And we’re off.
We’ve become pretty old hat at this whole traveling thing. We got out of the house and into a waiting shuttle, driven by part of the Eastside Russian Limo Mafia. And the roads were clear. We made it to the airport in no time. Being early, we were able to drop off our bags with no line, and had a line at the TSA “Grab and Grope” that was only a few people long.
Naturally, this gave us more time at the bar, I mean – gate.
We grabbed a quick bite and drink, then went on a hunt for bottled water. Our lesson from last trip was to carry more water with us, as the plane was dehydrating and you got stiffed at the airport arrival. After buying a big bottle in the magazine shop, we got an announcement from the British Airways ticket desk that they had free bottles of water for the passengers on our flight.
In any case, I took a bunch and filled my bag for later. Time flew pretty quickly, and soon we we were boarding the plane. We had fairly good seats, at the front of the economy class. Naturally we were split up, me in front, Yulia and Sasha behind me. While annoying, this wasn’t too bad. We at least had pretty good seats, and the flight was only 8 hours or so, so it wasn’t that long.
British Airways allows you to opt in for different meals, if you use the website in advance. This let’s you get a kids meal, or vegetarian, or Kosher, etc. They had an option for Gluten Free meals, which is the closest to my diet that I could find. This did not work out well.
The odd, processed rice bun and cake, frozen salad, and mystery meat in white sauce that passed for the Gluten Free meal, surprisingly, did not satisfy. Neither did the snack pack of, largely, an empty box and diced fruit. I was left a bit wanting.
I’m really happy to get an uneventful flight, it was calm enough that Yulia didn’t need to calm herself with too many drinks, and we were tired, but in good shape when we landed. Our bag came through the collector quickly, and we were out on the stop waiting for our shuttle to Hertz in no time.
Naturally, the shuttle ran late to get us, but this was made better with an unnaturally long and slow line at the Hertz office. I would have used the automated check-in, but I had two confirmation mails that listed two different cars, and wanted to make sure that I didn’t have two cars rented by mistake. Once I got to the front, I confirmed that we had just one car, and since I had done everything online, it was a quick process to get signed and get the lot number for our car.
We walked right past our car twice, because we were expecting a significantly smaller and worse car. I still don’t know the model and make, but it’s a black compact wagon of some foreign make, and much larger and nicer than the Ford Focus that they had us pegged for. Yulia was thrilled with the car, and happily jumped into the passenger seat to go and found a steering wheel staring at her.
Right-Hand-Drive issues solved, we got into the correct seats, plugged in the GPS (the UK map pack is so worth the money) and headed out. It took me quite a bit of focus to stay on the left side of the road and in the center of the lane. We stopped about halfway to Bath for a rest and some food. England has rest stations just like France, and we loved it. Gas, a food court, coffee, wifi, and a minimart. All super clean. I was starving from the flight still, and made a beeline for the kitchen. The food looked fantastic! Yulia wasn’t starving, but she was still impressed, so I knew it wasn’t just starvation goggles making things look great.
I found the “brunch plate” for £5.90 which had sausages, chips, beans, and fried eggs. That and two Red Bulls really hit the spot. We hit the road again with the GPS giving us our bearings. About an hour later, we were off the main freeway heading towards our B&B. The road was getting smaller and smaller, ad we were a bit nervous, both about driving on the smaller road, and if our place was going to be ok.
The area around Bath is pretty sparse. We didn’t see much around. Right when the GPS told us we were at our destination, we saw the place, “The Blathwayt”. It was a stunning little pub and B&B just outside Bath. We walked in and found the manager working at a table in the pub, rebuilding the website on her laptop. She was glad to see us, and once we confirmed that we were there to stay and not just have a pint, she got our keys and showed us up.
We were expecting a typical British closet-sized room, and were shocked to find that the room we reserved “the Family Ensuite” was big and fully remodeled. We have a big private bath, and a view out across the horse racetrack behind the pub. Yulia was thrilled again, this was a great start to the vacation. We cleaned up, napped a bit, and got directions on where to park in Bath for the evening to get some food and find our bearings.
Bath is stunning. Absolutely beautiful architecture. We drove around a bit, parked and walked the center of town for a while. This was a great shopping district with some very funky shops, nice food, and close to the main tourism spots (namely, the Roman baths). Tomorrow, we planned on taking the tours, but today we just found a nice Pub and grabbed some food.
We will see how the city is in general tomorrow.