Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The Long Weekend and the Legend of the Rare Photographs

September 02 - September 05

First, this is about my long weekend in Bath, Salisbury, and Bristol.
Second, you are in for a treat. There are three extremely rare photographs in this post.

So Thursday started off with Theater class as it usually does. That was all good and well.

We returned to the flat, packed for the trip, and made our way to Paddington Station. The paper said to be there by 11:30, and we got there at like 11:25. We started walking really fast and got to the train just as the doors were closing. It was a real "stop the closing door with your arm" situation (and no, before you ask, I did not actually stop the closing door with my arm). We sat down only to realize that only 3 other people from our group of 25 were actually on this train. This is because we were on the wrong train. Fortunately, this train stopped at Bath too, so we were fine. Anyway, we arrived at Bath.

I should note that I have no pictures for a little while because I was generally disoriented and concerned solely with being in the right place at the right time, and this is exactly why I decided to get ice cream. It was tasty. Then we waited at the station for everyone else to arrive, which they did... except one. You know that guy that's always late; this is that guy of our group (though I will pick on him no further because he is a chill and cool guy as well). He was told (on the phone) the directions to the youth hostel and that the rest of the group was going on ahead. We just needed a bus because 2 miles up a mountain with three days of clothes and supplies on our backs just sounded like lunacy... because we are fat Americans, you see. There was one problem... the guy handing the bus pass thingies was a cantankerous a-hole. You know those bitchy (this is apparently not a swear) secretaries? This guy was like a male version of that with a posh British accent. In the end, we did not get the passes but just paid for single tickets. Anyway, bus took us to the hostel, which looked like this.
We got to rest for about 10 minutes before we started hiking uphill toward the university for our lecture on the geology of Bath, which to the professor's credit, was really interesting. Afterward the professor took us to one of the most spectacular views I have ever seen, the photos of which do not do it justice: The City of Bath from the top of a mountain.

There is also a castle piece here that was placed solely so that and aerial shot of the city would seem to have to containing a castle. I am not making this up.
We walked down the mountain and into the city for some dinner. Along the way, we looked for the famous Abbey but kept getting the wrong building.
Not this one.
We gave up when we saw the Sally Lunn’s Restaurant. For a relatively inexpensive price, Sally Lunn’s was the best restaurant that we had eaten at thus far (though it would be eclipsed later). I had duck for dinner and a treacle tart for desert. They were delicious. It is also worth mentioning that Sally Lunn’s has the best buns (they call it that, not me) that I have laid my hands on in a long time. I am aware of how that statement sounds and I am okay with it. 
Pictured: delicious.
After dinner, we found the Abbey.
This is what we had trouble finding.
Not much else to say about it. It’s big. We headed toward The Huntsman (a pub) because it was the meeting place for nighttime comedy walk/tour. However, when we got there, this was happening.
We have no idea who these people are but apparently they were fairly well known around these parts so we were apparently honored to see them. That being said, these guys ruled. They were older and more coordinated than anyone reading this.

Anyway, the tour began with some witty British banter from JJ, the guide.
This guy.
The comedy walk lasted about an hour and 45 minutes and involved simple (intentionally bad) magic, some complex (and quite baffling) magic, nasty but hilarious little jabs at various ridiculous things in the city (an example would be the locked fence restricting access to one of the abbey entrances… that was completely unguarded and only 2 feet tall), making fun of people from various countries, messing with unknowing pedestrians, (obviously planned) random instances (a man comes down the street on a bicycle with a black bag on his head), and of course, calling Steve homeless. If you ever visit Bath, this is a must. It was absolutely hysterical. However, all good things must come to an end, and we were tired, so we took a bus to the hostel and went to bed.

Friday morning I had 4/7 of a traditional English breakfast (that is I ate the sausage, eggs, bacon, and hash browns, and I omitted the mushrooms, tomatoes, ad beans). After getting ready, we walked into the city via a shortcut that offered more stunning sites and beautiful properties.
Then walked through town and met for our Roman baths tour. I regret to inform you that I do not have much information on our tour, as I could not pay attention to our tour guide. He was loud enough, but he just had one of those boring voices. All I remember is that the water in the Roman baths has 40-something minerals, a unholy amount of iron, is terrible for you (bathing or ingested), and would be even filthier back then because of the amount of people in it.
The baths.
What happens if you use the baths.
I forgot to mention that throughout bath there was a public art contest involving lions. These are my three favorite lions.
Chocolate Lion
Scrabble Lion
You can't be serious...
I liked the scrabbled lion enough to get second shot of it.
Rare Photograph #1
For lunch we went back to Sally Lunn’s to have one of her buns (I got one with cinnamon butter on it). Now, Sally’s buns are huge, soft, and delicious, so they make for a good lunch.

Shortly after, we inadvertently ended up inside the Abbey without paying (by way of the gift shop).

For class, we went on a walking tour of bath, which was very informative and entertaining. I also really like our tour guide. We were told the history of places as well as the defining features of the Georgian architecture associated with a certain place. It also provided for a picturesque tour of the city and some of its more notable residences.
I should probably mention that at no time yesterday or today had I sat down (with the exception of sleep). This continues throughout the entire weekend. By the end of the tour, I was wiped, but I kept walking. We now had free time, but I needed food, so we went into a super cheap pub called The Grapes. Along the way we ran into an interesting street performing duo. Throughout the day, we saw all kinds of street performers, especially singers. As for the duo we ran into, I only got a picture of one of them (the other was dressed in black doing the same thing).
Brain hemorrhage in 3… 2… 1…
This was my first time in a pub, which is why I also turned this opportunity into my first fish and chips experience. While the meal was good, I felt the fish was a bit too fried.
This did not stop me from eating it.
For the next 90 minutes or so, Steve, Michelle, and I hung out in the park with some slightly drunk peers. It was a very enjoyable time, but eventually we decided to go back to the hostel. On the way back, I got an awesome picture of the city at night.
Unfortunately, when we were taking pictures, we were using flash, which pissed off someone. This all took place in a huge pitch-black field. We never saw him. All we know is that we heard a very loud, very distant yelling of “mamramafr nangmenerfem that light”. We ceased photography IMMEDIATELY and started walking VERY FAST toward the hostel, which was still about a quarter mile away. I did not feel safe until the next morning.

We had to get up very early Saturday to catch an 8:15 bus to Stonehenge. The drive through the countryside was beautiful. It was so beautiful, in fact, that I was stuck in one of those perpetual nodding-off-but-not-sleeping states. That being said, what did see was stunning. I have lived in New Jersey my whole life, and I have been living in a city for two weeks, so it was really relieving to see endless amounts of nothing. Anyway, we got to Stonehenge, got off the bus, and met our tour guide, who was awesome. We had a few minutes before the actual tour started, so we had a few minutes of free time. It was then that I noticed a chair back just sitting there. Now I am not one to waste a chair back, so I used it for some rest.
Rare Photograph #2
The tour of Stonehenge was probably my favorite tour thus far. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic. We learned all about Stonehenge’s supposed history; how they supposedly did it; why they supposedly did it; what it was supposedly used for; and supposedly a bunch of other information. Out of everything we learned, my favorite fact was that Stonehenge is basically an ancient set of LEGOs. You see…
… the bump on here…
… went into the hole here.
That’s how the stones were prevented from slipping off, even though that that technology did not last for 4000 years. A few odd things happened at Stonehenge. First, there were a disproportionate amount of Asian people, and I mean at least 60 percent of people were Asian. Second, we saw a man on a bench (within the tour perimeter) using his laptop while his wife was texting relentlessly. Third (and this was heartwarming) our group went to take a picture, so we all got in a group and knelt down… and then some random Asian lady asked if she could be in our picture, to which everyone responded with an enthusiastic “yay”. It was really cute. Anyway, enough of my boring banter. I give you… Stonehenge.
Rare Photograph #3

We got back on the bus and headed toward Salisbury. It was a short walk until we got to the Cathedral, which was amazing. The cathedral in built on a foundation that is only four feet underground. For those who are not civil engineers, if you asked a contractor to try that today, he would tell you to fornicate yourself with a red hot fire poker. One side of the cathedral a lot of scaffolding on it, which I hate, so I did not get a picture of that side. However, I have these pictures of the cathedral.
The inside was just as impressive structurally and aesthetically.
Inside, we also saw one of the oldest mechanical clocks in the world. It was badass and I want one. There was also a cool fountain thing but I think it was for baptisms, so I should probably stay away from that one.
Setting the alarm must suck.
We finally got to see THE MAGNA CARTA. It was unreal; the writing looked like it came off a printer, but it was all hand written. I have no pictures because we were not allowed to take any. We exited the cathedral and got on a train to Bristol.

We arrived in beautiful, beautiful Bristol and – hey wait a minute! This place is a hellhole! We marched for about 90 through what had to be the not-quite-a-ghetto of Bristol until we found our hostel, Malago, which was AMAZING. We had a bathtub for goodness sake, and all for £25 per person.
Makes the flat look like crap.
After all the walking of the past week, we decided to do nothing until dinner, and we did exactly that. For dinner, we went to my new favorite restaurant in Europe, Joe Kubab II. This was a kebab restaurant, and the owner was the nicest man to ever have lived. He showed us ignorant Americans how to slit open pita bread so I could culturally stuff the crap out of it with meat. He gave us a 2-liter bottle of water for free. He let us try all the sauces. Overall, he is just a better human being than I am. I consumed about a pound of lamb meat plus some chips by the time we were done. Anyway, we went back and I promptly went to bed after doing some work. I was feeling rather sick (not stomach sick, real sick) at this point.

Remember when I said I felt sick? I was right. The day I am about to describe happened whilst ill. We woke Sunday and it was raining, which was really auspicious for the International Kite Festival we were planning to attend. We ate breakfast and started walking around when we encountered a half marathon, which was exciting to see. We would later cross paths with this marathon no fewer than a dozen times before the day was over.
We crossed the marathon and entered Castle Park, and I FINALLY got to see my first actual castle.
For real.
We then walked through the park, which was immensely depressing. The park had litter and graffiti all over the place and just sucked overall. I didn’t take pictures of the park because I refrain from taking pictures of things that are terrible. We crossed the marathon a few more times before wandering into town (still not pretty) and looking through some shops. After about an hour of shop-looking, we decided to head to the festival. We walked… and walked… and walked… and- oh hey! That’s the Bristol City Museum and Art Hall right next to Bristol University.
Bristol 1, Bucknell 0
We went into the museum and looked at as much as we could within the time limit. I did not take any pictures but there was a fossil exhibit, piano collection, stuffed animal collection, geology collection, and other museum-type things.

We finally got to an applicable bus stop and took it to the Clifton Suspension Bridge, a beautiful bridge that provided stunning panoramic views and an up close look at the bridge engineering of the time.
 We had to cross the bridge really fast (which was kind of a shame) because one of our group members was afraid of heights. Any we crossed the bridge and headed down the mountain… and down… and down… and down. After about half a mile, we wondered if we were going in the right direction. Steve’s eagle eyes saw one of the kites… at the top of the mountain. So we marched up the mountain… and up… and up… and up… and up until we got to the Ashton Court gates. We continued on to the festival.


The International Kite Festival was that kind of amazing that leaves you dumb struck. I will show all the pictures at the end, but I cannot describe how awesome this festival was. There were kites of all designs, shapes, colors, themes, and sizes. We then watched a synchronized kiting routine choreographed to the song “Come Together”, which when said, prompted the kite fliers to bring their kites together. I cannot describe what I saw other than that it was the pinnacle of human existence and no one has any reason to live. I have not yet figured out how to get the video off my camera, but I will post it when I do. Here is the festival.
We returned to the train station and headed home. On the train I was seated 3 rows from some now-drunk marathoners.

1 comment:

  1. Baby goes....


    Dad goes...