A weekend away in Bath, UK
30 October, 2016.
Investment Banking has one of the most grueling hours of any industry. And if you’re on a secondment, then God bless you. Because you will be, without a doubt, taken to the cleaners. Therefore, it becomes pertinent that whenever you have a couple of free days, you want to get away. Away from the establishment, from civilization, from the capitalism. Or well, at the very least, away from the city. This is exactly what happened to 3 of my friends and I during our stint in London, UK. Nearing the end of our time there pretty much meant that we had all but exhausted our humane capabilities. And wanted to get away to someplace. We listed down a few possible options, and eventually settled down on Bath.
First, the logistics. We were 4 in total and the best way to reach there was by a rental car. SixT Rental Cars have a good range of cars and is reasonably priced. (Hertz is another such company, if you’re looking for options). Depending on your budget, choose your drive – they’ve got a range of options.
TIP: If you’re planning to rent a car from London, choose the Heathrow Airport as the pick-up and drop location.
I understand that it is way out of the city, but there’s a reason: Driving a car amidst the city traffic (especially, if you’re not a native of this place) would not be particularly easy. And if you do get into some unfortunate accident within the city limits, the fines are pretty high. Also, it is super convenient to just get into the metro and get off at Terminal 4 of the Heathrow Airport, walk out to the SixT stall, collect the keys and walk out. Another thing to keep in mind while renting out cars: always take photographs of any scratches / dents etc. that you may notice BEFORE you start your journey and notify them, so that they don’t fine you for no fault of yours.
The drive from London to Bath is a fairly smooth one. 3 hours long and dotted by the blissful countryside on both sides. Multiple Windows Wallpaper moments with farms, windmills, livestock and generally pretty sky. Autumn (or Fall) is especially one of the best times to take the drive given the myriad hues of yellow and green you’ll witness. Definitely something to behold. Good music, good company and belly-aching laughter meant that our ride to Bath was glitch-less.
If I have to describe Bath to someone, it would be something like this: Famous Georgian terraces, thermal spa waters, cream teas, Jane Austen and Sally’s Lunn – Bath is the quintessential laidback quaint British town, something of a polar opposite to the more cosmopolitan and ever-frenzied English capital. For me personally, Bath signifies good food (and I mean drool-worthy good), a relaxed stroll in the park or a leisurely dip in the spas, amidst the rich cultural, literary and architectural history that has come to symbolize this wonderful city. Let’s get to the specifics then.
Soon as we reached the city, the first thing we did was to pay a visit to the world-renowned Sally Lunn’s Eating House. Its bang in the town centre and is literally the oldest building there (made in 1680). It is known for the Sally Lunn Bunn – an authentic regional specialty, now known the world over. But even apart from the bunn, it is an authentic English food serving place and the savoury pies made here are to die for! I highly recommend spending a good amount of time here. This is not a place where to stash and dash. This is meant to be a long, leisurely multi-course lunch, accompanied with memorable conversations with friends, set in a beautiful ambience.
The lazy lunch really set the tone for the rest of our trip. We went to the Tourist Centre to get to know a bit more of the town. You’ll be surprised to know that most tourist centres usually have offers / advise on the best way to travel and experience that location, even helping you out in finding cheap accommodation etc. For eg, we got to know that Bath has a special student accommodation which allows travelers to stay for dirt cheap prices. (Although, it was houseful for the night). Post equipping ourselves with some information, we spent the rest of the evening walking and whiling away in the pretty town.
While on our stroll, we found some pretty good restaurants and ended up having dinner at one of them – The Circus Restaurant. I recommend it. Great dinner. We had one challenge though. We had not booked any accommodation yet and it was getting pretty late. Thankfully though, we found one on the other side of the Pulteney Bridge, called White Hart Inn. It was a no-frills bed n’ breakfast place. Very clean, nothing fancy though. I would personally recommend getting a bed at the St. Christopher’s Inn – a great backpacker’s hostel.
The next morning, we joined a free walking tour. It lasted about 2 hours and gave us a pretty in-depth idea about the history of this town. Aided by the perfect weather (Pleasantly cool, sunshine and dry) we were mesmerized as we made our way from one Georgian structure to the other. Bath’s most desirable address is the Royal Crescent. This curved terrace of Georgian townhouses arcs around a perfectly manicured lawn– a place where we spent considerable time chilling / playing ball / petting a dog. We then walked passed The Circle for more curved buildings, then on the Bath’s Gothic Abbey. You can take the 212 spiral steps to the top for a panoramic view of the town.
Do not miss the Jane Austen Centre if you’re a literary buff. With costumed actors to take you through Austen’s story, you’ll get a sneak peek into one of the century’s leading literary minds. While you’re here, enjoy a cuppa at the Regency Tea Room. Visit the Royal Ball Dancing Hall and stand in awe of it grandeur.
And finally, the thing for which Bath derives its name – UK’s warmest geothermal springs serving as natural spas or baths. Indulge in the more traditional Roman Baths and lay in there for a relaxing time. Or if you’re feeling fancy, treat yourself to Thermae Bath Spa – a huge spa complex in a modern glass building. Round off your blissful weekend at Bath with an evening session at the Pump Rooms. And while you’re there, don’t forget to taste the spa waters from the King’s Fountain. With 43 different minerals, it’s apparently the cure for all sorts of ills, though with its metallic tang it’s a bit of an acquired taste.
Eventually (begrudgingly), we made our way to London – albeit this time on a different route. We had one final detour to make. Another Windows Wallpaper moment (literally): The Stonehenge! A heads-up, try to reach the Stonehenge at least an hour before the stipulated sunset time for the day, as they don’t allow visitors post the Sunset. The road leading to the Stonehenge is a work of art. It’s as if God decided to play painter. Some might argue it was better than Stonehenge itself. And rightfully so, because as grand as you may think it is, the site is fairly disappointing. It’s because tourists are not allowed within the 70 metre boundary of the monument. What a shame! And even though there are to and fro shuttle buses from the parking area, I’d suggest skip the bus and walk instead. Way more fun and way more beautiful. Quick sidenote: the parking lot of the Stonehenge makes for a brilliant photoshoot background ;)
Finally, we made our way back to London. Back to reality, back to the daily hustle! Hope you’ve enjoyed coming along with me (vicariously) to this brilliant town. If you did, do check out the other blog posts too.