Friday, June 08, 2007

A castle, some rocks, and bath water

June 8th, 2007

Another tour day, though this one started overcast, and
with the pavement wet from an early morning rain. In my
whole trip so far, there had been no rain at all, so this was
a first, and luckily, did not last throughout the day, as it
once again proved to be a beautiful day.

The tour started off via coach, headed out towards London's
Heathrow Airport area, and we visited the Windsor Castle.
Very impressive. Very ornate. Very stately. Very big.
There were many rooms, that by themselves, could
swallow up my home all in that one room. The tour is a
walking tour through many of the rooms, with the ornate
furniture and fixtures, the collections of china, swords,
knights armor, paintings, etc. It just kept going on and on.
Unfortunately, on such a tour, you have limited time, and
must keep moving along, so you will be back to the bus in
time to leave on time, to head to the next stop. One could
spend days in this castle, just admiring and learning. Just
over 1-1/2 hours does not do it justice, but it was an

Next, the coach motored through the countryside, and on
to Stonehenge Inn, where we ate a British lunch, mine
being Chicken Pie. We then continued on to the landmark
itself, Stonehenge. It sits right along one of the local
highways, so it is easily accessible. For some reason, I
thought it would be more removed from the highway. At
any rate, it is quite an impressive realization that someone,
somehow, someway, moved those huge stones into this
location from at least hundreds of miles away, and placed
them in a position that was meaningful to them, for some
now unknown reason. The true meaning remains a
mystery, though they believe it was tied to the movements
of the sun. It is estimated to be 5000 years old, and that
it took 900 years to complete it. Some of it has been
removed over the years by those that wanted some of
the stones for their own use, before it was protected as
a landmark, etc. However, the overall idea is the same.
There are other, similar rock placements elsewhere in
the UK, but most of them had left of the original pieces
remaining, and have never been as well known.

On we then motored, to Bath. I just expected a small
town with some hot spring baths. However, Bath is quite
a larger city than I expected, and most all the buildings
are made out of the local Bath stone, so there is a very
harmonious look to the city, much like Santa Fe, NM and
it's adobe look everywhere. The baths in Bath were at
different times unknown, well known, flocked to, and
avoided. The stories of it's origins are mainly tied to
when the Romans were in control of the land. It is the
only place in the UK with a natural hot spring. For awhile
it was very popular, but later faced decline as the springs
became known as a place only for those who were ill or
infirm. However, royalty soon decided they could use
the baths to help with their ills, and once again, the
popularity of the baths increased. Today the baths are
no longer used, but strictly are a monument to the past,
with a very interesting and lengthy audio guided tour.
You can actually touch the water in the main bath area,
though signs repeatedly warn you not to for health
reasons, as the water is not treated, and the pigeons
are all over the place. Our guide warned us not to put
our hands, etc., into the water. I did, however, see other
people, not on our tour, dipping their hands into it.
Some people don't read the warning signs, or don't care.

2-1/2 hours later, we returned to London. I walked from
Victoria Station, where the coach let us off, past the palace
and through the parks, back towards the hotel. I ate
dinner at a sidewalk cafe down an alley, that has been
transformed into a gathering area, with restaurants,
bars, and shops. I had a vegetable soup I cannot
remember the name of, as well as a smoked salmon
and shrimp dish that was quite tasty. I arrived back
at the hotel about 9:30, with some remaining daylight.