I LOVE Bath. I absolutely adore this tiny, beautiful, perfect UNESCO World Heritage site. I couldn’t get enough of it. Funny enough, the University of Bath was my top choice for university before I realized I didn’t have any money to attend school internationally – and this was years ago, before I even visited this place. I also love Jane Austen, and it just so happened that I was reading Northanger Abbey (in which a majority of the novel takes place here) at the time I visited Bath, so I was all over this quaint little town. While you can probably see everything here in a day, that is not nearly enough time to truly enjoy this piece of history.
For those of you not familiar with what UNESCO is and does, it stands for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and it “seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972.” This was taken directly from the UNESCO website, and you can read more about this organization and the 1,052 World Heritage Sites around the world by clicking here.
I’ve been in England about a month, and up until now the winter weather was pretty mild, not too cold and hardly any rain. Then this happened:
Courtney: “I can’t believe we’ve been here a month and it’s barely rained!”
Weather: “Let me create a torrential downpour with some nice wind and flooding to go with it for you. Lol.”
So the entire day in Bath was spent soaking wet, the rain letting up only when we decided to head back to the hostel to eat. But I didn’t really mind it, to be honest. I loved Bath so much that I had the time of my life just exploring it. We took a walking tour that went beyond it’s two hour claim and pushed three, but our guide was AMAZING and so passionate about this place.
He took us through the rich history of the Roman baths, hence calling the town Bath. It was founded by the Romans in 1st century AD as a thermal spa, as the warm waters have healing powers (though it does not smell pleasant and at the moment some of the original baths are a bit corrupted due to aging and other random variables). Most of the baths are still in use, and while I didn’t get a chance to enjoy one, I did see others having a seriously relaxing spa day and I will one day be back to try that out.
When the town was taken back into English territory under King George I, it developed into quite an elegant place, with the architecture being beautiful and unique. Our guide told us all about Beau Nash’s legacy (a sort of socialite with enormous influence on the shaping of the city); how John Wood (architect) designed the buildings; artists from around the world drew inspiration from here (like Jane Austen); and even gave us a tour of the Fashion Museum, where original chandeliers still hang and are around one million pounds (currency) each. I spotted at least six.
For those of you that have seen/read Northanger Abbey, I passed by the Pump Room. For those who have seen/read Persuasion, I walked “the long way” street. This place is so beautiful.
Oh, and remember that scene in Les Miserables (the newest one) where Javert commits suicide by falling into the dam? That was filmed at Pulteney Bridge in Bath. It is actually a weir in real life and it’s super small, making it quite hard for Russell Crowe to have filmed that scene. The magic of movies, hey?
I unfortunately was short on time and could only stay for a day, but I just LOVE Bath.
Further down the road is one of the Wonders of the World, Stonehenge. And it’s freakin’ cool. I didn’t think I’d like these rocks so much, but it’s mind blowing to even to try and imagine how the people back in the day transported these rocks from places like Wales and other far destinations all the way here.
I visited Stonehenge two months after I went to Bath on a random trip from London with my cousin Bryan and our two Australian friends that we met in Scotland, Natalie and Daniel. These beautiful Aussies offered up their day, car, and membership passes to accompany us to Stonehenge, and I will forever be grateful for their hospitality and kindness.
Stonehenge was another day that was just nonstop rain, but again I didn’t mind because I was looking at A WONDER OF THE WORLD. These stones were placed strategically to be aligned on the movements of the sun as an ancient temple. They were raised 4500 years ago by prehistoric people that were definitely very clever and highly sophisticated for their time. Stonehenge was built around 3000-2200 BC, and while you can’t actually touch the stones or get too near, you can circle all the way around and learn about specific placements and their significance.
There is one day a year you can go into Stonehenge, and that is the Summer Solstice. You stay up all night communing with the others around you and watch the sun rise through the temple the way it was designed to welcome the sun. It’s a new bucket list item for me!
If you’re visiting London, you can take day trips to Bath and Stonehenge in the same day through local tours, but unless you’re very limited on time, I highly suggest making these two separate trips. I could spend weeks in Bath, and there’s just so much to learn and marvel at in Stonehenge. I really am quite lucky to have met Nat and Dan, as they made Stonehenge such a memorable experience. Thanks you two.
P.S. Here are extra photos from Bath: