I traveled to the U.K. in June 2008 on a combination work/vacation trip. I posted about it on my old group blog Population Five. Now that I am writing more about traveling at Goth Panda, I am reposting these here for thematic unity, and also because reading them reminds me of the trip. I want to go back! Anyway, that explains some of the dated references.
I wonder how the release times for U.S. movies and television shows are determined in the U.K. While we were there, they were showing in theaters movies that had just been released in the States (like Sex in the City), and movies that had been out of theaters for months here (like Gone, Baby, Gone). They were also advertising TV shows that I had never heard of as “phenomenal hits” in the States. Not that I am always on top of U.S. pop culture, but I suspect some marketing genius at work.
This is all working up to say that I forgot to add something else we did on Saturday night: we watched Doctor Who on one of the BBC channels. The episode we saw was three weeks away from being shown in the U.S. So we have seen the future, and it was pretty awesome.
On Monday, we went to Bath.
Bath was one of the places that I knew I had to see in England. It has been a tourist destination for about two thousand years. The Romans built a bath over the natural hot springs, and Bath got a name and a claim to fame.
The water doesn’t look too appealing, but the signs say that’s because of the sunlight. The baths were covered in the Roman era, and it prevented algae from growing
The heat coming off of this water fogged up my camera lens. I did dip my hand in the water in the baths, despite the signs saying not to. It was pleasant, and no where near as hot
Part of the Baths is now a Wishing Well
Roman graves excavated near the site
When we got out of the Baths, we were starving. I had read about a teashop named Sally Lunn’s that dated back to the 1600s. I really wanted to go there, but I didn’t know where it was.
Around the Baths is a maze of crowded shopping streets and alleys. One of my favorite authors, Jane Austen, famously despised Bath. If it was as crowded then with the early 19th-century equivalents of the Gap and Crabtree & Evelyn, I suddenly knew exactly why. I asked two different shop people how to get to Sally Lunn’s, but they could only give me vague directions. I was about ready to give up on the idea, but I came across a map affixed to a wall near the Abbey that had it listed.
I was exceedingly glad afterwards that I hadn’t given up, because I think Sally Lunn’s was the only authentic English teashop we went to. We all ordered pots of tea, which came individually steeped, with an extra pot of hot water to pour into them. They also provided little strainers for the cups to strain out the leaves — this was the only place we went to that used loose leaf tea and not teabags. I got the light lunch, which included a pureed vegetable soup and a sandwich. The sandwich I chose was Brie with cranberry sauce and it was delicious. You can see the rest of the daytime menu here.
Sally Lunn’s also gave me the opportunity to see clotted cream up close. I have never been exactly sure what clotted cream is. Now I know it is something like supercharged butter, even taking into consideration that the regular butter in Britain is much richer than the kind we get here.
After the lunch, we went back to Bath Abbey because I am a sucker for flying buttresses.
We couldn’t stay long because we had to catch a train to our next destination. Here’s a clue:
Didn’t help? How about this one:
That’s right, we went to Cardiff. We first tried to visit Cardiff Castle, but we were too late. So we took photos from the outside.
Then we made our way to the waterfront to soak in the sights. Unfortunately, Torchwood and the Cardiff Tourism Board make Cardiff out to be a much more happening place than it seems to actually be. We were not, however, too late to get admission to the Doctor Who exhibition.
The Tardis looks a little worse for the wear
The Dalek was easily worth the price of admission alone. You pressed a button, and its head would swing around, its “ears” — hey, that’s what they called them on the sign — would light up, and it would shout, “Exterminate!”
But despite all the Doctor Who-themed tourism stops, I did not manage to run into David Tennant.
Stay tuned for Day Seven, in which I eat a lovely vegetable quiche, am reprimanded in a crowded theater, and David Tennant starts stalking me for a change.