Original water line during Roman times. Notice that the road level is little shorter than the balconied terraces above, indicating how much the city had built on top of itself in 1500 years.

This is getting to be a bit of a tongue twister. The museum is very good, and I learned a lot from it, especially since it was in English. I have been to the Roman Forum, Pompeii, and Barcelona but because I don’t speak the local language, I was highly reliant on interpreting the information from my guide book or tour guide.  Often there’s limited information in English.  The museum in Bath also had a great audio tour, plus if you time your trip accurately, you can also access a guided tour that runs on the hour.

It amazes me that the Roman Baths remain undiscovered, after Rome withdrew from England, for about 1500 years.  It was only because someone’s basement kept flooding and work to discover what the problem was, led to the discovery of the old ruins, and subsequent growth of Bath again as a spa. How it remained hidden all this time is simply amazing.

They don’t want you to touch the water, because it is not treated.  Notice the water is a bit greenish and that’s because the bath is exposed to the sun and algae is growing.  This is contaminating the water. In Roman times, the baths were covered and not exposed to the sun, and the water was pure.  The water steams as it is about 48 degrees celsius and the outside air was about 2 or 3 degrees.  I think it would have been lovely to have been here the week before, as the heavy snow would have provided a lovely contrast.

I’ve learnt in History classes at school that the Romans were great engineers and that they conquered water. But these were abstract concepts to be learned (and memorised) at the time. How can one get a sense of an aqueduct from a photo to which you don’t have a sense of scale.  The Colosseum just looks like a big building that could be 5 stories high, not the 15 stories that it probably is. Every time I see a Roman ruin, I simply marvel at their achievements. They were truly the modern society of ancient times.

One of the things to do is to “take the waters” like countless others have done in the past 200 years. As part of your ticket to the museum, you get to drink a glass of water for free. Hmm, what did it taste like?  Well, the water was warm, felt a bit slimy, and had a smell.  There must have been sulphur or something in it, giving it a bad-egg smell. If you don’t inhale as your drink it, you won’t notice it as much. Admittedly, I managed to get a few mouthfuls down before I suddenly stopped as I had a gagging reaction.  I can’t imagine how people manage to drink 5 litres of it before breakfast!

But as they say, when in Rome …. so don’t be put off by my post and definitely try the waters.

We also visited the Bath Abbey to see the beautiful fan vaults, and they were definitely very pretty. I was also surprised to learn that the first governor of New South Wales is buried in Bath Abbey.  Cathedrals always amaze me, in terms of their height and the intricacy of the stonework. If you’re ever interested in imagining what society was like during the cathedral building age, the books by Ken Follett are excellent (Pillars of the Earth, and World Without End).