The morning of day six, it was decided between my friend and I that –while going to Cardiff would be nice, Baths Spa was closer and would provide more immediate entertainment than perhaps, seeing a Doctor Who museum would. So it was decided, that we would go to Baths Spa, and with a brief look on trip advisor, I also decided that we would have dinner at the wonderful, four-star, Martini Restaurant.
The adventure started with a big breakfast at Ebb & Flow; scrambled eggs, pancakes with blueberries, and the amazing invention that is fried bread. Seriously, how have I lived in America for 21 years, a land that loves and lives on bread and fried food, and never had fried bread? It is satisfying stuff. Not a shred of nutrition to be had but, satisfying stuff. Ebb & Flow by the way, is this wonderful joint that does breakfast and lunch by day, and booze by night–decorated with retro art, old newspaper comic strips, and graphic designs from the likes of Threadless designers.
We arrived at the station in Baths Spa and found ourselves in the town square rather quickly. The immediate difference between Baths Spa and any other town in England, is the white stone aesthetic. Everything appears to be made out of this single type of stone, at least in this shopping district. A little further out, the Roman architecture shows its face, mixed in with a Gothic Cathedral, and some cottage-style buildings. Baths is a mix like that–well, nearly everywhere in England appears to be a mix like this–a city that keeps a little bit of every era its survived.
The Roman Baths would be a remarkable attraction for anyone to visit, but having completed a course in Roman Civilization just a few weeks prior to visiting amplified the experience. I wasn’t just in awe of Roman engineering, but often I was recognizing details from class notes, and remembering facts before our audio tour guide could recite them. I think one of the chilling realizations about the Baths is how, as a partially subterranean attraction, you are reminded again and again how it was street-level back in the Roman Empire. A few hundred years go by, and underneath these British streets, you find entire Roman buildings, and the natural spring water still flows through the Roman architecture. And that spring water, is warm, and heavy with irons. “Tastes like blood.”
One of the funnier historical finds were these curses written by Romans and thrown into the pools of the temple. The punishments the Romans would ask for were completely out of proportion to the crime. Did you steal a bath tows mind. The curses weren’t just physically violent, they were oftentimes mentally cruel.
In any case, after a solid hour or two in the Baths, we walked over to David’s Ice Cream and Fudge, a tiny, tiny little shop that could maybe hold six or seven patrons? I do forget which flavor of ice cream my friend ordered, but I strongly recall ordering a lemon flavored ice cream, in a waffle cone. We ate ice cream on these benches in the Kingston Parade, in the shadow of the Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. We made fun of pigeons walking around, and couldn’t help but laugh at ourselves for doing so. And we were beyond puzzled when two men carrying a refrigerator one way across the square, were spotted carrying the same refrigerator back the other way.
We then navigated ourselves through Baths Spa, up Stall, through Burton, and up Milson Street, which was just lined with shops. We ran into a man who, well, put pigeons on people and took pictures of them. So of course we stopped, let the man put pigeons on us, had him take a few pictures of us, gave him a few pounds, and went on our way. And at the end of that road we were on George Street, and we made our way to the Martini Restaurant, a fancy little Italian restaurant that claimed it was “The Italian restaurant, run by real Italians!” Our waiter was a lovely man named Nikolaj who was smiley, polite, and frequented our table to check in on us. An older man, Giordano, occasionally popped by too, once commenting on my friends’ hella-stylish Bugs Bunny patterned button-up shirt. We had a bottle of Pinot Grigio Rosé, 19.95 Pound or 31 USD, which lasted us through the meal and was an absolute treat. Speaking of meals, my order of the Manicotti Roma was perfection; the Manicotti is like a cannoli-sized pasta tube, stuffed with ricotta and spinach, and no part of the pasta was overcooked or burnt. My friend ordered a pasta dish that included crab, Ling Granseola, and like myself, could not stop to talk about how good it was every four bites. Two excellent meals and a nice sweet wine to drink it down with would have made a good time, but it’s what we ordered next that made it a great time.
See, by this point we were a little tipsy, and saying things like “I can’t believe you’re here,” and “I can’t believe what a good time it’s been,” and “you are easily the coolest person I know,” or “I can’t believe I’m going home in three days.” And since we were enjoying ourselves I guess I thought, “why stop enjoying ourselves?” So we ordered two espresso martinis to close out the night, and that decision couldn’t have been wiser. Those martinis completely took the night to the next level. We ventured out back into Baths Spa in that kind of drunken bliss where we could laugh at just about anything, and everything about Baths just felt that much more amazing. We walked to the River Avon to see the Pulteney Bridge, which looked unlike any other bridge I’d ever seen before. The design was such that, it was like you weren’t crossing a bridge at all–the sidewalk kept going, and the shops did not come to a halt. And yet, in our mood, we were all about taking photos of the River Avon and its many seagull occupants. Like we had with the pigeons before, all we could do was crack jokes and laugh at ourselves.
We stumbled on over to Bath’s train station, cracked more jokes at the expense of seagulls, and went home to Southampton. What a day.