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Monday, March 6, 2017

A Trip To The Past: Stonehenge And Bath

If you like unique and historical places, why don't visit Stonehenge and Bath? Located less than 100 miles away from London, we can take a day trip either by train or bus. For us, we decided to take a one day bus tour to those places when we were in London last year. There are many bus tour providers available and with the cost around GBP 60-70 per person, we can get return bus service and entrance tickets to Stonehenge and Roman Bath complete with audio guides. The audio guides are really useful in giving us more understanding about the places we are visiting.

The trip from London to Stonehenge take around 1.5 hours by bus. Stonehenge is a prehistoric stone monument located in a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Wiltshire, England. It was a sunny day when we arrived in Stonehenge, the blue sky and green grass became a perfect background for the picture we were taking. We were given audio guide headsets before we walked closer to the stone. While walking, we listened to the information about the history of the stone monument, the name and the meaning of each stone's construction. We were in awe that these stones were raised 4500 years ago by the sophisticated prehistoric people. How the stones could be transported to that position without the aid of the wheel or pulley system? Nobody knows. The stone monuments that were built in alignment of the movement of the sun were originally a place of burial. Recent theories proposed that Stonehenge was a place for healing and also used as ancestor worship. Whatever it is, the construction itself is really attractive. We took picture from many direction as we went around the stone monuments.

From Stonehenge, we went to Bath. As we can roughly tell from its name, Bath is well known for its public bath built by the Romans. The city became a spa with the latin name Aquae Sulis in AD 60 when the Romans built a bath house and a temple in the valley of the River Avon. The bath house is a must see tourist attraction in Bath. That was exactly what we did the moment we arrived in this small but beautiful city.

The Roman Baths complex is located below the modern street level. They consists of four main features: the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House and the Museum. Again, we listened to the story of this historical site through the audio guide. The hot water in Bath spa coming from rain water that falls on the nearby Mendip Hills. It percolates down through limestone aquifer to a very depth ground level where geothermal energy raises the water temperature to between 69-96 Celcius. Under pressure, the heated water comes to the surface. Hot water at the temperature of 46 Celcius rises here at the rate of more than 1,000,000 litres everyday.

We also watched how the Romans from several social stratas used to live and socialize in this Roman Baths through video projector. Bathing was not only one of the most common daily activities in Roman culture, it was also a communal activity. The technology made us feel as if we were living in those era. Very interesting. We cannot take a bath in the Roman Baths because the water that flow through the Roman Baths is considered unsafe for bathing. However, we still can pamper ourselves at the Thermae Bath Spa, a modern spa that uses the hot natural water to sooth and relax. Unfortunately we did not have much time to enjoy the spa in Bath so we skipped this activity.

Just next to Roman Bath, there is Bath Abbey, an Anglican Parish church. It was founded in 7th century  and rebuilt in the 12th and 16th century. We did not have a chance to go inside the church so we could just admire its Gothic architecture from outside. The architecture of the church is really beautiful.

Bath is relatively small and compact. Most locations in Bath are walkable from city centre. We want to visit Jane Austen Centre but didn't due to the time constraint. After visiting the Roman Baths, we only had 1.5 free hours in this city so we just spent our time for lunch, walking around the city centre, parks and took some pictures. We saw Sally Lunn's Refreshment House and Museum, claimed to be the Oldest House in Bath. The place is very small with many people inside.

Guess where we finally had our lunch? KFC, hehe. Yes, KFC. When it comes to food, I am not so adventurous. After lunch, we continued our city sightseeing. Bath's city centre are full of shops with sophisticated design. Many well known brands that we found in London are also available here. Not far from the shopping centre, there was a park where a lot of people were sitting down, having a chat, reading a book or simply sunbathing. The atmosphere was so relaxing. We took pictures of the park, the city and also the church.

We eventually departed from Bath in the late afternoon. We regret we didn't visit the Royal Crescent, a row of 30 terraced house with Georgian architecture laid out in semi-elliptical crescent. It seems like half a day in Bath was not enough. If we want to fully explore this city, we need at least one full day tour. A two days and one night stay will be even better. The sun was going down when we left the city. This is my last shot before we left this beautiful city. Goodbye, Bath. Hope to see you again one day. 

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