Monday, August 14, 2006

England, Part 2 - Revisiting Bath

Note (July 15, 2007): I did my summer study abroad program in Bath in 1999 - one of the greatest experiences of my life. I was an undergraduate in the Department of English at Ohio State University, and it was their annual summer program in partnership with Bath Spa University College. Sadly, the program ended last year, and Ohio State is now doing a program with the University of Greenwich. I can't imagine a better place than Bath to spend a summer studying Renaissance and contemporary British & Irish literature. Bath will always hold a very special place in my heart.



Sunday, August 6 ended up being the warmest and sunniest day of my entire time in England. Melissa and I got up early…we had a 3.5 hour drive to Bath, and we were supposed to meet my friends Corry and Ronda there at around noon. Getting there was not a problem at all. Other than there being a lot of traffic, the drive was relatively smooth and uneventful. Corry texted Melissa's mobile at one point to tell us that they were running a bit late, but we weren't expecting to get there right at noon anyway.

Once we arrived in Bath proper, we had to find a place to park. The Sports Centre was the first place we found with public parking, so we grabbed a spot in their parking garage and then I had to get my bearings. Of course, I did my study abroad program in Bath 7 summers ago, and got intimately acquainted with the city. Would I remember my way around after all these years?

Miraculously, I did. We found our way to the Tourist Information Center without any problem at all, and proceeded to get a map of the city and then wait for Corry and Ronda to show up. They eventually did, and we made our way to Sally Lunn's for lunch. That was absolutely non-negotiable for me…we WERE eating lunch there. Fortunately, everyone else could see why I was so insistent on this point. Their bread is just awesome. I had Scottish smoked salmon, cream cheese, lemon, and dill on a toasted Sally Lunn Bun. It was so good. But of course…I waited 7 years for this. Corry ate my chips, since I didn't want them (crisps…not French fries). I also had fizzy lemonade, which was refreshing on such a hot day. Anyway, Sally Lunn's is housed in the oldest building in Bath, and there is a small museum in the basement with Sally Lunn's original kitchen (circa 1680) and the older foundations of the house. So we went down there and decided to come back later to get Sally Lunn Buns to take away.

Next stop: Bath Abbey. I had been in the abbey before, of course, but I was afraid to take pictures then. I'm not sure why. I thought I would be disrespectful somehow. But I had my camera poised to take photos this time and capture all that I didn't seven years ago. The sun was shining brightly in all the stained glass windows, and a choir was practicing for the upcoming service, so I was deeply moved. I took a video of the choir performing, but it's really terrible, so I'm not sure I'm going to upload it.

After being in the abbey for a little while, we decided to do a city tour of Bath, since none of my friends would be able to spend longer than a day there. The City Tour bus was just loading up, so we paid our admission and hopped on. It was nice to see some of the places I frequented 7 years ago. After the City Tour ended, our ticket got us on the Skyline Tour, which took us in the hills above Bath. That was also very nice.

After that tour, Melissa, Ronda, and Corry decided that they wanted to see the Roman Baths. I had already been there 7 years ago and didn't see the need to do it again, so I waited for them in the Abbey Square while they were inside. I enjoyed some nice music that was being performed in the square and I browsed some of the shops. After about 45 minutes or so, they came back out, and Melissa and I decided that it was time to head back to Retford. We said goodbye to Corry and Ronda, grabbed a bite to go at Burger King, and headed off toward home. Only, we didn't exactly. Melissa got on the motorway heading in the right direction, but we actually had to head in the wrong direction for a bit to get the motorway that we needed to get home. So our 3.5 hour return trip ended up being 5 hours. Oh well. We got acquainted with more of England…what we could see from the motorway, anyway.

After we finally got home, we met up with Melissa's husband, Mike, and a couple of her friends, at a local pub, where everyone but me proceeded to do karaoke. Yes, I'm a wimp. But I didn't feel like making people suffer that night.

Pictures of my beloved Bath

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