There is a city with Roman history, full of buildings with creamy complexions and history whilst interspersed with modern shopping and pedestrianized streets. Bath combines it all. Even some Jane Austen history (she lived here for a time, and two novels take place partly in Bath - Persuasion and Northanger Abbey).
A visit to a new city cannot begin without some proper coffee. So, my first stop was to Society Cafe for a delicious soy cappuccino and time spent reviewing the map. The downside of a very generic map (and no cellular service) is that a few wrong turns got us off course a few blocks, but we soon made our way by a lovely park and saw the grand view of the Royal Crescent building ahead of us. It's really just a fancy apartment building in the shape of a large crescent, and after it was built in 1775 it was where the most elite lived. To have an address here was to be the leaders of society.
Bath has a lot of social gathering places, such as the Assembly rooms, which are fancy chandelier-adorned decoratively-trimmed large rooms where teas, balls, musical events, and other parties were held. A place to show off your newest dress and to be seen. The rooms are quite lovely.
A few blocks away from the Royal Crescent is The Circus, another rounded apartment building that actually is a full circle, encompassing the whole block. These gently curving, Georgian style buildings are lovely to look at, and dream about living in.
A few steps away from both of these fancy spots is a little pedestrianized street lined with local shops and cafes. This is where I wanted to eat lunch, at a little grocery/cafe called The Foodie Bugle. The owner serves you lunch from a few large tables that is shared with others at the front of the shop. The menu changes daily, and is all local and cooked that morning. The shop itself houses a wide array of meats, cheese, fruits, veg, chocolates, and drinks, while downstairs is a home goods shop full of delights like dishes, linens, books, soaps, and all sorts of tempting things. This was probably my favourite meal from the trip, with a pot of Earl Grey tea, and finished off with gingerbread cake.
We went into three bookshops along the way, and six books tucked into my leather tote bag later, we kept on with our sightseeing. One of the best things I did use on this trip was my tote bag. It literally holds everything I need, and when most shops charge you 5 pence for a plastic bag, I usually just tossed my purchases in my tote bag (unless there were many books).
We walked down to the River Avon to see the Pulteney Bridge, one of only four (I think) bridges in the world that have shops spanning both sides across the river. Then, the Bath Abbey came into view and dominated the scene. With its tall reaching Gothic stance, it is a wonder to look at. Inside, it is ornate and beautiful. Even when lots of tourists are wandering around, it is a place of quiet and peace amidst a busy city with so much activity. You can sit and rest for a little while, and imagine the years of history here. The services, the songs, the words of God spoken in this vast space.
There was a lot we did not pay to do this time (the Roman Baths, the Fashion Museum, Jane Austen museum, high tea at any of the tearooms), so that will have to wait for the next trip. I wanted to get the scope of the city, and walk around, getting to know where things are. I knew there wouldn't be time to do that as well as some more time-consuming ventures. Bath is certainly worth a visit because there is so much to see and do, and it is a really beautiful city.