Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Family vacation in the UK, October 2016: Day 2: Drive to Bath, and overnight

We finally set off on the morning of the 1st of October 2016. The way we would go is to drive to Bath in my Insignia car. I had purchased a Garmin Satnav device, and had already tested this device a couple of weeks ago when I had test-rented and driven a car on a weekend. Also, I had used it on the previous evening when I brought my family in from Manchester airport. Well, to be honest, yesterday hadn't been very smooth. I had missed one particular turn just 4 miles short of the airport, and had then had to go through many diversions before reaching the airport. 

In any case, now I had my daughter Hannah with me. She sat in the passenger seat today, and would do so for most of the next 17-odd days we drove to different locations inside the U.K. Being a driver, she had already made an international driving permit, and she would share the driving with me as well. It is a real help to have someone share your driving task; she did that, and also helped me with the navigation. We would, as we did today, first set our destination on the Satnav, then begin our drive. 

Today's drive would take us via Preston, and then down south till we reached Bath. Now, Bath is a city in south-west England, and is located in Somerset. It is well-known for its Georgian architecture and its natural hot springs. The springs were used by the Romans over two millennia ago for their supposed recuperative and healing properties, and today, the Roman Baths are the no. 1 tourist attraction in Bath. This city is also known for its university and for its unique honey-coloured stone buildings. We will talk about them presently. 

Our journey of over 225 miles took all of 5 hours, as we stopped periodically for rest, food and filling petrol. The highway rest points are called by their location or by their sponsor. Most such points will have some or the other chain restaurants, toilets, some gaming kiosks and a few other facilities that vary from place to place. Above all, they all have petrol pumps where one may fill petrol and also get their vehicles quickly checked. The rest locations are all impeccably clean, and there is a general hubbub that tells you very clearly that they mean business. Rates of all items that are sold there are higher than what they are elsewhere, i.e. outside highway rest points. For example, while a Cappuccino at the usual Costa outlet may be £ 2.25, here, it will be above £ 2.75 for a Primo (the smallest size).

Nishrin was struggling with the food choices, it was easy to see. On the other hand, Inas and Hannah were adjusting well as they have grown up in modern times with McDonalds and Domino's. It was easy to see that Nish wasn't really enjoying the coffee, but as she was enjoying the British tea even less, she kept having coffee today, as well as on the rest of the vacation. We would generally order just one cup of coffee between us. That kept the price down too. 

By early evening, we pulled into the hotel we would be staying at, the Aquae Sulis hotel. Its owner, Sanjoy Ghosh, gave us a warm welcome and took us to our room, located on the top floor. It was an attic room with two large double beds, and most of the necessities we would need to stay here in Bath. The hotel itself is a charming place, located a few miles away from the Roman Baths. We quickly checked our luggage in, and then proceeded to return to the reception desk to seek directions on the way to the baths. Pragmatically, it was suggested to us to take a cab, as the areas around the Roman Baths are no-parking zones. 

We arrived at the baths around half past four, but entry had already been stopped for the day. We took a few photos, and then began our walk around the town. Eventually, we saw the Circus, and the Royal Crescent this evening. From there, we then went to a place across the railway tracks to get dinner from an Indian restaurant, and we had this back in our hotel. 

Overall, we were impressed with the way Bath is laid out. The two places we visited, the Circus (I was told that Delhi's Connaught Place had this place as an inspiration to design after) and the Royal Crescent, were remarkably beautiful. Here are some pictorial memories of our first evening in Bath.

Outside the Roman Baths complex
Bath Abbey

An interesting sculpture

Lighting a candle 

The Circus

The Royal Crescent

From the Abbey interior

Another view of the Circus

As happy as we can get

Outside the Bath Abbey - singular

Outside the Bath Abbey - couple

One more coloured glass window inside the Bath Abbey

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