My hosts advised me to visit the Roman Baths in the morning to avoid the crowds. So the moment I got off the bus, I went straight to the visitor’s center, bought a ticket, and went inside.
It was interesting, the different ages blending together to create the building now standing: From the Roman period to the medieval ages to the Regency period to modern day. I appreciated the history and applauded the museum’s design, but it wasn’t my thing. I hurried on to the Pump Room next door for a cup of tea and a Bath Bun.
“The music in the Pump Room bloomed, leaping up to the tall, white ceiling and trickling down through the crystal chandelier. The tink of tea cups and murmur of voices lingered in the background as 18th century faces looked down from their portraits on the wall. Then suddenly as it came, the music was gone and all that was left were the voices and the faces.” –written while sipping my tea in the Pump Room
I wandered around for a bit after that. I hurried past the shopping areas littered with department stores and tourist traps. I found my way into an indoor market/shopping mall where cluttered stalls sold everything from garden equipment to secondhand books. I stopped by a tea store and bought Bath blend tea.
I finally made my way to another point of interest: The Jane Austen Center. It was small but made the best of its size with videos, interactive sections, and enthusiastic tour guides. Quite a wonderful little museum. Before I left, I made a stop at the Regency tearoom on the top floor. I had tea, sandwiches, and cake with a painting of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy watching over me. I smiled at the cheese and enjoyed my tea.
Next stop: the fashion museum. Like most things I saw in Bath, the museum was small, but well designed. With the free audio tour I walked through the dimly lit exhibits, gawking with the rest of the visitors at the extravagant, colorful, and vintage fashions. I had fun imagining real people in the clothing, picturing whole streets full of people dressed like the Georgians or the Victorians or the Edwardians.
I went from appreciating art in fabric to art in stone, for after I walked back out into the sun, I made my way to the Circus and then on to the Royal Crescent. I strolled amongst the handsome buildings, which repeated in patterns around the circular streets. They hold a beauty that dozens of movies have showcased.
My walk flowed naturally on to Victoria Park where I enjoyed the quiet amongst the leaves, taking a break to watch tourists and locals run around with footballs and cameras. Deeper into the park, I witness a hot air balloon taking off. My Airbnb hosts informed me later that his happens regularly in the park. In fact, you can hire one to take you up. As the balloon flew up, the kids amongst the grounded onlookers yelled an enthusiastic good-bye. I followed the balloon for a little while, and eventually made my way back to Central Bath.
From there I did more wandering, grabbed some Pad Tai for dinner, and in general bided my time until the ghost tour at 8pm. I had learned about the tour while rummaging through the pamphlets placed in my room. I thought since I was staying a second night, I might as well make the most of the evening by doing something unusual.
The tour started at the pub outside the Theater Royal. A group of about twelve us stood in the streetlights as our tour guide told us ghost stories about the buildings around us. Prefect for an October night.
“All that stood between us and the blackness of the night were the streetlights, which stretched their reach out into shadows, painting everything in an orange glow. The guide warned us of a long dead Regency gentleman who might be coming down the path. Now every person walking past looked, for a moment, to be wearing breeches and a top hat. I blame the orange light. It had a weird effect on the night. It made her fantastic words seem almost real.
As the tour wore on, the cold seeped in. We could see our breath by the end; plumes of fog coming out of our mouths like we were the ghosts ourselves. She had warned us it would get colder once we stepped into the dark field where they used to hold duels to the death.
A girl was shaking, clinging to her friend’s hand. She was not cold. She was frightened. As it happens, it was her friend that caught a picture of the supposed ghosts. Little yellow-orange orbs, like the streetlights except the field was deserted and unlit.” –written with cold hands while waiting for the bus back to the Airbnb
I made it back to the Airbnb exhausted but satisfied. It didn’t take me long to fall asleep.