My high school English teacher used to lead a trip to England every summer. He took students to see the literary highlights of London, the birthplace of Shakespeare, and the mysterious sarsen stones near Salisbury. Students returned from England raving about the sights they saw and the beer they imbibed, but the one facet of the trip that always piqued my curiosity was the day trip to Stonehenge. I made it a goal to go there someday.
The first obstacle to achieving my goal was the fact that I was located on the wrong continent. With that minor detail corrected, I set about determining the best way to get myself to Stonehenge. Thus did I become aware of my second obstacle: everyone I talked to told me how difficult it was to get to there without a car. Undaunted, I figured I could make do with public transport. After some research I found that it is actually pretty straightforward, so long as one is willing to take both a train and a bus. Not bad.
The area around Stonehenge is set in the typically English picturesque style, with rolling green hills and lots of sheep. Perhaps it is that backdrop that makes the stones seem so striking, rising up in the middle of nowhere in all their massiveness. Or maybe it is the mystery surrounding Stonehenge’s purpose and meaning that makes the place so enchanting. Probably both. Either way, I had myself a good time walking around, camera in one hand, audioguide in the other, giving even the most intrepid tourists some good competition.
On my way home from Stonehenge I stopped by Salisbury to see the cathedral. With the tallest spire in all of England, it was pretty easy to find. I walked around inside for awhile before making my way to the 13th century Chapter House, which is home to one of the few remaining originals of the Magna Carta. Dodging the loquacious volunteer that was standing sentry, I spent a few minutes admiring the document. Aside from being awed by its historical significance, I was amazed that something so old could could be so well preserved.
I tried to tease out some other sites of interest in Salisbury, but apart from a few small buildings and a main square, I didn’t find anything to keep me interested. I hopped on the train to Waterloo and traveled back to London in time for a romantic pre-Valentine’s Day burger at the pub with my boyfriend.