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Today I hopped a train from Cardiff, Wales to Bath, England.  I was planning on meeting some friends to walk the streets of Bath and enjoy a long day of sightseeing.  I got the sightseeing, but not so much the walking.

You see, my friend managed to pull a muscle in a mad dash to catch her bus from London to Bath and she could barely walk (if you knew my friend, you would only be surprised that she had managed to get all the way to Bath with so few injuries).  She was game to see the city, but in an attempt to save her some agony and also let us see a little more than her hobbling pace allowed, we bought tickets for the tour bus.

I have mixed feelings about tour buses.  On the one hand, it’s a nice way to see a city that you aren’t familiar with and you can cover a lot of ground.  A lot of tour buses stop at key locations so you can get on and off and see the sights as you go.  Maybe if we’d done that, I would have been happier.  However, my traveling companions were so pleased with the bus ride that they didn’t want to get off.  So I sat on the bus and snapped as many pictures as I could and thought longingly of walking.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, we didn’t spend the entire day on the buses and we saw some of the good stuff, starting with Bath Abbey.

I will never get tired of cathedrals.  I love the soaring ceilings.

I love the stained glass.I love the grandeur.  And it’s best when they have organ music echoing through the hallways as they did there.  Mood music is important. And just across the way, are the Roman baths and pump room.  Steamy, metallic water… yum.I don’t tend to photograph old chunks of rock that used to be parts of awesome buildings.  But I liked this bit of mosaic that had depictions of sea monsters.  One of them is breathing fire.  A version of a sea-dragon, perhaps?

There was something surreal about watching the water pouring through a dark, ancient drainage system…

It was after the baths and the abbey that we hopped on our first bus tour.  This is where I discovered that open top buses are great for mild (though windy) rides through beautiful cities, but not so great for taking pictures.  Well, not for someone like me who likes to carefully stage the shot, take it several times with tiny setting adjustments, and appreciate the view while I’m at it.  So here are a few hastily snapped photos from the bus.

Why this one?  Because it was one of the popular places where men fought duels.  I found that amusing.

After two different bus journeys, I had hoped to visit the Jane Austen centre, but we were too late to get in.  I admit to being a bit irritated (we could easily have gotten off the bus earlier when it stopped there), but consoled myself with walking to the Royal Crescent.  It’s so royal… and crescent-like…

My companions had a train to catch in an hour, so we ambled through the nearby park for a bit.  I spotted a little hidden cottage that I wanted to steal.

After bidding my friends farewell, I chose to head back into the city for a couple more hours before catching a train back to Cardiff.  That way, I could satisfy my need to get lost in a beautiful city and take some photos of the places that I’d whisked past on the bus.  I would soothe my soul with my camera.

I wandered at random for a while, not sure what would be the best place to go.  That’s when I saw this sign.

At first, it made me laugh.  Change my priorities?  But I like my priorities.  See all the things.  Photograph all the things.  Go to new city.  Repeat.

But as I reached the city centre and the abbey, I realized two things at once.  First, it was Sunday.  Second, it was exactly 6:30.  Why did this matter?

The doors to the massive church were open and a man was welcoming people inside for a service.  It was Sunday and I had at my disposal an incredible church.

Changed priorities ahead.

Piano, violin, and penny whistle accompanied the voices of a mere thirty or so people clustered at the front of the candlelit cathedral.  A thought-provoking message echoed off the distant ceilings.  A friendly little group of curious locals with hot chocolate and cakes kept me chatting afterwards.

How can I complain about such an ending?

I took a few last pictures as the sun went down and then hopped on the train back to Wales, utterly content.

 

But things just had to get a little better.  As the train sped through Welsh countryside, I got to watch the skies clear just in time for the sunset.

And as I made my merry way back to the hostel, I was treated to glowing lights reflecting off of the quiet river.

No, I really can’t complain at all.

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