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Tuesday, 21 December
Bath (I)

Respite! And so we came to Bath, where we had already been duly warned that Bath "really isn't worth six days. Maybe two." We appreciated the advice, and maybe it is true for the hale & unconstipated traveler who is just ripping to get back on a damn train or plane or motorboat to go winging off to the next destination, ready for the next plate of fish and chips to lodge resolutely in his or her duodenum while gazing fondly out the window at yet another sooty wall decorated with the happy slogan, "FUCK BUSH."

Indeed.

We understood, and yes, you can see the sights of Bath in a day or two, but the point was, we were a little tired of big cities and definitely tired of racing to and from various stations and checkpoints, and so the idea of spending six long days of idly wandering around a smaller city with its small, cramped roads was immensely appealing. And we were very happy we did.

As has been previously mentioned, however, the daunting thing about staying for long periods of time on the American dollar is its utter fucking puniness relative to the GBP. (And it's gotten worse, I notice. Holy Jesus.) We surveyed the terrain of our usual haunts--that is, charming, rustic little B&Bs where your iron tubs are cold and rusty and for some reason they have mounted dead crabs on the walls, or something--and they were all horribly expensive (again, remember the flaccid exchange rates). So we did what any person would: we immediately compromised our standards, and booked a room at the yes, soulless and corporate local Holiday Inn Express. It was a good 20 pounds cheaper a night (at least), and was a mere 10-minute walk to the city center.

And we were glad we did, to be honest. Now listen, again, I am a huge fan of those dead-crab-on-walls B&Bs, and they tickle me a great deal, particularly when I'm lowering my tensed ass onto cold iron and I think "I am traveling, and I feel it right now on my ass!" and then I pick up some complicated bath-sceptre and spray water all over the towels. I really do love it. But you know what else I love (and was really happy to find at the Holiday Inn Express--we were never able to determine what exactly made it an "Express," unless it described the velocity with which one's body expelled their glum, defeated coffee, but you could say that about all English coffee, and nobody calls the place England Express)? I loved a queen-sized bed. I loved standing up and taking an actual shower. And I loved--oh, how I loved, I confess, after only a mere week--more than three grainy televeision channels. O God! I cried. I am not forced to watch the Gaelic news! I have options other than baffling childrens' programming! On the other hand, one lonely night as the wife slept, I did discover myself watching Mystic Pizza, which I gravely analyzed as some sort of Hollywood autopsy.

Our stay in Bath was not really very remarkable; we saw the sights, of course: we toured the baths (duh), which was fun in that crumbling-stones-and-green-water kind of way (PLEASE DON'T TOUCH THE WATER! IT'S GROSS! blared the signs. Everyone touched the water. No wonder it's gross.), but somehow more fun was the Museum of Costumes, a charming little collection of outlandish garments throughout history that silly people all actually wore. I'm being mean, of course--we do, after all, live in a culture which has countenanced such things as leg warmers and body glitter. By comparison, an elaborately embroidered greatcoat weighing twelve pounds seems . . . well . . . cool.

Maybe it's a theater thing.

But mostly we took pleasure in relaxing, walking around, seeing lovely old architecture, etc. We wandered the Abbey, a typically Gothic affair with a stunning array of memorial plaques mounted on the walls, on the floors, on the pews, everywhere. "Neare here lies Magdalene Chomper, goode Mother and Faithfulle Wyfe; her surviving Husbande grieves to this Day, and Faithfullie appends the Letter E to manie Good wordes. 1784." That sort of thing. I felt particularly bad about the inscriptions set into the granite floor, as they were all worn away to practically nothing by the millions of feet: you couldn't really read them at all, and it bummed me out that the feet-corpses were getting the short end as compared to the wall-people; it also bummed me out to think that not only were their sentiments getting wiped out earlier than the wall denizens, but also that I might be walking on their faces. "Sorry about the size tens, Mrs. Hoagaboam," I thought. "You want me to give the finger to Mrs. Gangenhall? She's the uppity one over there on the wall." But my fears were probably misplaced; many of the plaques were pretty cagy about the actual resting place of the remains. They said: ". . . whose body lies near here . . . " quite a lot. Which makes me wonder if there was just some ignominious chute where all the bodies were dumped, and then mercilessly scavenged by gravediggers who hauled them back to dark rooms where they would yank out their earbones and sell them for gin.

I think it's clear I needed a rest. Which I definitely got; and there's more, but Lord, I do go on, don't I? We can pick this up later. There's a whole fucking Christmas market that happened, and an unfortunate event at a Marks & Spencer, and a selection of beers to talk about, and a supermarket that, given European complaints about American crassness and bloat, cannot be left without comment.

How's Wednesday for you? I'll see you then.

Roam | Skot | 21 Dec, 2004 |

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Comments

This series is great. You're totally exhuming memories of my own monthlong UK tour back in 2000. I also loved Bath (I was told I'd hate it/be bored), and wish I could have stayed as long... Did you see the Jane Austen museum, or am I just particularly very dorky?

Keep it coming, and thanks. Awesome blog.

Comment number: 004827   Posted by: lara on December 21, 2004 07:13 AM from IP: 198.45.18.38

wednesday's good. see ya.

Comment number: 004828   Posted by: ivana on December 21, 2004 01:06 PM from IP: 66.155.139.3

so, let me get this straight: You came to Bath to praise the showers.

Comment number: 004829   Posted by: mike on December 21, 2004 09:05 PM from IP: 216.173.212.237

so, let me get this straight: You came to Bath to praise the showers.

Comment number: 004830   Posted by: mike on December 21, 2004 09:06 PM from IP: 216.173.212.237

sorry for the rerun. i was getting a server error.

Comment number: 004833   Posted by: mike on December 22, 2004 06:18 AM from IP: 216.173.212.237

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