The Rockin' Weekend

Trip Start Jun 20, 2009
Trip End Aug 01, 2009

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Where I stayed
St Edmund's Hall

Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Wednesday, July 29, 2009

   My original plan for Saturday and Sunday was to do a two-day journey through Bath, Stonehenge, and Cardiff. However, my plans had to be redrawn when I found out that my great-aunt, who I had wanted to visit, could not meet me on the following Friday. I therefore headed off to London on Saturday to visit. I arrived early, so I had time to do some things that I had ran out of time to do the last time I was in London. I decided that what I wanted to do most of all was to visit St Paul's cathedral. Though I had visited the cathedral previously, I had not managed to explore it at all or climb to the top, which I heard had a fantastic view of London.

    To get to the cathedral, I took the tube again, which had already become a nostalgic experience. When I got to the cathedral, I bought a ticket and began to walk around. As it  was a place of worship, I was kindly asked to not take pictures, and so I obliged. However, I can attest, like I did before, that the cathedral is absolutely magnificent. At the very back is a memorial to the American soldiers who died in World War II, with a book encased in glass with the names of all who died. It was very moving. There were many other war memorials in the cathedral, as well as memorials to people who died in single battles, people who died in shipwrecks, and single nobles or generals.

    Wanting to get the most for my money, I headed down into the crypt, where I saw the
final resting place of the Duke of Wellington (I have no idea which one, or why he's that important), Florence Nightingale, and the actual resting place of Admiral Lord Nelson, of Nelson's column in Trafalgar Square. There was even a bust of George Washington, though he is most certainly not buried there. It was also touching to see, though. The crypt also had tombs of many other various important people. Some of these tombs, such as that of William Blake, were inaccessible as part of the lower cathedral had been reserved for a wedding.

    Finally, I headed up the long, winding stairs to the top of the cathedral. The stairs lead up to the cathedral’s signature dome, which features three levels: the Whispering Gallery, the Stone Gallery, and the Golden Gallery. There are 257 steps to the Whispering Gallery, another 119 steps to the Stone Gallery, and a further 152 steps to the Golden Gallery. The whispering gallery is inside the cathedral, and it has its name because you can supposedly whisper on one end of it and a person on the opposite end can hear you clearly. I didn't have anyone with me at the time, so I was unable to try it out myself. The Stone Gallery and Golden gallery are both outside the dome, the former being around the base and the latter being around the top. They both provided spectacular views of London, though I was disappointed that I couldn't make out as many landmarks as I had expected because of the crowded skyline. Still, I took plenty of photos.

    After St Paul's cathedral, I decided I didn't have enough time to do the last thing on my wish list, which was to visit Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey. There simply wasn't enough time. Instead, I headed out into the "suburbs" of London to visit my great-aunt, her daughter, and her daughter's husband. It was again a very pleasant visit. I arrived around 15:30, and had expected to stay only about three hours. Instead, I ended up staying for dinner and somehow didn't leave until after 22:00! Unfortunately, since I didn't leave until very late, I missed the last direct train to Oxford. I have a fantastic talent for missing trains. Fortunately, there were non-direct trains, but they deposited me back in Oxford around 1:30.

    On Sunday, I took a morning tour with our professor through Christ Church, which included a service in the Christ Church Cathedral, the smallest cathedral in England. Since I decided to go on this tour, I only had time to visit one of the three places I wanted to visit: Bath, Cardiff, and Stonehenge. I decided that Stonehenge was the most important to me. I hopped on the next train to Salisbury, the closest town (with a train statio) to Stonehenge, which is set a few miles out in the middle of empty plains. I had to pay a pretty steep fare for a bus to the monument, but there wasn't really any other way.

    Seeing the monument appear on the horizon was quite exciting. As I learned soon after, the momument is actually designed to create an optical illusion of appearing much larger in the distance than it actually is. Not bad for architects who lived over 3,000 years ago. When the bus arrived at the ancient, mysterious parking lot next to Stonehenge, I jumped off, grabbed my free audio tour, and headed off. As I had been warned, Stonehenge was not enormous and not quite as intimidating and mysterious as I had once imagined it in my youth. However, I can assure you, if you have not seen it, that it is still amazing and worth visiting.

    Perhaps more intriguing than its mysterious, still unknown purpose is the fact that Stonehenge has remained for thousands of years. Many great civilizations have risen and fallen, and yet Stonehenge still stands. It has no carvings, no statues, no images or icons or symbols. It's simply an arrangement of giant stones. I stayed at Stonehenge for quite some time, listening to every entry in my audio tour and taking approximately 1 million billion pictures. When I headed back, the bus passed by Old Saurus, which was by then long closed. It's an old town that looked pretty cool. I had wanted to see it, but I was grateful for having visited Stonehenge, as expensive as it ultimately was.

My next entry will be my last. My final exam is tomorrow!

Happy Travels!
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