So this weekend we took a long day trip to visit Stonehenge and Bath. We had heard horrible things about Stonehenge, about how it was a let down, not impressive, and basically not worth our time for a visit. However, it is such a famous site, and we are already all the way over here in the UK, that we figured we had to go see it. But we decided we would set our expectations low, and have other things planned that day so that it wouldn’t be a waste of a day in case it was horrible.
So Saturday morning, Doug, Fritz, and I got up and did the 3+ hour drive to Stonehenge. It was a typical gray, coldish English day, but we are getting used to that. Although it was quite a contrast to this past week that was unseasonably warm and sunny. This entire week has been sunny and the highs in the 60s (Fahrenheit), so it’s too bad we didn’t get the same nice weather for Saturday.
Anyway, we arrived at Stonehenge, and they tried to charge us 3£ to park. However, Doug and I just joined the National Trust, so we got to park for free. We also got to go into Stonehenge for free with our membership! We saved a bunch of money right there and the membership is well on it’s way to paying for itself. A few more visits to some National Trust sites, and we’ll be even. For those that don’t know what the National Trust is, it’s an organization that preserves and maintains places of cultural or historical importance in the UK. We got an annual membership, and the membership gets us into over 300 places for free, and also gets us free parking at a lot of National Trust “car parks.” Here is the website if you are interested: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/
Stonehenge was actually pretty cool!! I think because we had set our expectations really low, it was quite impressive. We did the free audio tour (of course!) and it was interesting to hear about all the theories as to why it was built, and especially HOW it was built. It was built between 3000 BC and 2000 BC, which means transporting those huge stones, and then erecting them in such a way would have been a great feat. We obviously took a lot of pictures of Stonehenge, but most of them have other people in them as it was pretty crowded. Here is one of the better ones.
I especially like this landscape picture with Doug in it.
After Stonehenge, we drove about an hour to the town of Bath. Bath is known for it’s Roman Baths, and that’s actually where its name comes from. We loved this city!! The Romans first built their baths/spa here in the first century, and some of the original bath structures still exist. However, the city also has some very impressive Georgian architecture which we checked out. Here are pictures of the Royal Crescent, the Circus, and the Pulteney Bridge. I think the panoramic mode of my camera was a favorite yesterday.
Then we got a proper afternoon tea at the Jane Austen Center. Jane Austin actually lived in Bath, so much of the city inspired her work. We didn’t pay to go to the museum, but at least we stopped there for tea.
Thanks to Fritz’s app that makes photos look antique, here you have a picture of our proper English tea. The bun in the forefront of the picture is a local specialty known as a “Bath bun.”
Finally, we went on our tour of the Roman baths. These were really cool and I enjoyed it a lot. The Romans had some sophisticated engineering, with excellent piping and drainage systems.
Not only did they have baths of varying heat levels, including a cold plunge bath to close up the pores, they also had saunas and steam rooms. They even had heated floors by placing floors on stone stacks and then heating the air underneath. The picture below shows the stacks that the floor would have been placed on.
Finally, we tried some of the natural hot spring water… it did not taste good!
Luckily, we got rid of the taste of the nasty hot spring water with some local Bath ales.