Travel Diary: York to Bath

I shuffled back and forth along the sidewalk near the bus station, my hands shaking and my thoughts whirring. I didn’t have enough money for a ticket. I thought I’d be fine, I really did. I budgeted this trip, my very first time abroad, but it wasn’t enough. I’d mistakenly assumed that when I booked the B&B months earlier that they would charge the stay to my account. After breakfast on my last morning, however, they informed me in broken English that I still owed for my room. Shit, I hissed to myself. My face burned and my heartbeat shot up to my ears. Paying the hosts would deplete my account. I still had over a week left, and I was all alone.

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I went to the York Minster every day while in the city, as it is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Photos do not capture how arresting, detailed, and gorgeous this holy place is.

 

Despite it being around 3 am back in the States, I called my mother, frantic and guilty. My voice broke and tears streaked my sunburned cheeks. I felt like a failure. Her genuine concern for my well being was a solace for the embarrassment I felt, but salt to the wound of pride. Stuck in a quaint English town with no money made me desperate enough to ask for money.

I had just enough money to purchase a bus ticket after counting up stray coins and notes in my bag, but nothing beyond. I was due in Bath by nightfall, and the bus ride was estimated to be at least eight hours. When I arrived at the tourist center to purchase the ticket, I came up about five pounds short. I felt tears, unbidden, welling up in my tired eyes. The woman across from me was only a few years older than I, with chestnut hair, immaculate makeup, and a posh accent, I was humiliated to be seen at such a low moment in front of someone like her. I shamefully explained my situation, and she turned from me to rifle through her own purse to supplement the cost of the ticket. I could barely breathe out a word of thanks due to shame, but mostly from an overwhelming sense relief and thankfulness.

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Inside the York Minster, where I was content to walk quietly each day.

 

By the time I was on the somewhat dingy bus headed for Bath, the money from my mother was safely tucked into my account. I felt provided for, and suddenly exceedingly tired. Relief from high anxiety gives way to lethargy for most people, and I was not excluded from the phenomenon. I woke from fitful sleep to the feeling of dampness. I adjusted myself due to a dull pain in my abdomen, only to discover that I had bled through my clothes. Thankfully, I was clothed in black skinny jeans that wouldn’t betray my leakage. After the miserable day I had, of course I would begin my period on a dirty, nonstop bus.

The bus arrived in Bath at 2 AM, and as I hoisted my large backpack over my shoulder, I realised that I was the only person on the dimly lit street. I kept an alert eye, scanning the sidewalk as I paced back and forth, waiting for my taxi. I was dirty, bloody, exhausted, and starved. 

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Bath, England

 

After folding myself into the back of the cab, I gave the driver the address to my Airbnb host home. We both struggled to understand each other’s accents, but eventually we sorted out where to go. I couldn’t believe how steep the hills were; it felt like San Francisco, but on a much smaller scale. The driver stopped in front of a quaint old home with a wild garden partly obscuring its windows and door. It didn’t look like the picture, so I warily checked the lock. The hostess said she’d leave it unlocked for me, knowing I’d be coming late. I nodded to the driver, and he left me.

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The Airbnb host’s front door was besotted with succulents and greenery. She was an artist who lived with several cats, and always had bits of paint on her hands.

 

To be honest, I wasn’t even sure it was the correct house until I entered the guest room upstairs. Folded blankets, towels, and a note indicated I was in the right place. I tiptoed to the bathroom to shower, careful to not make too much noise. After toweling off, I stuffed toilet paper between my legs to create a makeshift pad. I laid myself on the bed, which was really just an IKEA mattress tucked into an alcove. Though uncomfortable, I quickly fell into dreamless sleep, feeling safe and provided for, and stretched beyond what I ever thought I could endure.

 

 

 

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