**Oh dear. I thought I published this post before my Merseyside post. Obviously, not.***
We initially thought of going to Stonehenge on our own but after comparing the train prices as well as the time required to get to Salisbury then to Stonehenge then to Bath, getting on the tour was more cost-efficient.
Premier Tours had a great deal so we took it. The instruction said to be at the Victoria Coach Station, which was different from the Victoria Train Station, at least 30 minutes before the 8.15 am departure. We emerged from the Underground and wandered around a bit inside the train station before asking for direction.
Google was turning pinwheels again so instead of walking the short route, which was to turn left from the Underground passage or alternatively, cross the Victoria Train Station lobby, out into the street, we turned right and did a near circle of the block before we saw the directions to the Coach Station which was another block away.
The coach station was terribly confusing. We also learned something new about London, which we didn’t appreciate. To be able to use the bathroom, we had to pay 50 pence on the turnstile. I didn’t carry coins so H gave up his 1 pound to let me use the bathroom. The staff took pity on him and let him through as well, which was a lucky move because the tour bus did not have a bathroom facility. Those who didn’t get to use the loo had to wait until we arrived at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre, about an hour or so from London.
Time was of the essence in Stonehenge. We arrived at 10.35 am and were advised to queue at the shuttle pick up as soon as we received our map and audio guide. At peak time, shuttle buses could take up to 45 minutes to do their rounds. People could walk for 25 minutes to the site, but unless you had all the time in the world, the shuttle was the fastest way to get to the site. Our tour guide reiterated that we needed to leave Stonehenge at 12.15 pm. We got on the second shuttle and took the obligatory photos of the rocks.
I would have wanted to do the entire walk as well as to visit the burial mounds located away from the rocks but there wasn’t enough time. Still, there was something magical about those rocks which had stood the test of time. We quickly got back on queue and returned to the Visitor Centre where we checked out some of the Neolithic huts. From waiting for the shuttle bus to the site, taking photos, waiting for the shuttle back, going around the Visitor Centre, bathroom break, queueing to buy snacks, time was quickly gobbled up. Buy your snacks beforehand before the tour to save time and money.
Face palm moment on the shuttle bus
Girl 1: I was talking to this Russian boy and asked him to write my name, Mariela, but he said, he wished he could but they have no R.
Girl’s friends: What? What do you mean they have no R?
Girl 1: That’s what he said, they have no R.
Girl 2: So what do they call themselves? Ussians?
H shook his head the entire time.
Traveling to Bath was a pleasurable experience. The route was filled with trees, crops with circular patterns (cue conspiracy and alien theories), tiny villages, and fluffy and bare lambs.
Bath is a city in Somerset, England, known for its Roman-made bath. An interesting tidbit according to our tour guide, there were two reasons for the common Georgian look of the building was one) because a past mayor decreed that all building construction needed to use a particular stone. Since he owned the local quarry, it wasn’t for a benevolent reason and second) the architects for the Palladian-style buildings were John Wood and his son who was said to be close to the mayor. I suppose they did well financially.
Our visiting time was at 3.45 pm so we had a short walking tour and tried one of the Cornwall pasties, which to me looked like and tasted like a giant empanada. We also ducked inside the Bath Abbey, next to the Roman Bath. Entrance was free but visitors were strongly encouraged to donate whatever amount, although they preferred 4 pounds.
Inside the Roman Bath, the way down was filled with historical information, artefacts, temple reconstruction, and portions of the bath that were used for – well- bathing. H and I had the opportunity to taste the mineral water. Unlike the bottled mineral water (that sometimes only contain sodium), the water wasn’t as heavy in minerals nor did it have that slimy texture I’ve expected and tasted elsewhere.
The slimy green water was a bit of a turn-off. I had to wrinkly my nose at some people who insisted on dipping their feet or touching the water with their hand despite the instruction not to.
I also wanted to try another local delicacy, the buns. There were two places to buy them, Sally Lunns and Bath Buns. Unfortunately, both ran out. The man at the Bath Buns advised to purchase them before 2 pm. I consoled myself with a massive chocolate dipped marshmallows before running to the bridge to take photos of the lake and garden before the bus arrived to take us back to London.
Hungry, we walked around Hoxton square and found bar after bar. We were ready to give up when we found Busaba, a Thai restaurant which reminded us of Wagamama. They had the same communal tables, dim lighting, and Asian inspired cuisine. The main difference with Wagamama was that their food tasted great. They also had these quirky signs for the bathroom, a peeing man and a squatting woman, both lighted like those seedy signs at a red light district.
The photos I took of the food were blurry so I decided not to post them.
Next day, we were off to Merseyside.