Friday, April 10, 2009

I took a Bath

Ever since our 8-week term ended, we have been going on field trips every Wednesday. Last Wednesday we went to Bath, which is where the wealthy English people used to vacation in the 1700 and 1800s. Bath has natural hot springs that a man discovered when one day he and his pigs were going for a walk in the country. His pigs ran and bathed in mud and came out clean. He flung himself into the mud to see for himself and he came out clean, he reported these wonders to the king and Bath gained popularity. True story.

Little did this silly man know, the Romans had already discovered these hot springs and constructed massive temples and places to bathe in the hot springs...and we got to visit!

Our teacher ATJ (yeah, he seriously is so great that his name has been reduced to 3 letters, he has books published about his archeological digs and he has his own classroom in our building) took us around Bath, which is a pretty quaint town with many chocolate shops, cafes, and unique-yet-expensive clothing shops, and is surrounded by the beautiful English countryside. We saw the circus, a string of townhouses made to look like a Roman building so people felt like they lived in a mansion, when really they lived in a small part of the building.

Then we did like the Romans and took a bath. Marie had a great idea to actually make use of the hot springs so a group of us went to a spa. At first, I felt like I was cheating for not exploring the town because it's pretty likely that I will not travel to Bath again. But then I realized that bathing in hot springs and being luxurious was exactly what Bath was about. I felt connected with the people who frequented Bath.

This was my first spa experience and quite possibly my last, I realize that I'm too childish for spas. All I want to do is splash around and play and race people in the pools, which for some reason is innapropriate to do in spas. After paying at the front desk, we changed into our bating suits and headed for the baths.

We ran up to the roof of the five story building where our most impressive bath stood. However, when six college kids showed up, everyone seemed to groan because we were the youngest people there but at least 20 years; secretly I felt really classy and cultured that I could bathe along with these people. I mean we were able to sit in the warm pool and look out over all of Bath, it was pretty incredible. The pool periodically bubbled, like a jacuzzi, just not as intense. Marie took some contraband pictures before the lifeguard made her put the camera away.

Here are some of the wonders of seeing Bath from a bath, pictures that cannot be found anywhere else (unless other people have snuck cameras to the rooftop):

If you look really closely you can see Sean drowning me.

Oh a know, here is our view from the pool and our new friends-they're clearly very happy to have met us.

Inside the building there were 4 circular steam rooms surrounding a huge waterfall shower where you cooled off after being smothered in steam, which is strangely relaxing even though you feel like you can't breath. Each steam room had a different scent: spearmint, eucalyptus, lavender, and chamomile and on the outskirts of the steaming area were individual foot baths. There was an indoor pool that made me feel like I was in a hotel pool and not a spa-we didn't stay in that area long.

After our luxurious bathing experience, we were hungry and decided to participate in another popular past time of the elite. We got a Bath bun from Sally Lunne's, which is the oldest house in's been around since 1482!

These buns have been raved about by the likes of Charles Dickens and Jane Austen and we got to eat them. There are massive buns and you can get them with different toppings, Alexia and I split one with cinammon butter, which was soft and absolutely delightful. I can see why Dickens was down with Sally Lunn.

Then we headed to the actual Roman baths, which, like all Roman structures, are incredible. It's mindblowing how these buildings still stand. We took an audio tour of the expansive Roman baths and were able to get a taste of the activities that took place here, and Bill Bryson author of A Walk in the Woods was one of the narrators...yeah, I was confused too.

Bath was was an incredible mix of Roman and 18th century wealth. I was especially excited to be in Bath because I have studied Jane Austen this semester, who not only lived in Bath but writes about it frequently in her novels. It was amazing to see one of the places that she wrote about and to be able to understand the context of her novels so much more.

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