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Taking the Kids: Time-traveling in Bath

By Eileen Ogintz, Tribune Content Agency on

No wonder on a rainy Saturday people who hadn't pre-booked spa treatments (reasonably priced starting at less than $75) were patiently waiting in line two hours to get in for the privilege of spending a couple of hours in the pools (less than $50). Some were celebrating birthdays; others bachelorette parties. There was no line to enter the museum, meanwhile. Megan Willis, celebrating her 21st birthday, grew up in Bath but has never been here.

Bath today a thriving city with two universities and some 20,000 students and is a popular tourist draw for Brits as well as foreigners.

People come to see the medieval cathedral, walk the Royal Crescent, peruse the quaint shops, all the while getting a sense of Georgian English society which Jane Austen -- 2017 marks the 200th anniversary of her death -- documented and satirized so ably in her famous books. She visited Bath and then lived here for several years and took a lot of inspiration from the rituals of "society," explained Andrew Butterworth, who oversees a student abroad program here, teaches and leads Austen courses and tours.

(Dress up in Regency costume at the Jane Austen Centre which explains how Austen's time in Bath impacted her writing) , parade in the public gardens as fashionable Bath did in Austen's time or gossip in the Pump Room where people came to drink the mineral water and now come for lunch or tea. In those days, it was fashionable for people to come to take the waters to shop, to gossip just as it is today, Butterworth said over tea. A thousand people might go to The Assembly Rooms for a dance or a concert.

We had lunch at the Roman Baths Kitchen overlooking the ancient Baths in a converted Georgian house with a warren of small rooms and where we feasted on the best fish and chips we had the entire trip along with a thoroughly modern "super salad" with quinoa, beets, avocado, sweet potato and harissa yogurt dressing.

Despite the rain, locals and visitors were shopping on the cobbled streets, wandering down the tiny alleyways to cafes and pubs.

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"There's a lot of history here," observed said Mara Willis, 20, who has grown up here. "But you don't want to miss the little things!"

Absolutely! More tea -- and another pastry, please!


(For more Taking the Kids, visit and also follow "taking the kids" on, where Eileen Ogintz welcomes your questions and comments.)



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