After the usual morning routine, we were picked up right in front of the hotel by our very own charter bus! As it was big enough to hold at least three times the amount of people we have, we immediately spread out, intent on napping the whole way to Bath. Our tour guide and bus driver had other ideas however. One kept turning on the speaker system to give us more background on London, Bath, and the surrounding areas (which was actually interesting). And the other had the heat cranked up so high that most of us were sweating and cranky by the time we reached Bath. Needless to say, the two hour ride was a little rough this morning.
But the brisk air in Bath as we stepped off the bus helped cool us down and cheer us up. I was surprised as we had approached, not realizing that Bath was actually a city. I had just imagined we would be seeing the ruins of some ancient Roman baths, but that was definitely not the case. We started at the museum, which is built over and around what is left of the Roman baths, which includes the natural hot springs. The hot springs were really cool, but they were pretty dirty. We were given audio guides to walk around the museum with, which I appreciated. It gave us the freedom to learn at our own pace and discover just as much as we wanted to. One of my favorite parts of the baths was the heated floor system they had devised. They built numerous short pillars all across the ground with room in between them and then built the floor on top of those pillars. They would then light huge fires and push the warm air throughout the space between the pillars and the floor, which would nicely heat the floor. We were able to learn about the type of people who frequented the baths, the different types of baths that were built, and see some of the original stones and decorations that have been uncovered in the excavations. Overall a very cool experience.
Then we went on a tour of the actual city of Bath with our tour guide Andrew (or the British Kid Rock). He definitely knew what he was talking about, telling us about certain buildings or areas of the town and what their purpose was back when the baths were popular. He also pointed out the apartments and houses that famous people such as Jane Austin and Nicholas Cage used to live in. We saw some beautiful architecture and buildings all throughout the city, all of which is made from limestone. After the tour we were given some time for lunch. Most of us grabbed sandwiches at a nearby place and spent the rest of our time exploring the city’s shops and ice cream parlors.
Then we climbed back into the bus for the hour ride to Stonehenge. I was very excited to see the ruins. Our guide again gave us tons of backstory on the ruins themselves and the surrounding area, including who built Stonehenge and some of the possible reasons for why it was built. I don’t personally have a theory that I believe over all the others, I just love the mystery behind it. We arrived at the visitor center (which was just opened in December) and climbed into a little cart that drove us out to see the stones. By this time it had become windy and began to rain, so we quickly ran out to look at the huge stones (which were so cool!!). I marveled for as long as I could stand before hurrying back to get on a cart to take me back to the warm visitors center. We explored the gift shop and cafe before returning to the bus for the two hour ride back to the hotel.
The ride back was pretty uneventful, and as soon as we got back a group of us headed straight to the hotel restaurant for dinner. I ordered a burger, my first taste of beef since I’ve been in Europe. While it wasn’t as bad as some of the beef my friends have encountered, it definitely was not mid-western beef. I will just stick to chicken until I return home, which is hard to believe in just a couple days! Tomorrow we will go see the Tower of London. Talk to you soon!