Thursday, June 23, 2011

june 8

Previously: May 31, June 1, June 2, June 3, June 4, June 5, June 6, June 7

Well, this is the first of 4days in which I have no pictures. Sad. I did buy a few postcards to compensate, but I'm not going to go through the trouble of uploading them because if you are reading this you can access the internet, and can look up pictures yourself. That being said, I'm sure you noticed I was on a Paint kick with yesterday's point. Well it appears that I still am, so with that I bring you the first stop of the day. Stonehenge:

Yeah, you probably know what Stonehenge looks like, but did you know you have to stick to a path around it? It's all because people used to graffiti the stones and it was also a "thing" to rent a chisel and break off a chunk for yourself. Anything to make a buck. The stones themselves, to me, aren't that impressive. Sure, they are an engineering marvel given their age, but I'm more perplexed by the why of the arrangement's existence. It's often frustrating to realize how little "we" know. I want answers!

After about an hour and some rain, I got back on the bus to head to Bath. Oh, did I mention today was a guided tour? I'm not such a fan of the organized, commercial, large-group tours, but it's really the only way to get to Stonehenge without renting a car. Instead of going to Stonehenge separately and then wasting more time with a train from London to Bath I decided to combine the two. I expressly booked one though that would not do any tour-guiding at either location. The guide spoke on the bus, periodically, which was fine (and I did learn some interesting things), but I wanted the freedom to explore when and where I wanted.

I started my 3.5hours in Bath with the main attraction: The Roman Baths. What fascinates me about this place is that the city of Bath grew up above the actual baths. As in, they were covered once they fell into disrepair when the Romans left, and pretty much forgotten, until "bathing" again became fashionable. This all resulted in the baths being below modern street level and parts literally under the street and below current "modern" buildings above. How amazing would it be to find a "lost" city/site in why you just think is dirt? Dreams of becoming Indiana Jones are surfacing...

I ended my tour up in the Pump Room (a fancy place for tea) to try some of the hot bath water. It was... thick. One, I like my water COLD, so I was already a bit put off. But there are just so many minerals in the water that there's almost a texture to it. Not pleasant. The water is suggested to have curative powers and doctors used to prescribe it to patients; sometimes up to a gallon a day. Ick.

I decided to try a Cornish Pasty for lunch and walk around Bath. First, the pasty. Our guide told us that they were created for tin miners who needed something they could eat with their hands for lunch while not contaminating the food (and thus themselves). Therefore, a kind of beef stew was wrapped in pastry (and baked), and the miners would eat the interior and throw out the shell. Now, of course, you eat the whole thing. It wasn't necessarily bad, but it was way too rich for me. That could have just been the particular one I had, though. And now walking around Bath: I didn't get an opportunity to explore too much of the city due to time constraints, so I mainly stuck in the Roman Bath area. It was... commercial. I have these idealized ideas about old/historic places and that they should remain "pure" and original. Of course, I should know that anything which entices tourists would of course also entice big-brand names and souvenir shops. I am always excited when I find a unique, local shop, which unfortunately are too rare.

But I did find one in Bath! Well, it was in my guidebook, but it wasn't overrun with tourists. It's this adorable little glass shop filled with handblown glass. I spent quite a bit in time in there looking at all of the variations and talking to the shop people. They also had a glassblowing factory, which you could tour, maybe a mile away, but it was too late in the day for me to check it out. I wish I would have known earlier, because I definitely would have gone.

I then made a quick stop at the Bath Abbey. Nothing particularly remarkable here, but they do have a gorgeous organ.

At this point I had maybe 20minutes until the bus left and I noticed a performance in a courtyard, so I stopped to watch. I couldn't quite pick up on the story-line nor when the story was to be placed, but the performers were all wearing approximations of tights and tunics, if that helps. I say approximations because you could tell it was just whatever was in their closet or at the nearest store. This was an issue for one of the men, apparently. His "tunic" barely hit his hips, and his "tights" were red pantyhose. With no underwear. Whoa. Everyone unintentionally got way too personal with this guy.

The ride back was unremarkable, as was dinner. I then went back to my room to nap before Laura (!) arrived from Rome. She had a layover-type stop in London before heading home, so I offered her the use of my room for the night. She showed up around 11:45pm, and woke me from my "nap." Though we were both tired, it was classic slumber party: As soon as the lights were off we started gabbing. Unfortunately, her camera died too, but we both shared our church-dome climbing experience. [She got to climb St. Peter's Basilica, mom.]

Up next: Finishing out London's major sites.

1 comment:

  1. You don't have to stick to the path; you can get inside, by arrangement.