Friday, December 21, 2012
Glastonbury is famous for one thing: the annual music festival. For five days every summer, the UK news is filled with photos of performers wowing crowds and celebs trudging through mud in their wellies. But there are 360 other days of the year when Glastonbury can be visited, and I went to see the town on one of them instead.
What I found was something straight out of Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley or the Haight in San Francisco. The small high street was lined with hippie shops selling crystals and second hand clothing, and restaurants serving cuisine from all over the world.
From the Chocolate Love Temple, a shop selling cocoa-themed aphrodisiacs, to Witchcraft, a store offering everything a girl could need to turn herself into a hag (seriously, they even sold broomsticks), the street made me feel like I had touched a magic crystal and been transported back to Northern California. It was great.
From the high street, Glastonbury grew residential very quickly. My Rabbie’s tour group passed the ruins of the famous Glastonbury Abbey, where King Arthur is said to have been buried, and turned a corner to find ourselves surrounded by houses.
Soon we passed a barn that was part of the Somerset Rural Life Museum, complete with farm animals and old red wagons.
From residential the town grew rural, and suddenly we were climbing a steep set of steps to reach Glastonbury Tor, a stone tower with stunning views across the countryside.
Walking back into to town, I realized that in the course of my afternoon in Glastonbury, I hadn’t seen a single trace of the festival. Maybe the crystals had something to do with it, or maybe there was more to the town than just the music after all.