Today, JP and I tackled the open (left-hand-side) road that chases through the English countryside. We rented a car at the airport for three days and will be heading to Bath, the Cotswalds, and Kent. JP is bravely driving us and says it feels like learning how to drive for the first time, which makes it really thrilling to be his passenger.
Our first stop today was Bath, a picturesque town with history dating back 2000 years ago to the Roman Empire. We grabbed sandwiches at a Rick Steve’s recommended deli (they were awesome) and coffee from a British chain Boston Tea Party (we thought the name was ironic) then walked the town. The streets were boiling… both in temperature and with people. Having been a tourist destination for 500 years, the city is completely alive with street performers, hanging flowers, English gardens, Georgian (same as Neoclassical) architecture, hidden courtyards, and rich history.
We took a free, 2-hour walking tour led by volunteer docents. They don’t even accept tips! It was a great way to see the city and learn about all of the important people that had a part in Bath (like Jane Austin) and the many travelers that came there to be healed by the warm mineral spring waters bubbling up from the earth.
After the walking tour, we went to the Roman bath ruin, which is the most preserved in Britain and most extravagant Roman bath house in the world. The Roman city was called Aquae Sulis and had a large bathing complex dedicated to the goddess Sulis Minerva (of whom which we saw a nearly perfect bronze statue of). Filled by a 115 degree mineral spring spouting 240,000 gallons a day, the baths complex drainage system, architecture, incredibly advanced construction (complete with heated floors, drainage sloughs, hollow bricks to relieve weight, and beautiful statues of the goddess herself). We were in disbelief that we were walking on stones that romans did as early as 97 AD.
After Bath, we drove to an area called “The Cotswolds”. This area is filled with picture-perfect villages dotted with thatched-roof cottages and historic Inns (dating back to 927 AD!). We at dinner at a Rick-Steve’s recommended gastropub called Eight Bells and loved it. I got to sample some local ales, they even allowed dogs in there! My kind of place.
We booked a room over a pub called “The Volunteer Inn” with an awesome view. Tomorrow we’ll take our little car and drive through the Cotswolds.