There is a tar path that winds around the stones of Stonehenge. Ropes and small signs instruct you to stay away from the stones. The crowds weren’t bad. I could clearly see the stones and was able to take a photo without any humans in it. Some people were standing by numbered stations listening to (I assume) a free app guide they had downloaded in their cars on the way here.
Since there would be a full moon, I had hoped to see it rising over the stones, but since summer solstice had just passed, the sun wouldn’t set until 9:30, and I wasn’t going to hang around for six hours.
As Lynn had said, Stonehenge was a bunch of rocks in the middle of a field. Since I hadn’t read up on it ahead of time and the interpretive signs had other tourists huddled around them, all I could do was gaze at the rocks for a few minutes, tying to rouse suitable feelings of awe. I have done this before—arrived somewhere so unprepared and exhausted that I cannot appreciate it. But I’m too chicken to drive a car in the UK, so taking a coach had been unavoidable.
I ambled off toward the shuttle bus that ran back and forth to the visitors’ center. Aaahhhh! Air conditioning. I enjoyed watching the other passengers boarding, one by one exhaling, “Aaahhhh!”
The visitors’ center may really have been a mile from the stones. The views were beautiful, and if I had only had a hamburger and an ice-cold Diet Pepsi, I could have ridden it back and forth on it all day. My plan was to “do” the visitors’ center, then go back to the stones with a greater appreciation of them.
First, I had a pasty stuffed with lamb and potatoes and washed down with a pint of local ale in the café. Again, I could not get the Wifi signal on my phone. Why do you care or need to get wifi? I asked myself. I’m a baby boomer who refuses to spend more than an hour or two a day on my phone, so the only social media app I have is Facebook. It irks me when people go all the way to the Roman Coliseum or some other such world treasure, then post selfies on Facebook—their grinning foolish faces in the way so you can’t see whatever the site is. They may as well be in Indiana.
I checked out the gift shop. There were Stonehenge-themed tea towels, key chains, T-shirts, books, postcards, water bottles, chocolates, calendars, tissues, pens, flashlights, scarves, umbrellas, tote bags, decals, patches, matchbooks, snow globes, figurines, earrings and pendants, hats, sunglasses, socks, tea mugs, beer steins, board games, puzzles, posters, book marks, and of course refrigerator magnets. The usual stuff. I picked up a few items, then felt overwhelmed and put them back.
I exchanged my voucher for my souvenir “real” ticket, which looked just like one of the book marks in the gift shop. I looked halfheartedly through the tiny interpretive center, which was partly inside and partly outside. These were some souvenirs from the Victorian era:
Why didn’t they sell things like these anymore?
There was a re-creation of how the stones were moved, from 160 miles away on the coast:
Then I came upon the thing that jolted me. This is a re-creation of a man of the time, (3000 – 1500 B.C.). He and his folk placed the stones.
There was a timeline of ancient sites and Stonehenge pre-dated the great pyramid of Egypt. I had no idea! I realized I had always assumed that the oldest sites in the world are in Africa or the Middle East and were built by dark-skinned people, including my ancient Hebrew ancestors.
But apparently the people who lived in these huts looked like Brad Pitt.
Why did people come to Britain? It’s so miserably cold and cloudy much of the time. Maybe they came “because it was there” and stayed for the same reason I don’t move to Arizona—friends and family and inertia.
What was that orange stuff?
Poppies! Apparently they would be harvested soon for use in medicines.