Windsor Castle and Stonehenge

I am just wrapping up a week in the UK. As part of my job, I occasionally travel outside the US to teach training classes at our various facilities. The last time I did this was back in July 2006, where I spent two weeks in China. This time, I am in Cardiff, Wales.

Here's the normal drill - you leave the US Saturday evening and arrive in the UK on Sunday morning, which gives you the entire day to roam around, sightsee a bit and try to adjust to the new time zone. No difference this time, and I met up with two colleagues (Anthony and Mark) from the Boston area. We were all flying on American Airlines, coming into Heathrow around 7:00 am and planned to meet at the baggage claim area. Except that their plane landed 30 minutes early and they got impatient (really, just Anthony) and left me to fend for myself. I guess to be fair, I did tell Anthony that I "could take the train" in the event that flights were delayed, etc. (But the flights weren't delayed - Anthony is just impatient). Fortunately, I was able to call Anthony's Blackberry and he was kind enough to come back to get me.

We stopped at Windsor Castle, located a couple of exits from Heathrow, off the M4. We walked around the city for a bit before the castle was open to the public.

Some of the gardens and towers, St George’s Cathedral.









After several hours in the castle grounds, we got back on the road and I inquired about the location of Stonehenge, having recalled that it was “somewhat close” to Wales. The nice thing about traveling with two IT guys is that they have the most recent electronic gadgets – Mark determined that Stonehenge was only 70 miles out of our way, he plugged that location into the GPS and we were on our way.

I always conjured up this grand image of Stonehenge - large looming stones, filled with mystery and mystique. It is located in the English county of Wiltshire, along the rolling hills of the countryside. As we approach our destination (announced by the GPS lady), I see that the monument is set by the highway, merely separated from the highway by a chain linked fence. The circular collection of rocks doesn't look too great and looming from the highway, but hey, we are at The Famous Stonehenge and we are going to see it up close. Plus, we have been in the car for more than an hour with the air conditioning set to "on" so that Anthony doesn't fall asleep at the wheel - it is time to get out of the car. A light rain mists the air and we brace against the stiff wind.

The Stonehenge experience includes an audio tour and allows the visitor to view circle of stones from a distance of 50 yards. Yeah, those who stop along the highway can see exactly what we are seeing for free (we paid 10 Pounds each). I guess we get a more unobstructed view (no chain linked fence) and that audio commentary (here is a quote we found to be particularly vivid -"[the Stonehenge rocks are] ....like teeth out of the gums of the earth"). I took many pictures, but after about the 10th one, I realized they all looked the same and the greyness of sky emphasized that these were simply gray rocks, but hey it's Stonehenge and now I can say I have seen it in person.



Mark and Anthony, with Mark looking particularly cold....


Hey - I'm in front of Stonehenge!!


After leaving Stonehenge, the darn GPS (Anthony used another term for the device) navigated us back to the M4 via the "scenic route", winding us through the english countryside, through small little towns. We observed several interesting street signs, namely these "tank crossing" warnings:


(Anthony stopped the car in the middle of the road in order for me to obtain these pictures, so by golly they are going on the Blog).

We did safely arrive in Cardiff around 5pm. Quite a full day ......

agent713  – (January 26, 2008 at 8:23 PM)  

Wow it's been a year and a half since you were in China? I remember reading about that!

Your review of Stonehenge is pretty much what I'd expect. That's why It's not really on my list of "places I want to see before I die"...although if I WAS given the opportunity I probably wouldn't turn it down.

shirley  – (January 27, 2008 at 8:52 PM)  

Yeah, it was pretty disappointing, but hey, we were in the vicinity. I think it might be cooler in the summertime.

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