Taking a Bath!

Trip Start Jun 28, 2007
Trip End Jul 27, 2007

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Saturday, June 30, 2007

Light rain and 18C

I awoke early to move the car to a free location up the hill in order to avoid a parking ticket. The
return stroll in the drizzle gave me an opportunity to take photos without the bother of traffic. Upon my return, we sat down to a quintessential English breakfast at 08h00. Although many would scorn the quality (plenty of grease and no exotic flavours), I thoroughly enjoyed the fare and the setting in which it was provided. Over our repast, we met another family of four who had just completed a 1-month trip from Rome, following many of the paths suggested by our favourite travel guide, Rick Steve's. It was fun to hear some of their stories as we were embarking on our own adventures.

After breakfast, we walked down to the ancient Roman Baths, paid our admission and made our
way to the Great Bath for a 40 minute guided tour. Otto was an excellent and entertaining source of information. It is amazing to think that these treasures had been buried under the rubble of a growing city for almost 1600 years! The site was found in the 1800's when residents noticed that their homes kept flooding with warm water. The city had the foresight to purchase all the land and began an excavation that revealed a stunning history. We spent another 90
minutes touring the facility with the help of easy-to-use electronic audio guides. It is superbly presented and absolutely fascinating.

Next we went to the Pulteney Bridge where we picked up sandwiches for lunch. This was followed by a bit of grocery shopping, a short rest in our room, and a short visit to the much-touted Custume Museum. The latter was definitely over-rated and we did not spend long inside. Instead, we walked up the hill to our car and made our way to Avebury, a magical spot just east of Bath.

Along the way, we stopped just outside Cherill to see one of the famed Wiltshire chalk horses. To obtain a closer view, Celine directed us to drive up a muddy farmer's field, leaving our car and our shoes in a bit of a mess. Nevertheless, this was a pretty cool site and well worth the stop.

Celine's Thoughts
Today was tremendous from beginning to end! it started with a full English breakfast served in the front room of Brock's Guest House. Paul ended up speaking with a couple with 2 boys from the USA. They had just finished our trip but in reverse - from Rome to Bath! It was good to learn how successful their trip was and how often they had followed the advice of the Rick Steve's travel guides.

We thouroughly enjoyed the Roman Baths which were fascinating! We took a guided tour with Otto, who shared details of the main Roman baths as well as the Sacred Spring and both the East and West baths. The stones, torches, columns, and alcoves create such an atmosphere. It felt like you literally had stepped back in time, expecting to see scantily clad Romans emerging from the spa waters. The baths were discovered buried beneath the modern city of Bath when residents above kept being flooded with warm water. The "spa" includes areas where people change, where they are massaged with scented olive oil, where they sweat in a steam room, and finally, where they were cleansed. Literally, sweat, oil, dirt, and dead skin were scraped from the body by servants. The scrapings were kept in a pail and sold to older women for facial masks! YUCK!

After the Roman Baths we got lunch and picked up groceries for tomorrow, then walked back to our B&B. Feet throbbing, we all laid down on our backs and leaned our legs on the walls to rest. Restored, we headed over to the Costume Museum, which was frankly a disappointment. Oddly set up and sparser than expected, we quickly toured through. Then upward ho to where Paul had parked the car perched on a hillside. We drove out into the fabulous countryside, first to Cherhill where we drove through a farmer's field to get closer to the white chalk horse on the hillside. The field was wet and slick with much and we started losing traction as the tires became coated.Fortunately, after photos were taken, Paul successfully got the car turned around and once we hit the black top, bits of mud were flying everywhere. We drove on to Silbury Hill, a man-made structure from thousands of years ago. Currently it is collapsing and in need of repairs (which are on-going) so we were unable to climb it.
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