Monday, February 25, 2008

Stonehenge-A London Side Trip

Stonehenge is one of those must see places-as long as your in London, might as well take a day and have a wander around the megaliths. Wikipedia has a pretty thorough explanation of Stonehenge, as thorough as possible for something that is basically a mystery. Visiting Stonehenge is both exciting and a bit disappointing-there is something amazing these ancient stones, but you are not allowed to touch Stonehenge. After a short walk around Stonehenge, and taking a lot of photos, there is not much else to do.

There are a lot of tours to Stonehenge, with a wide range of stopovers available. I choose the Bath Stonehenge tour from London and really enjoyed the Roman Bath and that half circle of building called the Royal Crescent that Jane Austin was so found of. The Wife was mad at me as she wanted to see Avebury instead. Avebury is another ancient stone circle that is a little less well known than Stonehenge. But it was just a day trip from London to Stonehenge and we couldn't fit in all the cool stuff that we might have wanted. Avebury would have been cool, but I still think Bath was the better place to go.

The tour we took from London to Stonehenge was on a large motor coach with a very classy sounding tour guide, as all tour guides in London seem to be. Our tour was for Bath and Stonehenge, but as we were driving through London, our tour guide started telling us everything we could have wanted to know about the London neighborhoods we were passing though. He talked about everything with a great deal of authority and as we passed one of the oldest building in London, he sneered at it-"They say it has been around since the 1500s, but clearly it is not older than the 1650s." We though this funny, as the building was ancient to us in either case.

Once we hit the open countryside he asks if we minded if he stopped talking for a while as there was not much of great interest between there and Salisbury Plains. He didn't keep quiet for long, as even the open country had the odd canal bridge or chalk artwork in the side of a hill. Our Guide talked about the Solstice and the history of Stonehenge. Our trip from London was filled with odd bits of info about Tree Gods and waterways.

Stonehenge and Bath will always be linked in my mind. We took our tour on a Sunday, and the Tour Guide lead us right into Salisbury Cathedral in Bath-during the service. There were snapping photos and snaking our way among the pews. It was an amazing place, we really great tombs sitting in the middle of the floors. Our time Bath was too short-we still had to get to Stonehenge England before the day was out.

At last we pulled into a parking lot and we were just across the street from Stonehenge. The stones are big and they all seem to be ready to tumble over. Depending on the angle, they look exactly like every photo of Stonehenge you have ever seen. But at other spots on the long walk around the giant stone circle, it just looks like a ruin or random rocks. The top pieces are missing in many areas, so that the standard image of two tall stones with one short stone across the span is not there. It is still worth a good long stare though.

We only spent thirty or forty minutes at Stonehenge and then had to climb back on the bus and head for London. I wouldn't have missed going to Stonehenge though, and you shouldn't either.

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