Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Wee Bit of Rome on English Soil

Today was one of the best days of my first summer here in the UK so far. I went on a weekend excursion organized by the lecturers here at the International Office of my university to the city of Bath. I was occampoined by one of my bestest friends in the whole wide world (sebut gaya kanak2 riang) Eunice Tan Shi Min, and our cheerful and ever sweet senior Aeman. Michael, one of our lecturers, was the head of the trip.

You will notice the Bath Abbey at the background below...

After a two hour journey on the bus, we arrived at Bath. The first place we visited was the Roman Baths.  It was an interesting fact to know that the Romans traveled all the way here to discover the hot springs. The hot water is said to originate from rainwater trapped underground centuries ago and now they have somehow popped out as hot water! Over a million liters of water is produced a day.

If you watch closely, you will notice the steam from the water. It is really THAT hot! Thankfully this spring overflow was too far ever for me to reach out or people would be burning their hands everyday!

The water from that waterfall-like place flows through this little stream into the big bathing area build by the Romans. That white rectangle thing is actually a sign warning 'gatai' people like me not to touch the water. Eunice's theory is that it has high concentration of radioactive substances which makes it hazardous or something. In fact, a child back in the late seventies swam and drank some of the water in a newly restored bath and died a few days later. There are modern baths around that allow visitors the experience the warm baths in a safer environment.

This is the Great Bath built by the Romans. As the world knows, they were one of the most skilled architectures of their time. This is proven by the very beauty of this place! However, they could not explain the phenomenon of the hot springs and believed it was the work of their gods.

The entire area I was standing on while this (awfully hideous) picture was taken was built much later after the fall of the Roman empire.

As I entered the lobby of the building, it was like stepping into one of the duomos back in Italy. The striking Roman architecture of the ceiling and the walls was breathtaking.

Above the Great Bath, on the newly constructed structure are statues of governors of Roman Britain. They looked very Roman that I had no idea they were newly included in the area. I assumed they were part of the ancient structure itself!

Now I know where the movie makers of the second Harry Potter film got their inspiration for the Salazar Slytherin's head statue in the Chamber of Secrets. It is from the Gargon, which is the center of this ancient carving piece. I am not sure what it is, but it serpents for its hairy beard.

Nobody has any idea who the woman of this statue really is. But whomever she is, she must have been someone very important, considering the fashionable hairstyle which would have taken ages to complete, with the help of many servants.

 Here is a Roman mosaic piece of a mythological creature called a Hippocamp, which is part horse and part fish.

This is a model of the Roman Bath and the temple of  the goddess Sulis Minerva as it would have looked like in the fourth century.

This altar would have been used by priests to perform animal sacrifices.

The golden-plated head of an idol of the goddess Sulis Minerva.

A Sacred Spring for healing purposes, I suppose.

Devotees of the goddess would throw curses of people who have done something bad to them, like stealing something from them, into the waters. This proves people can be really mean when cursing those who have wronged them. Some curses would be written backwards.

The Victorian superstructure, Bath Abbey can be seen from the Great Bath.

Eunice and I with one of the staff members of the Roman Baths, dressed in a costume which would have been worn by the aristocratic women of Roman Britain at that time.

The hot air would flow through this area to heat up the floor.

This is the Pump, where visitors to the Roman Baths can take water from the springs which is just next to this restaurant and consume it here.

Once we were out of the Roman Baths, we hanged out around the Bath Abbey. I took the pretty picture with the statue of the Roman soldier and this 'pengacau punya budak'.

The Bath Abbey has quite stunning architecture as well...

The stained windows...

The magnificent fan vaulting on the ceiling...

 This must be some metaphorical or allegorical representation of the angels climbing Jacob's Ladder I thing...

I really wanted to stop by this famous restaurant to try its famous bread. But we only passed by it, and I bought a piece of Bath bun for my lunch. Not exactly recommendable for diabetic patients, but it was quite feeling.

Our next stop was the Jane Austen Center. As a big fan of her work, Eunice and I felt it was a must we go there, and we managed to pull Aeman along too! The place gave us a clear picture of how Bath would have been like during Jane's two different period of stays here, when it was a famous fashion city.

The whole center does not look quiet like a museum despite all the exhibitions. It seems more like house ripped out of one of the BBC movies made based on Jane's novels.

Two of her novels, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey were set in Bath, though both give us a different impression on the city, reflecting two different parts of Jane's life.

Would you BELIEVE what's written on this wall?!

As we walked out of the place, we met this jolly friendly 'pak cik' in his Georgian attire. He was more than happy to take a picture with us.

As we walked back to our tour bus, we passed by some other famous landmarks in the city.

Gay Street... Jane Austen might have used this street frequently...

 The cathedral of Bath...

Holburne Museum...

The river of Avon...

The Crescent, which is a row of houses build in the shape of a 'bulan sabit', thus the name.

Bath also houses many other interesting places. I would have loved to go on the cruise, and visit more museums. But we did not have much time. I would love to go back there someday, God bless.

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