Saturday, August 28, 2010

Bunch of Rocks

The next day we departed from my London and headed west. We had basically two things planned for the day. One was a visit here. (or as DS referred to it, "a bunch of rocks".)

Along the way we stopped for lunch at a nice pub called The Bath Arms in Crockerton. First, I need to mention that we generally don't just drop in on the first pub that we find when we travel in the UK. We carry the bible, but in hardcopy:

DW got a new copy for us as the most recent one we'd had was a 2004 edition and it is well updated from year-to-year. If you like good food and drink and might be looking for a nice room to boot, this is the book to have. Very recently, it has become available online. I suppose that if I had a nice smartphone in the UK, I'd have used the guide online, but this was not the case. If you harbor any illusions of traveling in the UK and eating and drinking in the pubs you must have a copy of this book.

After a fantastic meal of massive proportion - I had the Sticky Beef and a pint of ale served with braised red cabbage and onion, mashed potatoes and broccoli, we headed out to find our hotel in Bath. (It was such a memorable meal that DW even deigned to take a picture of it!)

After about 30 minutes of (somewhat desperate) searching, we finally found our hotel for the evening - the Travelodge Waterside (Waterside = along the Avon Canal). Not fancy, but fine for our purposes. After we got settled in our room, we decided that we'd walk into town and see what we could see. It was late in the afternoon and we wondered what we might find to be open. We needn't have worried. We found Bath Abbey open and took a quick look around. Certainly a beautiful building, no?

One of the things that the Abbey is famous for is it's facade - there are Jacob's Ladders on the front of the building with souls climbing to Heaven as well as falling to Hell and being tormented by demons as they fall. My photo doesn't do it justice:

We then walked up through town past the Queen's Square and obelisk to the Circus and over to the Cresent. Most of present day bath seems to consist of Victorian Era buildings of fairly new construction, but this belies the true age of the place - it was a Celtic settlement and then a thriving Roman one.

The Circus

The Crescent

The Circus was a round development of houses around a circular park and the Crescent was a semi-circular development which overlooked the Avon River valley and the hills beyond - the view was spectacular.

Signs of this early Roman work are plainly evident at the Roman baths which were the heart of the city since about 43 AD. We took the audio-guided tour of the baths and finally finished up at nearly 9:00 PM. To be honest, I can't do justice to the place - you need to visit or read up about it. It is incredible. When you realize that the original lead lining of the pools is still intact after all this time and that the system of plumbing and drains that was built by the Romans is still functioning!

The Main Bath

Roman Lead Pipe

The Sacred Spring and Windows of the Pump Room, Above

The original baths included a vaulted roof made from masonry and coated with cement and probably painted white. There was also an adjacent Temple and healing center which have been unearthed under the modern city's streets since my last visit. The bath was originally clear but because of the contamination from air and rain-borne algae has turned green. The so-called Sacred Spring was at least known since Celtic times and this pool of warm water must have been viewed as a gift from the Gods.

Our tour finish time was a bit too late for a meal at the Pump Room that we had planned. Fortunately for us, we weren't very hungry and Ben & Jerry's was open for some late night ice cream cones and a quick drink at the bar in the Travelodge before bed.

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