This is the second of three installments of a narrative of our September 2019 trip to Wales and Southwest England. The first part was posted as Four Days in Cardiff. This thread concerns our stay in Bath, including a bus tour to Wells and Glastonbury.
Friday, September 6, 2019 (Cardiff to Bath)
After eating breakfast, we returned to our room and completed our last-minute packing. Then we lugged the bags down the stairs to the desk. We checked out and lugged down one more floor to the street. We trundled down to the railway station with our roller bags and backpacks. We had no trouble buying the tickets or finding the platform. We had a bit of a wait for our train, but it wasn’t difficult to identify when it arrived. Yet more lugging of our impedimenta up yet more steps, and then we said goodbye to Wales.
The train car had a fair number of passengers, but it wasn’t crowded. It included a luggage rack, and so we didn’t have to squeeze our gear into the seats. We were not the only passengers with luggage. We rolled through the Welsh countryside, under the Severn Estuary via tunnel, and into England.
We arrived at Bath and found our way out of the railway station. We noticed that it is adjacent to the bus station, a fact that would be useful on the next stage of our journey. However, the immediate goal was to find the Premier Inn, Bath City Center. We found the street (St. James Street West) quite easily. However, the hotel was another matter. We walked right past it without noticing and were some distance beyond before we realized that something was wrong. I had to get out my phone to figure out where we were and where we needed to be—something we almost never need to do. We turned back to search again. I almost had us trying to check into the wrong hotel. The problem was, as we later worked out, that this hotel’s signs were intended to be seen by drivers, with little thought to pedestrians. The building has a cantilever over the sidewalk, and the sign is on the side of that. Thus, we walked right under it without seeing it. Fortunately, Fran spotted the small sign on the door when we made our second pass.
Upon entering, we found a cool corporate lobby with a pedestal desk equipped with computers and two uniformed employees. It was too early for check-in, of course. They put tags on our luggage, giving us matching tickets, and then took us to their storage room. They also supplied us with a map.
We went up St. James again. At about the point where we had turned back the first time, we turned to the northeast until we got to Queen Square. Then we headed northwest again, reaching the Circus. The Circus is one of the famous Georgian developments in Bath, a circle of “terraces” (Americans would call them townhouses) around a green circle dominated by a huge oak tree at the center. It’s a photographer’s delight. From the Circus, we went northwest again until we reached the Royal Crescent, a semi-circle of Georgian terraces that was even more posh than the Circus in their day. They have since been restored to their glory and again are expensive homes. By this time, we were seeing tour groups accumulating, both walking and by coach. Cameras and phones were jostling for angles. The weather was uncooperative, with clouds and intermittent sprinkles.
We walked out the other end of the Crescent and found ourselves in Royal Victoria Park. This was named after the nascent queen before she ascended the throne. Victoria wasn’t fond of Bath. When she visited as a teenage princess, the newspapers said some unfavorable things about her—something about her being fat. The park is a mixture of greenway, formal beds, and sports facilities.