(Not) taking the baths in Bath

6 June 2013

Today, we said goodbye to London, and headed westwards to the city of Bath. As we drove, Paula put on her tour-guide hat and told me a bit about our destination:

“Bath was established as a spa by the Romans sometime around AD 60. You see, there are hot geothermal springs in this area of the Avon River valley. So the Romans built baths and a temple in the surrounding hills. In the Georgian era, which is the period around 1714 to 1830, the town became very popular as a spa town; today, millions of visitors come to Bath every year.”

Here are some of the pictures we took during our walk around the old city.

Bath is a beautiful city - up ahead is St Michael's Church
Bath is a beautiful city – up ahead is St Michael’s Church

Many of the buildings in the centre of the old town are built in the distinctive honey-coloured stone of the area, and I think they are very beautiful.

We wander around the old city
We wander around the old city

There were hundreds of tourists lined up to go inside the Roman Baths complex, which is a very historical site. This is what it looks like inside.

“Do people still bath in the old Roman baths?” I asked.

“Actually, no, because the water isn’t safe. The old pipes are lined with lead, as is the Great Bath, and the water is apparently radioactive. But the newly constructed baths nearby, at Thermae Bath Spa, are perfectly safe, and are fed by water from recently drilled boreholes.”

We didn’t feel like queueing for hours, so we continued our walk.

There is a long queue of tourists waiting to enter the Roman Baths - so we decide to give that a miss
There is a long queue of tourists waiting to enter the Roman Baths – so we decide to give that a miss

“If you get tired of walking, and your feet are aching, you can also catch a ride on a hackney carriage,” remarked Paula, as we stopped to say hello to the friendly horses.

This is a hackney carriage, which is popular among visitors
This is a hackney carriage, which is popular among visitors

I really liked this pretty bridge in the old city centre. I thought it was very picturesque indeed.

“This is the Pulteney Bridge, which was built around 1774,” said Morton knowledgeably. “It is one of only four bridges in the world to have shops across its full span on both sides.”

“It looks a bit familiar,” I said, puzzled. “I feel like I’ve seen it before.”

The famous Pulteney Bridge with its unusual weir - the barge is part of a protest action
The famous Pulteney Bridge with its unusual weir – the barge is part of a protest action

“Perhaps you have,” said Paula. “Did you see the 2012 movie version of Les Miserables?

“Yes,” I nodded. “Reggie and Richard saw it with me while I was staying with them.”

“Well, do you remember that scene, where Javert throws himself down into the weir? That was filmed here.”

“Ohh!” Now isn’t that fascinating?

“What is that ship doing down there?” I asked, peering over the side of the bridge. A barge was anchored just underneath the weir, moving side to side slightly, as the water rushed down the steps.

The man living on this barge is staging a protest
The man living on this barge is staging a protest

“Oh, I heard about that in the news,” said Morton. “The man living on the barge and his fellow protestors are protesting against the derelict condition of the 18th century factory at Newark Works. He says the city council is wrecking the city’s heritage with its new developments along the riverside. Apparently, the factory has not been maintained properly. He says the developers are doing this intentionally because they are waiting for the place to become so badly neglected and so derelict that it cannot be repaired, but only torn down and replaced. And that would mean the loss of another heritage building.”

“I’ve noticed that the English take great pride in protecting and preserving their heritage and traditions,” I replied. “I think it is rather wonderful.”

A panorama shot in Bath
A panorama shot in Bath

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