Saturday, January 11, 2014

Stonehenge-Bath One Day Trip

4th January 2014, Saturday

On impromptu, me and my friend, Felicia, booked a free-and-easy bus tour from London to Stonehenge and Bath!

Just to give you a rough estimate on how much I spent; 

I paid £26.60 (including booking and administration fee) for the tour- which only included the cost of transportation (bus) from London to Stonehenge, Stonehenge to Bath, and then Bath back to London. However, this included neither entrance fees into Stonehenge and all other tourist attractions, nor lunch. The bus was surprisingly comfy and the leg space was reasonably good- so no regrets booking this tour! The company I booked my tour under is called Trips4fun- and guess what, they organise other trips too! (No I'm not paid to advertise this)

According to comments I've read online, going to Stonehenge from London yourself might be somewhat messy and expensive (especially if you don't have a Railcard):

From London to Stonehenge:

Train:
London Waterloo to Salisbury- A single journey would cost you around £25 to £40, and then you would have take the local bus (it's a hop-on-hop-off bus which also brings you around some attractions in Salisbury) or taxi to Stonehenge. 

OR

Bus: 
Victoria Coach Station to Amesbury and then walk 2 miles (or take a taxi). This option would be much cheaper than taking the train, which is around £17

From Stonehenge to Bath:

Train:
Tickets from Salisbury to Bath would cost around £6 to £30.

I wouldn't suggest taking the bus-it would be really annoying and fidgety as you have to change buses (and I can't seem to find that bit of information online), although there is work going on for a direct bus from Salisbury to Bath, so perhaps in the near future?

Bath back to London:

Train:
A train ticket from Bath to Stonehenge would cost around £8 to £35

Bus:
Using Megabus, bus tickets would cost around £1 to £15.
National Express: £7 to £22

Note: All the prices of train/bus tickets would vary according to when and how early you bought your ticket. For train tickets, it also depends if you have a Railcard. Also, my information may be outdated or inaccurate- it always pays to do research yourself!

(Psssst, if I DID make an error, please let me know so I can correct it!)

Stonehenge is one of Britain's archaeological mysteries- no one really knows why it was built. Theories ranging from sun worship temple, sacrificial centre, healing centre to a celestial timepiece have been constructed and published. Well whatever it is, come and take a look- although personally, (sorry for the lack of poetry while referring to a historical monument visited by more than 1m tourists a year and is listed in the World History Sites by UNESCO) I think it just looks like a bunch of rocks.

Although to be fair, I went there when it was pouring cats and dogs- due to muddy grounds, ditches, Aubrey holes, and the general weak soil structure around Stonehenge (which makes the place a little dangerous), we weren't allowed to wonder around the rocks. So literally all I did in Stonehenge was take pictures on the viewing lane. There's also a small exhibition indoors just after the ticket office that gives a little insight on the history and theories surrounding Stonehenge. So my advise is to try and visit Stonehenge on a sunny day!

I paid £13.40 for the Entrance Fee into Stonehenge. The free audio tour provided in Stonehenge is also available for download as an app (unfortunately for Andriod users, it's only on Appstore)- so just download it into your phone and you can skip the queues for audio guides onsite!

Some of the pictures I took in Stonehenge:


A (fake) Sarsen stone! Because no real Sarsen stones come in such huge sizes anymore. And there's a 'slave meter' on the rock that tells you how many 'slave power' you exerted based on your strength while pulling the rope. 








Stonehenge was built in stages between the 3000 and 2200 BC- in fact, it was built and rearranged for over 1000 years.


Only circle in the world to have lintels.


My 'I wonder what will happen if I pushed this stone' face...


And my 'Whhoopppsssss' expression


Selfie in Stonehenge!



Stonehenge on your palm.

Felicia- who collects mementos for her mantelpiece back at home to showcase her travels- bought this as a souvenir!


Bath is a quaint little university-town 'lost in time' with its Georgian parades and light straw-honey coloured houses surrounded by hills. And as stated in the Lonely Planet guide, " It's impossible not to fall in love with this finely-wrought jewel in England's crown."

Maps aren't necessary (although useful) when walking around Bath- the city is relatively tiny and there are many public maps in the whole city (quite similar to London except the maps display the whole city instead of just a part of it). And the people here are also really friendly- don't hesitate to ask for directions (and some of them might even give you a free map) when you lose your bearings!

The first thing Felicia and I did when we arrived in Bath was to visit the Roman Baths! This is certainly one of the many must do things in Bath- although it is quite expensive. Prices can be found here. Although the better deal is to purchase a combination ticket for the Roman Baths and Fashion Museum, part of the Fashion Museum was under refurbishment during my time of visit so we decided not to go for it as a lot of the exhibitions were closed.

The Roman Baths were built by the Romans (quite obviously) and it's really rich in history. Similar to Stonehenge, you can pre-download the audio guides as well! (Again, only for Apple users). A simple walkthrough can be found here.



Obligatory photo in front of the Great Baths! Can you see the steam rising from the water?


The ornamental pediment from the Temple of Bath carrying the carving of what is thought to be the Gorgon's head somehow relating to Neptune (because Gorgons are typically female characters). There is an animation overlaying the structure to show you how it'll look like during its glory days!


The Romans spoke to their goddess, Sulis Minerva, by throwing in coins, jewelry, and various other gifts into the spring! Sulis Minerva is the primary goddess of spa.

Heads up: The Roman Baths water tastes disgusting! So if you want to taste the water provided at the drinking fountain located at the end of the Roman Bath Museum, take a small sip and not gush it down your throat!

Our next stop was the famous Sally Lunn's! It is the oldest house in Bath- 1482 and is famous due to their Sally Lunn buns. I may not be a foodie, but even I agree that the taste of the buns are amazing! Even Jane Austen agrees.

PS: Personally, I think Bath Buns taste like any regular bun and are hence not worth trying. But if you want to give it a go, they're less than 5 minutes walk away from Sally Lunns. 



A typical English tea set complete with white and brown sugar cubes! (Oddly enough, this was the first time I saw them despite staying in Britain for 4 months now)


This was our late lunch; jelly? 

Photo credits to Felicia.


Part of the Sally Lunn Museum located downstairs.

For the next part of our Bath self-tour, we went to Bath Abbey to marvel at the architecture.








The Bath Abbey is particularly famous for its stained glass and fan vaulting (ceiling).


Felicia and I also visited the Jane Austen Museum! Unfortunately due to time constraints, we refunded our ticket and moved on to see The Circle and The Crescent- the Jane Austen Museum kicks start with a 45 minute tour before you move on to the exhibitions but we couldn't afford the time or else we would have missed our bus back!


The Circle (unfortunately a bit hard to show case without a bird's eye vantage point.




The Royal Crescent. Basically, it's a set of very 'atas' houses. And that's Felicia right there looking as if she's about to do a cartwheel!

Also, almost every museum and tourist attraction closes at 5pm. So we missed the Assembly Rooms with its aristocratic Georgian-styled rooms (which has the Fashion Museum downstairs) and Victoria Art Gallery- but those weren't the main reasons why we came to Bath in the first place- so Felicia and I are extremely satisfied! And although we still had time,we decided we were too full to visit the Pump Room for tea.


Our final wanderings took us to Pulteney Bridge, which is one of the four bridges in the world to have shops across its full span on both sides. (How I wish Britain didn't get dark so fast in winter!)


Spooky Bath Abbey in the shadow of the setting sun.

Well actually, this was my second time in Bath- my first time I went alone due to some communication error and sudden events. The trip wasn't nearly half as enjoyable as the time with Felicia (partly due to me being very sick during the time of visit). However, I did walk around around the town a little bit more during my first visit due to no time constraints and the fact I didn't go for anything that had to be paid for (except food, obviously). Here are some of the pictures I took:



Since I went before end of Autumn, most of the gardens were still pretty!


A memorial in front of Bath Abbey.


Pulteney Bridge during day time.


And a walk along the river form the other side, featuring River Avon that was the main source of Bath's economic prosperity. 


Cinnamon bun from Sally Lunn's served with homemade cream! Seriously one of the best things in the world.


While wandering on the streets of Bath.


I visited the University of Bath thanks to my friend Fawwaz who had to rush back to his place to complete assignments and so couldn't accompany me for the full duration of this trip.



Bath University's amphitheatre.


And finally,the Bath Skyline while walking back to the city centre from Bath University located at the top of one of the hills surrounding it. Isn't it magnificent?


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