I learned how much happiness can fit into a single moment. I retrieve images of this day from my memory to calm myself with its lifetime guarantee joy supply.
After Stonehenge, the tour bus drove us to Bath. We were falling asleep on our way there, listening to the tour guide speak an overwhelming amount of information about this place. All I remember is that this was Jane Austen’s hometown and was founded by the Romans. The trees opened up in the mountain road to reveal a sight so incredible, and unreal, that my best friend smashed me against the window to get a better picture on her iPhone. We were not even off the bus yet when we felt we had been put through a time machine, and sent to another dimension. As soon as we stepped on Bath ground, we knew we did not want to leave. Bath puts a spell on you.
WARNING: My writing skills cannot measure up to this place. Google Bath and book visit.
The tour bus dropped us off at The Abbey Hotel on York Street. From there, we chose to be on our own for the remaining of the afternoon. In our immense hunger, we drooled endlessly over the beauty all around. And then we just walked into a place with food. It did not matter much what kind of food they had; it smelled glorious! Even the streets of Bath have a sweet scent that makes you forget you have a life to go back to. The bright red window flowers against the worn out beige background; the music playing in the little stone streets, and the square filled with fluttering giant pigeons. This place breathes magic.
So we had lunch somewhere around York Street, across a little park we never got to walking around. It was cozy, country, and so eco chic with its recycled materials decor, and vintage feel. Once we got the menu, we realized it was a vegetarian place. We are not really vegetarians, but truthfully…we are travelers down for anything! I specially say that for my friend who could live off spaghetti and meatballs or ground beef tacos. The appetizer was ciabatta bread with olive spread on it. Oh, the mussels from Paris got competition as we found ourselves slamming the table with digestive pleasure. What a delight! So delicious, we ordered it again for dessert. My friend had a falafel sandwich, and I had a marinated tofu salad which I swear tasted like really soft meat! I also ordered THE BEST juice I have ever had in my life. It was oranges and carrots with ginger, and I believe lemon? It was SO good, my spaghetti meatballs best friend was chugging it down like a college student chugs beer from a keg.
And then…we just wandered. We had nowhere to be, nothing to do, and we were in the perfect place to have no plans at all. I am in awe when I look at the pictures we took on this day, and perceive the twinkling eyes with shiny smiles in every shot. Bath enamored us with every step, every street, every sweet smell. There are so many candy shops, crepes, and coffee shops that bathe the city in their fragance. We loved how the facade of the city is more or less a beige-vanilla like color, but once you go inside the shops, the walls are hot pink, lime green, sunny yellow, and sky blue! How can anybody have a bad day in colorful Bath when it is filled with so much life? I cannot imagine anyone storming down its streets in tears, or breaking down at the coffee shop with the smell of lemon-sugar crepes in the air.
We walked all the way up to Gay Street, just to see the outside of Jane Austen’s home. It was neat, yes. But we did not pay to get into the museum and tea house it was turned into. See, the thing about that was not our being full of pride and prejudice… It was a lack of time, a low budget, but most importantly: we had just experienced The best part of Bath, and knew that nothing else would top that. On our walk in search of Jane Austen’s home, we came across this random scene near the square. A man, dressed in odd clothes with a hat that had long bright feathers. He was putting pigeons on people. Huh?! Yes. I thought it would be an expensive tourist trap. What I learned was that this man (whom I assume must have a legitimate job somewhere in this city) just wants to make people’s day. You can make a donation in his little bucket…He doesn’t care how much you give him…Heck, he does not even look at the money as you put it down. There are all these big, heavy, perfect pigeons that he puts all over you and takes pictures with your camera. I do not know how he does it. The pigeon to people ratio is pretty equal in this place. I guess the trick is the food that he puts on your hands (and maybe your head, but I was not sure) to make the pigeons love you within seconds. He places them one by one on top of your head, shoulders, along your arms and on your palms. They were so heavy. I was a little scared to drop them, but then realized pigeons fly, haha! He takes as many pictures as you want, and does not rush you at all. His single purpose seems to be making your entire day. Just like that, all the innocence of childhood was put back inside my heart, if only for an afternoon. My best friend and I laughed until it hurt. She loved watching the pigeon on my head resting its tush directly on my face (wish I had a picture to show you). I had to shut my eyes and mouth in case it pooped on me. “This is really my life,” I thought…and I could not have asked for anything better. This pigeon man made our day so much, when we returned back to the tour bus (hours later) we stopped by his spot to say goodbye, and give him more money.
We rushed to the bus, which we thought was going to leave us. Then we rushed back to the bus a second time after my friend decided there were still enough seconds to run across the street to buy and eat a crepe. I ran inside the shop to let her know the bus was leaving, but nothing could come between this girl and her sweet, sweet, lemon-sugar crepe. “Get on the bus…” she said. Now she was freaking me out. “What?! I’m not leaving you in Bath,” was my reply, fully aware it would not be a bad idea to get stranded here. Now that I think about it, maybe we should have stayed. Say we got lost, and could not find the bus, have another crepe, another round of pigeon fun, and another chance to be indisputably joyful.