Oct 4, 2016

Dip your toes into bath


Holidaying in big cities means that you often need a holiday to recuperate from the holiday. The endless queues to see museums, castles and monuments is enough to give you an edifice complex. That’s the reason why Bath is my favourite British destination.

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This little Georgian gem 200 miles west of London is intimate enough not to be overwhelming. A romp around the Roman Baths, a bit of a bonnetand- bustle rustle at the Jane Austen museum, some ‘ooh’ and ‘ahing’ in the Abbey and a pilgrimage to the home of our very own Governor Philip – and it’ll be G&T time.

Bath has over 200 listed buildings (and after a pint or two of the delicious local ale, you’ll be listing too, believe me.)

But the most magnificent by far is the Royal Crescent. Built in 1767 by John Wood, the 50 foot high and 500 foot long curve of 30 grand houses reflects a bygone era of gracious living; a time when Bath was the epicenter of the civilized world.

It is one of the great set masterpieces of European architecture. The honey-golden hue of the local stone makes the buildings resemble pretty butterscotch puddings. Sloping from the Crescent down to town is a giant sweep of billiard baize lawns – a setting so Jane Austen-esque, you keep expecting Darcy to get down on bended knee to ask you to knot your nuptials. (And what woman wouldn’t love to be the dishy Darcy’s altar-ego?)

From the Jane Austen museum to the Pump Rooms, Bath hemorrhages history with a host of ghosts lurking in every nook and cranny. (How to look good in your holiday snaps? Be photographed in front of historic landmarks. They make a girl look so much younger.)

As you soak up the history of the Roman Baths, it’s easy to imagine the relief of those tiny-tuniced Romans back in 60 AD finally getting to thaw out their frostbitten bits in these warm waters

It also made me feel the need for a spa-ing partner. The recently renovated Thermae Bath Spa offers chardonnay grape baths, caviar facials and green coffee Jacuzzis.

My need for beautification was so urgent, therapists immediately whisked me through the spa’s emergency entrance. A rehydrating facial later and I felt as refurbished as the £45 million building itself.

But aromatic mud wraps have little to do with the Bath of the 18th century. Daniel Defoe described it as a resort for “the sound, rather than the sick; the bathing is made more a sport and diversion, than a physical prescription for health: and the town is taken up in raffling, gaming, visiting and all sorts of gallantry and levity.”

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Most visitors didn’t even dip a toe in the baths, but loitered behind the White Hart Inn stables with the strumpets – a case of hips which passed in the night.

Flirting, frottage, drinking, gambling and partying – no wonder we Aussies feel so at home here. A few days in Bath will make you so happy you’ll have your own cloud. And you definitely won’t need a holiday to recover from your holiday.

Explore Bath’s many delights on the 22 Day Majestic Britain and Ireland journey or even combine this with a Europe River Cruise for the ultimate adventure.

Article by Kathy Lette.