Thursday, November 12, 2015

City Tour and Afternoon Tea

This post will give you a better feel of the classy, charming feeling of the city of Bath I was describing in the last post.  We began our day early with a two hour walking tour of the city.  We saw multiple residential neighborhoods and ended with the heart of the city, where the Roman Baths are.

We started at the Royal Crescent, one of the most well known addresses in Bath.  The Royal Crescent is a row of 30 terraced houses laid out in a sweeping crescent.  Built between 1767 and 1774, the crescent is among the greatest examples of Georgian architecture to be found in The United Kingdom.  Only a few houses remain in their original layout, the rest have been divided up into apartments, and a small museum. 

For the next couple of hours our local guide lead us on a leisurely stroll through parks, residential neighborhoods, shopping streets, then we eventually ended in the main square by the baths and the cathedral.  We got an amazing glimpse at what living in Bath would be like, and it would be splendid, extremely expensive, but worth it.

Does this terraced section of the river Avon look familiar...?  It's where the scene from Les Miserables where Javert jumps into the river Seine was filmed.  The film was in post production when errors with this scene were discovered and it needed to be reshot, and Bath was chosen as the location to save the day.  Cast and crew set up for two days, shot all through the night, and then were gone.

After our wonderful city tour, we had the rest of the day free.  Since it was around lunch time, the three of us decided to grab something to eat.  We had passed a few tea rooms on our tour, and I thought it would be fun to have afternoon tea while in England.  My sweet parents agreed and we set out to decide which tea room to try out.  While reading posted menus, we found one tea room that had an entire gluten free tea, so our decision was made!

Mom and I orederd full afternoon teas, while dad got a salad and sandwich combo.  My gluten free afternoon tea was amazing!  It came with cheese and jam tea sandwiches, a scone with clotted cream and strawberry preserves, a thick slice of lemon cake, and a delectable brownie.  For my tea, I ordered lemon verbena.

Our lunch was so much fun!  It was everything I ever imagined an English afternoon tea would be.

Every pastry shop and tea room that we passed has bath buns for sale.  So we figured we better get one to go so that we could know what all the hype was about.  

After lunch we passed by the oldest house in Bath, and discovered were the famous buns came from ;)

After lunch, we decided to take a quick peek inside the Bath Abby before heading back to the hotel for a little chill time.  On the square outside the abby, there was a "stage" that hosted live music.  Musicians would get the stage for an hour, then they would switch out with another talented local.  It really added to the atmosphere of the heart of the city.

This picture shows how most cathedrals and abbeys are built in the shape of a cross.  I spent a good four months studying different church layouts in my early christian art and architecture class in college. So, I find it very fascinating,

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Welcome to Bath

Whenever I get back from a trip, people always ask, "Which place was your favorite??"  While it is always nearly impossible to choice a favorite, I would have to say that Bath was my favorite stop on our Scotland, England and Wales adventure.  Bath has a feel all it's own that is very different then the other places we visited.  It was classy and charming, fun and exciting, small and sweet.  I would definitely recommend an outing to Bath if you ever find yourself in England.

We began our time in this one of a kind town by visiting the famous Roman Baths.  During the Roman occupation of Britain, increasingly grand temples and bathing complexes were built. The bath complex in Bath was founded in 75 AD. The healing powers of the goddess Minerva and the mineral-rich water from the spring attracted visitors from across the Roman Empire. 
 The fundamental part of the Roman Baths is the sacred spring. Hot water at a temperature of 860°F rises here at the rate of 240,000 gallons every day and has been doing so for thousands of years. To the ancients, this remarkable phenomenon could only be the work of the gods.

The Sacred Spring

There is an amazing museum connected with the Baths, it was just added in 2011 and cost 5.5 million pounds to build, it is incredibly detailed and extensive.  With the most up to date technology in exhibitions, the museum is filled with tons of different types of ancient Roman artifacts found in and around the baths.  Silly me didn't take any pictures in the museum, I was too excited to get out to the baths themselves.  I sat on the edge of the pool and soaked in the atmosphere, and marveled at how green the bath water is!

After having a splendid time at the baths and adjoining museum, we headed to the well known Grand Pump Room for lunch.  This restaurant is gorgeous and very high class, it is one of city's most elegante places to enjoy stylish, modern British Cuisine.  The atmosphere is breathtaking with the corinthian columns, domed ceiling, ornate glass chandeliers, and live classical music.  Jane Austin wrote about the famous Pump Room in her two novels, Northanger Abby and Persuasion, it was a known meeting place for the upper class during Austin's time period.

Our meal was amazing, every course was unique and delicious.  Upon arrival, we were all given a glass of ice water, and a (blue) glass of the warm, magical and healing bath water from the sacred spring.  I tentatively smelled it before taking a sip, it smelled of... dirty nastiness.  I really didn't want to take a sip, but how could I travel all the way to Bath, England and not partake of the mystical spa water?  I took the tiniest sip and immediately regretted my decision.  It was by far the grossest thing I have ever tasted in my entire life.  So if you happen to have the chance to drink some... just know you have been warned!

After lunch it was time to check into our hotel.  Out of the many hotels we stayed in, the Francis Hotel comes in second, with the Savoy in London taking the number one spot.  This hotel is whimsical, beautiful and all kinds of comfortable.  It reminded me a lot of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in Michigan.  CLICK HERE to see my post about that hotel, so you can see why I found these two hotels so similar.

When you walk in, you find yourself in a small foyer with a black and white checkered floor.  To your right you have a beautiful, long lobby filled with the most inviting red and blue velvets couches and chairs.

I could not get enough of the wallpapers in every room of this hotel.  They were the most gorgeous wallpapers I have ever seen.

On the left hand side of the lobby is the bar, it compliments the lobby well with similar decor but with some subtle differences.

Then we headed up to our rooms, all the landings in the stair well were decorated in fun and different ways.  This one was my favorite, the silhouettes were made of a black velvet fabric, which added a whole new dimension to the space with it's texture.

This was my room.  Decorated in aqua and purple with strong black and white accents. 

My favorite detail of the room was the framed pastoral scene, hung right above the bed so that guests would have something peaceful and pleasant to look at as they drifted off to sleep.  So silly and whimsical, I just loved it to pieces.

The bathroom was just as fun.  It had a full length picture of the Roman Baths in the shower so I could feel like I had been transported back in time and was soaking in the healing, mineral waters.

In the mornings, we would head down to the dining room that was one floor below the main entrance.

For reals, I could not handle the beauty of the wallpapers!

Documenting the awesomeness of the dining room was a challenge.  It had so many crazy fun details, but they were so spread out that it was hard to capture the feeling of the room.  The mirror wall, pictured below, was one of my favorite parts of the room.

That night we dined in the hotel's restaurant that is located on the main floor, it's different then the dining room where we would eat breakfast.  I sadly didn't take any pictures of their restaurant, but it is very hip and swanky, with a classy hipster vibe to it.  I got this chocolate souffle for dessert and I wished it would never end, and that I could just keep eating it forever and ever.  It was delicious, perfectly gooey in the middle, surrounded by soft cake on the edges.  The perfect way to end such a fabulous day!