Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday August 29, 2011

Monday August 29, 2011

Well clearly they knew we were coming because the British have declared today a national holiday.  As much as we are honoured, I would have rather they called it tomorrow so I could have gotten into a bank for some cash.  Nonetheless I woke up at 3:30 am, local time and laid there in my single wide bunk which is not much wider than I am, until 6 am lest I awake the other ten guys in the room.  I quite enjoyed making my way down to the hostel kitchen and making myself a hot chocolate, salvaged from food left by departing guests. A full English breakfast followed at 7:30, when Ty joined me and we had our fill of coffee, hash browns, scrambled eggs, sausages and get this, Canadian back bacon.

We decided over breakfast to stay another night in this hostel and booked our beds though they were already taken for the night.  We agreed to move to other beds and later found out we scored a private room for ourselves which is much nicer.

A short jaunt to the bus stop and four quid later, we took the #18 bus downtown and toured the Roman Baths.  Though other hostel guests had mixed opinions, this was to be one of the highlights of the day, though many more followed.  We spent about an hour exploring the excavated remains of a roman civilization buried beneath 18 feet below the streets. Our only disappointment of this attraction was “The Pump Room” which had nothing to do with pumps and everything to do with expensive dining… much too expensive for our tastes.

Just across the street was an even bigger highlight in the form of the Abbey, which was a large cathedral in the heart of downtown bath.  We took several hours to tour it inside and out including a tour up several winding staircases to the top of the bell tower with a couple of young ladies (tour guides Hannah and Heather) which we went around with for the afternoon.

For lunch we bought a couple of pasties (meat pies folded in half and baked) which are very popular here and we washed it down in the shade of an ancient oak tree at Kings Mead Square with a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon that I liberated from the hostel pantry. 
From there we walked the half mile or so to the Royal Crescent and Circus, two of baths best known sights.  These are a half circle and full circle of homes made from the locally quarried yellow stone found throughout this area.  Walking back downtown, we quenched our thirsts in an Irish Pub called Flan’O Briens and then took the bus back to our hostel for a break. 

For dinner we caught a ride downtown with one of our new mates from the hostel and made our way to the oldest house in the city of Bath (Circa 1482) called Sally Lunn’s.  After being seated by a delightful young waitress with a contagious laugh, big dimples and a smile to match, we ordered their special which was soup (or salad) and a bun followed by an entrée of steak, chicken or fish with steamed veggies and a glass of wine.  I had the soup, bun, a small steak and red wine, while Ty had the white wine, salad, bun, chicken and he gave me his baby potatoes. The buns which are what all the fuss is about were worth every quid.  They were shaped the size of sourdough loafs and my soup came with the bottom half battered with a sprinkle of herbs/spices and then toasted.  The mushy vegetable soup was so hot that the steam coming from it hissed and I had to sit back from the table to let it cool.  My steak and veggies were served next and I TY and I toasted our good fortune.  Absolutely an interesting and  delicious landmark and a place I would return to in a heartbeat .  We didn’t get to see it but 18’ below Sally Lunns is another Roman kitchen that dates back to 40 AD. Incredible what we are walking right over top of over here.

Next came a stop at the local starbucks where we now get cheers from the beautiful English girls behind the counter when we come in for "filters" which is what they coffee here.  Its all about some nasty rumour that when they offered me skimmed milk in my coffee, I nearly passed out such was my frustration, that the owner has a litre of it now hidden in the back for us.  We also had regular washroom priviledges in this washroom too.  When we order out “Grande Dark Roasts, Room for Cream” they simply ask if we want filters which seems to mean the same thing.

Evening found us walking the streets aimlessly so we stopped and we each had a double of dark navy rum for a nightcap.  We managed to flag the taxi driver down (Silly man was on the wrong side of the road) and get a ride back to our hostel with a very shy woman from Tailand.

We booked a hostel for tomorrow night in a tiny English Village called Stow On The Wold which has no bus service from bath.  We will have to go by bus or train or otherwise teleport ourselves to our new spot.

Off to bed!