It’s 8:37 AM and I’m running through the streets of London trying to get to Victoria Coach Station for 8:45. I have booked an Evan and Evans day trip with two of my friends to Windsor Castle, Bath, and Stonehenge and if we don’t arrive at the station promptly, all
sanity will be lost. In our haste, we meet a lovely fellow traveller heading the same way, and she seems to know where she is going!
We make it to the train station and as I skid around the last corner before the buses I hear a snap and suddenly feel much lighter. My purse broke – fuck. If this morning is any indication of how the rest of our tour is going to go, then call me Arnold when I say, “I knew I should have stayed home today!”
We find our bus just in the nick of time and climb on board. Our breathing calms little by little until we are in good enough spirits to notice that our tour guide looks exactly like John Hammond from Jurassic Park (round hat, polo shirt, khakis, and a great white beard). We were off!
Windsor Castle was built in the 11th century by William the Conqueror and is still an Official Residence of the Queen. While she wasn’t home the day we was there, there was a certain posh quality to the joint. The kind of quality that ensured we were on our utmost prime behavior as we strolled the grounds (much to the chagrin of my more liberal British friends).
Included in our tour was access to St George’s Chapel (burial place of many including Henry VIII and Jane Seymour), Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, and the exquisite State Apartments. Being who I am, however, I skipped the Doll House and the Chapel, and practically ran through the State Apartments tour – I wanted to see the cute guys in funny hats march.
The Changing of the Guard. Humor regarding outfits aside, the position of guard at Windsor castle has been prestigious and coveted since 1660. The Guards are usually military personnel and the troops consist of five infantry regiments – the Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards – and two regiments of the Household Cavalry – the Life Guards and Blues and Royals.
Changing the Guard begins with the troops forming outside the Guard Room. The new Guard then arrives led by drums. This ceremony takes 45 minutes, during which time the guards hand over their duties. The Changing of the Guard happens every day at 11AM except on Sundays.
Prepare yourself for the fanny-pack wearing tourists at the ceremony though. They are aplenty.
To be honest, I didn’t know quite what to expect on our tour’s stop to the Roman Baths. I knew that they were really old.. uh, baths used by the uh…Romans. So when our giant tour bus started winding its way through the ancient, narrow streets of gorgeous Bath in Somerset, I was completely blown away. While most of the buildings in Bath were constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries, they were made out of local golden-colored bath stone.
The entire city is a World Heritage Site.
Fun fact: Jane Austen lived in Bath in the early 19th century.
Although archaeological evidence shows that the Roman Bath’s main spring was used as a shrine prior, the first temple to the site was constructed in 60–70 AD. The subsequent 300 years saw the construction of the bathing complex. It was from there that the town of Bath was built up.
Today, a visit to the Roman Baths also includes entrance to the museum surrounding. As you stroll through the bathing and religious complexes, you’ll learn all about the Romans who first built the temple and what their lives were like.
And no, to answer your question, you can’t actually bathe at the Roman Baths. I mean you could, but you wouldn’t last long what with security.
That fluorescent green color just looks so inviting, though!
For me, Stonehenge was the day’s crown jewel, the piece-de-resistence if you will. I mean, who doesn’t like looking at a 5000 year-old stone circle constructed by aliens*?
My sarcasm be damned though, because Stonehenge truly is a sight to behold. Stonehenge is one of the most famous sites in the UK, and was added as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. It is believed that the earliest phase of Stonehenge was used as a burial ground, as traces of human bone in the area date back as far as 3000 BC. For more information on the formation and uses of Stonehenge, click here.
I will admit that most of our time at Stonehenge was spent walking around, reading the displays, and making funny faces. But that’s not to discredit Stonhenge’s incredible energy. You can not visit the site and somehow not be affected by it. The rock formations, the fuzzy history, the burial grounds. It all comes together to give Stonehenge the most ethereal quality.
Apparently, during the solstices and equinoxes, a group of groovy people throw parties at the site. Bucketlist item? Absolutely.
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Have you ever been to Windsor Castle, Bath, and Stonehenge? Let me know in the comments!