Friday, August 20, 2010

Aquae Sulis

Hello from Bath!

We are staying in a little Bed and Breakfast here called Queen Charlotte’s Orangery.

I frankly have no idea who Queen Charlotte is*, and contrary to the name, my mum insists that there has never been a Queen Charlotte. I’m not sure what the British are playing at then, because the building next door has an historic plaque that says “Here dwelt Queen Charlotte.” Also confusing is that there are no orange trees in sight. But this place is super cute. It’s decorated in an old school English, shabby chicish motif and I love it. Our room has a view of the typical English garden – seemingly overgrown in an organized chaos sort of way.

The Romans established this city because of the natural hot springs that bubble up in what is now the center of downtown. It was sort of their spa-getaway if you will. The oldest inscription in the bath house dates to about 75 AD!

Yesterday we wandered around the city for the better part of the day – we checked out the Roman Baths and Pump Room, which were awesome, except it was hard to get any good photos because the crowds were so large. From the Roman baths you can see Bath Abbey looming over the city – Bath Abbey is GORGEOUS!

Maybe I just don’t get out to see enough churches, and mummy said that it pales in comparison to what we will see in London for example, but I was totally blown away. There are tomb plaques from the early 1600’s all over the floors and walls, and massive stained glass walls with the most amazing detail.

Later in the afternoon we hopped on a boat for an unplanned trip up the River Avon, which runs through Bath. Now, as it just so happens, this is not THE River Avon, as in Stratford upon Avon. Apparently Great Britain has nine rivers called Avon. This one is the Bristol Avon.

We thought the boat trip would show us some historical sites along the way, but it was really more of a leisurely ride amongst and endless sea of greenery. It almost seems tropical with all of the overgrown lush plant life here – I assume from frequent rain. The boat couldn’t go too far however, because in two spots on the river they have built walls. The water level on this River Avon is known to fluctuate quite a bit from season to season, so locals built these walls to maintain the water level they needed to continue on with businesses that relied on the water (like the local mill for example, which used a water wheel for energy).

I am for the third day in a row up before 6am, which hasn’t been too bad because it’s the only time I can seem to get an internet connection – but come 6pm I am dead on my feet, begging mummy to let me fall asleep. She dutifully reminds me that ideally I would stay up until at least 8 so I can get on the right schedule, but no luck yet.

Today we will pick up our rental car, which is exciting because it marks the true beginning of the road trip. It's also intimidating because driving on the right side of the car, on the left side of the road is, obviously, completely counter-intuitive. Once we get the car we’ll head out to see Stonehenge and any other sites along the way. Then it’s back here to Bath for one more night, then on to the Cotswolds.

More on that later. Cheers!

*Ok, it’s kind of a cop-out to be on the internet and say “I don’t know what X is”, because duh, you can just Google. Maybe Charlotte WAS a queen after all….