January 20, 2014
Today was absolutely and without a doubt the most epic day I’ve had since landing in Europe. And keep in mind, THIS is coming from the girl who was most excited to check Versailles off her bucket list.
We were up early this morning to catch a charter bus out to Stonehenge. It was still dark when we took off, and as we drove through the lush English countryside, I watched the sun rise and filter through the heavy fog as I dozed in and out of sleep. There’s a lot less sunlight—and consequently, green things—in the city, so it was a refreshing change of pace.
We arrived around 9-something. The fog was still heavy when we pulled in, and as we approached the monument on foot, we could scarcely make out the shapes of sheep grazing and other tourists who had come to oggle at this seventh wonder of the world. It was a surreal experience. There was frost on the tall grasses, and at MOST only ten other people there besides our group to see it. We were all so disperesed that I was able to soak it all in on my own time as I walked along its edges for over an hour.
As the sun shone higher, the fog began to evaporate. The sky was crystal clear and it was silent all around. A bustling country highway wasn’t too far out in the distance. It seemed odd to me that hundreds of people could drive past Stonehenge on a daily or weekly basis and think nothing of it, But then I guess it was a part of the daily lives of plenty when it was originally built.
They knew a lot more about it than I was expecting. We could actually see where the summer solstice lined up with it, and the burials discovered around it of wealthy or important people, like the soldier found buried in the trench around Stonehenge, have given them further clues about what the formation might have been used for.
I think the most fascinating thing, however, is that we still have no idea how the rocks were erected. Simple people thousands of years ago managed to elevate and shape these colossal rocks in a very precise formation. Late on in our excursion to Bath, it made me think of the loss of knowledge about lead-based make up: they discovered the dangers in Roman times, but the knowledge was lost later and the Elizabethans used the toxic paste to lighten their faces.
After Stonehenge, we drove through ESSENTIALLY the shire on our way to Salisbury Cathedral and then Bath. TOTALLY EPIC. TOTALLY THE MOST BEAUTIFUL AND PICTURESQUE THING I’VE SEEN IN ALL OF BRITAIN. Rolling hills, flooded plains, fast moving rivers made of cold waters, PONIES, SWANS, farmlands. I’ve felt pretty removed from the real world since I got here, but today took the cake in terms of fantasy world. (Is that how the saying goes?)
Salisbury Cathedral was awe-inspiring. It snuck up on us! I couldnt even see the 400+ foot spire until we rounded a corner and it was right in front of us. The stained glass windows and intimate chapels within were, to me, the most beautiful parts of it. Raises Catholic, I don’t practice very much anymore, but the intimate setting of the beautiful smaller rooms made it hard not to say a prayer when you walked in.
Bath made me wish I was Roman. I know there was the whole plague and sanitary thing, but the work that was went through to make the temple a reality was incredible! THEY WERE SO INTELLIGENT. Last winter term I went to a natural hot spring in New Mexico, and the whole time I was walking around the Roman baths and seeing all the hot rooms, I couldnt help but want to dive right in. It’s funny how some things can stay very the same after thousands of years.
It was dusk when we got back to the bus. We had a two hour busride in front of us, but I didnt mind. The day had been rewarding, and the warm, orange, twinkling lights that cascaded down the country side were totes magical. I thought I was almost ready to come home, but today made me realize that might never be the case.
—Alexa Evans, Eckerd College