In May 2011, on pretty much a spur of the moment trip, the monkey and Mrs. Kongo flew to London, picked up a car, and spent a week roaming Southwest England and Wales on their own. One of their highlights was three days at a wonderful bed and breakfast in Bath.
After clearing customs at Heathrow at 6:30 in the morning, they picked up their rental car from Avis, loaded up the GPS (thank you Betty) and headed out the M4 only to stop at the first layaway out of town and grab a Starbucks. Ordering coffee in the UK is a whole other blog subject but after about six pounds and 45 minutes they were back on the road to swing by Stonehenge on the way to Bath. Since they were early, Kongo was able to be one of the first in the park and enjoyed an hour or so wandering around the ruins (you can’t actually get too close anymore) until a dozen or so tour buses started arriving which was Kongo’s cue to hit the road again.
Finding the B&B, even with GPS, was a bit of a trick but by noon the monkey was comfortably ensconced, took a nap, and walked down a hill for five minutes into the center of Bath.
Gentle readers of previous posts may recall that Kongo has a thing for old churches and flying buttresses. Bath Abbey was a major hit in both these respects. Bath’s abbey origins date back to the 9th century. Of course it’s been rebuilt a few times but it is truly a magnificent building with tons of history.
Bath dates back to Roman times where it was a prosperous city in the Empire and popular because of the hot springs there which were built into an elaborate system of baths. (Hence the name…) King Arthur roamed these parts and fought battles in the area and Bath was a key religious and economic center in England for two thousand years.
In modern (1800s) times Bath was a popular tourist attraction for Londoners who would take the newly invented steam engines out from the smoggy city to spend holidays taking baths or hiking across the hillsides. There were also casinos. Kongo’s kind of town.
One of the best deals in Bath is the free walking tour that leaves daily each morning from in front of the Pump House (in front of the Bath Abbey) and lasts about three hours. You can bail out at anytime but it takes you from the baths and the abbey through the oldest part of town, through several of the more notable buildings, hospital museums, and finally ends up at the Royal Crescent. Check with the visitor information office adjacent to Bath Abbey for exact times for when you visit.
Kongo did day trips out of Bath looking for ancestral sites in the surrounding area. (Shropshire and Wales) Even with GPS driving can be a challenge in the Cotswolds so it’s useful to have a navigator to give you bearings on merging cars in the traffic circles and to spot the street names posted on building walls. But getting lost is fun.
Travel safe. Have fun.