Tag Archive | Stonehenge

London 2018: Stonehenge

Day 10, Tuesday, July 3, 2018

After we left Bath, we went to an early dinner at the Stonehenge Inn.  It was an all-you-can-eat carvery dinner (all-you-can-eat is generally wasted on me since I can’t eat that much but I tried!) with four kinds of meat; ham, pork, beef and turkey, along with veggies and Yorkshire pudding, and ice cream for dessert.  I love the big Thanksgiving style meals in England, but I was also craving a salad!

 

 

After dinner, it was finally time to see Stonehenge!

 

Stonehenge was built beginning in 3,100 BC; it was initially a raised circular embankment.  It is theorized that the earthen embankment was originally a burial ground, as bones have been found during the excavation.  About 300 years later the blue stones were added.  Blue stones is a generic term; some of them are igneous dolerite stones.  They are believed by most to have been transported by the builders from Preseli Hills, about 150 miles away in Wales.  Approximately 600 years after that the sarsen stones were placed.  These are the 30 large standing stones, with another 30 stones capping the ring.

More blue stones were added later on, and stones were moved around over the years, although it is unknown why.  They stopped using Stonehenge during the Iron Age.  I guess it depends on where in the world it is, but the Iron Age in Britain seems to be approximately 550 BC to 800 AD.  That’s quite a bit of squish in the knowledge about Stonehenge.  Researchers can only speculate on Stonehenge’s purpose; they do believe that it was a place of spiritual significance because the monument lines up with the sun at the winter and summer solstice.  Excavations have revealed animal bones that lead researchers to believe that people gathered there in winter.

When we got there, we walked up to the site as a group before getting our pre-viewing briefing, which basically consisted of “Don’t be the jerk who touches the stones.”  “If you touch the stones, you will get kicked out and have to go wait on the bus.”  “If you touch the stones, everybody else will jeer at you and mock you and throw tomatoes.”  “Got it?”  It wasn’t quite like that, but that was basically the gist.  We were split into two groups and let loose among the stones for 30 minutes for each group.  The only drawback of the sunset tour is that when you arrive, the Visitor’s Center is already closed for the day.  I would have liked to see that.

 

 

While the other group was in the inner circle, we got to wander around the outside.

 

 

Standing inside Stonehenge and seeing it up close was incredible.  It was a very spiritual experience to see this monument built thousands of years ago, and to wonder what the makers intended it for.  The lowering light of the sun was amazing to see on the stones and between them.  While it would be cool to see Stonehenge on the solstice, it was nice to be here with so few people (there were about 40 of us on the tour).  It was really a bucket list experience, and I’m afraid words can’t really do it justice.  The photos will have to do.

 

Tube Stations:  None.  We disembarked from the bus on Gloucester Road, which was less than a mile from our hotel, so we walked home from there (you also have the choice to disembark back at the bus station where we left from in the morning).
Costs: Golden Tours day trip to Bath and Stonehenge, with an inner circle sunset viewing – $175 (note: this price is in U.S. dollars), carvery dinner – $15 pounds
Fitbit Steps: 14,022

 

Advertisements

President’s Day Weekend Wine Tour – Part 1

Jon and I have been itching for a getaway for months and we were finally able to do a mini getaway on the President’s Day long weekend.  We left after work on Thursday, and stayed the night in Yakima at the Ledgestone Hotel, which is a hotel that we have stayed at before.  The Ledgestone markets itself towards the extended stay traveler, but are more than happy to accommodate the overnight guest as well.  It is modern and clean, with a kitchen with a stove top, refrigerator, and dishwasher.  Plus, the best part is that they offer Tarocco products as their toiletries – the absolute best toiletries I have ever found in a hotel.  They are made with Sicilian red orange, also known as blood orange, and they smell great and work even better.  I had forgotten that the Ledgestone uses the Tarocco line, so that was pretty exciting!  I know, I’m easy to please.

Jon at the Ledgestone Hotel

After reaching Yakima Thursday evening, we got a quick and easy meal across from the hotel at Bob’s Burger’s and Brew.  Bob’s isn’t someplace we go when we are at home, but hey, it was easy.  I had a turkey, ranch and swiss sandwich that was pretty decent, and Jon really liked the mandarin orange and feta salad.  Then we pooped out and watched a bit of TV until we reached total exhaustion.

Friday morning, we slept in.  I woke up for the first time at 6:20 am, and promptly went back to sleep until 8.  I fought waking for 20 minutes or so, and then got up about 8:30 and ate breakfast.  After puttering around for a little while, Jon went out for a run and I checked out the Ledgestone’s fitness room.  I got to indulge a guilty pleasure for 45 minutes, watching Millionaire Matchmaker while I worked out on the treadmill.

We headed out from Yakima about 11 am, and headed south in a light rain towards Goldendale.  I read about a Monastery on Highway 97 on the way to Goldendale, where a group of nuns operate a no frills Greek restaurant, bakery and gift shop in front of the St. John’s Monastery.  St. John’s Monastery is a Greek Orthodox Monastery which houses 20 nuns and novices (apparently in the Greek Orthodox faith it isn’t called a convent).  The monastery is supported entirely by donations and the sale of the food,  handiwork and crafts that are sold from the restaurant and gift shop.  When you look at their website (it does seem strange that monasteries have websites), you see how hardworking these nuns are – helping to build the monastery by hanging drywall, installing insulation and hanging windows!

St. John’s Bakery and Giftshop

We both ordered Gyros, and Jon had an Americano with his.  The Gyros were heavenly, with a delicious buttery pita, and an excellent tsatziki.  It might have been the best Gyro I have ever had, and for only $5.29!  While we waited for our lunch, we looked around the giftshop.  The nuns make a wide variety of items, from homemade soaps, lotions, cards, and sweets.  They also carry commercially made religious icons, crosses, and some other gift items.  I purchased some lotion, soap and a card for my Grandma.

We got back on the road and headed into Goldendale.  First on our itinerary was Waving Tree Winery.  We first visited Waving Tree in 2010 on a trip to Goldendale, and were impressed at the first taste.  And this visit didn’t disappoint.  It is rare for a winery that does a such a wide variety of wines to be able to do them all so well, but Waving Tree does.  We spent over an hour there, tasting wine and chatting, and were pleasantly surprised to find out that Waving Tree will be opening a second tasting room in Kirkland in March.  Although it is great to be able to go right to the source, Kirkland will be much more convenient.  We will be able to visit more than once every two years!

Goldendale’s Stonehenge replica is just down the road from Waving Tree, so we stopped there for a few minutes and snapped some photos.  It was completed in 1930 – funded by Sam Hill, whose mansion on the bluff is now the Maryhill Museum of Art.  It is a memorial to those who died in World War I.

Goldendale’s Stonehenge Replica

After leaving Stonehenge, we stayed on the Washington side of the Gorge, and headed about 25 miles down Highway 14 to Lyle.  The basalt cliffs on either side of the highway are beautiful – I just wish it hadn’t been pouring down rain so I could have gotten some photos.  We had a purpose though; we were on our way to Syncline Wine Cellars.  We had never been there before, but had tried one of their wines once when we picked it up at a wine shop in Seattle.  Jon remembered that – I didn’t – although I thought it was a very good wine when he reminded me.  So when he was trying to decide which new wineries we should visit, Syncline made it on the list.

Jon at Syncline

Syncline is no frills, with their tasting room in the front half of their barrel storage and production facility.  Our server was friendly but not particularly talkative or outgoing.  Our tasting was 6 wines, Roussanne, Viognier, Rose, Carignan/Grenache, Mourvedre, and a Counoise.  The Roussanne was probably the best single varietal Roussanne I have had, but I think I’m just not a big fan of Roussanne.  The Rose was a pleasing dry Rose – I bought a bottle and am looking forward to enjoying it on our deck once the weather turns warm. Of the three reds we tried, we liked them all, and it was tough to pick a winner.  But, we both liked the Carignan/Grenache best, so we left with it.  On the way out, I threw a tennis ball for the winery dog, an Australian Shepherd who had been waiting patiently for us to re-emerge after our tasting.

It was still raining when we left and headed across the Hood River toll bridge to Hood River.  But I’ll save Hood River for the next post!

Memorial Weekend Wine Tour -Day 1

On Friday we started our day in Goldendale, WA.  We headed out to the Maryhill Museum, which is a huge mansion built above the Columbia River Gorge by Sam Hill, who brought the railroad through the valley.  He built this mansion intending for it to be his home, but before it was finished donated it to become a museum.  They have a collection of Rodin sculptures, furniture belonging to the Romanian royal family, chess sets and paintings.  It was a nice start to the day, and reasonably priced at $7 for an adult admission.

Next we stopped at Maryhill Winery, one of the biggest producers in WA state.  They have a large selection, something for everyone.  We had a nice Viognier, but we didn’t think there was anything outstanding there.  The view is gorgeous, and it would be fun to take in one of their summer concerts.  But it is quite far out of our way.  Next up was Waving Tree Vineyard.  We stopped here because it was close to Maryhill and close to the replica Stonehenge monument, and we are glad we did.  They have an extensive wine selection, and we found many that we enjoyed.  We ended up buying 5 bottles.  Their Zinfandel was excellent and very reasonably priced.  I’m hoping that his wines make it to distribution closer to home.

We crossed over the Columbia River and make our way towards Portland, Oregon.  We stopped for awhile in Hood River, Oregon and had dinner at the Rogue Brewery there.  I thought my babyback ribs were a bit too spicy, but the beer and cheese soup was out of this world.  And the beer is good too!