Lia & Lloyd's Patented 1 Hour Bath Tour™
We arrived in Bristol on a route unfamiliar to me, as our GPS continued its fun game of “what’s the smallest street you can fit a Volkswagen Golf down?” Thankfully, by the time I recognized where we were, we’d practically arrived at my grandparents’ house. On their recommendation, we went out for dinner in Portishead, to an area that was a lot trendier than I remembered it, in a building made from recycled shipping containers right on the renovated quay. It was very millennial of us.
We set off the next morning to stop by my Mum’s mum’s for a catchup and sunning period in her lovely garden. To this day I always think of it and her greenhouse whenever I smell fresh tomatoes.
Keen to get to Heathrow at a reasonable time to finally return the car and take our flight on up to Edinburgh for phase 2 of the trip, we nipped into Bath determined to see it as quickly as possible. Thankfully, Lia had already been, so we were able to see the sights at a slightly brisker pace, but the overwhelming heat prevented us from moving as quickly as we possibly could’ve.
After refueling ourselves with some sandwiches at a cute cafe near the center of town, we set off on foot to the first stop of our loop we’d devised. And it was a loop — a circular one, no less. Bath’s famous Circus is a street of massive townhouses that gorgeously sweep around a central roundabout, forming a big circle.
Despite knowing how pretty Bath was said to be, and how historic, I was still surprised to find widely employed architecture as cosmopolitan and stylish as you might find in a major European hub today, like Paris. The little subterranean gardens were a nice touch too, and brought some color to the historic Georgian buildings.
With Bath being so small, the sights are thankfully clustered quite conveniently together. Those Romans knew what they were doing. Just down one of the streets leading into the Circus was the Royal Crescent. Big fans of curves in Bath. Though the 30 houses mostly seemed to have been cleaved up into hotels, the buildings are still some of the most famous in Britain. Having never been to Bath before, I was quite impressed, and amazed my family had never taken me despite having been so close so many times over the years.
We wandered down the Royal Ave in front of the Crescent, admiring more of the town and Georgian architecture as we powered on. And sweating profusely.
A few minutes later, another short walk, we were right in the heart of Bath. On her last visit, Lia had been into the titular Roman baths and drank the Kool aid (hot spring water). So we didn’t feel the need to do it again — her because she’d already done it, and me because I wasn’t that bothered in the first place. I’d rather find a cleaner hot spring to chill in rather than mosey around like cattle.
A few minutes’ further walk and we found ourselves overlooking the river, and looking along with everyone else lining the wall at the Pulteney Bridge.
I expect it’s the case for many people, but the Pulteney Bridge was definitely my favourite sight in Bath. The bridge itself was beautiful, but the whole panorama of the view over the other side of the wall was so enchanting, including the effect of the water feature.
View suitably admired, we began to head back to the bus stop where we’d take the park and ride shuttle back up the steep hill to the car park where we’d left Suzy. Parking downtown in Bath had sounded like a nightmare, so my grandparents had suggested we use what turned out to be a flawless service, and a brilliant way to avoid the utter madness of what would’ve been trying to park downtown.
While we were walking back to the bus stop though, I took what looked like a through road on the map behind a Waitrose. It turned out to be a dead end unless you wanted to walk along the river further, but it was a worthy misstep nonetheless for what turned out to be another fantastic viewing spot.
It felt so nice to have found a spot that most of the other tourists in town, and there were many, probably wouldn’t have found. An alley down the back of a Waitrose was hardly a stop on the guidebooks, but we enjoyed the brief peaceful respite and a view in this over-explored tourist town that for a second was all our own.
Back up the hill at the car, for the final time, we set off again. For the final time, I followed the GPS against my better judgement and found ourselves on incredibly narrow, irrelevant roads, inching our way around a corner to avoid anything oncoming. I couldn’t wait to get to London, where — although the crew of our plane would turn out to be missing for 45 minutes — there was at least the sweet sense of relief waiting to be felt that comes with no longer possessing a multi-thousand dollar piece of rented machinery.
We’d enjoyed having Suzy the Golf, and she’d served us well, but it was time to be truly free.