Sunday, February 15, 2009

Aliens, Mystics, King Arthur, Romans and Jane Austen...

What a strange combination of History today... but today was a trip I had been excited about for some weeks now. Today we traveled to Stonehenge, Glastonbury, and Bath!! Basically we covered the better part of Western England!

I was still completely exhausted from my trip yesterday, but very excited about what the day would hold. Our first stop, after an hour long drive was Stonehenge!!
It is seriously so cool! Some of the people as they gazed upon this phenomenon were left rather disappointed that it was just a pile of rocks, but I marveled. Stonehenge was believed to be built by the neolithic people of England before the Celts took over. We don't exactly know WHY stonehenge was built, but we do know it must have been an almost impossible feat. Some believe it was a calendar, some think its a monument to a pagan religion, others believe is was a hospital of sorts, and some believe it was something akin to a crop circle and created by aliens... which is my personal favorite, although I more prone to believe the hospital one. Regardless it took almost 1,000 years to complete. The large stone weigh upwards of 10 tons and it is also remarkable to note that each stone has 1/3 of its length below the earth in order to keep it standing. Those stones were rolled from over 20 miles away and it is said that it would have taken 60 men 20 years to move EACH STONE!!!! That level of commitment leads me to believe it had to be healing or religious in nature. So why place the stones here?? Well because this is one of the spots in England where you have this converge of energy... kind of like the vortex of Sedona. Whatever... regardless it's impressive and amazing to see.
Like I said, some people believe that this place was built by aliens... very intriguing. What would they have used it for? Phoebe and I believe it was some sort of Alien Disco-tech... the disco ball would have been on the center stone. And in the spirit of alien dance crazes, we got our groove on.
This is the healing stone which is set off from the other stones... I thought it looked like Crush from finding Nemo from this angle
This picture is from another angle of Stonehenge... as you can see nowhere in sight are there any buildings or even any traffic... in fact the gift shop, bathrooms, and whatnot are all off in the distance hidden almost underground... I liked this idea because it doesn't obstruct any view of the sight.
Now there are two types of stones used in stonehenge... one is the sarsen stone, which is the larger stone. The other is the bluestone. The bluestones are warmer than the sarsen stones... this picture has both stones and you can feel the difference in temp. It's slight, but there. Also up until maybe 20 years ago, people were allowed to walk among the stones, unlike us today who maintain a perimeter, and people were known to lick the stones in order to be cured of ailments... strange.

Next stop on our tour was Glastonbury! Now most would know Glastonbury as the sight of one of the biggest rock festivals in the world come July... others know it for being heavily associated with King Arthur and the holy grail... but I have come to call it the Sedona of England. It is known to be the most mystical place in England and from far and wide wiccans, hippies, crystal worshipers, and anyone looking for the return of chivalry come to Glastonbury. All around the town are mystic shops, fortune tellers, and dreadlocks. Now Glastonbury actually use to be an island. This may sound very strange to you as it did me, because Glastonbury is near the middle of England... but it has been known as it's other incarnate in literature as Avalon, the occult portal to the Celtic underworld. It is also believed to have been visited by Joseph of Arimathea with the Holy Grail. It is also here that "King Arthur" is supposedly buried, although after an entire semester this past fall studying the world and history of Arthur and his knights, I highly doubt the existence of an actual King Arthur... so I wonder who they have buried there. But our journey brought us to Glastonbury Abbey ruins, which are someone the OLDEST ruins of a church in England. Very cool place!!

This is a thorn that Joseph of Arimathea planted in Glastonbury
Me with Arthur's tomb
I decided to have a "Sound of Music" moment in the middle of the Abbey
time of prayer in the ruins

This is the sight where they found the remains of Arthur and Guinevere... Phoebe and I couldn't help ourselves.
This was set up in the Glastonbury Abbey kitchens
After a tour of the Abbey we were set free to find lunch... I had a cornish pasty (pronounced Pah-stee), which is kind of like a hot pocket. But the cafe also randomly had an unclaimed hot chocolate that they gave me for free. Seriously the richest most delicious hot chocolate EVER!!

Our next adventure after Glastonbury was to Bath, England. Along the way I made a fort with my HUGE scarf... I am reading "The Shack"
So Bath is known for its Roman Baths... hence the name. After the Celts inhabiting England, came the Romans. They discovered these natural springs and built these elaborate Roman Baths known for their incredible healing power. This stuff was AWESOME!! For one the city is absolutely gorgeous... it is now one of my favorite places in England. ALL of the buildings are built with this golden color limestone, so the whole city looks so uniform... very pretty.

Inside the Roman Baths we were given audio guides
which I quickly lost interest in and just wandered around reading signs.
this is where some of the water springs from... you can see the orange as an affect from the sulfur and that is actual natural steam... the temp of the water is probably around 80 degrees NATURALLY!!
Me and the main bath
Another dance craze in England...
This is me SHOCKED by the water temp... jacuzzi water... So bummed I didn't bring my suit
And while I toured the Roman Baths I slowly began to enter into the world of Jane Austen! It was in Bath and two of her novels found at least a partial setting. First and most famously is Northanger Abbey... one of my Austen favorites. The other novel Persuasion, which is my FAVORITE Austen novel, only has the ending take place in Bath. Mentioned several times in the novels is "The Pump Room" which is part of the roman baths. People would go to the Pump Room in order to hear gossip, be seen, and maintain health by just walking in a circle or eating in the tea room. This is the pump room...
They also let us taste the healing waters... this picture was taken before I actually tasted it. I was so naive then... it tasted like blood and eggs... MOST disgusting thing ever... and people drank like 8 cups of this a day in order to be healed!
After the Roman Bath tour, we had a walking tour of Bath. This is Milson Street, which is THE place to shop in Bath... this is where Jane Austen would have shopped
The Assembly Room where everyone attended dances
The Grand Crescent - all of these are houses
I was also lucky to get to see JANE AUSTEN'S HOUSE!!! This is where she lived in Bath... now, I will tell you that Ms. Austen did NOT much care for Bath and although she lived here for a time, it is in Hampshire that ALL the Jane Austen stuff is... which is another trip in my future, I promise.
And so thus concluded our trip to Bath. We boarded the coach yet again and set off along the English countryside toward home
...which took us 2.5 hours to get to. It was a LOVELY WEEKEND!!!


Anonymous said...

It sounds like such a great trip and what great Pics. I am excited to see this with you and Mom when we come. I am so glad you are getting this opportunity. Enjoy all that you are experiencing.


Amy T Schubert said...

those signs remind me of the "no dancing" (keep your hands and feet inside) signs at Disneyland.

Love all your trips. You are beyond lucky to get to do all this.

P.S. It is poring down rain here right now ... I want to cuddle up w/ a Jane Austen book.

Skerrib said...

All sorts of people flock to Stonehenge for the summer solstice...both alien- and vortex-types. Food for thought!

Aaron said...

there seems to be this recurring theme of dance parties in your excursions. never did i know england to be so musical a land:)

these are some utterly amazing pictures and stories. i am jealous a hundred times over, miranda.

Nicole T said...

What cool places and awesome food! I didnt know you liked nutella! I am so jealous! Although it does look awfully cold. What a change of weather for you. Are you liking the shack?