Whilst in Devon, we had been advised to spend a day in both Bristol and Bath en route to London. We were pretty sick of packing and re-packing our bags so decided to spend the 2 days just in Bath. It was a wise decision as we absolutely LOVED it there!
Bath was hosting moderate rain upon our arrival, so we quickly ran from the station and checked-in to our Hostel. We hung out there for about an hour, chatting to people about their travels. In the afternoon the rain cleared so we went for a walk to the Abbey, Pulteney's bridge and along the river. There was a foot maze near the old dam, so Ellen spent about an hour attempting to successfully reach the center (she made it in the end. We're all very proud). We were pretty hungry after the walk so got suckered into buying some Cornish pasties from a café that had a sign advertising the "best Cornish pastries". They were pretty good, (about four thumbs up) but I'm sure there are a number of bakeries in Cornwall that would challenge the legitimacy of their proclamation. We took some more take-away and ate them back at the hostel common room.
Some Spanish backpackers had chosen Slipknot's live tour of southern Uzbekistan as the ambient background dinner music (thanks guys), so it was pretty easy discerning who we wanted to sit near: the Spaniards on the couch with the remote? The dreadlocked Scandinavians holding blood-covered baseball bats, rocking out behind them? Or the quiet American chick cringing at the table?... we naturally chose the Scandinavians. After about an hour they all wanted to go sit inside the freezer and turn the lights off for 5 months straight, so we decided to chat to the American girl.
She was really cool. She'd been doing an exchange semester in London studying finance, but wanted to go back to the states to run a café as she'd acquired a taste for good espresso, so couldn't see herself ever going back to the crap filter stuff she grew up on. Ellen off-handedly mentioned I was a barista so we then spent the next hour talking about coffee and the general lay-out of how she wanted her café. Ellen contributed a lot to the conversation, proclaiming she likes coffee with lots of sugar and milk (we're all very proud). As it was just after 9pm and the music channel was now playing Marilyn Manson's unreleased album of songs he'd recorded whilst nailed upside-down to a burning church, we decided we should probably head out for a drink.
We asked the hostel receptioner (is that the male equivalent of a receptionist?) where was a good place to go. He recommended this tiny little bar not too far from the city centre, that brewed its own unique ales and cider. He wasn't lying on either front. It was probably about 2m x 4m and everything on tap was either craft ale or cider. We tried a bit of everything. They were immensely delicious. We all chatted for another couple hours then headed back to the hostel once we heard a break in the rain. Thankfully Marilyn had been burnt to a charcoal crisp by the time we got back, so the Spaniards must've set off to hang chorizo in their room. We relished the silence and ended up starting a mini game of jenga with the half-filled box we found on the floor. We were all getting waay too invested into the monotonous game, so after an hour we called it a night and headed to bed.
The beds were pretty comfortable so we were actually sleeping quite soundly, until around 5am when one of the other Aussies in our room, returned with a random Bath townie, both ludicrously drunk. The British guy had a bottle of vodka and was going round to every persons bed shining his phone in their eyes and asking them to come join his "pumping party" in the common room. I thought it was actually quite generous of him and I was tempted to take him up on his offer, but as everyone else was already screaming "f#ck off!" and as I was incredibly cosy, I decided to let him enjoy it all to himself. Moments later I heard him pass out on the stairs outside...(thankfully for him they were carpeted).
Our hostel was full the next day so we had to change to another one just up the road. We dumped our bags there in the morning then headed to the Roman baths. The history of the baths was really interesting and because they hadn't been re-discovered til the C18th the excavations were top notch. We spent hours there learning all the history and customs of the Baths. The general audio-guide wasn't the best, but thankfully they had a children's selection, as well as special commentaries by Stephen Fry for certain parts, so between those two we got through everything. Apart from the slightly high admission ((£18) ...although, Ellen did flutter her eyes at the ticket man so we got in for £10 each) they are a definite must-see. No one is allowed to bathe in the museum baths, except for the local duck resident, but you can sample the water at the end of the tour. I would advise though, it does taste like its come from a tepid pool that a bunch of naked 80 year-old men have been washing cabbage in, so maybe give it a miss.
After the Baths, we headed to the sunken gardens (the park next to the river that remains at the original street level during Roman times, 6m below the current street level) as there was a "Love Bath" festival on. There was free music, bbq, traditional Indian desserts, ice-cream stall, face painting, jumping castle and puppet show. It was pretty awesome! Ellen immediately reverted back to an 8 year-old, getting a butterfly painted on her face and scoffing 4 serves of ice-cream. One of the performers was sensational, she reminded us of a young tracey Chapman, so we spoke to her after her set and praised how good she was. She was extremely modest, but gave us a link to her site so we could stream some more of her music.
In the afternoon we went for a walk around the western side of the city, through some of the parks near the Jane Austen museum (my molotov cocktail missed and accidently set fire to the building next door) and then down to the VAG (Victorian Art Gallery...I don't think Bath residents abbreviate it to that, but they definitely should). It had a really cool ceramic and print collection, but after all the ice-cream Ellen had consumed she was having a major sugar come-down and needed to lay down, so we cut the viewing short and headed to the hostel for a nap (jeez Ellen really did revert back to a child-like form that day).
For dinner that night we went to an Irish pub, where, (for letting her nap that afternoon) I was allowed to feast on a double bacon and cheese burger, whilst Ellen was stuck with vegetable quiche. We passed on the Guinness that evening as they had a locally brewed cloudy cider which was delish-i-o! It was also 12% alcohol so they knocked us out pretty quick. We wanted to chillout with a film that evening, but the selection wasn't great. We ended up surfing through the channels trying to find something, but had to settle with Midsummer Murders. The narratives of those films are hyperbolised to the point of combustion. I wasn't sure whether it was actually a witty comedy satirising the game of cluedo in a real world context or a D-grade porno that they had just edited out all of the sex scenes? I also don't get how that old biddy hasn't been killed yet, or been given the Medal of Bravery by every small county police force in the Suffolk/Kent area, for single-handedly solving every murder case since 1903. The amount of times she's found herself in an abandoned mansion with a psychopathic murderer is just ludicrous.
Our room was completely full so Ellen and I were sleeping in separate bunks. About 15 minutes after turning off the lights a heavy snore began to echo around the room. I knew Ellen's body responds pretty badly to exhaustion during unconsciousness (extreme snoring and uncontrollable drooling) so I looked over to her bed. The snoring got louder and louder. It would crescendo every 4-5 breaths with a choking of saliva at the back of the throat. The others in the room began fidgeting in their beds and coughing in a "my god shut up" kind-of way. I was too tired to climb down and walk over to her bed, so I tried leaning over and hitting her awake. However, the distance between beds was too far and I didn't want to risk falling the 5 feet down in case I messed up my pretty little face. The snoring was out of control though. It was like an earth quake, all the beds in the room were now shaking. I had to end this. I climbed down, strolled over to Ellen's bunk and was about to slap her across the face with a salted cucumber I had sitting on the window sill, when I realised her mouth was shut. She was sleeping quietly. Confused, I looked around in the darkened room. Two beds over, next to the far wall was the true perpetrator: a petite Korean girl. I caught the glance of the guy in the bed underneath Ellen. He gave me a kind of "well seeing as you're up, do you mind shaking her awake?" look. I strolled over and bumped her bed. She rolled over, the snoring stopping. I climbed back onto my bunk and pulled the blanket up. Just before I closed my eyes the Korean girl at the end of the room rolled back to her initial position, the snoring beginning once more...uh, this was going to be a long night.
The next morning Ellen woke early, apparently unaffected by the loud snoring throughout the night. She poked me awake and gestured for us to head down to breakfast. It was by no means as appetising as our complimentary breakfasts in Bad Lauterberg, but they had drinking chocolate for hot drinks, so we treated ourselves to some mochas with our cereal and toast. Afterwards we headed to our room, grabbed our bags and dumped them at reception. As our coach to London didn't leave til 1.30pm we wanted to squeeze in the free city walking tour we'd kept forgetting to do. It was a lovely clear day, so we met the group outside the Roman baths at 10am. Our tour guide was a lovely old lady who had obviously spent her entire life in Bath. She was extremely passionate about every location she took us to, and spared no detail or anecdote that she knew. It was a really fun and informative tour. We definitely should've taken it on our first day so we understood the significance of the city's lay-out and architecture. It would've helped us orientate ourselves much easier when strolling around. Nevertheless, we saw the remaining landmarks we hadn't yet found and learned a great deal of the city's history that will probably never be of use to us in any other conversational circumstance. But oh well, I'm sure it will be replaced by some other useless knowledge in the near future.
The tour finished just after 1pm so we quickly grabbed some take-away lunch, collected our bags and headed to the bus station. I was hoping we'd pass via Devises so Ellen could glimpse Stone Henge, but alas we were on a direct route to London. I reclined back in my seat and closed my eyes, looking forward to a much-needed rest. Just before I drifted off into dreamland, an horrendous noise shook me awake. The Korean girl from the dorm room was 2 seats behind me, mouth open, wheezing like a drowning ferret.... Not again. Where the hell did I put that salted cucumber?