Stalked, Stoned and Bathed

Trip Start Oct 12, 2010
Trip End Mar 24, 2011

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Saturday, October 16, 2010

What an exciting day!  The first stop on my daylong Grayline tour from London on Saturday was to the town of Windsor, which was about a half hour away.  It was a picture perfect day for sightseeing - blue sky, puffy white clouds, not a breeze - you couldn't ask for better.  Interestingly, the flag flying above the Round Tower of Windsor Castle is the Royal Standard, which indicates that the Queen was in residence when we were there (I think she may be stalking me).  She has private apartments at Windsor Castle and spends about 6 weeks or so a year there.  We didn't see her during our time there, but we were able to go through the State Apartments, which are used for events when visiting heads of state are here in England.  Those rooms were amazing - very opulent - lots of gold, satin, silk and chandeliers.  The drawing rooms were beautiful and the views out the windows toward Eton College were stunning.  We viewed the King's and Queen's bed chambers, closets, dressing rooms and drawing rooms as well as huge halls where state dinners are held.  Not too shabby!

After Windsor, we drove a couple of hours to the small village of Amesbury and ate at the Antrobus Arms Hotel restaurant - it's claim to fame is that the Beatles stayed here in their heyday - lots of pictures around of their stay - mop top haircuts and cigarettes hanging out of their mouths - back when they were Fab.

Onward we went to the highlight of the day (and one my all-time highlights EVER):  STONEHENGE!  How amazing is that!!  It was perfectly prehistoric and seriously amazing.  Apparently built 5000 years ago by the Beaker People, these circles of stones are awe-inspiring.  The jury is still out as to the purpose of the structure, although it is believed to be involved in rituals, possibly burials and was an important tool for time-keeping.  It's a bit spine-chilling to be driving along and to see it ahead of you in a field.  You can't go up and walk among the stones anymore because people were chipping away at them, but you can certainly get close enough to them to appreciate them.  (For all the Diana Gabaldon fans out there, I was tempted to run through them to see what/who I might find, but resisted the urge :)

A.S. (after Stonehenge), we moved on to the delightful city of Bath - the drive to/from Bath is beautiful - rolling hills, sheep, thatched cottages, sheep, dry stone fences, sheep - the view from some of the surrounding hills is really incredible.  The town has little alleyways, dozens of shops, street performers and the central point is the fabulous Bath Abbey.  This is a gorgeous and massive medieval abbey that I would love to have time to tour through sometime.  The square outside the abbey is filled with musicians and shoppers and art - really vibrant and fun.  Beside the abbey are the ancient Roman Baths, which we toured through.  The Romans called this area Aquae Sulis (waters of Sulis or waters of the sun) and built their extensive bathing complex around the only hot springs in Britain.  There is so much to see in the museum, including the still existent Great Bath area which was like a huge pool, as well as hot springs, plunge pools and remnants of the other areas of the complex.  Worth a see.
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