After abandoning two tardy tourists at Windsor Castle, our group started the 2 hour journey to Bath. I enjoyed about three minutes of the English countryside before falling asleep. But in that three minutes, I enjoyed the scenery. Rapeseed grow like crazy in England–loves the climate I guess. As you may know, rapeseed is used to produce rapeseed oil which is very closely related to canola oil. It grows in pretty yellow flowers, but evidently it smells very strongly of ammonia. Worse, it gets its name because it’s so harsh on the soil, depleting all nutrients. But from the bus, it was lovely to look at! Yellow fields scaling the rolling hills, separated by low stone walls and shrubby hedge rows. I apologize for the shabby bus pictures:
When we started to close in on bath, Deborah gave us some facts about the area. She pointed out a house that Johnny Depp supposedly purchased, and she said that Nick Cage has lived in Bath for years. “He’s a real sweetheart” according to Deborah. Jane Austin also lived in Bath for a time, but she hated it.
Bath gets its name from the natural hot springs that the Romans turned into a large bathing house which Deborah describes as “Gregorian version of match.com.” Makes sense to me–see them naked first and then decide.
The steep, narrow road coming in to bath had an 11% grade, and our driver maneuvered the giant bus expertly. Deborah was also impressed. She kept flirting with the driver, Joe, saying, “well done, Joe. I’ll work with you again.” When we pulled in to the main square, the large park nearby was covered in folks sunning themselves. Deborah told us that English people don’t often show so much of themselves, but it’s so rare to get such a sunny day. Indeed, it hit 70 degrees that day. Unusual climate.
The area we stopped was very busy and very tourist friend. Lots of shops and street performers. There was a very pretty church thing there, but Deborah didn’t tell us about it. I also have no idea what “the pump room” is but I hope it’s a safe space for breast feeding mothers. Though I doubt Europeans are as shitty about breast feeding as Americans are.
Deborah got us to the entrance to the baths and warned us not to get lost or be late! In we wandered, audio guides pressed to our ears. The guides weren’t that great, and the one from Bill Bryson was especially disappointing. He’s no Rick Steves, that one. I regret not checking for a Steve’s podcast on Bath before going in. A lot of neat things were recovered from the water, including small figurines, jewelry, coins, and notes. These were likely offerings to the goddess Minerva. The curses were addressed to her, and often asking for harsh punishments for petty offenses. One asks for eternal suffering to the thief who stole a cloak. Harsh, man.
It was a neat place to visit, especially since it’s so old. The baths saw their hayday about 2,000 years ago. The water in the main pool is about as old, and Deborah warned us not to touch it. Unless, of course, we wanted to spend the rest of the day smelling foul. I did not. Still, I saw a few people dip their hands or fingers in. I’m not sure what gives it this blue color.
Real pretty and old. I like that. At the end of the tour, they had a fountain so we could taste fresh water from the spring. It wasn’t bad. A little farty, but that’s maybe expected. I’d rather have gotten in a hot tub of it, but I wasn’t about to spend the rest of my day smelling to high heaven. Besides, we still had Stonehenge to get to!