This day started off with a long trip to the Roman Baths. Once in Bath, we made a quick stop, to see the Royal Crescent, a magnificent apartment building of 30 residences built in the mid-18th century. Without a long time to spend, we took a quick group picture in the rain and then got back on the road to the Bath. On arrival it doesn’t look that impressive, an innocuous building dwarfed by the huge cathedral right across the plaza. However once we entered and made our way past the entrance we found ourselves on the second story above a huge rectangular pool. The rest of the museum gives a revealing look into Roman culture and the ways they spent their time. The difference in life between the upper class and their servants is quite interesting, with the Baths themselves being a major center for the elite, with status being the defining trait of those visiting. The museum had a lot on display, including even a sample taste of the water at the end, but it tasted pretty terrible and very warm.
After lunch we stopped at the Welsh Senedd building, which was completed in 2006, well over budget I might add. Its impressive design is built to look like a central tree with the visitor area at the top and the main meeting rooms towards the bottom. From there we left for our final destination, Cardiff Castle. To start, we walked through the walls surrounding the complex, which had been retrofitted in World War II to be shelters against attacks. In the center of the property there was a keep, the final stronghold atop a hill surrounded by a water moat. We climbed to the very top and looked out over the whole area, a really beautiful sight, if not a bit windy. Finally there was the castle apartments, built in the mid-19th century by the 3rd Marquess of Bute, a man whose family became quite wealthy from investments in the coal industry. It was the most ornate building of the whole trip, with exotic architecture and luxurious sitting rooms. Perhaps my favorite part of the day was the World War II museum in the downstairs of the gift shop building. They performed demonstrations with military guns, and showed how they were operated and gave detailed information on the history of ranged weaponry for the past 500 years. Overall it was a great day with a ton of incredibly interesting sites and things to see.
By Jonathan Hamstra