4.7.09 Beautiful Bath, England

Bath Travel Blog

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4.7.09 Bath


What a beautiful day today!  We awoke to sunshine and singing birds. 


We took the bus into town today and it was easy, relative to our usual antics.  It was 10 pounds something for the four of us for a “return” ticket, which is round trip and worth every bit of it.


We met two nice couples from elsewhere in England- they were fellow campers waiting at the bus stop and they gave us good advice for seeing York (walled city and lovely) and Chester. 


Bath is a big city for being just 80,000 people.  Perhaps it is larger than that. There are many enormous sandstone buildings, construction on roads, traffic, and definitely no parking, forget driving in a motorhome.  The bus was great.


After dropping off at the Bus Station, we used our Rick Steve’s Great Britain book to find the sites.  We ate a bite of lunch in a park square that seemed to be All-American:  Pizza Hut, Boston Tea Party restaurant, SuperCuts, and a place called, “Southern Fried Chicken.”  Brother!  We had to laugh.


Bath is a touristy town and it is tourist time now.  The kids got out of school last Friday to begin a 2-week holiday that is not their Spring Break.  So we have the rest of this week and next to contend with the crowds.  I’m glad most of our travel is during pre-season.  I like not having to book ahead.  I think we were lucky to get a spot at this campground.  After we checked in yesterday near noon, people just seemed to swarm in.


Speaking of other campers, we have seen some enormous tents!  I just took a picture of one that looks like a 4-room, Darth Vader tent.  I wonder if they call that a 20-person tent. 


Then, remember I was surprised that campgrounds charged extra for awnings?  Well no wonder with some of these!  They are the entire length of the caravan or motorhome and are entire enclosed rooms, complete with walls, windows, tent flooring, and furniture inside. They even have additional sleeping cots inside them.  Since they are the same width as the camper (like 7’), they take up the entire site, so I have to be glad they even allow them, even if they do charge a premium.  We love them!  Can you imagine going someplace for like a week and setting up for twice the space, sending the kids out to sleep in the cots at night?  Nice!


Plans changed!  What was I thinking?  There is no way we can enjoy all of Scotland, which is not exactly close, and get into France to meet Ned, AND spend a week enjoying London before all those tourists in the summer if we have to be there in less than 3 weeks!  So I counted backward from April 26th (N-day), back 4 days for us to acclimate to France before Ned arrives, a week in London, which leaves us about 5 days to enjoy Stonehenge, Oxford, and Cambridge.  Now that sounds reasonable.


So I booked our motorhome crossing on the Chunnel online today for 4/21, two weeks from today!  It was 104 pounds for us for a nice 2pm crossing.  We lose an hour going to France, so we arrive after the 45 minute crossing just before 4pm.  We’ll have to scope out our camping location in advance and brush up on our Français real fast.


Back to Bath- we enjoyed seeing the Roman Springs, the Assembly Rooms where the grand dances took place (Read Jane Austin’s book Northanger), the Circus where we stood on the capped old well and clapped to hear our triple echo, and the Fashion Museum, which was formerly called the Costume Museum (which left us 20 pounds family ticket poorer and we were not fond of it.  I would have had more fun in a place called Camping Gear Museum).  Anyway, we enjoyed the festive atmosphere of Bath and the history and grandeur of it.  Ice cream on the square, popping into stores on our necessities scavenger hunt, and buying internet time at the grand Public Library allowed us to experience the city.  We bought pastries at a little store and headed back to the Bus Station, admiring waterfalls over the river and the lovely evening sunset.


Back to the Bus—well, we finally found the station and the correct bus and the driver did not seem to recognize our stop when we asked about it upon entering the bus.  A fellow passenger seemed to believe the driver had difficulty with English, not me, and I did note that others had trouble as well.  And you guessed it:  We rode right by our stop! 


The school we were watching for was not as expected and before we knew it, we were sailing by our stop.  We immediately pushed the “stop” button, prepared to walk back at the next stop, but it was miles before that next stop.  By the point, the curvy road made it questionable how to return and I remembered that our morning bus fellows mentioned the bus turned around.  We talked to the driver again and managed to wait it out until a few minutes later, after a few of our false pushes of the “stop” button (which I figured was better than sailing by it again- and since our Driver, for whatever reason, was no help to us at all it was a price he had to pay too), we managed to exit at our correct stop.  I guess we need to find out more info next time.  You’d think the driver would know the names of his stops, but my fault on that.


Something we noticed is the reticent nature of the people here- they are so timid, particularly the women, that it can be difficult to get directions help.  While I do try to be culturally sensitive, quiet and respectful, they seem extremely shy in how quickly they try to answer and are frankly too brief to be helpful, like it pains them to get involved. 


I don’t think they are at all trying to be rude, it is just a cultural difference that is surprising in a touristy town.  Whereas in Mexico, the entire bus would help us get off and on buses, this is a case of people pretending very hard to appear not to notice that you need help.  But with the effort to ask multiple people, eventually one finds one’s way.  It is just tiring to have to go through such antics for basic questions that locals likely know.  We did appreciate the help of some good-natured people today.


What else?  I enjoyed internet access today while the kids enjoyed the Library- that is a great place to spend the required time.  They can read books, use the kids’ computers, etc rather than sit there with their heads on the unused cyber-computer desks.  It was 3 pounds 50 an hour, which was more than the 3 pounds at an internet café, but that café looked spooky with no windows and just a big red door, so we were afraid to even open it.  So the Library was terrific.


The campground I want in London is completely full for most of the time that I want it due to the school holiday!  Ugh!  Perhaps that is for a reason.  We have 3 other choices, so we’ll check those out.


I also went on Boingo’s website and pasted to a word doc onto my memory stick their locations in the places that we’re headed so I can at least see the types of stores, hotels, airports, etc that have their services. 


I was thrilled to get the Chunnel booked so we have that done.  Once you book for the motorhome, you don’t have to pay per person.  So while I ddin’t check the ferry price, I have to believe that 104 pounds is a good price.


We haven’t had any passport checks since we landed in the Dublin Airport.  We will have them into France though.  I am waiting to see what happens with the 3-month time limit on visits within the Schengen group of countries, which has grown to include France, Italy, the Czech Republic and the other Central European countries, so the clock keeps ticking there. 


Why did the Irish Custom’s agent stamp 1-month in my passport?  Does it matter?  He was an interesting character, looking through our passports and asking “Where’s the boss?”  Haha.  I really wanted to say, “I’m right here!” but ticking off the Custom’s Agent is a bad idea and so I chuckled and explained Ned’s plans to join us.  He didn’t require Ned’s notarized permission papers showing I could take the kids overseas, so I guess it worked out okay.  I sure hope all goes well returning of Sugar to Ireland.  She is a nice rig though, so if I end up stuck with her in France or EnglandJ


Spring is here and the trees are budding.  We are getting away wearing just three layers:  a t-shirt, cashmere sweater, and then a light outside coat (not our winter coats anymore), although it is still quite crisp.  But the real camping season begins in just a few days at Easter, after which nearly all the campgrounds will be open.  It is a lovely time to be in bonnie, bonnie England!










azsalsa says:
Yes, the British can be somewhat standoffish when it comes to communicating with strangers. The French are actually much more helpful and bend over backwards to help out a stranger in distress, especially if you say the magic phrase: "Excusez-moi de vous dérangermais, j'ai un problem. (Excuse me for disturbing you but I have a problem) It works like a charm every time!
Posted on: Apr 23, 2009
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