Having successfully made it through the spiders’ den, Joe and I proceeded into the city of Bath.
I’d been to Bath once before, but I was hopelessly disoriented (or disorientated, if you’re from the UK. Why the extra syllable?) and remembered very little. Thus, I was of no use and we explored it as if for the first time.
The streets were packed. Absolutely packed. I had thought that coming in October would mean fewer tourists and fewer crowds, but apparently there was a big rugby game going on nearby and crowds had flocked in for the weekend. The best laid plans, as they say…
As we always seemed to be during this trip, Joe and I were ranging between hungry for food and hungry for exploration, so we kept our eyes out for potential eating establishments, only to find this:
I’m glad we’re only exporting our best influences to other countries. UK, you’re welcome.
Despite its sugary siren call, Joe and I managed to resist and delved deeper into the city centre.
The Roman influence on Bath is unmistakeable. Columns greet you at ever turn, and archways ornamented with The Green Man gracefully reach from building to building. Its architecture and palpable sense of history couldn’t be more different than America. Strangely, though, the high street was littered by American brands– the aforementioned Krispy Kreme and Claire’s Accessories among them. Later that day, when Joe and I found ourselves caught in a sudden downpour, we fled into a Bath and Bodyworks before making our way into a TK Maxx (it’s just like TJ Maxx, except with a K, branding and all) to finally cave and get an umbrella.
In London, you expect a mishmash of global brands– there seems to be a Starbucks or McDonald’s around every corner– but nearly everywhere we went I found myself surprised by the prevalence of brands I think of as American, but not global– in Covent Garden [London], Joe and I encountered a Five Guys with such an extensive queue outside that the waiting burger-eaters were held in check by a velvet rope! In Bath, and in many, many roadside rest stops, we encountered Krispy Kreme displays or full establishments. Subway, Burger King, Pizza Hut and even Papa John’s Pizza made frequent appearances throughout our journey. It was surreal to be surrounded by so many familiar brands juxtaposed against so much difference. On the one hand, there’s a sense of comfort with the known–but on the other, if we wanted to stay with the known, we would have just stayed home. I don’t have to travel to the UK to get Subway sandwiches– I can just go around the corner. But we traveled halfway across the world to see things that were new, different– to experience things that we can’t at home. (And honestly, for as much crap as British food gets, it’s really not that bad.)
So, as ever, stomachs rumbling, we pressed onward.