on June 14, 2007
The morning dawned grey and chilly, a stark contrast to the wide blue skies of the day before, which I think were mainly just to mock all of us Three Peaks Challengers. We had a bit of a drive facing us as we traveled from Bristol to the heart of Wiltshire, and we hoped that the skies would possibly lighten on the way.Unfortunately, this was not to be. The gloom held through our visit to Lacock, a National Trust village, and all the way across the Salisbury Plains to the henge. I did not realize how much of Wiltshire is actually used by the army until we went driving around the countryside. It seemed that around every corner there was a sign screaming "TANK CROSSING." We didn't see any--which I think is fortunate--although a lot of red flags were flying in the army ranges.As we approached Stonehenge, Nanna pointed out the monoliths, somewhat visible against the pewter sky ahead. Neither Poppa nor I believed her at first, but she was right. I found it hard to disagree with her once I located the stones, since there aren't exactly many other monuments like it in the area. The rocks were literally half the size that I had imagined them to be. I admit, they were still massive rocks, but I was stunned by how much larger all of the pictures made them seem.The other main thing that struck me immediately about Stonehenge was the sheer number of people there. It certainly rivalled many of the major attractions in London in volume of tourists per day, and English Heritage must make a total killing in the process. One side of the main parking lot was jammed full of coaches--both single- and double-decker. Most were from England, but at least a couple hailed from Germany. Poppa said, and I quite agreed with him, that "I certainly wouldn't come all the way from Germany just to see Stonehenge!" Mobs of schoolchildren filled up all of the available sidewalk space, and they conveniently decided to have some sort of pow-wow in front of the one parking spot we managed to find. Connected to the main, paved, parking lot was an overflow parking lot on the grass, which had quite a number of cars on it as well, but we just got lucky and happened to drive in just as someone departed in the warmth of their car.Nanna and I decided to chance a trip into the Stonehenge site in the light drizzle, as the forecast had predicted worse for the afternoon. We strolled downhill to the ticket booth, where there was a surprisingly short line, and after parting with our aforementioned £4.70 each, we passed a small cafe and a bustling giftshop before stopping at a booth where they were handing out free audio tour remotes. I took one and then we continued into the pedestrian subway leading us to the henge.
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