Thursday, April 10, 2014

London Honeymoon: Day 6

Thursday was our bus trip to Stonehenge, Salisbury, and Bath.

We got picked up at our hotel by Evan Evans Tours before 8 AM. I think the earlier pick-up time helped me finally adjust to the timezone. Of course, we leave tomorrow (this entry being written Friday), so a fat lot of good that did me. After some confusion & waiting at the bus terminal in Victoria Cross station, we got on the bus and were off to Stonehenge.

The countryside was beautifully misty, exactly the kind of weather I'd expected to have in London, but most days were blessed with mid-50s to low-60s (fahrenheit) temps. Except for evenings, we were pretty comfortable with a sweater or sweatshirt, and I carried a scarf with me most days.

Stonehenge was neat and I'm glad to be able to say I've been there, but it was a waste of money. We didn't buy tickets to enter beforehand, having been lead to believe by others who have visited in previous years that you can see everything well enough from behind some roped area. They've changed the layout since others have gone, so we paid quite a bit to walk around the stones. We needn't have bothered, as no one checked for our tickets the entire time we were there. We were a bit pissed about that, but the mile walk back from the stones to the visitor center did us both some good. The ride to the stones was slow and boring in a small vehicle pulling enclosed carts.

Hulky enjoyed some trespassing.

Next up was Salisbury, but by the time we got there, I had a raging sinus headache that could probably be classified as a migraine. I kept my head covered on the bus during the approach and eyes lowered as we walked around to find a pharmacy. With a little lunch and Ibuprofen in me (interestingly, Ibuprofen is a controlled substance here and someone had to unlock a case for us to get some), I felt better and was able to look around a little before we headed back to the bus. We didn't buy tickets for the cathedral or even go near it while we were there. The city was interesting enough on its own. We both agreed it seemed like the kind of place you might like to retire to.

Shops from the bus, so I could take at least one picture there.

Passing by more beautiful countryside and a lot of sheep (and lambs! so cute), we headed to the city of Bath. With me feeling better and a bit more time to spend in that city, we wandered the streets. Hulky bought some cookies at a place called Ben's Cookies & I had a hot chocolate. The dark chocolate chunk cookie I got was not very good, Hulky makes better at home, but he says the other cookies are very good (he also thought mine wasn't good). I got a shotglass for my grandmother, who lives near Bath, Maine, and has an extensive shotglass collection from friends & family who travel or have gone to college. I thought she might like something from her city's namesake.

The ride back to London was three hours, as we got stuck in traffic. I had expected heading into London would not be as bad in the evening, as it seemed heading out was very easy in the morning, but it was pretty awful. When we got back to the hotel, we asked concierge where to get some good Indian food. We were recommended to a place close by, but it was closed for business. Just down the street was another, that was very busy, and our service was awful. I enjoyed the food though. We shuffled "home" to read & sleep after a quick stop to a small food market or convenience-type store. I got hazelnut milk, which has been delicious in my teas at the hotel (electric kettles are AMAZING, the water boils so quickly), and Hulky got banana milk which tasted remarkably like banana milk.

Some cultural observations

There are a lot more smokers here than I'm used to. I remember that from my 10-day trip to Italy in senior year of high school. There are lots of little cans on posts & containers on the edges of buildings for people to put their cigarette butts and gum, but there's still plenty of that sort of litter on the ground. Speaking of which, there are so few public trash cans in London, but we saw lots of people hired to pick up waste. It seemed very backwards to us. We usually held on to trash for a while before we were able to get rid of it, or we'd ask someone in a shop if they could dispose of things for us. Maybe that's standard?

Some pubs & restaurants, you walk in and seat yourselves. You go up to the bar to order food or drink. Others, they seat you. There's no clear indication when you walk in either way, but I look for one of those little podiums where they check available seating and if there isn't one, we go sit down. Usually, we're right, but it's still odd. We're very used to everywhere being "wait to be seated", and if it isn't, there's a clear sign near the entry indicating that we should seat ourselves.

There seems to be no consistency for whether people walk on the right or left side of the sidewalk. That was maddening.

This is a hard one to explain, but I noticed that the masculine type folks are more effeminate than those in the United States. Let's generalize and refer to those people as "men". Women seem very into fashion here, maybe it's just because we've been focusing our journeys around central London. Men are as well, with skinny jeans/pants/leggings being in style for any gendered person, and boots with any outfit (a style of which I thoroughly approve). We saw very few people dressed as casually as we would find at home, like jeans & t-shirts. Even those seemed kind of "designer". I liked a lot of the more masculine & feminine styles though, like dark tights with short skirts & boots, and skinny jeans (men's cut, which are not as ankle-strangling as women's) rolled at the cuff with suede shoes/boots.

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