Saturday, September 17, 2016
The hotel was indeed quiet last night (our neighbors could be heard but they quieted down at turn-in time). We both caught up on some of our lost sleep.
Breakfast at the hotel was surprisingly good – cold cereal (with milk and mixed berries compote – really good), scrambled eggs, all kinds of bread and rolls. We also tried the veggie option (on request) – sausage and “bacon” (really) – neither was very good. There was, of course, the Brit breakfast items such as baked beans (I just can’t see it as a breakfast item but I did give it a try and my position hasn’t changed). Good coffee (from one of those robo-baristas) rounded out the breakfast.
Today’s plan is simple – walk the length and breadth of Bath.
Our shortcut to the City Center took us through a couple of Farmer’s Markets – all sorts of stuff on sale (not just fresh veggies and fruits). This included meats of all kinds – some unidentifiable. British food – a mystery.
Bath is built on a hill so we decided the best way to handle the geography was to walk to the top of the hill and then slowly work our way to the City Center. We walked up Gay St. and were met by rows of identical homes (you better remember your street address).
We went over a couple of streets to Broad St. and started down the hill. Before too long, we ran into an authentic pub, the Pig and Fiddle. The menu features Wild Boar and Water Buffalo burgers. Even if I could, I’m not sure I would be ready to eat that.
Pig and Fiddle Pub and Games
About a block away, we found the Saracen’s Head Pub, the oldest pub in Bath (built in 1713 over an even older establishment).
Saracen’s Head Pub
Continuing down Broad St. we got our first look at St. Michael’s Church.
St. Michael’s Church
We stopped in St. Michaels to give our feet a break – they have a nice little café serving pastries, coffee, and tea.
Down the street from there we found ourselves in the heart of town. Being the weekend, there were lots of people on the pedestrian walkway.
Parade Gardens Park
We got a great view of the Pulteney Bridge. This bridge is one of three famous covered bridges containing shops – the Ponte Vecchio (Florence), the Rialto Bridge (Venice), and this one. So now we have completed the trifecta of shop-bridges.
From the bridge you could see the Pulteney Weir – a Weir is a barrier placed in a river to alter the flow of the river (and to sometimes prevent flooding).
River Avon (looking away from the Weir)
Continuing our walking tour, we wound up at the Bath Abbey. The Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Bath, commonly known as Bath Abbey, is an Anglican Parish Church and former Benedictine Monastery. The Abbey was founded in the 7th Century.
In 2008, the City of Bath installed 104 colorful pigs (made of some kind of ceramic material) to commemorate King Bladud, an ancient King of the Britons. King Bladud was cured of leprosy by covering himself in the mud used by pigs (he noticed that pigs that were muddied did not suffer the skin disease while clean pigs did). Wanting others to benefit from his finding, he founded the City of Bath.
During our walk, we found only one of the King’s Pigs (near the Abbey).
A Fountain nearby stated “Water is Best” – true, but ale is better.
We caught a few minutes of a street performer in the large square behind the Abbey. There were chairs set up so this must be a venue for performers. She turned out to be pretty good and we were happy to sit for a while. I wonder how she got this perfect venue for her performance.
Street Performer (Abby Square)
Heading back to the Hotel, I took another picture of the almost still River Avon (near the Train Station).
Back to the room to give our feet another chance to recover (at least 10,000 steps on this walk). Later in the evening, we tried to find a place for dinner that would not require a walk. We found a small Italian restaurant – run by an Eastern European family. We ordered some pasta with salmon and a salad that turned out to be quite good. We were their only customers while we were there – the service was good and the food was tasty.
Back to the room -
Sunday, September 18, 2016 – Sunny and mid 70s
The hotel continues to be quiet at night and we continue our recovery from sleep deprivation.
The breakfast was the same but good and it’s an absolutely beautiful day in Bath.
Our plan to day is to book a boat tour of the River Avon. We walked down to the Pulteney Bridge and then down to the river’s edge. When we asked when the next tour was, the man said in about 10 minutes. We each paid six GBP and grabbed some really good seats in the boat.
View of the Pulteney Bridge from the Boat
“Cabin Extra” Seats
Only four other people joined us on this tour. And our seats were perfect for shooting photos. The tour is scheduled to last about an hour – since the boat is not allowed to go faster than five knots, the actual distance covered by the boat is about five miles. The captain was also the guide and he was relatively easy to understand.
We passed under the Grosvenor Bridge. The bridge, built in 1929, is meant for foot and bike traffic (very narrow).
The banks were lined with several homes,
which were set back from the river (to minimize any flooding due to cresting). Our destination is Bathampton, a small village that is the end of the navigable (at least for boats like ours) portion of the river.
Several boats can share the river at the same time and one of them,
passed us as she headed back to Bath.
Bathampton Up Ahead
The boat turned around at the Bathampton Weir – the captain slowed a bit so we could see the fisherman near the weir. The two men knew each other and chatted about how the fish were biting – apparently they were as he showed us one of his catches.
One of the major buildings in town was the Bathampton Mill. This is now a restaurant – gastropub as they call it locally – serving everything from fancy pizza to burgers. Some customers wanted to get on our boat but the captain said they should catch the next one (something about turning around and not being able to board on the port side).
At this point, our boat headed back to the Pulteney Bridge boat dock.
It was a great boat ride.
We walked around the town a bit more and then set out to find a nice place for dinner. This proved to be more difficult that we thought. Either the restaurants were too pricey or the menu had little for us to eat. As we generally do, we stumbled on a place that was just about to close. It was a small and very noisy pub located in the Grapes Hotel. Normally, I wouldn’t have stayed but they had a fish and chips dinner special that seemed like a good deal. There was a soccer game going on the background and the ketchup bottle was empty. The waiter was very British and very friendly and soon we had our fish and chips. I tried the pub’s local brew. All in all, a very good and authentic dinner.
Eating and Drinking British – Grapes Hotel, Bath
We did a little more walking to burn off some of the dinner. As the sun started to go down in Bath, we noticed a balloon – Virgin logo – floating over the city. Richard Branson advertising.
A few thousand steps more and we were back in the hotel.
Tomorrow, we are off to Southampton.