Sunday, October 02, 2011

Day 14: London + Bath

I arrived home, safe and sound, on Friday night....and I'm slowly readjusting to real life. Fingers crossed that by tomorrow I will wake up in the right time zone :-).

My final morning in London was spent at Hampton Court Palace....entering another world. As an avid fan of The Tudors, I was familiar with the place, and eagerly awaiting my visit. Since it was just a short drive from where I was staying, it made sense to leave it to the last day.

I arrived early, so I think I might have been the first visitor to pass through the gates once it opened. In fact, they were still unlocking all of the doors, etc., so it was a little wait until I was able to put my bags in a locker....but all worthwhile in the end. It was a peaceful day, and apart from several school groups in some parts of the Palace, it was quite quiet (in complete contrast to almost everywhere else I visited in London).

The grounds and gardens are equally lovely....and I had a nice walk around outside. I also went in the historic Maze....and was quite worried for several minutes that I might not find my way out in time to make my train! Eventually I found the wheelchair exit, and decided to cheat and use it instead rather than risk getting really lost.

Before I knew it, it was time to catch my train to Bath. Within minutes dropping off my bags at my hotel in Bath, I was wishing that I had allowed more time to explore the area. The short walk to the Roman Baths was quite pretty....

And once I started my self-guided tour, I really felt as though I was stepping back in time. I think the Roman Baths Museum will be the place that I really came to appreciate the audio tour (prior to this I didn't really have much patience for them, and seemed to abandon them quite quickly -- when I even bothered to pick one up....). I think that the main difference here was that there were frequently several options to choose from, and once I had sampled the Bill Bryson commentary (and loved it!), I was hooked and only choose the red squares from that point on....

The Roman Baths was yet another reminder of how much history proliferates England. Canada in comparison is such a new country, that something or somewhere that has been around for 100 years is considered historical......whereas in the U.K., many places have been around for several centuries and some for millennium.

Following the advice of the innkeeper, in the evening I sought out the Mayor's Walk -- a free guided walking tour of the town which is held daily, and a few nights a week as well in the summer months. Even though it got dark early on in the tour, it was still quite worthwhile and a great way to learn more about the development of the town. I would have loved to have been able to take in a daytime tour and get another person's take on the town (all of the walks are conducted by volunteers and influenced by whatever questions are I imagine that no two would be the same).

A lovely first day in a lovely town.