Romans Heart Baths

London Travel Blog

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Today I went to the Roman ruins at Bath, formally called Bath Spa. Apparently some Roman emperor was asked why he bathed once a day, and he said it's only because there's no time to bathe twice a day. I bet ancient Romans were cleaner than I am, though I'm sure only a percentage of the population had luxury time to go bathing.

The ruins at Bath are special 'cause they were dedicated to the goddess Sulis Minerva, whereas most discovered Roman baths have been secular. It took an hour and a half train to get to Bath, and I definitely should've left earlier. I don't think I've left the house any time before noon any of the days I've been here, which is unfortunate because most attractions close early, like between 5 and 6. In Bath, I missed the open hours for the Jane Austen Centre and the Miniscule Museum, both of which I'd like to visit. I very much enjoyed Bath, though. It was good to get out of the city for a bit, like we did in Ireland with Malahide and Powerscourt. Bath is a pretty small town with some charming walks.

I always find it so exciting to be somewhere where people thousands and thousands of years ago did normal activities, like bathing or eating or sleeping. For some reason, I find it particularly fascinating to see ancient writing by normal people - for example, at the baths they had an exhibit of original curses written  on pewter plates or other metals, that were offered by bathers to Sulis Minerva.  Usually they were curses from people who had had stuff stolen from them and wanted the goddess to help get retribution. They had translations on display but it was so amazing to see the actual handwriting of regular people who'd visited the same place i was standing sooo long ago.

At the British Museum, they also had these stones that super duper ancient folks had carved horoscopes and love letters and stuff on - seriously, it looked like nothing more than scratches on rocks, and it's also so amazing that people were able to uncover, recognize as writing, and finally translate this ancient script that nobody uses anymore at all. Can you believe the drains and waterproofing of the main baths still work now? So awesome.

Actually, speaking of the British Museum, don't you think this is nice? :

Although my feet
Never cease running to you
On the path of dreams
Such nights of love are never worth
One glimpse of you in reality

It's by a Japanese woman poet from AD 905, so pretty and simple - i like.

Oh, and hey, I'm gonna type out this brief article which may be of interest to all the shorter-statured men in my life. It's from March 13th copy of London Lite, a free daily newspaper they hand out in the streets:


Short men were more attractive to women than their taller counterparts before they learned how to use tools as weapons, a study says today. Being short made modern man's predecessors more successful at fighting -- with a lower centre of gravity and better balance -- making them irresistible to women.
From four million years ago until two million years ago those with the shortest legs were also more aggressive because they were confident of winning fights, according to research on Australopiths by the University of Utah.


I bet that last part's where the Napoleon complex started, right? Like maybe not the name but the attitude

Okay but anyway, part of the reason I took so long to get to Bath is 'cause the Tube's Circle line had problems, and I ended up walking from South Kensington to Paddington Station, which presented a significant delay in my trip. That reminds me - people in London are funny about distances, 'cause it's happened several times where I'll ask someone how to get to a certain attraction, and first a look of shock will cross their faces, then they'll point me in the right direction with warnings that I'll have to walk great distances before I reach my destination. Once I start walking, I'll usually get there in less than 15 minutes! Heehee. My theory is the public transportation is so good here, most people who know it well don't have to walk more than 100 yds to reach anywhere they want to go. . .

Which actually reminds me of another thing - so you can pretty much eat on any type of transportation here, whether it's bus, train, taxi, or whatever. That being said, why does the Tube seems so much cleaner than BART, where they're all crazy about not eating on the trains? I dunno.

On the way back from Bath, I ate one of the many delicious sandwiches I've had while in the UK. Though I've been pretty good about avoiding straight candy even with the plethora of interesting chocolates around, I can't resist a good baguette. Bread will be the downfall of my teeth. Supposedly a slice of regular white bread has as much sugar as a chocolate chip cookie, so I'm carrying a foldable toothbrush and mini toothpaste in my bag as preventative measures.

At night, I headed over to the East End by myself while Warren played basketball, to try and check out a freestyle competition they were having at some place called Cargo. I haven't seen any live music while I've been here so thought it'd be interesting to see what the UK hip hop scene is like. Unfortunately, I got myself way lost and ended up coming back after wandering 2 underground stations from where I originally alighted - the Tube closes around midnight so I didn't want to miss the last train booo. Mission unsuccessful, but I'll definitely try again : )

So. The plan for Wednesday: leave the house BEFORE NOON, make my way to Cambridge, back to the city for afternoon tea, evensong at St. Paul's, and end the night with dinner and drinks. Thursday I leave for Scotland, yipes and yahoo. K bye!


etran says:
I know what you mean about old writing by everyday people. There's something very real and endlessly fascinating about it.

Posted on: Jun 11, 2007
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photo by: ulysses