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Des Moines, Iowa
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Europe Trip - Day 11

Geoff Wood

Since our plans to day trip to Florence from Rome didn't work out we wanted to make sure that we did one while back in London and decided on our last full day on the continent was the day to do it.

We woke up early, packed our cases, figured our the locker system in the hostel and made our way to Paddington Station and attempted to figure out the British rail system. We purchased a couple round trip tickets to Bath Spa and set in to wait our turn. While killing time I caved and decided that it was time to buy the final Harry Potter book (despite the fact I knew one was sitting on my desk back at the office). The train station had a book store and the Potter book was well stocked so I picked up my second copy.

When our train was ready we boarded from the platform(1) and tried to find a seat. We quickly figured out that the seats were "General Admission" and not assigned - very Southwest. However, it appeared they were able to sell well more than the number of seats on the train (not very Southwest) so after walking the length of it (and skipping the assigned seating which I assumed must have cost more) we settled into one of the junction areas between cars(2) with a half dozen other travelers. Silly us, I figured a ticket equaled a seat but apparently not. Luckily, we were able to grab seats a couple stops into the trip.

When we arrived in Bath we were hungry and stopped into the "Crystal Palace Pub" to split some shepherd's pie and enormous cottage rolls.

We went from lunch over to the main attraction, the Roman Baths (where one would assume the city takes it's name). We did the audio tour and learned a lot about the Roman occupation of the UK and Celtic history of the region prior. They even allowed you to drink the famed hot spring water on your way out (it tasted terrible).

We did a quick run through of the adjacent Bath Abbey and then boarded a tour bus for a little open top escort around the City. They pointed out many features including the settings of many of Jane Austen's writings, Nicolas Cage's new home, and the studio were Van "The Man" Morrison has recorded for the last several years.

Prior to our return trip to London we tried to grab some food in the train station at a Seafood place. However, he wouldn't accept our MasterCard because it lacked the "Chip and Pin" - apparently an anti-theft system that hasn't made it our country, yet. Dismayed and hungry we decided to nap the way back.

From Paddington Station we tubed back to St. John's Wood, grabbed our cases from the hostel, and tubed back to the City Centre. For our last night I had cashed in some airline miles to get a room at the Hilton Trafalgar right in Trafalgar Square. The hotel was quite hip and very beautiful - certainly across the spectrum from our hostel stay the night before.

It was late and we wandered around a bit not sure what to choose for our last dinner. I was up for something very British - either Indian(3) food or fish and chips. Hope wanted to Chinese. We finally settled on something that turned out to surprise us both "wagamama" a nondescript store front at street level for a large subterranean restaurant. I s'pose the food would be categorized as "Asian Fusion" and was very good.

We turned in right after dinner a bit exhausted from the day trip and just about ready to head home.

(1)Platform 1, not 9 3/4. (2) They were all full of people. (3)Sounds odd, I know.