January 5, 2011

Visiting Stonehenge and the City of Bath

The day we headed out of the city was chilly and overcast. As we drove towards Stonehenge we past kilometers of snowy English countryside.

A ring of stones atop a hill.

From a distance we could see the giant ring - grey against the white snow. We walked the footpath up to the ancient circle. The hilltop was chilly with cloudy skies and a strong breeze.

I had heard that Stonehenge was fenced off and tourists were only allowed to view it from a distance. In response to this my mind conjured up images of obtrusive barricades. However I was pleasantly surprised. There was a small dirt path with a rope supported short metal stakes along each side. It was more a reminder to remain on the path than an obstruction to assure that you do.

The site looked just as it does in images - stones standing against time. Perhaps it is slightly smaller in person than I had imagined in my mind. But, it is still impressive nonetheless. It is amazing to think this circle of stones have stood watch atop this hill for thousands of years.

After going to see the stones - and taking the requisite photographs - we went to the Stonehenge gift shop. Yes, Stonehenge has a gift shop. Inside you can buy Stonehenge keychains, shirts, jewelry, and socks. Of course, like most gift shops they sell candy and (since we are in England) marmalade too. We opted for a warm beverage and a snack from the cafe instead of tourist brick-brack.

After visiting Stonehenge we continued on to Bath. When we arrived in Bath our tour guide gave us on a brief driving tour of the city before setting us out on the streets.

We began our time in Bath at the historic Roman Baths. The source of the water is a natural spring with mineral waters that rise out of the ground at 46C (115F). The bathing facilities were originally built by the Romans in the first century CE. Multiple renditions were constructed throughout the centuries, however the Roman ruins remain. Today a more modern building protects the ancient stone pools and pavements. There is also a museum that houses addition Roman artifacts from around Bath.

After spending some time walking around the baths and watching the steam rise off the water we went out into the streets to discover other areas of this picturesque city.

Near the Roman Baths is the Bath Abbey. This beautiful building has carvings of angels climbing its towers towards the sky.

A few city blocks from the Abbey is the Pulteney Bridge. Built over the River Avon this bridge is designed as a copy of the Ponte Veccio in Florence. (A place I have yet to visit.)

Of course I would be remiss to describe a place without some reference to food...

While meandering the streets Jonathan and I stopped at a small shop and purchased some pasties. These are tasty savory pies that are easy to hold in your hand and eat. I got a pasty filled with cheese, broccoli, sweet corn, and potatoes; while Jonathan ate one with more traditional filling (beef, potatoes, and vegetables). This was a great lunch to have while walking around.

Before leaving Bath we stopped for tea at a local cafe, the Boston Tea Party. Of course, being from New England the name was intriguing. The cafe was along the edge of a small square. We sat at a table inside and had some tea with milk and traditional English fruitcake. A perfect snack before returning to London. Both the tea and cake were lovely, and the cafe was the perfect place to sit and enjoy the local atmosphere of Bath.

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clayts said...
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