08 April, 2008

Roman Baths, City of Bath Review

...and so on to the last day of the honeymoon (boo!) but we do have two weeks all-inclusive in Mexico to look forward to (29 degrees, scattered cloud at the moment, if you were wondering) in about 4 weeks time (yay!), we decided that enough was enough, and one really can't come all the way down to this neck of the woods and not manage to actually visit the city of Bath, so, failing to wake up early (as we had planned) we finally pulled into town (through the fog) mid-morning, took an interesting tour of all the local car parks, and finally found a spot not too far from the heart of the city -
Bath - Roman Baths #1
- the Roman Baths being the *must* do attraction, we headed off there first, deciding to buy the combination ticket which gives you access to the Fashion Museum "for only £3 more" (although we really should have saved the money) -
Bath - Roman Baths #5
- anyway, dodging the school parties (screaming and hitting each other) inside, we collected our audio tour batons, Flyingpops enquiring from the attendant as to how long the tour would take (as we had only put 4 hours on the car parking ticket), to be told that you would spend all day in there if you listened to everything, but the average visit was around 2 hours (fair enough)...the tour starts with a walk around the balcony above the main pool (extraordinarily still consisting of the original Roman engineering of driven piles, rock walls and lead sheeting to master the hot waters from the spring) the tour then leads inside, and is also actually only a very small hop from the street below, making me think we could probably have saved *all* the entrance money and just vaulted the wall (but I kept quiet having already coughed up) -
Bath - Roman Baths #7
Bath - Roman Baths #8
Bath - Roman Baths #9
- past piles of scattered stone work (reclaimed from around the county where it had scattered into various buildings/fields/walls over the intervening years), and then a nice wooden model showing roughly how it all would have appeared when the Romans originally assembled it -
Bath - Roman Baths #6
- past the emergency overflow, which I can imagine getting rather full in the days when Romans would have been jumping in and out of the main pool all day -
Bath - Roman Baths #10
- and then out, stepping on the same stones as the Roman bathers -
Bath - Roman Baths #11
Bath - Roman Baths #12
- wandering around the side rooms (very dimly lit) to see the remains of the hypocaust (under floor heating) in the steam room -
Bath - Roman Baths #13
- the frigidarium (plunge pool for the brave/foolhardy) where projected figures wandered the walls, removing and replacing togas as if unquiet ghosts still going about their hygiene routine -
Bath - Roman Baths #17
- then out stepping over the plumbing channel that trickles the hot water from the spring itself into the main pool (we tested the water, contrary to the warning signs on the wall, and it's just a little cooler than I would want a bath at home to be, so actually pretty hot, especially as the place used to have a high roof back in Roman times *and* it was a rather chilly day) -
Bath - Roman Baths #15
- and past some original Roman lead piping that used to feed the pools on the far side -
Bath - Roman Baths #16
- then to the exit, walking past the hot spring itself -
Bath - Roman Baths #18
- and some rather yucky looking tertiary pools preserved by small mist spraying devices (which also help the slime and mould to flourish under the bright lights), and then, even though I had a very bad childhood memory of the experience, we took the waters (again, in my case), it being free to do so, if in possession of a tour ticket -
Bath - Roman Baths #24
- and it tasted precisely as I imagine my own bath water to taste after I've finished washing, rather unpleasant, but it didn't (as I seemed to remember) taste at all of sulphur, so that was a pleasant surprise, if not much of a consolation...anyway, we finished our visit off with a trip through the gift shop (as you do), noting with amusement Harry Potter books in Latin -
Bath - Roman Baths #25
- and casting about my mind unsuccessfully for anyone I disliked enough to bring them back some of the spa water -
Bath - Roman Baths #26
- and then the visit was over, taking us roughly the "average" two hours...

The fashion museum, which was about a ten minute walk away (up a hill past the Royal Mineral Water Hospital...those poor souls with Rheumatic diseases in the 1700s...) -
Bath - Roman Baths #28
Bath - Roman Baths #27
- we spent more time getting to and from than actually in. A bit of a waste of time, the only people in there other than us were a bunch of students who were miserably filling out work sheets and sulking, so you can probably skip this "attraction" and save yourself a few quid (imho) unless you really want to see how uncomfortable it was to wear a corset, although when we got to that (potential highlight) there was no attendant to explain how to go about putting it on, I never even took the lense cap off...

Anyway, then it was time for lunch, and the last of the touristy *musts* (recommended by my folks) of the city was calling... ;)


Tom Hopwood said...

Man, those Romans, they new how to live. But, apart from that, what have they done for us?

Ys said...

i'm sure i've been there. i don't remember drinking the water tho...

¨°º©[ Fink ]©º°¨ said...

It's nasty, you didn't miss much... ;)

And Tommo (the obligatory) -

"Reg: All right... all right... but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order... what have the Romans done for us?"

Xerxes: Brought peace!"