One of my plan while coming to England this time was to go checkout Stonehenge that is considered a major wonder. So, with some help from Rav, yesterday, I booked a round trip train ticket to the city of Salisbury (South-West of England) for today.
From Rav’s place in Southall to Salisbury train station, it took around 3 1/2 hours taking the bus from his place to the tube station, tube to Waterloo station and train from Waterloo to Salisbury. 7 hours spent traveling might look a lot to many people but I guess it does not anymore to me. It is only half the time it took me to go from Adana to Antalya or Selcuk to Goreme by bus in Turkey! And since the train is way more comfortable, it ended up feeling like I spent the day on the couch at home reading a good book except that in place of the TV, I had a great landscape scrolling in front of me :).
Anyway, I arrived in Salisbury a bit after noon and bought a round-trip ticket to Stonehenge. It is an interesting place and I liked to listen to the free audio-guide that is providing a lot of information about what the historians and archeologs know of the place. It is difficult to get a good grasp of the place though since in my opinion, one cannot get close enough to the circle and stones. Also, some roads have been built very close by making the place less impressive than it could be. Fortunately, the British government has started a program to cover one of the road and remove the other in order to return the site to its former state: lost in the middle of the plain. Actually, to be perfect, it would need to be surrounded by a forest. In this case, Stonehenge would really look surreal.
As you can have guessed by now, I was not that impressed. A bit disappointed actually. I think the hype killed it but it is still worth a look though :).
I took the bus back to Salisbury and since it was only 3PM, I thought I would walk around the city and maybe look for the cathedral Rav had advised me to checkout. I really liked walking around the city. It is very charming. Exactly the architectural style I associate with an old British college town. I could definitely live in downtown Salisbury :).
I finally found the cathedral at around 5PM and decided to take a look. It has a very interesting architecture. Walking inside while the service was on added to the spirituality of the place.
Eventually, I stumbled on something I was not expecting. In the very nice library, I had the opportunity to checkout a copy of the Magna Carta (Great Chapter). I did not remember much about it from school but the very nice lady that was guarding it provided me with a booklet full of information. It was really interesting to read the translation and learn more about its influence on other countries’ constitution including the American constitution.
It actually brought back fond memories of when younger, I was studying the preparation of the Estates-General in 1989 (Event that led to the French revolution, my second favorite historical subject after ancient civilizations). At this occasion, the citizens of France had drafted a list of demands to the king that are very interesting since they show the concerns of the time. While not as broad, the Magna Carta still gives a good feel for the concerns of the barons in early XIIth century in England.
Anyway, I digress. Enough to say it was a good surprise and this made my day :).
All in all, a very good day-trip. And I even have some pictures to share thanks to Rav that lent me his camera.
On other news, my backpack is still missing. I tried to call the mishandled luggage line of BA all day but I cannot get through :(. Rav’s brother that works for BA told me over 20 000 bags had been mishandled and BA was recruiting volunteers from other departments to help. Hopefully, I get some news soon.