By: GoEnnounce Student Sean Kirkpatrick
I’m Sean, a junior in college, and a first time study abroad student. As I travel, I’ll be sharing my adventures, experiences, lessons, (and maybe even mishaps!) as I venture through my semester across the world. Please be sure to check back in and follow my posts on Twitter with the hashtag #SeanAbroad.
I am studying abroad at London South Bank University for this semester. I am living in almost the center of London. Borough Road to be exact and I am loving it. The program that I am a part of takes us on trips to cities outside of London. Last Sunday I had the opportunity to go to Bath and Stonehenge. I knew Stonehenge was cool but Bath, it seemed like a boring little town that might have one or two old buildings. Man was I wrong.
We started off in Bath. The main attraction is a Roman bathhouse that is built around geologically active hot springs where people would bath in the mineral rich waters. That’s all people told me about Bath. I was ready to waste time in this small town.
When we first got there I was really confused. People were talking about it like it was this small town, but it was HUGE. No one told me about this. I think I’ll make this whole thing my house.
My guide told us, as we drove in the city, that it was also popular for it’s famous architecture and the golden stones used for every building. The picture above is of one of the main places the wealthy would stay when in Bath. All of the houses were similar to this and I was amazed why people only talked about this place as if it wasn’t important. I have determined when I am rich one day, hopefully soon, I will have a house here. Definitely one of the ones in the picture- that’s where the really rich used to live.
As we got off the bus we made our way through the main center of the city and finally made it to the bathhouse. It had been turned into a museum and you were able to see many artifacts found as well as see the main bathhouse.
Although I was told not to touch the water, part of me wanted to. I could show off to my friends and be like “hey, remember how they said not to touch the water? I did it anyway”. I was about to when someone in front of me touched the water and two workers came over and scolded them. I decided it’s best not to and left in a hurry.
Off of the main bath were smaller areas that were actually once steam rooms. It was amazing how the Romans could figure out how to heat the floors and walls by raising them above the hot springs. The springs would then heat the floor to the point where throwing cold water on it would cause the room to fill with steam. The first one I walked into was apparently the female room. I was confused when I saw a projection of a naked women on the wall next to me. There was a projector hanging from the sealing. After a while in that room I went to see more.
After seeing the different rooms and objects we moved out of the bath house where they allowed you drink some of the water from the spring. Though the water was safe to drink, it was completely disgusting. There was a rotten egg smell to it. The water was warm and had a very metallic taste, but I drank three cups anyway. The waters have a lot of minerals and are supposed to have healing capabilities. I was hoping to not get sick for the rest of the year with those three cups. We will see what happens with that.
Once we left the springs, we ate lunch and wandered the streets of Bath. I didn’t realize how awesome this city was. It looked like a small version of London with the amount of shops and people and not only that, they also had a Ben’s Cookies. If you every come to London/Bath… Ben’s Cookies is where you need to go… it is amazing. Next to the museum was an amazingly beautiful church called Bath Abbey. It’s only open for visitors for three hours and we happened to be there when it opened. The inside was so more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. It was a little creepy though, they use the floor of the church as tombs for certain people when they die. Walking on dead people always makes me feel weird.
Leaving Bath behind, the next stop was Stonehenge. The bus ride there was uneventful, but the countryside was lovely. I did see a sign for Tank crossing, though I, sadly, didn’t see any tanks. Our tour guide finally told us we arrived, but I couldn’t see Stonehenge from the visitor’s building. We were basically in the middle of a field, but there was a train where they drove you the rest of the way. Stonehenge was about ten minutes away, and as we drove up I could see the rocks come over the hill. They looked small, but I knew that wasn’t the case. Walking up to them is when I realized they were massive and definitely had been there was while. They looked awesome and if anyone is a Doctor Who fan, you will want to visit. No, there wasn’t a hidden passage way like in the show but it was still cool to see.
We were able to walk around the rocks, but we were not allowed to go up and touch them. Still, it was really awesome seeing something I have only ever seen in pictures. They were just in the middle of a field, with no apparent purpose to their placement. Our tour guide had told us that they were used as a giant calendar to for ancient people, but there was something mysterious about them. I had heard a story that they were placed there by the famous wizard Merlin as a tribute to some battle fought between the native people there a long time ago. The rocks were lifted and placed there magically. That seemed way cooler than a calendar, so that’s what I choose to believe. We weren’t there long, but we got to stop at the gift shop. Almost spent a lot of money on a shirt that said “Stonehenge rocks”. That was the funniest moment of the trip. Eventually we had to make our way back to the bus. After an amazing day, it was time to head to London.
Before this trip started, all I wanted to see was the famous Stonehenge. I had underestimated Bath and found it to be the best part of the trip. Now I look forward to every place I am taken too this semester, and not just the famous places… though they are awesome too.
Stay tuned for my next post and follow #seanabroad on GoEnnounce!
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