Saturday 18 August 2012

Bath- a girl’s weekend away - September 2011

Outside the Roman baths. Spot the bonnets…

I visited Bath in September with a few friends for a girl’s weekend away. Bath has always seemed popular for a trip be it with your other half, family, a hen do or just a gathering of a few friends so we thought we’d give it a go. It’s easy to get to from Paddington on a train journey that lasts just ninety minutes so bundling down after a week of work in the big smoke was quite pleasant. Well perhaps that might be an overstatement, the train was actually very full, so much so we had to sit on our own luggage in the gangway. Oh and we were by the toilets too… (spot the girls with the Groupon tickets who didn’t click on ‘reserved seating’) But we were armed with some perfume and lots of humour. So after an hour and a half of spritzes and giggles we arrived.

Even just stepping out from the station I felt we were well and truly out of London. Looking across the road you could see some cobbled streets winding away and a sweet looking tea room greeted us with promises of afternoon tea, shame it was 8.30 in the evening…
In walking around Bath over the course of the weekend, I found it to be deceptively big. Within the first couple of hours we thought we had found our bearings and worked out where the Roman Baths were (Clue: it was the gathering place for many Jane Austen character look a likes. We soon realised this wasn’t a typical Saturday morning in Bath and that we hadn’t missed the memo but instead was the start of the annual Jane Austen festival*.) And we had worked out where the river and the shops were. I thought we had the lay of the land but each time I took a wrong turn or took a different route I would find yet another cobbled street full of shops and restaurants. 
I really like the character of the city. Combining old and new alike yet still keeping to its Roman roots. From different places in the city you can glimpse the Abbey that lies at the heart, a centre point as it were. The older sweet shops were a great find with so many choices of fudge and the toffee apples were winking at you from the windows, attempting to lure you in.
Some of us found our way to the renowned Bath Therma Spa. We had heard great things and were not let down. The spa has a small day package, which works well for tourists like us who were just visiting for a couple of days. For £25 you can get two hours to spend in the spa visiting the roof top pool with stunning views, five different aromatherapy steam rooms and large indoors heated bath with a lazy river. As we were there quite early too, we didn’t need to queue.  After a couple of hours in the spa we were feeling well and truly relaxed.
For our evening meal, I was so glad we had asked our host for a local recommendation. We went to the Greek/Mediterranean restaurant called OPA. We honestly wouldn’t have found it or considered it had we not heard of it before. It’s tucked away down by the river and you have to venture down some stairs to reach the tavern. Set underground in a cave with lots of nooks and crannies this restaurant/bar has a great atmosphere. We managed to book the last little cave area which seated everyone easily. The walls were draped with fabrics, candles were burning and this seemed like a really cool place. The menu was varied with options for Greek mezze or full plates. The food was delicious and everyone left with very full stomachs! The wine and cocktails were pretty good too… The staff were really friendly and had quite a sense of humour ( one waiter suggested that whoever left the most on their plate would be taught to belly dance… an incentive to finish your dinner certainly!)
Bath was a great city to visit and I’m glad we made the trip. I still feel there are a few cobbled streets left to explore and it seems to be a city that is full of surprises where each visit uncovers more than the last. I think I will have to have to bring the other half along next time to show him what a great place it is. After the big bag of fudge and the toffee apple I brought back, I don’t think he will need much persuading!
*Although Ms Austen did indeed live in Bath for some time, it turns out she didn’t enjoy living in Bath and felt unable to write there. It wasn’t until she was back in her home in Hampshire that she felt truly able to pick up the pen again. This is something that isn’t advertised on the festival posters…
Delicious fudge

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