Monday, April 6, 2009

Give my best to Phil and Liz...

Mom, Mary and I had a wonderful weekend!  They were a little concerned about missing their flight to Manchester, because of rainy/stormy weather in Nashville, but both of them made it perfectly fine.  I met them at the airport and we all got on the train to Bath.  I had to teach them about switching trains and tickets and such, but they caught on quick-- I hope they made it to London okay this morning.  Mom got excited every time we saw sheep out the window, which was a lot, heehee.  We actually counted that we had been to Wales, as we switched trains in Newport South Wales. :o]

P.S. I'll try to go easy on the Jane Austen references, as I recognize that not everyone has read the books.  In which case, stop reading this blog and go to your nearest bookstore/library and READ THEM.  But still, JA lived in Bath for six years, so I went a little nuts.

We got to Bath fine, and got to our B&B fine.  Its a nice change to stay at a B&B, where you get your own room and they make a hot breakfast for you.  Ah, but I like hostels as well.  After we dumped our stuff in the room, we walked a little around Bath.  It was about 2PM at this point (I think), which wasn't enough time to visit the Roman Baths or anything, so we just walked around.  Bath is one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture, and we got to see the full extent of it.

This is the Pump Room, home of a very posh restaurant.
  Ah, the Circus.  There's a roundabout in the middle, and all of the building are in a huge circle.  BEAUTIFUL.

See? Gorgeous.

More of the Circus.

The Royal Crescent.  Again, beautiful.

The rather upscale Crescent Hotel, with excellent gardens in the back.

See?  They even let us commoners in the back to their marvelous landscaping.  The weather was perfect for the weekend, by the way.  I ordered it especially.

In front of the Royal Cresent.  William Wilberforce was at 2 Royal Crescent to woo Barbara Spooner!  Who knew? [that's from Amazing Grace, and based on a true story].
 Walking along the River Avon in Bath.
 Bath rugby pitch.
 I think these are the Royal Victoria Gardens.  Pretty, nonetheless.
Steve, the guy that ran our B&B, recommended a place called the Moon and Six Pence for dinner.  So there we went.  Food was goooooooood.  And quite upscale.  Mom had lamb, it was even better than Dr. Ely's lamb!  And I had buffalo mozzarella wrapped in prosciutto, which was really goooooood.  And they gave us these little tiny cups of essence of mushroom with truffle cream.  I should have gagged, but it was actually quite tasty.  After dinner, we made our way back to the B&B, and caught some great views of the Bath Abbey.
It's a little fuzzy. Sorry.

All lit up!
Mom and Mary had to catch up with their jetlag, so we crashed when we got back to the B&B (both of them snore, in case you were wondering).  I am still struggling through a book that have to read for my lit class (The Mill on the Floss. Awful book.), so that's what I tried to do for the rest of the evening.  If anyone has any insight, send it my way, ASAP.
The next morning we got out before breakfast started at the B&B and walked around some more.  Bath is chock full of tiny little cute shops, so we window shopped for a while and then when back for breakfast.  We were treated to a 'full English' breakfast which includes eggs, bacon (code word for ham, actually), link sausage, toast, and occasionally beans.  Mmmmmm.
We then went to the Roman Baths, the main attraction in Bath (hence the name).  Bath was a very active Roman town, complete with a temple and government centers.  The Roman Baths have a lot of neat artifacts and history, AND we were allowed to take pictures. Awesome!
Inside, where we bought our tickets.  Pretty ceiling.
 The largest public bath.  The water is green because of the sunlight reflecting on the minerals, bacteria, and algae.  mmmmm
 Roman guys keeping watch out on the terrace.
You can see the Abbey from the terrace of the baths!  Sweet!

 Scale model of what Bath probably looked like in Roman times.
This is the back of a MOST impressive hair do popular among Roman women of the time.  They coveted abudantly thick, curly hair and frequently imported dark hair from Italy and blonde hair from Germany.  Here is a better picture.  More on the hair in a bit.

 Sea monster mosaics.
 The main Roman bath at ground level.  Most of the exhibits were underground in a labyrinth kinda thing.
 The frigidarium.  I bet you can guess the temperature of the water....
Bath was originally discovered because pigs were found to be wallowing in the warm mud around the area.  This was because of the hot mineral springs, and it also explains why there were so many pig statues around Bath.  Hee.
Next, we RAN to the Jane Austen Centre to catch the walking tour, only to discover it started from the tourist centre, next to the Roman Baths.  So we RAN back there, and just barely made it.  I offered to let Mom and Mary stay at the Roman Baths, as I knew they hadn't read much JA, but they suffered through it, completely oblivious to all the sights the guide was taking us to.  
Anyway, it was fantastic, and now I have to go reread/rewatch all of the JA stuff.  For those sad souls who don't know, all six of JA's books mention Bath at some point and Persuasion and Northanger Abbey take place there.  Here's a clip from the 2007 BBC version of Persuasion.  *drool*
The guide took us to all those places! Fabulous.  Here are some pictures:
A better view of the Royal Crescent.  

The gravel walk near the Royal Crescent, where Anne Eliot and Capt. Wentworth walked.... :o]

The Assembly Rooms!  Many marriage deals went down here.
 Grand Ballroom, complete with dancers. haha
Another room.  Someone got married in there! *sigh*
We browsed around the gift shop in the JA Centre for a while (I got some souvenirs, no one is surprised...).  We then went to the Bath Abbey.  It has a pretty cool ceiling, if nothing else really happened there. 
 Bath Abbey.

Stained glass.
Next, we went to a tea shop on the Abbey Green and had high tea.  Oh yes we did.  It was quite tasty. Halfway through, we realized we had TOTALLY forgotten about Flat Stanley.  So we dashed back to the Roman Baths to get some pictures.  Mom somehow talked our way back in (they don't let people come back in once they've left) and we ran around and took pictures.  The best part was when we got some of the Roman actors to hold FS for the picture.  It was a Roman noblewoman and her servant.  They asked if my hair was real and if I'd ever considered selling it for a wig. hahaha  Mom took all the pictures of FS, so she'll have to email them to me so I can get them posted.
We then went to the Pump Room for our free spa water, which was included in our admission to the Roman Baths.  It is supposed to cure your ills and be good for gout, etc.  They pump it right from the big bath (hopefully they filter it a little), and really, its just like warm hard tap water. Urgh.  Mom and Mary both finished theirs, but I didn't quite make it.

Mom looking like a tourist with her Nikon and spa water.  lol
Mary wisely wore a pedometer the whole time and we discovered exactly how much we walked that day-- 14,000 steps, which is roughly equivalent to 7 miles.  SHEESH.  And I didn't even consider that a long day.  The Friday of my London trip I must've walked 10 miles....
We headed back to the B&B and rested.  Mary wanted to do another walking tour that Rick Steves' book recommended called "Bizarre Bath." Mom and I weren't particularly interested, so we stayed in the room and watched TV, while I *tried* to read my book.  I was unsuccessful, FYI.  Mary got back from the tour late-ish, but she had a good time.  It didn't have any history or culture, but it was supposed to be a comedy tour.  :o]
We slept pretty hard that night.  We got up to have breakfast and we met this really neat woman who is the Education Abroad director at a small college in Richmond, Virginia.  She had been visiting colleges that her school partners with in Spain and England.  She was headed to London to do some sightseeing and then back to the US.  We actually ended up on the same train that morning.  She was pretty cool!
Our train left for Windsor at 10AM, and we had to change twice.  But we got to Windsor about 12:30PM.  We arrived at the Windsor Central Station, and BAM! the Castle is RIGHT THERE.  Haha, love it when that happens.  We had all our luggage with us, so we hiked to the next B&B (after a slight detour).  We then headed back to the castle in all its glory.  Fortunately, the Queen wasn't in this weekend, so the State Apartments were open for visitors.  w00t!  Naturally, we couldn't take pictures inside.  But suffice it to say, it is everything that you see on TV and much, much more.
Outside, of course, we were free to photograph away.
The world's oldest, working castle. 

Another proof-I-was-there pictures.  In front of the Keep.
Gardens on the moat that never actually had water in it.  Go figure.
  St. George's Chapel.
THIS is what a castle is supposed to look like. Not some phony reproduction in Versailles. Kentucky, I mean!
  More St. George's Chapel.
 Courtyard near the State Apartments.

Mom and Mary at Windsor Castle.
 Aaaaaaaaand, because we could.  Excellent.
All in all, Windsor Castle is pretty fantastic.  Appropriately castle-y, generally awesome.  Possibly my favorite room was St. George's Hall where all the fancy banquets take place.  It has the crests of all the monarchs and the folks who were given the Royal Order of the Garter (aka, knighthood).  It is probably not a coincidence that QEII gave Prince William the 1000th Order of the Garter. haha
Across the River Thames from Windsor is the small town of Eton, home to the famous boys college (here, college is for 13-18 year olds.  University is the US equivalent of college).  After touring the castle, we walked around Eton and saw some of the buildings there.  We figured it was Easter Holiday for the students though, as the town was fairly deserted.
Eton Chapel.
 The school library.  Nice.
After that, it was about time to get my train back to Preston.  We went back to the B&B, got my stuff and went to the other train station in town, Windsor & Eton Riverside.  I gave Mom and Mary explicit instructions on which trains to catch when, so I hope they got to London okay this morning (I haven't heard otherwise, so I'm assuming they did).  I, obviously, got back to Preston fine, sleeping most of the time on the train.
Friday, I'm meeting Mom and Mary in York, where we will celebrate Easter at the Minster (YAY!), and then they'll come back here to see lovely Preston.  Afterwards, they'll go back to Manchester and get their flight for Monday morning.
Monday, I'm starting my grand European tour, as classes end this week.  I'm spending a week somewhere wonderful, but I'm not telling where just yet.  I'll leave you in suspense, teehee.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting so much. I am so glued to everything you say and photos you post. It's like being there.

Tracey Lewis

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing France or Italy...Susannah