Bound for Bath and Bristol: Part Two

Trip Start Jun 10, 2013
Trip End Jun 27, 2013

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Monday, June 17, 2013

Our trip to Bath was a much more exciting (and a lot less painful) trip for me. It took about an hour to get there, which was fine with me cause I took a much needed nap. We walked from where the bus dropped us off to a kind of town square where the Roman Baths were. We had about an hour to kill so we went to a cafe and got a snack. I got a hot chocolate and a white chocolate raspberry muffin, which really warmed me up on a cold rainy day. We went in some shops because we still had some time to kill, and I got myself a mug! We also watched a guy make fudge in a giant copper pot, and the really nice shop keeper told us to come out of the rain and gave us some free fudge! We told him we would come back and buy some...but we never did...oops.

Then it was time to meet our group at the Roman Baths. This place was too cool! It was an audio tour, and unfortunately, I can't remember a lot of the facts I learned. So sorry if anyone is only reading this for historical facts! The Baths were a huge center for the Romans complete with several warm and cold water baths, a temple, and a kind of gazebo thing which was the only one of its kind built by the Romans in Britain. The hot spring was thought to be sacred because it was so rare a find in Britain, and they thought it to have magical healing properties. So the Romans would come, get pampered, get healed, and do some praying. There was a lot of artifacts that had been very well preserved and the exhibit was really cool. You start at the surface level and wind your way underground to the other baths, the spring, and the Great Bath. One of the coolest things I saw there were the curses people wrote and threw into the baths. They would write out the story of something that had happened to them on lead or pewter sheets, and throw them into the  baths. They hoped the Minerva would hear their story and punish the person who had done them wrong. 

The one rule we were given upon going into the baths was not to touch the water in the Great Baths. That water is totally untreated and really gross. But of course, we saw people dipping their hands in, and some people even putting it on their heads! Yuck! We went into one of the smaller rooms and there was a bath that people throw their coins in. I threw a penny (that is a British penny) in and made a wish. Hopefully it comes true!

On the way out, they have a sink with water flowing from the Sacred Hot Spring. You can drink the water and it will supposedly cure you of all your ailments. I drank a little sip, it had a strong mineral taste and smelled a lot like sulfur, so I hope it cured me cause it sure wasn't all that tasty!

After the Roman Baths, we went for a walk around Bath. My Romantic Lit professor showed us where Jane Austen stayed at one point in her life. She also showed us where some  of Austen's fictional characters in "Persuasion" lived. She took us to a place called the Georgian Garden. Just like the house we went to in Bristol, this garden was designed like gardens during that period would have been. The colors were very muted, and she explained that that was a symbol of sophistication then, and a lot of their colorful flowers had yet to be imported from other countries. There was also no grass in these townhouse gardens because lawnmowers hadn't been invented yet. So the only people who had the luxury of having lawns were those who could have grazing animals come in and keep it trimmed for them. She also told us that the lawn mower was invented after a man (she couldn't remember his name) watched a woman use a tool to remove excess strands of fabric off of cloth. The fronts of these townhouses were all exactly the same, but the owners would have been given permission to design the backs however they wanted, so some had rounded backs, some flat, some had balconies, and some had a lot of windows. Even the roofs were different heights and angles.

After the garden we walked to a place called the Royal Crescent. This is a row of really fancy town-homes in you guessed it, a crescent shape. They looked over the town of Bath, but you couldn't see the town because of the trees, which the owners of the homes refuse allow to be cut back..I guess they don't really want that view! She told us about this ditch that was in front of the houses called a "ha ha". These were created because people didn't want to interrupt their view by having a fence, but they also didn't want livestock coming into their gardens and disrupting their tea parties and eating their gardens. So they built these kind of retaining walls to keep the animals away. They are called that because if you are walking toward it from the garden, you can only see it once you are close to it, and that is the noise you make as you are falling over it, and also the noise your friends make as you fall down!

Then we went to the Circus. Another row of nice townhouses. They were interesting because they had a combination and Roman and Celtic design elements. It was built like an inverted coliseum with the columns on the inside. There were also acorns on top of the buildings which were a cheeky nod to the myth of the founding of Bath. Legend has it that a prince was born with a horrible skin condition and the king told him that he could not represent the country so he sent him to work as a pig farmer. He was walking his pigs and they were rooting around for acorns, their favorite food. They stumbled upon a bit of warm mud and began playing it it, what with being pigs and all. When the pigs got out of the mud the prince noticed that their skin was pinker and healthier than it had been before. He rubbed some of the mud on himself and his skin cleared up! He triumphantly returned to his father and became the first king of England, and founded the city of Bath. 

After that we walked to the Assembly Rooms. We went into the ballroom and our professor read us some of the rules of society that ladies and gentlemen would have had to follow when they were at a ball. Then we went into the fashion museum. It was pretty interesting to see how the fashions have changed, we even got to play dress up. I also got a cameo necklace when I was there because I just think those are so pretty. 

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