Sunday, August 07, 2011

It's Bath Day

The Great Bath.  Everything from the bottom of the columns up was rebuilt.
A day to visit Bath to see the Baths not take a Bath, we are both shower people.  Our GPS took us on a direct, but slow route to Bath.  After passing over the M road, we decided to return via the freeway, even if it might be farther.  Less downshifting, more straight roads, less roundabouts to figure out which exit we take, sounds good to us.

Bath city as designed by the Romans.  Notice the streets are straight, unlike today.
Bath is very crowded with both locals and tourists, all walking the streets, all enjoying the sunshine.  You can tell the tourists because they are fairly oblivious to the fact they just stepped out into the middle of traffic while looking up at something or other!  We didn't hit any of them.  After many twists, turns, and a bit of backtracking, there was the final, "There's a P sign, turn left!"  and we were in the parking garage.  Driving is an adventure!

The pediment from the Temple.  Love the hairy guy in the middle.

A mosaic floor
We found the tourist bureau, always a good place to start.  They sold us a map for 1 pound, with a  "free" guide to the city.  The Baths were just across the Cathedral courtyard, looking very Victorian from the outside, since those were the folks who fixed it up for tourists. 

The Goddess Sulis Minerva.  If you look closely, you can see Bill's reflection.
The Baths were built by the Romans over a hot spring that had been a sacred place where the locals worshiped their diety, Sulis.   The Romans built a temple to their goddess, but incorporated the local name as well, Sulis Minerva.  Don't insult the old gods when adding a new one seems to be their motto.   The Sacred Spring  was covered with a Temple, after all they didn't understand where the hot water was coming from since there were no geologists yet.  The water that then flowed out of the temple was used for the Baths.  There were hot and cold baths, steam rooms and plunge pools all served by this overflow, with pumps and drains for maintaining the water levels or cleaning the pools.  Quite a lot of engineering went in to this, as the baths eventually were covered by a barrel roof.  We were able to see different changes that were made over the centuries, as one style gave way to another.  Those Romans really knew how to build things to last. 
A smaller bath which had cold water.

After the Romans left Britain, the baths fell into ruin. The main pool where the spring bubbled up was rebuilt in the 1200 and named the King's pool.  In the late 1800's excavations were started, which continued until fairly recently.  It has been a tourist attraction since Victorian times.  At the end of the tour, we were able to get a glass of water from the spring.  It was warm, with a lot of mineral content, but better than some water we have had.  It also quinched our thirst, which was unusual for mineral water.
The water fountain where our drinks came from.

Leaving the Baths, we walked into the center shopping area of the city.  The place was buzzing!  We had a Real Cornish Pastie; Bill's was chicken and mushroom, mine, steak and Stilton cheese.  We sat at a table in the sun, but moved to the shady side of the street when we finished.  It's summer sales time, so giant signs were in the windows enticing one to enter.  I did find that Clark shoes are much cheaper here than in the US, even with the pound so much more than the dollar.  I just may have to buy a pair for my souvenir.
City center was overflowing with people.

Home by the M road, much quicker and straighter.  There is something about traveling at 70 mph that is very satisfying!
These shoes were on sale. No, these aren't the ones I want.
I'd fall and break something if I wore heels this high! 

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