Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Roman Baths & Pulteney Bridge

When you are in Bath, the natural thing to do is to visit its namesake - the Roman Baths. 

Situated in the city centre of Bath, it is "one of the finest thermal spas of the ancient world". Seperti biasa, you have to pay to enter the world heritage tourist site.  Equiped with our audioguides, we started our tour around the place. 

 View from the terrace with Bath Abbey in the background (right)

View of the great bath from the terrace

The Roman Baths is actually a sprawling site but from outside one would never have thought so.  Its underground complex houses the sacred spring, the Roman temple,the Roman bath house and other artefacts. 


The Gorgon's head excavated from the ruins of the Roman temple ... 

... the sacred spring where worshippers threw in their scrolled wishes or curses inscribed on sheets of lead and pewter, in the hope that its  dwelling spirit, the goddess Sulis Minerva would grant them.  

After all these centuries, the sacred spring still yield mineral-rich spa water which visitors got to drink for free (just show your entrance tickets). The taste?  I thought it would be heavenly macam air zamzam, but who was I kidding?  Rasanya payau tapi baunya ... Puh!  Macam air longkang je... Kui!Kui!Kui!Sungguh mengembangkan tekak! :P.  

(pix by Stan Zurek)

Talk about longkang, here's an underground longkang (drain)that has lasted the test of time and is still functioning! 

Besides these, there were the changing rooms, saunas, heated rooms and plunging pool which I didn't care to photograph as I was too engrossed with my audioguide :).

The great bath was the most interesting place of the tour because you'd see actors (supposedly portraying people from the township of Aquae Sulis) getting into their character, thrilling the crowd. 

Amani sitting beside a Roman Marge Simpson :P. This hairstyle was supposed to be in vogue those days.  Now we know where Matt Groening got his inspiration from! :) 

 After buying souvenirs, we moved on to other parts of Bath.  We went to Royal Victoria Park for lunch, took pictures (my dad lah) at the Royal Crescent, before stopping at our final destination: a park near Pulteney Bridge.

My most unforgetable memory of Bath, however, came a few weeks later in the form of a traffic offense notice.  Caught in (foul) action by traffic camera! Huhuhu...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Much ado about a batu

It took us 9 months and my parents' visit to finally reach Stonehenge.  If my parents hadn't insisted on going there, it would still be the last place that we would visit.  After all, the place is just an hour's drive from Bristol (read:  go to the far away places first :)).

Thanks to the satnav, we were taken down narrow, winding roads through small traditional villages (thatched-roofed house and all), and into vast green meadows.  Sadly, I couldn't take any pictures because I was on the wheels. 

When we reached the place, it was almost noon but the weather was wonderful.  There was a long queue for the tickets.  Yeah, you have to pay to look at the batu... :P.  Luckily, we managed to get in free as we had "English Heritage" cards (thanks K. Fariza!:)). 

We were given audioguides to enable us to listen to information about the place.  The ultimate new age 'tourist guide', you listen to what you want, when you want and how (many times) you want.  Cool isn't it?  What impressed me was that the gadget managed to keep my hyperactive sons occupied, toying with the buttons and listening intently to the commentaries (macamlah faham sangat! Kuikuikui!).  I'm one happy mother!

The batu was ... well ... a pile of stones in the middle of a field.  We can't go near 'em though and can only view from afar.  So tawaf ajelah keliling batu... hehehe!

Some pictures of Stonehenge from different angles ...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Gallivanting in Cymru - The town with the longest name and Bodnant Garden

A visit to Wales wouldn't be complete if you don't visit their small town with the longest name.  Try saying this in one breath:

A load of goobledygook right? How to pronounce it? Go to this link.  It has a sound file :)

The name was so long, you'd have to have a wide-angle lense to fit the name into the frame!  In English it means: we go again ...

 St. Mary's Church in a hollow of white hazel near the swirling whirlpool of the Church of St. Tysilio with a red cave

The town's attraction?  The name, silly! :P

* * * * * *

Our last stop in Wales was Bodnant Garden.  More flora and fauna  pictures for you !

great place to experiment with the camera settings ...:)

Verdict:  There's an entrance fee but if you like flowers (or you like to take pictures of flowers :P), well worth every penny.  Beautiful place! Ample space for the kids to run around and play hide and seek ... not for those with wobbly knees, though!   But don't worry, the place is wheel-chair friendly :).  Figured out that summer might be a better time to visit when the roses are in full bloom :).