Dan was asleep early last night, like 8:30, and was up by 4am and stayed up. I went to bed about 10:30 and slept through until 6:30am. It felt like sleeping in but I needed it. Had breakfast in the hotel and got the blog up from Sunday. We left the hotel about 9:15am to check out Bath.
Bath has a population of about 90,000 and tourism is a major industry here. Bath is one of those places that many people who’ve been here before said we were going to love. That might’ve been our first clue; we typically don’t do so well with small towns that are heavily recommended. It’s charming for sure, but that only works for so long with us (kinda like Bruges and Venice). This was one of those times. We’d decided to stay here primarily because it made sense based on timing, but hadn’t invested a bunch of energy into figuring out what we were going to do. With all the recommendations we’d gotten about coming here we figured it wouldn’t be hard. Turns out there’s not much to do, or at least not much we were interested in doing. Are we that picky? I think we just gravitate towards bigger towns, and/or more history related things. So we settled on the Bath Abbey – which turned out to be closed for a graduation – and the Roman Baths, which we really enjoyed. (The gal at the ticket counter of the Baths tried to sell us on the Fashion Museum. Dan says something like “you did a really nice job of explaining that and now you’ve really convinced me I don’t want to go.” Or something to that effect. It was pretty funny :)
Above: the back of Bath Abbey as we approached it from our hotel. Below: the front of it, taken from the same spot the photo of the Roman Baths was taken, which is essentially next door.
This is the entrance to the Roman Baths. I have to say I was prepared to be bored – Dan likes Roman stuff much more than I do and for some reason I thought this was going to be ruins, like the kind we’ve seen the last couple of days. But it’s an extremely well put together presentation and I found it fascinating. Archeologists uncovered this first in 1727 and there is still work to be done. It opened to the public in 1897. The baths themselves were originally constructed they believe in the 60’s AD, and probably operated for about 400 years.
The pool, floors, walls, and column bases are part of what’s been excavated, but much of what you see above it, including the columns, the terrace and the statues were built as part of the presentation.
Looking back at Bath Abbey from the terrace.
Within this bath complex was a temple to the goddess Sulis Minerva, and this at the top of the entry, some 45 feet above the ground. What was cool about the face was the details of it shifted as light was shown on it, at this moment highlighting different aspects of his beard. The sun would’ve had a similar effect.
Probably the thing I appreciated the most about this museum was how much they have been able to reconstruct about day-to-day life at the time because of what they’ve uncovered here. So there were lots of details about tools, coins, jewelry, etc., and from those items details constructed about who had that stuff and why. It was impressive and believable story-telling.
The head of a gold statue of Sulis Minvera which they were thrilled to find. It’s pretty rare to find something of this quality in such excellent condition. Very few people during the Roman period would have seen this, because of where it was placed in the temple, only the priests would have had access to it.
2000 year old drains underneath still managing overflow from the hot spring. It was warm and humid in this area from the steam that was rising.
This bath complex had East and West wings where woman and men were separated. The East wing was in tact enough to show in pretty clear detail how functional it was, with some video overlays to assist. This is where people would have left their clothes. Most people would have used the facilities naked.
A massage room.
A soaking pool, probably lukewarm water.
The original floor is missing, but it would have been heated so much the people would have needed sandals, probably provided by the facility. This would have been a hot room, like a sauna.
A panoramic shot that turned out pretty well.
The cold plunge pool to close the pores after being in the heat. All of this reminded me of Harbin!
Water still comes up from this hot spring to the tune of about 1million liters a day, and has now for a couple of thousands of years.
Sounds like some of the guys in the hot tub at the gym. It’s nice to know some things never change.
We spent about 2 hours there and thoroughly enjoyed it. We walked around town a bit and it was pretty cute, but not cute enough to change our minds about moving on.
This was a little church we ran into on our way back to the hotel. We were so surprised to see they had turned the back of it into a café to help raise money. Dan asked the gal at the register how people responded to that. She said sometimes they were angry about it but seemed to calm down once they explained it helps them stay afloat. Diversification is a good thing.
We checked out of the hotel around Noon and made our way to Bristol, about a 45 minute drive. Bristol’s population is about 450,000, and has a wide range of industries, including aerospace, software, shipping and media, and two universities. More our kind of city, and we found it more interesting right away. .
The first order of business was lunch and we found a Lebanese place.
They had this great starter sample for 4.99 pounds so we got that. When they put the tray above down in front of us, we thought it was the perfect amount of food, all excellent. We didn’t realize there were meat courses coming, too, shown below. That’s a lot of food for a very small price.
The Corner Exchange is Bristol’s answer to the Grand Bazaar. Maybe 30 merchants in all but all seemed different. And no choking smells :) We enjoyed it.
Just outside of the Corn Exchange is St. Nicholas Markets, a collection of adorable shops. We loved the vibe here, too.
“Bristol’s Southern African Quarter” that banner says. Don’t see that everyday. We did notice the town was very diverse. It also had a pretty young vibe to it as well, which made sense when we came across one of the universities in the area.
Like Bath, the River Avon runs through Bristol. They’re trying to build up some living space and mixed used buildings around it; there are pieces of a river walk here and there.
A church that was abandoned after being heavily damaged during bombing raids of WWII, now turned into a war memorial.
St. Mary Redcliffe, and Anglican church around 700 years old. Quite pretty with a couple of interesting things in it.
The second altar up the center aisle in the back.
Every vicar for the last 700 years. Pretty cool. Haven’t seen that before.
An interesting pendulum with a very nice message attached to it, below. It matches my philosophy very closely: science is a great thing, but there are some things that just can’t be explained. Plus there’s often an x factor.
The same church from the other side where the sun was hitting it directly.
This place was called #1 Coffee and it had a “2 for 1 Frappes” sign out front. Why not? It was a comfortable place to take a break.
We got strawberry. They weren’t super sweet which we really liked.
The Bristol Cathedral. Built in sections starting from the 1100’s to the 1500’s. It was open but they didn’t allow photos. Below: City Hall, across the street. Both photos taken from the same spot.
This is Brandon Hill Park, aptly named. I was hoping this photo would show the steepness of that hill but it’s lacking. Let’s put it this way: our iPhones indicated we’d climbed about 20 floors when we were done with the hill and the tower at the top of it.
Dan’s panorama again, making me a little hunched since I was moving while it was moving. (If you’ve never done it, it’s almost like taking a video.)
Cabot Tower, built around 1890. We counted 110 steps. Nice views from the top.
To the left is Wills Tower which houses the schools of science and law at Bristol University. They give tours to the public but not today.
The curved building is the back of City Hall, with the cathedral across the street, which you saw from street level.
We enjoyed Bristol a lot. We left right during rush hour, about 5:15, and made it to Cardiff, Wales, about 6:30. We had snacks in the Hilton lounge for dinner and walked around a bit after, getting back to the room about 8pm. It’s now 11:30 and bedtime. All about Cardiff tomorrow.