Stonehenge and Salisbury
London Travel Blog› entry 5 of 23 › view all entries
Day 5, April 3
After a breakfast exactly like the other days', Jesse and I headed over to the train station and found our train to Salisbury with relative ease. I can't remember how long the ride was, but I guess that means it wasn't too taxing. :) We arrived and went immediately to the tourist office in the station, where they told us to quickly run to the corner as a bus to Stonehenge was just leaving!
We made it to the bus, which turned out to be one of those double-decker red ones (so we got to ride one after all, just not in London) with narration. We had been expecting a non-touring bus - just a regular one - so it was more expensive than we wanted to pay, but the narration was interesting. It talked about Salisbury as we drove through it and then about Stonehenge and its history and legends as we drove along the countryside toward the monument.
We received a complimentary audio guide at the Stonehenge entrance gate, which hung like a little walkie-talkie on a lanyard around your neck, but after listening to it for a while both Jesse and I decided it was more annoying to use than helpful. Most of the time, the guide didn't provide facts; instead a man or woman's voice would say something like, "But HOW? HOW did the ancients do this? HOW could they have found the means to move such gargantuan stones?" and on and on with the rhetorical questions. Annoying after a while. Plus, any facts the audio guide did offer, the red bus narration had covered anyway.
We slowly wandered around the stones, along with the small crowds. The whole circle is roped off, some areas farther than others, so that you can't get right up to them, but it was close enough for me. I pretty much had the experience I was expecting - wonder because of how old the stones are and how no one can tell how they were moved and erected, but certainly no magical energy given off by them... lol.
We thoroughly enjoyed our wanderings, and took TONS of pictures (later lost when the computer crashed). Then we ate a snack of a cheese biscuit and a french baguette pizza for lunch while waiting for the bus to make its rounds again and pick us up.
After returning to the main area of Salisbury, a beautiful little town, we walked the short distance to the cathedral, which is situated on a lovely green that used to be a cemetery. The cathedral was being restored (of course) and had scaffolding all across one side of it, but was still amazing. Inside, we saw the old faceless medieval clock, believed to be the oldest one in working existence. It dates from the late 1300s. The chapter house of the cathedral contains an original copy of the Magna Carta as well! Two very cool things to see. :)
The weather was so beautiful that we decided to wait outside in the green area for evensong service at 5pm. We argued about whether or not to spend like 40 pounds on a pub dinner so I could try real Yorkshire pudding, and eventually decided not to in consideration of our budget.
The evensong service was sung by a guest choir that left a little something to be desired vocally. And the cantor sounded quite a bit like the cowardly Lion in Wizard of Oz! But it was still really neat to experience a worship service in a church with such history.
On the way back to the train station we found a beautiful park with a stream running through it and spent some time there watching the sun get lower in the sky and taking pictures of the cathedral dome. (Too bad all these pictures were lost in Como when the computer crashed, because they were sooo pretty!)
Our train ride back to London Victoria was uneventful, and we grabbed Burger King in the station on the way back to the hotel. Tomorrow we head out for Rome!