A pile of rocks, a church, and a giant bathtub: The Thomas’ take a tour

6 Mar

On Sunday the 20th we all got up early to take a bus tour of Stonehenge, Salisbury, and Bath. Jack met us (in the nick of time) and we went from the hotel to Victoria bus station to wait for our tour. When we finally got on the big, white bus we were introduced to our tour guide, Michael. Now I have had a number of tour guides over the last two months, but Michael exceeds them all in terms of wit, style, and knowledge. Plus, he was just plain fun. He was also the most stylish of all my tour guides (even surpassing the fabulous Stewart): he wore spats. Yes, spats. The shoe coverings from the 1920s. He also wore a cabby cap, vest, scarf and a classy coat. He looked like he had stepped out of a Jazz Age movie. I definitely enjoyed his sense of fashion.

The tour was great because while we drove to a new destination Michael told us a little about the history of the place and it made the bus ride easier. Our first stop was Stonehenge.

Even though no one is certain what these stones were used for, it's still fascinating to see such giant stones erected into this monument.

We had a free audio tour for Stonehenge and let me tell you, if you ever get the change to go, be sure to take advantage of the audio tour because it is interesting, and there’s not only dramatic music but the commentators (a man and a woman) are so over-the-top dramatic it is almost funny.

Historically speaking, the stones that comprise Stonehenge are from Wales. Stonehenge is in England. So somehow, the stones were moved from Wales to England and then arranged in a circular pattern. Another feature of Stonehenge is what they called “earth shaping” which basically was the ancient people dug out almost a moat around the circle of stones and they often built mini hills which can be seen throughout the nearby countryside.

We were lucky to have mostly clear skies which makes everything look sharper and the grass greener.

We didn’t spend too much time at Stonehenge but you don’t really need that much time there. We headed back to the bus and on to our next stop: Salisbury.

Salisbury is a small town not too far from Stonehenge. Its main feature is a cathedral built in medieval times. Notre Dame was also built in medieval times so there are similar design elements between the two churches.

The shapes of the windows and spires are all similar to Notre Dame.

It's most noticeable in the arches at the doors, the sculptures of the saints and the grotesques.

And especially inside the cathedral, where there are giant archways and sculpted ceilings, stained glass windows and tombs.

Absolutely incredible that a place this spectacular has been standing for hundreds of years.

A medieval clock that is thought to be the oldest working clock in the world (build in or before 1386!). There is no face or minute/hour hands; instead, the clock is connected to a bell which chimes the hour.

The church courtyard, kind of like Hogwarts.

Salisbury Cathedral is also famous because it houses one of the only original copies of the Magna Carta, written in Latin on parchment (which is made of animal skin). Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures in that part of the Cathedral.

We spent a decent amount of time walking around the Cathedral and gasping at the absolute beauty of it all, Jack and I lit candles in the memory of loved ones and soon we were on our way.

Our final stop on the tour was the Georgian town of Bath, where Jane Austen (among others) lived. Celebrities have homes there now, including Matt Damon, Nicholas Cage, and everyone’s favorite, Johnny Depp.

Bath is a beautiful town built mostly out of limestone. Any buildings that aren’t from the Georgian period must be made in Limestone so as to preserve the Georgian history of the town.

There are many reasons to go to bath including the Jane Austen house and museum, celebrity stalking, and the Roman baths. We were there for the latter.

The Roman bath house and museum

Though the exterior of the bath house is relatively new, the actual baths have been in operation for about 2000 years.

Quite the heated swimming pool...

We were specifically told not to touch the water because it is dirty. And that’s made obvious by the lovely green tint. This main bath was once in a covered space. This is also the only remaining “bath” that is filled with water. The ruins of the other original baths remain in the museum. I won’t bore you with too many pictures of dark, foggy ruins but here’s what a Roman bath ruin looks like:

A bit hard to see... But the best I've got!

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