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Today we resumed our roles as Super Tourists! We had a super productive day in Bath. Saw lots, accomplished lots and even had some wonderful surprises. It’s started off seeming like a very dreary day indeed. It was raining like crazy when we made our way out of the hostel and down the street to Starbucks. We decided to warm ourselves with a hot beverage and grab some breakfast eats for our morning tour. We shared a yummy bacon, egg & mushroom sandwich and then hopped on the Hop On-Hop Off Bus Tour with muffins in hand. At first it looked like we would get a private tour but a few other braved the weather and hope don the open top bus. Luckily we got to ride on a bus with a half covered top, so we got to sit on the second deck without being wet & cold!
We started with a City Tour. It took us past all of the main sights: the baths, the fashion museum & assembly rooms, the Jane Austen center, the circus & crescent and all of the other beautiful white limestone buildings. The entire town is made of these white stone buildings and laws have been passed that any new buildings must be built and look like the rest of the city. For this reason and because of its fantastic history with the Roman baths, the entire city of Bath has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A UNESCO World Heritage Site is any place around the globe listed by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization ) as having special cultural or physical significance.
On the tour it was a little difficult to see at times as there was no windshield wiper for our upper deck front window and the rain persisted through most of the loop. When we got back to stop #1 we hopped off and joined the Skyline Tour bus. In Bath, City Sightseeing offers 2 tour loops, one in town & the other into the countryside. We weren’t as lucky on this loop and got a bus with a completely open top so we were forced to sit on the bottom level. This limited our view a little but we still saw the views surprisingly well for the rain & the level. There are lovely green hills that surround the town so it was nice to get to be among them for a little while. We might have got out to wander for awhile but we were not willing to in this weather.
We decided to tackle the city’s main sight first: the Roman Baths. Bath is the sight of a naturally occurring hot spring. The Celts were the first to discover this natural wonder and when the Romans arrived they built great pools to hold this water. The Romans believed the baths to have healing powers and therefore were the divine work of the gods. They devoted a sacred pool and temple to the Celtic goddess Sulis and the Roman goddess Minerva. They do not know the exact date the bath house was first built but they can be dated back to at least 75AD. After the Romans left in the 4th century the baths fell into disrepair for over a thousand years. The baths were rediscovered in the 18th century and revived the city when the royals began to come here to bathe. They have since become one of the city’s main attractions. The bath houses are therefore composed of mainly the Roman Bath, but with additions & embellishments of the 1700’s.
In Roman times bathing was considered something of an event. The bath houses were composed of more than just the one spring pool. It did have a main pool feed by the spring waters, but also featured a hot pool, a cold pool, saunas, massage rooms, exercise yards, food and drink vendors and the previously mentioned temple to the gods. We were able to view artifacts pulled from all of these areas, as well as the remains of some of these rooms. One of the most interesting was the Hot Room, were the floor was raised on piles of tiles to allow hot air to circulate under.
the nicest area was the main hot spring pool. It was surrounded by statues of gods and heroes and beautiful stone work. The water itself looked a little green as the area is currently open roof (and the sunlight promotes algea growth). I the past the are was covered with a great wood roof so the water would have been fit to actually enter.
Now our dreary day was turning out quite good…but this is where it got cranked up a notch. As we were walking out of the Baths gift shop Kristin noticed a guy caring a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts. This wouldn’t have been such a big deal if we hadn’t discussed how Kristin wanted a good donut a few days befor and then had noticed yesterday that there was a Krispy Kreme opening in Bath at the end of the month. As we were musing about stealing the mans donuts we noticed where he got them…there were 2 girls literally giving whole boxes of a dozen donuts to every passerby on the street! It was a promotion for the coming store. So we qued up and grabbed a box! Well Kristin grabbed a box…Justine figured that we probably didnt each need our own dozen donuts and could probably share the dozen Kristin grabbed. So to wrap it up, we have a dozen donuts and they are delicious!
The Fashion Museum is pretty much exactly what it sounds like…exhibits dedicated to how clothes have changed over time. It opened with an exhibit chronicling the Wedding Dress (in honor of the Royal Wedding). None were as pretty as Kate’s (as we & 350,000 others know) but they did feature lots of fine lace and white fabric. White has been the color of weddings for a very long time. The exhibit showcased how wedding dresses have changed from simple gowns and elegant ball gowns which could be worn again to lavish white gowns that could only be wedding dresses.
This was followed by a display of 1700’s dresses that would have been worn at court. Justine would have loved to wear one of these dresses in the court of pretty much any European monarch. They were huge and elaborate with very embellished points…like the hips on this one…How do you walk through doors in that? Sideways obviously!
There were also displays of dresses and men’s dress in each decade from 1800 until 1900. It was very interesting to see how things became more showy over time…the women of the 20th century were definitely not wearing the samesimple frocks the ladies wore at the end of the 18th century. The shoes were also a sight to see. They were not made for walking anywhere but indoors…all soft cloth and weird heels.
Finally we were treated to the “Dress of the Year” for select years over the last couple of decades. They were often ridiculous. Apparently in the year Kristin was born everyone wanted to look like Sherlock Klyn.
But the highlight really was the interactive bit. We got to try on corsets and crinolins. They were not the most practical of pieces but even Kristin admitted they were fun to try on and spin around in…Justine was in all her glory! She loved wearing them and just feels even more strongly that she was born in the wrong century! It was wonderful fun and could give anyone a shapely figure! Being well-endowed as we are, we can understand how Anne’s boobs were always all out there in The Tudors.
Our afternoon was wonderfully relaxed (we’re taking advantage of that before we get to Paris and are back to the madness of busy sightseeing!)? We wandered the streets a little more…found a post office to send out love to home…went and bought snacks for the next couple of days and new shampoo at the grocery store…and did some leisure shopping! We made a few more purchases today…some souvenirs, some practical things and some presents! Maybe they’re for you!?
We stopped back at the hostel to drop off our purchases then set off for or nightly search for supper. We ended up at a place called The Pig & Fiddle. Our intention had been to have another wonderfully British meal but we made the mistake of reading the menu at this place and both became fixated on the Mac & Cheese description. T keep from both sitting there and just having Macaroni for dinner we got one order of the Mac & Cheese and then a Garlic Mayo Beef Burger and split it all up! It worked out to be a wonderfully diverse meal as the pasta came with bread & salad and the burger came with chips & coleslaw. When the man brought our food out and asked where to put the burger we replied “anywhere, we’re going to split it all”. His response was “How cute!”
We felt like food critics after supper. As soon as we finished eating we pulled out IgPat to start writing this but we hope it looked like we were doing a serious review and not just a description for this blog.
We caped off the night with an evening walking tour. The sky had cleared up a bit so we decided to risk it as we might not get another evening without rain…or constant rain at least. (The rain did hold out till the end for us too…well almost the end, then it down poured on our way back to the hostel.)This tour was not a ghost tour as you are probably expect with us at this point, but a tour Rick Steves had recommended. It was “Bizarre Bath” and was described as an irrelevant tour, a comedy walk and as something for someone looking for hysterical rather than historical…and it didn’t disappoint. There were very few facts or important information, but it was an hour and a half of pure hilarity. The man who lead the walk was a great comedian and an excellent magician. One of the high points: him wrapping a stuffed bunny in chains, locking him up, closing it in a mail bag and throwing it in the river…and then somehow the bunny floating to the surface 10 seconds later!
There was also a wonderful bit where he walked about the streets in a blindfold, tripping over curbs and walking through the middle of an actual street with his hands outstretched. People in restaurants couldn’t help but stare as he stumbled by with the group of 30 people in tow. The best part though wasn’t even part of the act…he takes the blindfold off and starts talking about something and suddenly a guy rides by on a bike with a black bag over his head!? You could tell it wasn’t planned by how hard the guide guy was laughing at the sight!
Highlights of the Day:
1. Donuts! Duh!
2. Putting on a corset after eating a donut…
3. Twirling in a crinoline
Love, Luck & Lemon-Poppyseed Muffins,
Earlier we mentioned UNESCO World Heritage Sites…Now it’s time for a challenge!
There are 936 World Heritage Sites in the world. Your job is to name 5…but not just any 5… We want you to name 5 sites that we have been to before OR will go to on this trip, OR any sites you have been to yourself!
Find your five (but only 5 or you may be disqualified!)…1 point per site! Only original sites not named yet will count…Ready…Set…GO!