Saturday, October 5, 2013

Day 18 - Hop On, Hop Off and South Pacific

Today we decided to see Bath from the top of a Hop On/Hop Off bus.  Took lots of pictures, which I will need to go through and add once we're back in London.  This city has both a Roman History, when it was known as Aquae Sulis, and an 18th/early 19th century history with Beau Nash and Jane Austin.

The Roman Baths
The city was first established as a spa with the Latin name, Aquae Sulis ("the waters of Sulis") by the Romans sometime in the AD 60s, about 20 years after they arrived in Britain (AD43), although oral tradition suggests that Bath was known before then.  The Romans built baths and a temple on the surrounding hills of Bath in the valley of the River Avon around hot springs.  Due to the hot springs, many have speculated that Bath's waters are being heated by volcanic activity, but there is no scientific evidence to prove that.  In fact most of the rock found in Bath is sedimentary with chalk coming from the the upper, newer layers and the classic golden Bath limestone being the older stone.

According to Wikipedia, the water which bubbles up from the ground, as geothermal springs, previously fell as rain on the Mendip Hills. It percolates down through limestone aquifers to a depth of between c. 9,000-9,000 to 14,000 ft (2,743 to 4,267 m) where geothermal energy raises the water temperature to between 64 and 96 °C (c. 147–205 °F). Under pressure, the heated water rises to the surface along fissures and faults in the limestone.  There is no universal definition to distinguish a hot spring from another geothermal spring, though by several definitions, the Bath springs can be considered the only hot springs in the UK. Three of these springs feed the thermal baths.

Royal Crescent - example of Georgian architecture
Interesting sidenotes. Edgar (October 1, 959 to July 8 975) was crowned King of England at Bath and anointed with his wife Ælfthryth, setting a precedent for a coronation of a queen in England itself. Edgar's coronation did not happen until 973, in an imperial ceremony planned not as the initiation, but as the culmination of his reign (a move that must have taken a great deal of preliminary diplomacy). This service, devised by Dunstan (Bishop of Worcester and subsequently Bishop of London, then Archbishop of Canterbury and Edgar's adviser) and celebrated with a poem in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, forms the basis of the present-day British coronation ceremony.

 When Princess Victoria visited Bath, she was enchanted by the town and the people, writing in her journal, "The people are really too kind to me."  Unfortunately, a reporter who chronicled her visit wrote that the princess's clothing was a bit dowdy.  When Victoria heard this she reportedly announced that she had no wish to ever see Bath or any of its people again.  Her ire carried to the point that after she became Queen and traveled through the town by train, she requested the drapes be drawn since she had no wish to see the town, nor have any of its people gaze upon her.

Bath Theatre Royal
After our tour, we stopped for dinner at our favorite restaurant which is located here as well.  Cafe Rouge.  After dinner we walked to the Bath Theatre Royal where we saw their production of South Pacific.  A classic show and the cast did it justice.  It wasn't the most professional version we've ever seen done, but it was still enjoyable.  This was their closing night.

After the show we stopped by The Saracen's Head, also reported to be a very old pub in Bath.  It has recently been refitted and modernized, so Saturday night socializing was a little rowdy, but all in fun.

Then we returned to the flat.  We are supposed to be out by 10 AM tomorrow, so I'll check in after we get back to London.  Night.

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