“Do you have any British money?”

A year ago, my best friend visited Paris and England. In preparation for my two months in Europe, I picked her brain extensively. On numerous occasions, she told me that one of her favorite visits during her entire trip was one to Bath, England. So, when Serena suggested we take a day trip to Bath during our three-day weekend in London, I jumped at the idea. We bought our train tickets in advance and made our way to Paddington Train Station at 7am. When we arrived in Bath, we were met with a beautiful ancient Roman city. We roamed the streets for around 20 minutes, taking in yet another city of cobbled streets and ancient buildings. Then, we headed for the bath house and museum. We spent easily 2 or 3 hours following the masterfully-crafted exhibits in the museum, all the while seeing glimpses of the main bath through windows throughout the building, causing the anticipation for the main attraction to grow. Throughout the museum, we learned about Roman life in England through plaques and artifacts and by walking the same paths the Romans did so long ago. As a history major, this was my favorite historical site, and when Serena, a Chemistry major, said she loved it as well, I was thrilled that she wasn’t bored to death by something that I found so incredible.

Model of the original bath buildings in Bath, England

After going through the main museum, we finally made it to the main bath room, now an unenclosed courtyard. The bath was full of green water, and the room was sparsely decorated. It’s difficult to describe how it felt to walk around this bath – to walk around in awe in a space where the Romans went about their daily lives. Museum employees walked about the bath room in period costume – there was an aristocrat and a priest, among others. The aristocrat character stopped us and asked us where our “master” was – he told us that we’d better finish our job and get back to him! These interactions were a little detail that really rounded out the experience: not only could you walk around an ancient Roman Bath, but you could interact with the “Romans” as well!

The view from the upper level above the main Roman bath

After the baths, we went to lunch at a Moroccan restaurant in Bath where we had some of the most amazing food I’ve had on this trip. Unfortunately, when we got our food, I checked the time and we only had 20 minutes to make our train to Salisbury to visit Stonehenge! We ate our couscous and chicken quickly (I still wish I’d been able to savor that meal!) then headed down to the train station – we’d missed our train by minutes. So, we headed to the info desk and asked when the next one would be. We were in luck: the next train was in 20 minutes, and the next after that was over an hour later! We sat down at our platform, relaxed, and wondered at the seagulls hanging out at a train station in the middle of Southern England.

When we finally got to Salisbury, we went to the bus stop to buy our tickets for a bus to and from Stonehenge. We told the ticket lady our itinerary and she told us we wouldn’t have the time to make it there and back in time for the train back to London, but we were determined. We tried to buy our tickets, but didn’t have the cash. So we ran to an ATM and pulled out just enough to pay for our tickets. We ran back and got in line, but when we got there, I pulled out my mix of Scottish and English Pounds to pay, and the ticket lady took one look at my Scottish money and said “Oh, well, do you have any British money?” Taken aback, I looked at Serena, who had clearly heard the same thing I did and asked her to cover that portion of my ticket. It was the first time I was confronted with that odd asterisk to Scottish money. Scottish money is legal tender* in all of the United Kingdom, but English business are not required to accept it as payment. Ultimately, we made it to Stonehenge with enough time to snap some photos, take in the views, and rush back to our train to London.

Me at the Stonehenge

All in all, it was a crazy day, but it was well worth it to see those beautiful historical monuments (even if we did only get 10 minutes at Stonehenge!).

Victoria Davidson is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City double majoring in History and Foreign Languages and Literature with a German emphasis. Victoria is spending July abroad with the faculty-led UMKC Honors Summer Program in Scotland.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.