The last thing on our English trip was the city of Bath, holding the Roman Baths. Encasing aqua green waters in a rectangular pool, the Sacred Springs is one the four features of the Roman Baths, which were built underneath street level. Massive pillars etched with Roman figures, loom over the structure. The light drizzle created a mystifying aura, as we traversed into a dimly lit area known as the Grand Pump Room. Silver coins glistened through the rippling waters of the pool, which is now a wishing well for visitors. Slightly muffling the excited buzz around me, I closed my eyes, turned towards the well, and watched my coin camouflage in with the others into the clear waters.These are some of the attractions one must check out in England! During the time we went (mid-August), it was fairly cold, and almost always drizzling, so it’s best to pack and plan accordingly. When going in a group, transport and accommodations should be well arranged. Besides our tour bus, we traveled in taxis for nearby locations. I felt a bit drab at times in my sweats and jeans, while most others managed to dress their best almost always. Advisable to pack a few of your better outfits then! Just strap up, and do it the English way then!NOTE: A few images are taken by my friend, Claire Mosteller. It has been abbreviated as 'PC: CM.'
Day 3 - Bath initially felt bipolar – a glitzy shopping street leading up to the 2000 year old Roman Bath remains. If I hadn’t chanced upon a quaint Christmas market on the way, I would have been very disoriented! I ran into a local glass maker in the market and while my tourist instincts were up to guard against slick talking salesmen, I realized at the end of the conversation that he was intrigued by an Indian-American visitor to his city and was making an honest attempt at being a merchant ambassador.
I poked around the Bath Abbey next. I was starting to see the similarity in structure of Gothic cathedrals and starting to notice small differences. The vaulted fan ceiling here is supposed to be one of the best in Europe; I wouldn’t know anyway. The Abbey was small, personal and maintained the prayer-ever-hour trend. Amen to that! As I chatted with the Father, he pointed out references to an American senator’s tomb and an inscription on the pulpit about a Rector who also served in Bombay when he heard where I was from. What a sweet old man.
I hopped next door to the Roman Baths, stepping into a dark and eerie world from 2000 years ago. Spectacular! I was intrigued how well this ancient site has been preserved even though a lot of building has been done around it to make it feel Roman and also to accommodate tourists better. I peeked into the baths, learnt a lot about the why and how of baths, and realized a tad late that I could have taken Bill Bryson’s audio tour :) The highlight for me was the floor with flues which circulated heat from a fire and heated the water on the level above. The ancient-ness of the site hit me when one of the guides there confirmed that the floor around the Great Bath that we were walking on was the original 2000-year old floor and that they were keeping an eye on places where it was showing signs of wear and tear. Roman engineering – now that must be a history in itself! I feel tiny!
Included day trips to Wells, Glastonbury, Stonehenge and Salisbury
I’ve heard it beaten to death that Stonehenge is not impressive. I disagree. Stonehenge – seen just as a monument – is not tall, wide, cavernous, colourful, gilded, carved or any other kind of awe inspiring structure. But when I dug deep into when, where and why it came to be, it blew my mind. The fantastic alignment with the solstice sun was spine-chilling, and the remains found here dating to circa 2500 B.C. was a find of sorts for humanity. As I walked around the circle, the pagans came alive in my head, chanting as they walked around and inside the structure as they carried out their eerie rituals. The craziest part is, to this day and age we still don’t know for sure what they used it for. And I think that’s pretty neat. I will recommend Stonehenge to anyone who asks me, but only if they are willing to learn what it stands for before they go.
Salisbury Cathedral turned out to be my favourite on the road so far. It’s high arches beckoned me to evensong and the modern art stained glass on the east window had an incomprehensible story hidden within its every rash of colour. The best part (and probably the reason it is my favourite) was the poignant finely etched glass prism tucked away in the morning chapel – made by Laurence Whistler as a memory to his brother Rex Whistler who died in WW-II. I could sit and stare at it all day, it was hypnotic as it revolved in its little case – art and science coming together to cast a spell like only they can.
This city has been declared as a World Heritage site and it is historically very important. This is the place where we spent the maximum time so we explored it in and out. Bath is a place which is full of places which are of great historical importance such as the Jane Austen Centre, Thermae Spa- where you can lounge in the 2000 year old Roman Baths, the magnificent Royal Crescent, The Circus, Pulteney Bridge and Bath Abbey.
Bath is the first city in England to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Moving around, you realise why it is designated so.
The tour organiser gave us an option to go inside to see the baths or just roam around for the same time out. The place looked so charming with the little shops..music & cobbled streets...outdoors were calling!! We did manage to get a peek at the roman baths from outside. The city is home to many art galleries, antique shops, theatres & Jane Austen centre.
We grabbed a coffee & some muffins and went to a fudge shop to see how fudge is made. Walked around, window shopped at some cute shops, went to the indoor market & then relaxed listening to some street music. An hour just flew by. Bath is a place , we'd like to visit again.. maybe stay for a couple of nights & just soak in the place..
The town of Bath also lies a bit outside of London. We went here to check out the Roman Baths, the coolest part of this trip, in my opinion. Preserved for public baths through four main features, this historic site transports you to the Roman times. Water gushing in from various pools, and bubbling up to the surface of the sacred spring makes it so real...