Visit to Bath

by Carolan Nathan
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bath-england.jpgSounds a bit like Bilbo Baggins but when you are journeying around the countryside of south-western England, you are likely to come across many fascinating places and people. Their history stretches back to the Celts, the Anglo-Saxons and the Romans – each race introducing new cultures, different religions and ways of cultivating the land. So a hodge-podge from the past still exists although much has been sanctified and blessed into a greying sameness by the more prosaic and mundane English civil service that seems to run most things in this present day and age. But whilst there is still a King and Lords of the Rings, and folk with imaginations like me who can paint with pictures and words, beauty and good can be found wherever you journey in the U.K. and beyond.

Culture is based in detail. It is based in generations of characters, of peoples, of species building on top of past generation's work. Details will lead you down the path to the culture. We only have to look at the works of William Shakespeare, of Emily Bronte, of Jane Austen – they are played and read and enjoyed by millions of folks around the world. The paintings of Michaelangelo, Rubens, Leonardo da Vinci, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones still evoke the glory of those masters and the rapt attention of ardent admirers.

Today Bath remains one of England's most charming cities filled with treasures from the past and present. You can spend hours walking the passageways, stopping to admire buildings that echo a past that was filled with tranquillity. Naturally for the motivated modern there are lots of shopping streets with all the brands of shops seen in major London shopping areas. Restaurants serving cuisine to meet every taste and pocket with many of them proud to offer fresh local produce.

bathabbey.jpgThe open top bus tours are a grand way to see the city with experts commenting on such attractions as Bath Abbey, The Roman Baths, Queen Square, The Jane Austen Center, The Circus and Pulteney Bridge plus the delights of Royal Victoria Park. Of course you would be delinquent if you did not visit Sally Lunn's Refreshment House and Museum which is the oldest house in Bath dating back to 1482, and where you can enjoy their acclaimed historic trencher dinner served every evening. The Museum of Costume and Assembly Rooms is another attraction where the story of fashion over the last 400 years comes to life. Every garment is original drawn from the Museum's outstanding collection of more than 30,000 items. For those of American heritage, the American Museum and Gardens shows how you might have lived in Bath from the time of the early settlers to the civil war and includes an 18th century tavern.

tea-service-on-display.jpgIt will take a few hours to explore the Jane Austen Center near Queen's Square. Truly a snapshot of life during Regency times, it includes displays of the costumes worn by Jane and others, while walking through rooms dedicated to many of her novels. Upstairs the delightful Tea Room serves many dishes relating back to the author's favorite foods. You may wish to take a tour of Jane Austen's Bath and enjoy the places she walked, visited and shopped, and the locations made famous in her two Bath novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.

One of Britain's oldest and most beautiful Theatres is the Georgian Theatre Royal offering a year round program of top quality drama, comedy, opera and dance. Their many festivals include The Bath Shakespeare Festival and The Bath International Puppet Festival.

roman-bath.jpgPerhaps the most famous of all attractions is the Roman Baths and Pump Room. A delightful wander will take you round this building to view the magnificent Temple that flourished in Aquae Sulis between the first and fifth centuries. The blue green spa waters are surrounded by many ancient artifacts including sculpture, coins, jewelry and the gilt bronze head of the goddess Sulis Minerva. The King's Bath Spring has its own little area and the actual source of this water fell as rain up to 10,000 years ago in the nearby Mendip Hills. It was driven down through carboniferous limestone cave systems by pressure from the high water table on the Mendips and its curative powers have been known since medieval times as a cure for certain conditions such as gout and colic. The Pump Room, which opened in 1706, provided a place to drink the waters and today you can go into its lovely dining room and besides other refreshments, sip a glass of the spa water drawn from underground springs. It is dispensed to visitors and although slightly bitter, is quite delicious.

the-circus-bath-england.jpgHighly recommended is the beautiful Royal Crescent Hotel set in splendour in the Royal Crescent, supposedly the loveliest crescent in the UK. Pampering you is their mission that they carry out faultlessly. The Dove House Restaurant prepares superb cuisine and their wine list is incomparable.

Of course, there are lots of small quite elegant hotels scattered around the city and it is easy to find one to suit your taste and pocket. Just the same goes for the many eateries serving various styles of cuisine.

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