When I arrived in London in September I did so with the ambitious intention of traveling widely and visiting all corners of the United Kingdom and Europe. I`ve come to realize this was perhaps a fantasy as factors such as work and finances do interfere with such visions, but I have not completely abandoned this notion and the traveling finally began with a trip to the wonderful city of Bath.
An hour and a half away from London on the train, Bath is a city known for its Georgian Architecture. It was left intact following the Second World War and is perhaps the most stunning place I have seen. The buildings have a unique design and it is hard to believe that such incredible buildings could have been designed so long ago.
The main reason I chose Bath as my maiden adventure was to visit a friend from my University days, Ron, who is living and teaching at the prestigious Kingswood School in the city. He was waiting for me at the train station as I arrived about 930PM on Friday night and we began the quest to find a late meal as we were both hungry. This proved to be exceedingly strenuous as, while Bath is a beautiful place, it does seem to shut down rather early. Eventually we settled for kebabs from the street vendor and made our way up Lansdown Hill to Ron’s flat.
It wasn’t until Saturday afternoon that I really got the chance to see Bath in its true magnificence, but was it ever worth the wait! I was lucky in the fact that I had my own tour guide in Ron to take me around the different hotspots the city has to offer. We set off down Lansdown hill, passing notable attractions along the way, such as the home of Charles Dickens and St Stephens Cathedral. As we meandered down the 2 km road into town Ron pointed out Solsbury Hill, the one made famous by Peter Gabriel. Eventually, we stopped at the Royal Crescent and the Royal Circus for photo opportunities as the brilliant design of the structures is simply incredible. The tour, as is customary in Britain, included a pub lunch and a quick pint before we embarked on the long road back to Kingswood School.
While we were at the pub on Saturday afternoon I discovered that Bath Rugby were playing a Heineken Cup match on Sunday afternoon. Ron unfortunately had to work Sunday and was unable to join, but what better way to fill in a Sunday afternoon then to watch a match at the famous Recreational Ground.
As Ron reluctantly headed off to work Sunday morning I sauntered into town and made sure that I secured my ticket for the match. With a few hours to spare and no plan I decided to spend some time getting acquainted with the many Christmas markets around the city and eventually made my way to the Roman Baths. These remarkable hot pools were built with astonishing care and knowledge right in the centre of town, and are surrounded by immaculate buildings. I spent the remainder of my morning and much of my early afternoon browsing the baths then slowly made my way over the `the Rec` for the match.
Ordinarily when attending a sporting event I am quite engaged in the action and rarely take time to look at the setting in which the event is being played. This was an exception, as the rugby grounds are perhaps the best place to get a view of Bath. As I sat in my seat, well before the game began, I was awestruck by the view of the Georgian Architecture surrounded by beautiful English countryside. As the game progressed the sun began to set and this only made the setting all the more picturesque as the sky adopted an orange glow and the lights of the city became more prevalent.
The atmosphere for the rugby match was perhaps the best I have seen. I found myself sitting in between two longstanding members of Bath Rugby and was able to learn a lot from them about the club and the history of Bath. In return they engaged me in conversation about Canadian rugby, and eventually New Zealand rugby as they got more information about my travels. The match itself turned out to be one of the better live games I have seen, going down to the final seconds with a failed drop goal attempt preserving the win for the home side. As is usually the case with rugby the atmosphere was friendly and relaxed, and the French visitors from Montpellier were welcomed with applause as French wine and bread was served at the concession stands; a far cry from the culture of English football to be sure.