I was picked up by my compatriots at the Bristol train station. Even getting out of Bristol and back to our hotel was a challenge. I used my phone as a GPS but I was running out of battery so we had to switch it on and off. I am used to roads that are at least in a semi-grid. In England, the roads go all over. Eventually we made it to the highway which we thought would make the rest easy.
We blew past our exit and the next one wasn’t for 7 miles so we ended up spending an extra 20 minutes or so. Not the end of the world.
The next morning we ate some food and departed south towards Beaulieu where the National Motor Museum is as well as the ruins of a 15th century abbey. Before making it all the way south we stopped at Bath. Imaginatively named due to the Roman Bath ruins in the core of the city. These ruins are up there with the best I have seen. If you are visiting Britain you definitely want to see this place. The Romans believed the place to be of religious importance due to the natural hot springs. The water still flows, heated, through much of the original bath despite it being about 2000 years old. Unlike some ruins, it is preserved enough to really get an understanding for what the place was about.
The motor museum was one of my favourite attractions so far. They had an exhibit of cars from Top Gear challenges which made my inner Top Gear fan positively giddy. Top Gear is one of my favourite television shows so this part of the museum alone was worth the fairly steep entry price. The rest of the museum was interesting but not quite to the same extent. There was an exhibit of bond cars with lots of iconic bond cars from the Roger Moore days up to a boring Ford Mondeo from “Casino Royale”.
The nearby abbey was interesting although barely standing. A few of the smaller structures and a few walls are all that remains but you do get a feeling for the massive size of the structure back when it was fully intact. Not the most interesting ruins but worth a quick look after the motor museum.
English countryside is beautiful. The rolling hills, the fields full of grazing sheep, the bush lined country roads, and the beautiful quaint little country houses. Canada has a lot of natural beauty, but in Canada the man-made rarely blends in with the natural. In England, the earthy tones of bricks, and the enormous fields blend in perfectly with nature.
After being slowed down by the setup for the Olympic torch relay, we finally made it to Stonehenge just before it closed. It costs slightly over $10 to get up fairly close but it is free to see it from the road which isn’t far off so I just did that. I would rather spend $10 on food then get slightly closer to Stonehenge. To be honest, the best view is from a mile off. Seeing it for the first time as we reached the top of a nearby hill was breathtaking. Up close you lose perspective.
We then went to the best looking pub I have ever seen. Not on the inside, which was fairly standard, but the on the outside. The entire building is covered in vines and moss. For 10 pounds I had a massive “traditional” english breakfast and tea. Not too bad of a deal.
I found a great deal on a hotel in Birmingham. We got a room for about 45 pounds which usually costs about 100. Definitely the nicest place I have stayed so far on this trip. For hotels, last minute booking seems to work quite well, although there is always the risk there will only be rooms in the bad hotels left.