02/13/11

It snowed the other day. Heavy, clumpy snow that stuck to everything and wrapped the city in a thick white blanket. Snow isn't uncommon here in the winter, but according to the residents this was more than they're used to.

Children played in the roads. As no cars were allowed on the street during the day (a law I understand was borrowed from ancient Rome), snowmen were stationed as guards at crossroads, and both children and adults were free to sled down the city streets. The wet snow made excellent snowballs and building material, and several wars broke out as I wandered around, enjoying the weather. Since no plows would clear the streets until after sunset, many shops and restaurants in the more out-of-the-way areas of the city were closed, which had the ironic effect of freeing up more people to be out and about.

As the day wore on and the cold started to seep through my layers, I popped into the nearest temple to warm up. Now, this particular temple was of a kind peculiar to this city – it's not consecrated to any god or pantheon in particular, and bears more in common to what we'd call a spa or a bathouse back home. But here, they're called temples, and the services offered therein are not entirely unspirtiual.

The air thick with steam and fragrant with incense, I was ushered into the changing room where I discared my cold, damp clothes for a linen robe, and got straight to relaxing. My visit to this city was anything but stressful, but this place was meant to free its patrons from every last tension, and I was determined to take advantage of it.

This particular temple was built around an old hot spring, which over the years was made into the centerpiece of a luxurious indoor/outdoor swimming pool. According to one of the priestesses, early in the history of the city, before the temple of Apollo was built & the city extended up the mountain, a wise seer lived here, and would tell people's futures and heal people's ailments with the help of the spring.