Thursday, July 31, 2014

Europe 2014: Windsor Castle, Stonehenge & Roman Bath in UK

Wiltshire, England

All we wanted was to see Stonehenge. But many friends told us that the trip there is not worth it just to see 'a couple of stones' (unless you drive it is not so easy to get into Stonehenge. I read that trains only get you to the nearest town of Salisbury, and there is no direct public bus into Stonehenge).

But being stubborn us, and although we are not too fond of archeology, we still decided to go anyway simply because Stonehenge is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and even if they are only a couple of stones, we wanted to tick it off our bucket list and say 'been there, done that!' lol.

In the end we decided to go with Golden Tours because of their good reviews online.

We took th£75.65 package, without the lunch pack because I read it says sandwiches and drinks for a freaking £10.00. lol. (3 people is £30.00, which is equivalent to about RM160 for sandwiches? No thank you unless they serve us lobster or gold sandwiches.)

So we made and packed our own food, which was by the way, more delicious than what they had. lol.
We packed smoked salmon sandwiches - look at our thick slab of smoked salmon, and also packed yogurt, cherry tomatoes, bananas and chips. Yumz.


Our tour started quite early, about 7.30am. Which meant that we needed to wake up very early. Zzzz...
And then once we got into the coach, we met our guide for the day - a rather big woman in his 40s or so, and to tell the truth, she was quite a bore. lol.
Initially, she started off with some interesting history about Windsor Castle, and we got interested. And then she got into more detailed and even told us which prince killed which king and that the king died at what time in the morning. haha. And then all we could hear after that was her mumbling away with more history and I promptly fell asleep.  

When I woke up, we reached the foot of Windsor Castle. Yay!
We walked passed shops and stalls to get up the hill to the castle. 

We then collected our audio guides and head phones and took a photo with the Queen.

Seriously, the audio guides are the best because there would be number prompts at each site telling you what to press into your audio guide. And then you can listen to short descriptions of the place/room/thing.
You may choose to listen or to forward or even not to listen and skip to the next number.
It makes everything so easy, and at your own disposal. We don't need to get stuck with a lousy guide or miss hearing things the guide says if you lag behind, etc.
Totally our kind of thing - is like having your own personal guide. Yay to audio guides!

And so this is thefirst glimpse of the Windsor Castle.

Walk up the road uphill and you will get to the entrance of it.

Do you know that Windsor Castle is a working royal residence? 

So now let me show you some of the exterior of Windsor, because that it all you could see due to the rule of No Photography inside the castle.

I was actually quite interested to visit Queen Mary's Dolls' House, but due to the limited time we were given, we could only choose either to visit that or the State Apartments.
Well, that was the bad thing of following a tour. Totally no time freedom. Bleah.

And so these are some of the photos we took. Really nice weather, blue skies with puffy white clouds.


The Tower, and the guide said if there is a flag there, it means the queen is there or something like that. Is that or I heard wrongly when she was mumbling. :)

A view of the houses below from the top of the hill.

Love this type of wall.

I think this is the St. George's Chapel.


A view of the greens and the scenery.

And lastly some photos with the poor guard.

The State Apartment was quite impressive, but to be frank, it was our first castle visit, so we were more in awe of the things inside the castle. And the audio guides helped us a lot in letting us know more about the history and the places and things we were seeing inside the castle.

After the tour, we got back to our coach, and it was then almost lunch time, and we ate our yummy packed food, while some ate the not-so-yummy packed lunch of 10 pounds *evil laugh

And as usual as the coach drove on, and the boring guide mumbled on, I fell asleep...again...

But not long after that, we reached Stonehenge - the main reason we took this tour!

This greeted us as soon as we hopped off the coach.
So tell me, how not to love this? The scenery is like PERFECT! Unedited photo off my point-and-shoot ok.

And this is the main area, where you get your tickets, and there also an exhibition place, some cafes and toilets.

And it was off we went to hop on the 5 mins bus ride which would take us to the stones.
We were not disappointed when we saw it.
Although it was just a bunch of stones, we were still in awe!!!!! So glad we made this trip!
Ain't they a beauty?

What is best is that they have a route surrounding the stones, which means that visitors are allowed to walk all around it and this means you can choose the best angles to take photos, and not be disappointed if you happen to go at a time where the sun is right behind the stones and making it impossible to take decent photos.
So there you are, you can see different angle of the stones.

And of course some photos of me and us with the stones.

A nice one here showing more clearly of a rounded placement of the stones. 

And us trying to take a wefie.
Erm, all a bit fail. lol. Shu-Min la, no skill. hahaha

Another angle of the stones.

We walked further around and you can see the stones are smaller because they are further from the visitors path. 

Although the sun was over the other side, and the stones may look darker with the shadows, but the lovely clouds against the blue skies made up for it. It's still a beauty.


And I took some compulsary tourist-y post.

This is a nice position too.

We were being cheesy and wanted to show a love sign with our fingers. Looks kinda awkward.

And so we decided to.....smooch.

And we had a smooch in front of the stones. Cheesy but is good. ;D
No one cares what you do there anyway, and furthermore, the ang mohs kiss more than us in public. haha.
We had plenty more time to spare. And so we did some jump shots!


Hey, not easy ok! But we had so much fun!

And when we walked back to the visitor's centre, we saw this stone on a log-wheel system, demonstrating how big and heavy those stones are. And to imagine in the olden days, they pulled these large stones from somewhere afar without the invention of the wheels. Impressive!

And lastly, we headed to our last destination, to Bath to see the Roman Bath.
The city of Bath looks beautiful from inside the coach. But it turned cloudy then and it started to drizzle a little when we reached. 

The tokens given to us to enter the Roman Bath House. Reminded me to Polo mints.
We were also given an audio guide each.

This is the map of the whole place.
You can read more about Roman Baths here, but basically is a well-preserved Roman site for public bathing in the olden days. 

Upon entering, this is what you would see in the outdoor Main Bath area. 

Note that the water is green in colour. The guides there told us not to touch or drink the water from there, because it is now considered very dirty.

We were wearing our rain coats as there was slight drizzle. 

Upstairs there were statues and such.
Cobbled-stone floors. 

Inside there were lotsa stone carvings like these. 

And some grumpy face man like this. Hope he is not a God or something and we didn't offend him. lol.

Then there are different baths places like a cold bath (the frigidarium), a warm bath (the tepidarium) and a hot bath (thecaldarium). Or the Immersion Pool. 


Took a photo with some of the people dressed up in props in roman attire.

And they have this drinkable water from the hot spring. 

Min with the Roman Bath House building behind.

To tell the truth, the Roman Bath House was nothing much. I think given the choice I may skip it. 

And then the long coach ride home. It should be about 3+ hours ride but it was longer due to some road closures. The coach then dropped us off in whichever metro stations we choose in London City.

All in all, it was a good day. Tiring but a good long day.
And Stonehenge is still the best!

p/s - Read more on my Europe trip here