Arriving in Bath
Most Glastonbury Festival goers usually camp out on-site for the entire weekend. As one of the fortunate British Council international delegates to the festival, I was given the luxury of coming home to a warm, cozy room at the Holiday Inn in Bath
where I could sleep on a decent bed and enjoy hot showers to wash off all the mud that would cling to my skin and clothes every day. Arriving a few hours early prior to our festival briefing late in the afternoon, I took what would be the only time to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to some of the world's greatest - Jane Austin
, Thomas Gainsborough
, and Tears For Fears
The Bath Abbey
I went with Jennifer, an American BC member based in Germany whom I had met at the lobby on my way out.
Situated about 160km west of London
, Bath is bestowed with hot springs and sits in the valley of the River Avon
. This spa city derives its name from the complex bathing network built by the Romans some 2,000 years ago. Though no longer in operation today, the baths are one of the city's main attractions which have kept visitors from all over the world lured in for centuries. As I had barely two hours to go around, I sacrified a thorough tour of the baths in favor of seeing more of the city.
The next thing I came across was another mammoth structure, The Abbey Church of Saint Peter
, more commonly known as the magnificent Bath Abbey
The River Avon
It was first founded in 757 as an Anglo-Saxon Abbey and shortly after the Norman Conquest of 1066, was elevated to cathedral status under John of Tours, the first Bishop of Bath. Regretfully, because of its massive increase in size - by then reaching 101 meters long, the priory could not afford its high maintanance cost which led to its disrepair by the 15th century. The present Abbey was built in 1499. Stripped of its cathedral status, it was no longer required to be of the same size as its predecessor and was completed smaller as planned. In time, the Abbey would once again find itself in ruins with the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539 by order of Henry VIII. What stands today is largely due to the efforts of Queen Elizabeth I who was responsible for its final restoration, making it the last great medieval church in England.
Due to the lack of time, we could not afford to scrutinize the church interiors and headed elsewhere.
The Pulteney Bridge
We found ourselves by the Pulteney Bridge
which runs across the River Avon. I didn't notice it as I was facing the outer wall, but as it turns out, the Pulteney Bridge is one of only four bridges in the world to be lined with shops all the way across and on both sides. Whoowhee, knowing that sure makes a difference in your life now, doesn't it? ;-)
I noticed a quaint little restaurant across the street which was calling out to my stomach. After a couple of snaps here and there, Jennifer and I let our tummies lead the way before we ended our city tour and headed back in time for the briefing at the hotel.
It may have been a brief tour, but it was the most perfect of summer days. The sun was beaming, the girls were parading their bellies, and flip-flops ruled the streets. It sure made me waste space (not to mention baggage weight) taking my Docs. But this is Britain. And Britain means erratic weather. Sure, we were warned about the possibility of rain, but no one told us we were going to experience something on a Venetian scale…