Stones, freeway, and tourist trap

Note: This post is an attempt on my part to consolidate past travel journals into this blog. This particular trip around Western Europe was taken in 2005. To read the complete series of post from this trip: Western Europe Summer

The Underground, London
The Underground, London

We’re back in London after spending last night in Amesbury, a tiny, eetsy, bitsy town, 2 miles from Stonehenge. We arranged a viewing with UK Heritage so we got to get up close and personal with the stones unlike most people who have to stand behind the rope, a respectable 20 feet away.

Our Stonehenge Adventure

From the freeway, relative to the green, hilly expanse around it, they look a little out of place and unimposing, like a pile of rubbles from an unfinished construction site.

Up close, they’re huge, impressive and they made you wonder what these people were thinking of when they were hauling these chunks of stones from hundreds of miles away. Why the location? Why the particular shapes? Why those stones?

After viewing the stones and taking dozens of photographs, we decided to walk back to our B&B. It turned out to be quite a thrill. The footpath next to the freeway only lasted about 50 m or so and we had to continue the 2 mile walk, right next to the cars on the freeway. Everytime a truck passed by, the wind would knock me a little out of a balance. Made you realise how fast and deadly a car can be going at 70 mph. My left shoulder started to develop a permanent, painful kink from the camera bag. Yeah, it was too much fun, really.

Stonehenge up close and personal
Stonehenge up close and personal

But we managed to get back to our B&B, frazzled, grimy and sweaty, but alive. After a good, hearty breakfast our spirits were back up again. At first we were going to check out Salisbury Cathedral, but it was raining, cold and both of my shoulders started to hurt so I wasn’t in the mood for sightseeing and getting lost in a new city.

Back to grimy, rainy London

We bussed back to good, ole, London with all its grimes, chaos, and rude and shady people, everything you expect from of a busy, metropolitan city.

London didn’t impress me much. The National Gallery is great, the museums are top rate, but the people seem indifferent, and a lot of the buildings are run down and dirty. There’s not such as thing as random act of kindness or smile. I’ve seen people struggling with their suitcases on the stairways in tube stations, old people, girls, little kids with their parents, I’ve never seen anybody stopped to offer help. They all acted like they didn’t exist, walking past and around them as if they were just obstacles blocking their way. I was amazed. Maybe they’re just sick of tourists.

After we got back to London, we continue sightseeing, you know, the usual places: Covent Garden (everybody warned us it’s a tourist trap, we just had to see it for ourselves), Tate Modern (not to my taste, but recommended. It makes you feel saner than you ever thought you could be), Piccadilly Circus with its crowds, and in a burst of spontaneity we ended the night watching The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre. We got the tickets from these kids that were touting them outside the theatre for £9 each, not bad. The show itself was really impressive, even though it was the second time I’ve seen it.

How Jack Tried To Get in The Abbey for Free (and failed)

Today, we started the day in Westminster Abbey. For £6 admission fee, we expected more than tombs after tombs of dead people however impressive the tombs are. Photography isn’t even allowed but we managed to sneak a couple of pictures. Those stupid enough to use flash got caught and were yelled at (literally). I actually had more fun trying to take pictures without getting caught than the sightseeing itself.

Ceiling of Westminster Abbey
Ceiling of Westminster Abbey
Colorful Notthing Hill
Colorful Notthing Hill

Jack and Tom (a guy we met at the hostel) tried to get in for free by pretending that they were going to pray, lol, but the plan backfired. They were ushered into a small room, separated from the rest of the church by glass walls and while they (and other cheap tourists who tried to do the same) were there, they were closely watched so they wouldn’t sneak out and join the throng of paying tourists.

In summary this is what we did after: Victoria and Prince Albert Museum, really cool. I might be the only one that enjoyed it though. Hyde Park, and Notting Hill (Portobello Market) which is where we’re at right now. We found the cheapest internet café so far, £1 for 75 mins!

Anyway, tonight we’ll be off for Edinburgh. I’m really excited. We’re booked for a 3 day tour in Skye, Scotland and it’ll be a nice break from the continual getting lost that we’re so good at.

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