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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hello all ! I've finally had a chance to sit down and look at some of the photos I took while in England. One of the side trips I wanted to do while there, was a trip to Stonehenge. I've always been fascinated by ancient monuments. Stonehenge, the Pyramids, Maya ruins, the Great Wall of China, etc... Well, I honestly don't know if I'll ever get to see the Pyramids or Great Wall. So when I had a chance to see Stonehenge, I jumped at the opportunity !! I found a tour that would take me to Stonehenge, Bath and Windsor Castle.

Stonehenge is an absolutely extraordinary work of architecture, engineering as well as art. You just can't imagine how much work was necessary to create this structure over 4,000 years ago. The archaeologists don't have an exact date for the structure. They feel it was built over many thousands of years. What we see today was built on top of other stone rings. There are many different types of stone rings all over England. Stonehenge is the best known.

Now, here's something that really struck me while driving towards Stonehenge from London. It's at least a two hour drive, depending on traffic. I was looking at the various highway signs as we traveled. In the US, let's say you're going to Disney Land. 50 miles away, you'd see a sign that said,"take highway X, 50 miles to Disney Land." 20 miles later you would see a sign,"20 miles to Disney". And so it would go, sign after sign all telling you how far you were from Disney or whatever place you were traveling.

Not so in England. There was not so much as a single post that said, "this way to Stonehenge". We were in Salisbury, which is beautiful country. Our tour guide was talking about the history of Stonehenge when I saw one sign that said,"stonehenge" with an arrow. We went down a hill and as we crested the next, there is was. It was absolutely STUNNING. It's a breathe taking sight when you first see it. There is nothing in the area to detract from the stones. No condos. No tourist shops. No highway stops. nothing to say you're anywhere near Stonehenge.

I really appreciated that. The English Heritage Foundation has done everything to keep that area as pristine as possible. There was a tourist center to pick up information, tickets and touristy items. But, it was recessed. Stonehenge is up on a slight hill. The tourist building had been recessed. Even the parking lot is at a lower level than the stones.

Well, we got our tickets and walked up to the entrance. The stones are fenced off from the road. However, the ticket gets you inside the fence. There is another small wire fence that surrounds the stones. Tourists are no longer allowed to touch the stones. It seems that too much damage was being done and well, some people are a little weird. Anyway, the wire fence is only knee high. it's a small barrier that does no detract from the view of the stones.

What really thrilled me was that our tour arrived before everyone else. Stonehenge can get very crowed during the peak season. When we arrived, it was around 10am, when the monument opened. There were only a handful of people there. Which really made the experience all the more enjoyable. As much as I love traveling, some times places I want to see can get very very crowded. It's tough to appreciate something when you're surrounded by a million people. The same thing happened at winter. The tour I was on did the reverse. Instead of starting at Windsor, we started at Stonehenge. When everyone else was in Bath, we were at Windsor. It was nice having some "space".

In general, the weather for my trip was grey, overcast, cold and a bit drizzely. Not so for Stonehenge. I had a beautiful blue day !!!! And so, I was able to get some really great photos. If you ever have a chance to go to London, take the side trip to Stonehenge. It's absolutely amazing !! Here, I can prove it !! LOL !!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    We lived in England in the 70's with the USAF and we took a trip to Stonehenge and Bath. In my memory, there was no fee to get in. We just parked on the side of the road and walked up right inside the circle. How things change.
    3068 days ago
    I've been to England but have yet to get to Stonehenge. Great pics and your observations are right on. I loved you descriptions. I will look forward to going where you have already been!
    3069 days ago
    I've been lucky enough to live in England for ten years - I love it here. One of the first things I did was join The National Trust and English Heritage. They - as well as many of the private foundations - do a fantastic job of maintaining and preserving historic sites while making them accessible. We Americans could learn a lot from 'how the Brits do it'! :-)
    3085 days ago
    Stonehenge is one of my favorite places in the whole world! We've been twice. Took our 2 children in '06 and they enjoyed it as well.

    We've always laughed that if it were in the US, there would be a McDonald's, an amusement park and all sorts of tacky souvenir shops around it to cheapen it.
    3102 days ago
    So excited to stumble on to your blog. My daughter and I will be taking the same bus tour this June!
    3112 days ago
    Nice travelblog...I got to see Stonehenge from the road on the way to Bath when I was there in the late ''80's, but we didn't stop. I remember it being fenced, I think they had just done that at that time, to stop folks from destroying the place.
    3159 days ago
    That's very perceptive of you about the trip there. Is it like that with signs for the different towns?

    Those stones (ok, I'm a romantic, so don't laugh) always have sung to my heart. I cannot imagine what it would be like to stand there. I KNOW if I were allowed to touch them I'd pee down both legs! I mean, I nearly passed out standing on the cobble stone street outside of Paul Revere's house in Boston! And THAT'S a very YOUNG place. It's not that with the stones, though. Something in me just resonates when I think of them. And yet I have a feeling if I were to make it to the UK, I'd be totally at home in Ireland.

    Thanks for sticking up the pictures. They are just so awesome!

    (Everyone swears I was a druid in a past life given that I love stones and oak trees so much. emoticon But I think I was actually a bar maid by day, pirate by night. Our roots are in Cornwall.)

    PS. I think it would be so awesome to spend the night sleeping in there among them. I wonder what vibes you'd get!)

    3159 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/28/2010 4:35:01 PM
    Glad you had the opportunity to do the sightseeing. Thanks for sharing your experiences and pictures.
    3159 days ago
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