Sunday, October 7, 2012

Bath Time

We were blessed with some excellent weather this weekend.

Beautiful sunny skies!  Oh, and just the mysterious remains of a prehistoric culture, no big deal.

That's right, we hit up one of the most famous sites in the world on the way to Bath.  This time we used some faster roads, but still some great views of English countryside.  Actually the route took us through a designated "Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty" called the Cotswolds.  I really didn't mind the drive at all - we listened to Gangnam Style and One Direction on BBC Radio 1 until Kerry fell asleep, then I switched to my Joe Rogan and Adam Carolla podcasts.  We'll certainly be back for more of this area.

340 miles!

We got an early start since we had quite a full day ahead of us.  We were out the door by 7:15 on our way to Stonehenge.

Driving through a morning fog in the Cotswolds.

I appreciated Stonehenge more than I thought I would.  It was fun to imagine how I might survive if I lived in England circa 1300 B.C. in a culture with no written record.
 "Any news from the Middle east?"  
"Well, there are reports that a man parted the Red sea and freed the Isrealites, anything you want me to deliver back that way?"  
"Nah, we're good."

My personal theory is that Stonehenge is just an early model sundial.

I couldn't help but notice how the birds were attracted to the monument, mainly starlings and crows.  There are no trees around, but as I let my imagination run wild, I can't help but think they know something we don't.

We got there at a perfect time.  As we were leaving, the coaches full of annoying American tourists all showed up.  The line to get into the monument area was spilling out into the parking lot as we were making our way back to our car (free parking!).

Our luck continued when we got to Bath - we opted to use the Park and Ride per the recommendation from Mr. Fodor.  Free parking again, and the bus ticket was 2.50 each with the return.   Good deal, because Bath was crazy busy, and I really didn't want to deal with that traffic.

So, after an hour's drive and some tasty Hong Kong stir fries, we fast-forwarded 1374 years from Stonehenge, and we find ourselves hottubbing with Emperor Claudius himself.  I think I really would have enjoyed hanging out in the bath in Roman times - except you had to have a slave watch your gear, due to high rates of theft and a shortage of lockers.  I don't know if anyone has thought of making a functional replica of the Roman Baths at Ceasar's Palace in Vegas yet, but it's a damn good idea. 

Julias Ceasar's foot and the Great Bath from above.  The pillar bases and floor are original Roman era.

The sacred spring (entrance for gods only)

Bummer, couldn't taste the water

As an archaeological site, the Roman baths are well done.  They've been able excavate the pieces of the original structure and build around it to give an idea of what it might have been like as a whole.  I really respect these guys, it must be terribly boring day-to-day, but very rewarding in the end, to figure out what is an old worn piece of handmade stone building block and what is just rocks.

After the visit to the Roman baths I had a hankering for some spa time myself.  But first we walked around the city.

The Crescent

Pulteney bridge

The Circus
We thought it be fun to get a taste of the Roman experience ourselves at Thermae  Bath Spa - England's only thermal spa.  Of course, everyone else had the same idea on a Saturday afternoon (no reservations taken).  I wonder how the Romans kept their bath from turning into a tourist trap - or maybe it was?  There were no museum exhibits depicting Romans lining up at the entrance, but it can't be far from truth - it was a popular place after all.


 (I'm still used to the driver being on the left)

So we ended up saving some money by going to a bar for some light snacks and a drink instead of spa treatments, and then back home it was.  But now we need to find a hot tub ASAP.

The best part about Bath was that I had no idea it was so hilly.  Spectacular views, and a lot of fun carving down the sloping highway with the A3.  Unfortunately I was not able to capture the splendor with my camera.
Bus ride views

My POV for the next few hours

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