Buckle up, this is going to take a while. (That's what she...no, too easy.)
This has been a big week! So big, in fact, that I feel the need to split this post into chapters. I assure you, the chapter names aren't what they seem.
Tube through Goodge and After-Market Wildwood
Thursday we had the day free, so we spent it roaming around a bit. Tayler suggested that we head out to Camden Market, a famous street marketplace. We hopped on the Piccadilly Line at the Tube station swapped to the Northern Line at Leicester Square, passing Piccadilly Circus along the way. Then we headed up to Camden Town, passing GOODGE STREET on the way. Yes. Goodge Street. I honestly think that the British give things ridiculous names on purpose. (Unfortunately, the Piccadilly Line to Cockfosters doesn't pass through Goodge Street.) Camden was really quite cool, but since shopping isn't my thing I didn't enjoy it as much as the others.
See, the chapter title wasn't nearly as bad as it sounded. Keep that in mind.
Bath-ing with Friends
The following morning we set out for Bath, a city famous for its incredible Roman Bath... This was the first time we'd really been out of the city since we got here, so it was pretty incredible. Once we were out of London, we were really out of London. The landscape was awesome, though. I've gotten used to being surrounded by mountains, so the lack was a bit jarring. The coolest things were these huge hills of yellow flowers that you could see in every direction. I learned later that the flowers are rape, the flower that rapeseed oil is taken from. Yes. Rape.
The coolest things were fields of rape.
We arrived in Bath and headed immediately to Bath Abbey, the cathedral there. This was the first old cathedral that I'd ever been in, and I was quite impressed.
We headed out and went into the Roman Baths, an incredibly advanced set of pools and springs that were used by the Romans hundreds of years ago. Some of the water there first fell over 10,000 years ago. Pretty breath-taking.
|A hot spring that has been heating for 1000s of years.|
|The main bath.|
Salisbury Scum, Essex Elders, and Entering the Ring
I have to admit, I had a pretty negative feeling about hostels before we got to ours. Luckily, our hostel was very nice. We walked in and were divided into rooms. I was impressed at how nice the place was, since I was worried about it. I was beginning to think that it would be alright, after all...until we got our room assignment. Our room wasn't in the main building. No, it was in a separate building behind the main house across the garden. We went to our room and found that it was surprisingly roomy. (Not true.)
I will explain the room's size using twin beds as a scale. It was two twin beds deep, two twin beds wide, and two twin beds high (with space to get on them). On the left were two bunk beds, taking up more than half of the space. The remaining half was taken up by some cabinets, a sink, and a broken "shaving lamp".
We hastened back to the main house to play some cards. Scum, of course. It was a long and intense game, played tournament style. Brandon was the ultimate victor, unsurprisingly.
When we finished playing, we went into the common room to chat for a while. Brandon and I were eager to avoid returning to our room. After just a few minutes, a group of five older chaps entered the room. They were all over sixty but I can't say how old they were for sure. I assume at least a few of them were over seventy. They were native English, original from Essex, and they were very eager to "have a chat with some American undergraduates." The best word I can think of to describe the situation is "charming". We talked with the gents for almost two hours, discussing: our assumptions about England and how they were confirmed or changed; how we were enjoying ourselves; their assumptions of the US; what we were studying; what we planned to do; obesity, politics, education, and cities. It was great.
Turns out that the five men are members of a club called Plus 40, although they said that "it's more like Plus 60." All of them are retired and spend their time riding bikes across the country, putting in around 150 miles per week. That day, they rode 50 miles across the English countryside. At night, they stop in towns and visit pubs and hostels, chatting with whoever they can find, trading stories and the like, and then they head off in the morning. Best of all, they have pension from the government, so they get paid to do it.
It was a huge eye-opener, because just before they entered we were all talking about how tired we were. They stayed up talking with us until 1:00 in the morning before calling it a night and we saw them at breakfast this morning at 7:30 before they set off on their bikes once again. It was really amazing to see how healthy and happy a person can be even at that age.
We went back to our room, and even though I thought we were going to be murdered on the way there, in the bathroom, and when we got to our room, we were safe. We made it through the night without incident and went off to the Salisbury Cathedral, a very old and very large cathedral, in the morning. It was one of the most incredible places I've ever been.
After the cathedral, we spent some time in Salisbury and got some food and drink at a nearby cafe, stopping to admire the street performers along the way.
|This guy stood like this for over an hour and his bottle was continually pouring!|
We headed back to the hostel, gathered our things and set out again. We made our way just a few miles to a broken down ring fort called Old Sarum. It was really cool to see where the walls, towers, and supports were thousands of years earlier.
There was also an area where an older cathedral used to stand. It is long gone, but some of the walls still remain behind.
A Short Ride to Hanging Blue Stones
From Old Sarum, we headed a few minutes away to Stonehenge. The audio tour informed me that "stonehenge" means "hanging stone," and the stones used are called bluestone, so that explains the title. Stonehenge was incredible. Contrary to popular belief, it's more than just a ring of stones. Well, it is just a ring of stones but it's a really cool ring of stones, okay?! I was blown away by it. The perfect geometrical shapes and spacing and its precise calendar capabilities were very impressive to me, considering that it was begun in 3,000 BC.
In short, this post has been very long. I apologize for making it so lengthy, but I was without my computer this weekend so I couldn't update it day-by-day. I'm still having an extremely wonderful time, and though I do miss home, I am certainly not ready to go back yet. There's too much to enjoy here for the moment.
Thanks for reading.
Until next time,